Business

Increase Seen in Vehicles, Gas Consumption, and Gas Prices

July 5, 2012, 5:46 PM HST
* Updated July 6, 2:25 PM
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If it seems like there’s more traffic on the Big Island, it’s because there is.

As of June 2012 there were 163,131 gasoline powered passenger vehicles registered on island. That’s an increase of 7.1% when compared to 152,325 of the same vehicle type on the road in June 2011.

The number of electric vehicles on Big Island roads has jumped 42.5%, from 40 in June 2011 to 57 last month. Passenger hybrid vehicles have also increased, up 13.4% to 1,609 in June 2012 compared to 1,419 for the same month last year.

The increase in vehicles on the Big Island is reflected in a statewide trend. As of June 2012, there were 995,414 registered taxable gasoline passenger vehicles in the state, an increase of 5.6% from the same period last year.

Gasoline powered vehicles still make up the majority of passenger vehicles statewide. Although the number of hybrid and electric passenger vehicles are both on the rise statewide—there were 11,996 hybrid vehicles and 847 taxable electric passenger vehicles in Hawaii in June 2012—they still comprise less than 2% of the 1,017,300 total registered passenger vehicles in the state.

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With an increase in the amount of cars on Hawaii’s roads, it’s no surprise that gas consumption has also increased.

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Hawaii’s statewide consumption for gasoline, as measured by the gasoline tax base, increased 4.6% in April 2012 from the same month a year ago, according to data just released from the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. A total of 36.7 million gallons of gasoline was consumed in April 2012, of which Hawaii County accounted for nearly a third with 25.9%, while 54.7% was consumed in the City and County of Honolulu, 13% in Maui County, and 6.4% in Kauai County.

And although crude oil prices have decreased and oil imports have increased, gasoline prices are higher than they were at the same last year.

Noting recent energy trends, DBEDT said that in June 2012, crude oil prices decreased both from the same month last year (down 14.4%) and from the previous month (down 13%).

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Hawaii’s refineries imported 4 million barrels of foreign crude oil in April 2012–the latest data available, up 2.1 million barrels or 113.4% from the same month last year. In April, foreign crude oil imports increased 1.5 million barrels or 57.9% from March 2012.

Yet gas prices have increased. While June 2012 gas prices in Hawaii were down 3% from May 2012, they’re 8.9% higher than June 2011. In June 2012, the price for regular gasoline statewide averaged $4.408, an increase of $0.361 per gallon from the same month last year.

Here on the Big Island, the average retail gasoline price was $4.475 in Hilo last month while prices around the state were as follows: Kauai, $4.703; Oahu, $4.267; and Wailuku, $4.820. (Hilo is the only town on the Big Island where DBEDT tracks gasoline prices.)

In comparison, the national average price for regular gasoline in June 2012 was $3.489 per gallon, down $0.181 per gallon or 4.9% from the same month last year.

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