Why MPGs Matter: Iran Threatens Oil Supply Via Hormuz Strait

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Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and U.A.E., as shown on Google Maps

Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and U.A.E., as shown on Google Maps

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It's a truism of new-car sales: Gas prices go up, buyers focus more on gas mileage. Gas prices go down again, people forget all about fuel efficiency.

Well, here's a gentle reminder about why you may want to focus on cars with high EPA ratings for gas mileage.

As The New York Times reported, on Tuesday a senior Iranian government official said the country would retaliate against proposed U.S. sanctions on the country by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the bottleneck through which roughly one-fifth of the world's oil supply is shipped.

The strait has long been viewed as a possible choke point for oil shipments. It sits between Iran on the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

Energy security experts have proposed that either barricading the strait, as Iran threatens, or--even worse--sinking one or more ships in it could throttle the globe's continuously growing appetite for crude oil.

And THAT would likely cause oil prices to soar, at least for a while. Which would, in turn, boost gasoline prices by unknown amounts.

Because, while U.S. gasoline consumption peaked five years ago and is now falling, U.S. drivers are still subject to global oil prices--no matter how much or how little gas they consume.

Meanwhile, Iran has racheted up its threats, the Times said yesterday, with Iranian rear admiral and naval commander Habibollah Sayyari saying on Press TV, an official news site for the country, that, “Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces."

He also claimed that his country "has total control" over what he rightly termed a "strategic waterway."

So if you're in the market for a car, you may want to consider buying the model that meets your needs best--and has the highest EPA rating among your options.

Need a crossover or tall wagon, for example? Over the long weekend, we're testing the 2012 Toyota Prius V wagon. It's rated at 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 42 mpg.

We're consistently getting 40 mpg so far, including hauling heavy boxes over hilly terrain at high speed (not a hybrid's most favorable duty cycle).

Iran may not make good on its threat. The country may just be posturing to delay or avert U.S. sanctions on its oil exports.

And the world's petroleum supply system will, sooner or later, find alternatives and ways to "route around the damage," as computer systems architects say.

It's just that you have no idea what gasoline will cost next week, next month, next year, or over the life of your car. You can guess, of course, as we all do. But .... what if you guess wrong?

We're just sayin'....


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Comments (18)
  1. I was against the war on Iran originally. But after reading about all the stoning of people and now this, I say bomb them.

  2. This is great :-) They're stoning innocents and we're against it, so we should bomb them instead... Even the Nazis would have a hard time justifying this kind of sentiment. You're sick indeed if you think those people (average Joes) are worse in any way than you. I'd argue it's quite the opposite.

  3. Easy there big fella. We can push back any threat from the Iranian military without going to extremes. Iran has been pushing us to go to war with them. We should not take the bait. War with Iran does not benefit the USA. Let sanctions do their job.

  4. War does benefit the Defense Industry though :-)

  5. Comment disabled by moderators.

  6. As long as Saudi Arabia is are "friend" and owns our assets, we'll be pumping gas like there's no tomorrow. EVs threaten the Bedouin culture and funding for Islamic schools, so they're not good for America.

  7. Electric cars are the future, and are not only good for America, they are for nearly every country.

  8. America's electrical grid system is being held together with duct tape and bailing wire. So I hardly think EV are the answer.
    Watch the rolling backouts and brownouts we have this year due to a record hot summer then punt on EV's.

  9. Actually, Matt, not quite:

  10. No! People do not forget about fuel efficiency when gas prices go down. The only ones who forget about fuel efficiency are the automakers who want to delay the coming of electric cars. This threat by Iran should speed up the mass production of electric cars and turn people completely against ICE cars. How long is America going to let those hostile countries hold us hostage to the gas pumps. Get those electric cars out on the market and then tell those hostile oil countries to go take a flying leap.

  11. I have many persian friends who are amazing and wonderful people who managed to escape from the hostile regime decades ago. It's not the Iranian people who need to suffer more than they already do; but their government needs a wakeup call. Promoting EVs as quickly as possible will do just that.

  12. They need the strait open to move and sell their own oil...


  13. The new financial banking sanctions may make it impossible for Iran to sell oil.

  14. More difficult not impossible. They'll get it to India and take IOU's or something similar. 2.5 million BBL/day in exports are not coming off the market. We'd be shooting ourselves in the foot as we need the oil.

  15. Well, the news today indicated that Saudi is prepare to ramp production if needed and Libya should be coming back on line. So perhaps the world can live without Iranian Oil. But I don't think Iran can live without foreign income.

  16. Thats why developing viable electric cars and trucks is so important. I feel that it is better to come up with a technological solution to end our dependancy on foriegn oil rather than to have to use our military to protect our economic interests. Iran most likely is bluffing since closing the strait is a hostile act and will likely cause some sort of military action by the USA and even possibly by the Arab league. Iran does not have many friends and most likely they will not try to close the Hormuz strait, if they do some sort of military action will most likely take place since oil prices will sky rocket and it will lead to even more comapnies trying to get EV's to market. High fuel prices will spur economic investment into Ev development

  17. John V.: Here is a host of articles that lends just as much credibility that our America's electrical grid system is outdated and is tapped out.http://www.npr.org/series/103281114/power-hungry-reinventing-the-u-s-electric-grid

    So whom to believe is up for much discussion which like our political system........nothing gets done.

  18. wow, great fish. thats what the media wanted, you were againts war originaly, by reading an article on interent , you changed mind to bomb and burn a counry.

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