Trucker on diesel prices: ‘We’re going to have a lot of bankruptcies’

Independent trucker Michael Whitaker is getting ready for his next haul of equipment from South Carolina to Arizona. Whitaker has been an owner-operator trucker since 1998. His specialty is hauling industrial machinery like construction and farming equipment.

“The diesel prices. That’s every truck driver’s main expense, it’s diesel,” says Whitaker of the recent rise in diesel prices.

Whitaker says at the beginning of the year it cost $600 or $700 to fill up his truck tank. Now, he’s paying about $1,000.

“You notice it into your pocket, oh yes,” says the Iowa-based trucker.

The price of diesel has skyrocketed since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. Diesel averages hit their highest level since 1994 in mid-March.

Whitaker says he used to charge around $5/mile on certain routes. Now he’s charging between $7-9 per mile. He also uses a discount fuel card, and app which identifies the most economical stations where he can fill up on his routes.

Although the industry standard is to apply a fuel surcharge to freight costs, drivers don’t always see that money passed along to them.

“We’re making the assumption that they [drivers] would all be recipient of fuel surcharges. And that’s not necessarily always the case.” Todd Spencer, President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told Yahoo Finance.

“Sometimes others, that would be intermediaries, or similar in trucking, they may keep some of it, they may keep all of it, and not pass it through. Now that does happen as well. It shouldn’t, but it does,” said Spencer.

As of last Monday, the cost of diesel was $1.94 higher than it was a year ago “which is significant,” said Spencer.

“For our guys, the majority of truckers will burn between 18,000-20,000 gallons of fuel a year. So looking at those costs, you’re talking about $90,000-$105,000 a year just on fuel,” he added.

West Texas Intermediate (BZ=F) and Brent International (CL=F) declined on Monday and Tuesday, giving some relief to diesel futures. But both benchmarks are still above $100/barrel, and global inventories of the fuel used by truck and trains had been extremely tight recently.

Most “goods are hauled around the country by truck and rail using diesel fuel to power their engines and diesel prices are going up more than gasoline prices,” strategist Andy Lipow wrote in a recent email to investors.

“Fed Ex (FDX) UPS (UPS) and Amazon (AMZN) delivery services are all being impacted by the soaring diesel prices, and they eventually are going to have to raise their rates,” he added.

One Morgan Stanley analyst raised his estimates for Amazon’s transportation costs by $6 billion to account for higher diesel prices.

Whitaker says he remembers the gas crisis of the 1970s and the recession of 2009. He’s afraid that some owner operators won’t survive with costs so high.

“I think we’re going to have a lot of bankruptcies of individual drivers, trucking companies,” said Whitaker.

“If you don’t manage your money, you ain’t going to be in business long,” he said. “When things get rough you’ve got to have enough money saved up to hold you up through the rough times.”


15 cars with the highest average dealer markups

Things look bleak out there for anyone looking for a deal in today’s red-hot automotive market. Back in January of this year, we saw reports that 82% of American buyers paid over MSRP for a new car, and according to data provided by Edmunds, the highest average markup of $4,048 was found at Cadillac dealers. What we didn’t know at the time was which models were leading the way in dealership markups. Now, thanks to a study just out from iSeeCars, we do. And, well … there isn’t a single Cadillac in the top. 

Let’s take a look at the list. It’s numbered top to bottom and includes the make and model, the percentage it’s listed over MSRP, and the dollar amount it’s listed over MSRP. Remember, these are averages, so your nearest dealership may be higher or lower than what you see here.

  1. Jeep Wrangler | 26.7% | $8,925
  2. Ford Maverick Hybrid | 25.0% | $5,601
  3. Porsche Macan | 23.3% | $13,254
  4. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited | 22.9% | $9,534
  5. Jeep Gladiator | 22.5% | $9,824
  6. Ford Maverick | 22.2% | $5,368
  7. Lexus RX 450h | 21.0% | $10,365
  8. Ford Bronco | 20.6% | $7,783
  9. Genesis GV70 | 20.0% | $8,611
  10. Mercedes-Benz GLB | 19.8% | $7,992
  11. Chevrolet Corvette | 19.3% | $15,218
  12. Ford Mustang | 19.1% | $6,941
  13. Mini Countryman | 18.9% | $6,325
  14. Lexus RX 350L | 18.6% | $9,242
  15. Mercedes-Benz GLA | 18.6% | $7,142

The same report from iSeeCars suggests that the average new car is currently priced 9.9% over MSRP, equaling a $3,753 bump over the sticker the car shipped with.

If you’re trying to compare the data reported in January by Edmunds and this latest information from iSeeCars, note that Edmunds is tracking average transaction prices and ranking the results by brand while iSeeCars is tracking the prices at which dealers listed the cars for sale and ranking them by model. These are very different things. For instance, some dealers may include optional services that can add to a markup that savvy buyers could refuse to pay, resulting in a transaction price that’s lower than the listed price. Some dealers may apply a markup across the entire range, while others may only add markups to the most popular models. In other words, there may still be a small amount of wiggle room, and your findings will surely vary from dealer to dealer.

No matter which way you slice it, though, the days of expecting big discounts and heavy negotiations may well be over, at least for the foreseeable future. Both of these studies indicate that the majority of buyers are paying something over sticker for the vehicle of their choice.

Looking over the actual data above, it’s clear to see that off-roaders are currently in demand, despite the fact that gas prices are higher than they’ve ever been (disregarding inflation, that is). The Jeep Wrangler leads the list, and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited isn’t far behind. The Jeep Gladiator shows up, too, a few spots above the Ford Bronco. All of that is somewhat surprising, considering that the Bronco is a newer vehicle with pent-up demand from Ford lovers.

Hybrid vehicles are also in demand, which isn’t surprising given the aforementioned gas prices. Hybrid versions of the Ford Maverick and the Lexus RX are apparently a hot commodity. The rest of the list is populated by in-demand crossovers and sports cars, all of which make sense.

What should you do about it? “New car shortages are expected to persist due to the backlog of demand, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has led to factory shutdown and pricing increases on raw materials,” says iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “The best way to avoid paying over sticker is to broaden your search radius and to consider similar vehicles that may not have the same degree of price hike.”

It’s not all bad news. If you’re absolutely unwilling to pay sticker or above, there are some vehicles that are selling for a discount, albeit much smaller discounts than buyers were scoring a few years ago.

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2023 Chevy Silverado Police Pursuit Vehicle enters the arena

There’s a new police truck coming to cities near you. GM just announced its first pursuit-rated version of the Chevrolet Silverado, so now police will be able to choose between it and the F-150 Responder.

Named the Silverado Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), it’s based on the crew cab body style with a short bed and standard four-wheel drive. All Silverado PPVs will be fitted with the 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower and will do their shifting via the 10-speed automatic transmission. Engine performance is only changed via a new heavy-duty air filter, so the motor in the cop car is largely the same as is fitted to consumer trucks.

Braking is enhanced for the PPV, as Chevy fits big 16-inch rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers for greater durability. These big brakes are hiding behind standard 20-inch black steel wheels and wrapped in high-speed-rated Goodyear all-terrain tires. That said, GM does not quote a top speed for this version of the Silverado.

Rancho shocks from the Silverado Z71 off-road package are fitted to give the truck a heavy-duty suspension, and both a locking rear differential and skid plate come standard. If a police department is looking for even greater off-road capability, Chevy will offer an optional two-inch lift, bolstering ground clearance to a big 11.35 inches and offering an approach angle of 25.9 degrees. Maximum towing capacity is a stout 9,300 pounds.

The interior is relatively spartan, which is the norm for police vehicles. However, the truck still boasts a number of niceties like keyless entry, push to start and a bunch of driver assistance systems. Those include lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking w/pedestrian detection and automatic high beams.

Options include extras like power seats, a tri-fold tonneau cover and the Multi-Flex tailgate. The bed itself comes outfitted with 12 welded-in tie-downs for storage. Plus, Chevy makes it easy for outfitters to go to town via five upfitter switches, auxiliary wiring circuits and lots more.

Chevy says the Silverado PPV will be available later this summer in both the U.S. and Canada.

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Biden could use Defense Production Act for EV battery minerals

A geothermal powerplant owned by EnergySource LLC sits atop the San Andreas Fault in Calipatria, California, where the company plans to extract lithium from underground brines. (Reuters)

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden could invoke a Cold War-era defense law as soon as this week to encourage the domestic production of minerals needed to make the batteries in electric vehicles, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Such an order under the Defense Production Act is expected to help mining companies extracting lithium, nickel and graphite, cobalt and manganese access government funding.

“As we break our dependence on foreign sources of oil and natural gas, we must ensure that we secure the materials necessary for the clean energy economy in a way that holds to our strong environmental, labor, tribal engagement standards and does not leave us reliant on unreliable and unsustainable foreign supply chains,” the person said.

Biden has made fighting climate change and stimulating domestic manufacturing using electric vehicles a major part of his economic program. Administration officials have argued that the dependence on fossil fuels from other countries, including Russia, harms national security.

But securing enough of the raw materials to make electric vehicle batteries has been a major obstacle, with domestic mines facing extensive regulatory hurdles and environmental opposition.

And Biden’s domestic climate agenda has hit a roadblock in the U.S. Congress, where his Democratic Party has only narrow control.

Biden’s potential use of the Defense Production Act for minerals would not override the legal and regulatory hurdles imposed by the administration on mining projects. It also wouldn’t provide for the loans or direct purchase of minerals.

Instead, miners could tap funds for feasibility studies or efforts to modernize the productivity of their existing facilities.

Biden has made broad use of the Defense Production Act, including using it to stimulate manufacturing of supplies used in the response to COVID-19.


You have 48 hours to win a ‘sensational’ 2022 Porsche 911 GT3

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. No donation or payment necessary to enter or win this sweepstakes. See official rules on Omaze. 

Every now and then, a car comes along in a sweepstakes that makes you wonder why in the world they would be giving something so beautiful away for pennies on the dollar. This 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 is one of them, and against our better judgment we are telling you how you could win it: Just head on over to Omaze. 

Win a 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 – Enter at Omaze

Here are the specs of the 911 GT3, according to Omaze:

  • Engine: 4.0-liter flat-6
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: RWD 
  • Exterior Color: Shark Blue
  • Interior Color: Black with Shark Blue stitching
  • Maximum Horsepower: 502 hp
  • Acceleration: 0–60 in 3.5 seconds
  • Top Speed: 197 mph
  • Approximate Retail Value: $195,835 
  • Cash Alt: $146,876.25
  • Special Features: carbon fiber full bucket seats; leather/Race-Tex interior with Shark Blue stitching and seat belts; 20”/21” Satin Black wheels with Shark Blue lip; carbon fiber roof, mirrors, interior trim and door sills; Chrono Package; Bose Surround Sound System; front-axle lift system
If the specs aren’t enough to entice you, here’s what we thought when we last drove it:
“Once again, the 911 GT3 features a 4.0-liter flat-six. Period, no turbocharger. Driving a naturally aspirated car these days is rare enough, let alone one that revs to 9,000 rpm and reaches its peak 502 horsepower at 8,400 rpm. So yeah, not ruined. In fact,
Porsche says it’s “practically identical to the engine used in the new 911 GT3 Cup race car.” Adding to the audible joy of listening to an engine wail to nine grand is the GT3’s stainless steel Sport Exhaust.

“The thing is, though, the standard seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automated manual rarely sees the need to get anywhere close to that redline. As I wasn’t driving on a track, it mostly shifted around 6,500 to 7,000 rpm. That’s still higher than most cars’ ceilings, but is far from the zesty, Pavarotti-reaching-crescendo you get at full boil. While you don’t need to use the PDK’s paddles for the purposes of going fast (Sport+ mode knows exactly when to upshift and downshift, thank you very much), you’ll want to use them just to make things sound as interesting as possible. You could also get the no-cost-option six-speed manual. Again, not ruined.

“The same cannot be said for the drive route. Mention “the snake” to any car enthusiast in the Greater Los Angeles area, and they should immediately know you’re not referring to a reptile or Jake Roberts. It’s a sublime, twisty bit on Mulholland Highway north of Malibu just east of Kanan Dume Road. Though I used to drive it weekly as part of routine vehicle testing, I hadn’t done so since moving in 2017. I still haven’t. The snake has been ruined, not by Covid obviously, but by catastrophic wildfires in November 2018 that to this day render it impassable. It’s not the only bit of my old Malibu stomping grounds that remains scorched and closed to traffic.

“I knew that going in, but instead of looking up which spots were closed, I decided to find out for myself. The worst that could happen would be needing to turn around and re-running some serpentine bit of road. In the new GT3. Oh no. I start off on Las Flores Canyon Road, an almost comical collection of steep, tight turns. Bigger, more powerful cars like the 911 typically aren’t well suited to it, but this GT3 is indeed different.

“This is the first series production 911 to have a double-wishbone front suspension, with a design adapted from the Le Mans-winning 911 RSR race car. Porsche says it results in “extraordinarily agile turn-in behavior.” No kidding. The first turn of the wheel is a genuine surprise, as the steering is noticeably quicker than the 911 norm. It’s almost Italian. Not surprisingly, it’s also beautifully precise and communicative, but replacing the 911’s usual rubber suspension bits with ball joints increases the feedback even more. If this isn’t the best steering, period, it’s probably the Cayman GT4 or some exotic I just haven’t driven.”

You’re probably asking yourself, what does it take to win? First of all, according to Omaze, “No donation or payment is necessary to enter or win this sweepstakes.” $10 will get you 100 entries, while $50 will get you 1,000 entries and $100 will get you 2,000 entries.

The donations themselves benefit The Dempsey Center, which Omaze says, “is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer by providing a variety of diverse, personalized, high-quality services all at no cost to the client. Your donation can help ensure the Dempsey Center is able to continue providing a haven of support for cancer patients, their loved ones and care partners with services like counseling and support groups, movement and fitness classes, nutrition consultation and education, and more, all with no financial barrier for clients.”

If you want this Porsche, and who wouldn’t, enter here. The deadline to enter is April 1, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

Other Omaze sweepstakes:

  • Win a 2022 Mercedes Sprinter Van with an $80,000 Eco-Friendly Conversion
  • Win a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S
  • Win a Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Win a 2022 BMW M5 CS


The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Car Looks Almost As Cool As The F1 Car

Two familiar drivers are returning to Aston’s lineup for this year as well. Both Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen of Denmark will helm the car, as will Belgium’s Maxime Martin, as the team targets a win at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. For those unfamiliar with GT racing, winning the endurance race at the famous Belgian circuit is akin to winning a Formula 1 race at Monaco.While you’re too late to catch the official start of the FIA GT World Challenge series, you can still catch that famous race at Spa Francorchamps. It runs from the 30-31st of July. Frankly, given the way this new Aston GT3 car looks, we’re going to be watching just to see the thing on track, in action.

Production Kia EV9 gets a release window

At the last L.A. Auto Show, Kia brought one of the event’s hits with the big, boxy EV9 electric SUV concept. Besides just showing off some striking styling, Kia announced it would get a production version sometime in the future, though the automaker didn’t say exactly when. Now we have rough estimate thanks to Kia’s European branch.

Apparently the production EV9 will reach Europe in 2023. That could be anywhere in that year, but it certainly narrows things down. We reached out to Kia America, but a representative said that they weren’t providing a release window for the U.S. right now.

The big SUV seems like a smart next move for the brand’s EV line, since the segment is relatively open right now, and SUVs are as popular as ever. Not only that, but the Telluride has proven that the traditional SUV shape is something buyers are looking for right now.

Other details about the SUV are still missing, but Kia did previously note that the EV9 will be built on the same E-GMP platform that underpins the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60. The range estimate is around 300 miles, and it should support 350-kW fast charging as well as providing power to run other electrical items. We also expect it will be available with dual electric motors for all-wheel-drive.

Update: Added comment from Kia America.

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Lotus Eletre opens a new front in electric SUVs

Ladies and gentlemen, the new era of Lotus as an EV maker begins with this, the Eletre. It takes elements we’ve seen on the Evija battery-electric hypercar and Emira ICE sports car, wraps them in a larger package, jacks them up, and throws in a lot of new tech for the brand and the market.

Let’s start with size, which is the easy bit. The Eletre is 201 inches long on a 118.9-inch wheelbase, about 79 inches wide, and 64 inches high. Every one of those dimensions puts the Lotus within a couple of inches of the Aston Martin DBX: the EV being a little longer, with a slightly shorter wheelbase, a little wider, and a roof a couple of inches lower.

For us, the side view most closely represents the form we had in mind based on recent spy shots. The front is intense, the yellow of the hero car making the greatest contrast with the polygonal void below. The lights above the leading edge are DRLs and turn signals, the main beams are recessed into that void, hugging the upper edge. The rear, with its Lotus script and full-width light bar fading into triangular intakes along the sides, clearly comes from the sports cars. It can glow in four colors depending on what it needs to communicate, and forms a connection with the light bar across the instrument panel. The SUV proportions and black roof are still playing tricks with our eyes, though; we can’t help feeling the Eletre carries its bulk up high.

The wheels are an optional set of 23-inchers that hide optional 10-piston (ten!) calipers gripping ceramic composite rotors. Lotus isn’t ready to divulge specific battery capacity and motor outputs between those wheels. All we’re told is the pack is more than 100 kWh and output starts at 600 horsepower. Every Eletre is all-wheel-drive, with a motor on each axle.

The 800-volt electrical architecture can handle up to 350-kW fast-charging, 20 minutes at a station at that charge rate restoring 248 WLTP miles of the Eletre’s estimated 373-mile range in WLTP testing. EPA numbers will come eventually. Lotus says the hauler will get to 62 miles per hour in under 3 seconds and hit a top speed of 161 mph.

The electronic side mirror housings each contain three cameras, one camera for the rear views, one to help stitch a 360-degree overhead view, and one to help enable self-driving. The charge port is on the front left fender, but keen eyes might notice more shutlines atop the front wheel arches. Those are for retracting lidar sensors that work with two more lidar sensors in the roof, one at the front, another at the back. These could give the Eletre the kind of autonomous capability not seen on a production car yet.  

The interior comes in four- or five-seat configurations. A slim gauge cluster and a head-up display provides the driver with relevant info, front passengers get a similar slim display that can display infotainment options. Between them, a 15.1-inch infotainment touchscreen that lays flat when not in use. Connecting them, a full-width light bar “changes color to communicate with occupants.” Cabin materials include a wool blend for the seats, microfiber for soft-touch points, and recycled carbon fiber. And on top of this being Lotus’ first SUV, here’s a sentence Lotus has never had to write before: “There is a wealth of practical storage space in the Eletre’s cabin,” from storage trays and cupholders to liter-bottle-holders in the doors. 

There will be tunes, too. British audio concern KEF provides the standard and optional units, the former being a 1,380-watt, 15-speaker surround sound affair. Upgrade from KEF Premium to KEF Reference and get 2,160 watts run through 23 speakers.

We can’t imagine Lotus lost its way with driving dynamics; we won’t be surprised if the Eletre sets a new bar in the tiny-but-growing segment. The SUV will offer air suspension and active damping standard; active ride height, active rear axle steering, an active anti-roll bar, and torque vectoring via braking will be available. The four drive modes are Range, Tour, Sport, and Off-Road, their elements able to be mixed and matched in an Individual mode. On top of the usual changes to things like steering and dampers, certain modes alter the angle of the three-stage wing in back.

The Eletre is on sale now for a price we’re not privy to at the time of writing. It will be built in the automaker’s new factory in China, deliveries commencing next year. You know who to call if you’re interested.


GMC has received 65,000 Hummer EV orders so far

The GMC Hummer pickup truck only just went on sale, and already there’s word from company brass that demand is higher than expected. According to a report from CNBC, Duncan Aldred, global vice president of GMC, said the automaker has received more than 65,000 combined orders for the current electric truck and upcoming SUV. What’s more, the number of customers converting reservations into orders is humming along at 95%, which is also higher than the company projected.

“Production’s actually slightly ahead of plan and we’re putting things in place now to actually expedite that as well, so we can deliver these reservations quicker than we originally thought,” Aldred said, adding that new orders placed today probably won’t result in a delivered vehicle until 2024. “We’re doing all the studies on that and we’re confident we can go a lot quicker than we originally thought,” Aldred said, “But it still means a reservation now probably means delivering in ’24.”

The version of the Hummer pickup that’s currently being built is the highest-spec Edition 1 model. That truck ran at least $110,295, but since it’s already sold out, new customers will be looking at Hummer EV 3X that starts right around the $100,000 mark before any optional equipment is added (and assuming you can find a dealer that won’t try to jack up the price). At some unspecified point in the next year or so, GMC will start building a lower-cost Hummer 2X for $89,995. A year or so later, the  $79,995 Hummer EV 2 will make its debut.

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Hot Wheels to offer NFT Chevy Corvette C8, Honda Civic Type R

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continue to infiltrate the automotive world. The latest car-centric spin on the collectible of our strange times comes from none other than Hot Wheels. The Mattel brand plans to release a series of NFTs based on its iconic toy cars, with automakers like Chevrolet and Honda getting in on the action as well.

This is actually the second batch of Hot Wheels NFTs to be released. The first came toward the end of 2021, but did not include the chance to score “real” cars alongside the NFTs. They were based on vehicles of Hot Wheels’ own design, like the Twin Mill show car. This time around, the virtual set includes cars that exist in real life, such as the Corvette C8.R, Honda Civic Type R, Honda S2000, and a 1955 Chevy Bel Air gasser.

Some lucky buyers of these NFTs will actually receive a virtual token with their purchase that can be traded for a physical toy car — Hot Wheels says buyers have a 1-in-27 chance of receiving this token. The official Hot Wheels announcement includes a breakdown of exactly how often they, and the various rarity levels of the NFTs, will appear.

For example, there will be 24 Base models that are considered the most common. When buyers shell out $25 for a seven-pack of NFTs, each one has a 78.16% chance that it’ll be one of the Base models. Then there are 11 Rare models, which only have a 17.91% chance of appearing. The rarity levels increase from there. The rarest is called Show Room, and there’s only a 0.14% of that showing up.

In total, there are 184,250 distinct NFTs, comprising 28 models and 43 designs (some cars will have multiple designs, like a different color or livery). Again, there’s a 1-in-27 chance of getting the token that is redeemable for a physical toy car — at no point in this transaction do you actually buy a physical diecast Hot Wheels model. 

Of course, unlike a $30,000 sports sedan or a shard of Lamborghini Huracan, a physical Hot Wheels car is something that can usually be had for about $1 and is already highly collectible. 

Mattel says that they will be using the Wax blockchain, which is the only carbon neutral option when it comes to NFTs. That’s good, because blockchains are incredibly energy-intensive, and Mattel has pledged to make their toy lines completely green by 2030.