Print 73 comment(s) - last by Pjotr.. on May 23 at 7:52 AM

FedEx CEO Frederick Smith (right), a former U.S. Marine, says that America's oil "addiction" is costing American lives and jobs.  (Source: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Many have claimed that America's invasion of Iraq, costly in American lives, was driven by a desire/need to safeguard the nation's oil supplies.  (Source: AP Photo)

Mr. Smith says electrification -- and government intervention -- are the only workable solution as there's no "free market" in oil (FedEx EV delivery truck pictured)
Company says failing to transition to EVs would be disastrous for America

Oil prices may be easing for a minute, but it's fresh off new record highs, having reached $4.30 USD across many parts of the U.S.  Yet despite enthusiasm by industry figures and the government, there's still much debate about whether electrified vehicles like hybrids, battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are really going to be viable.  Some analysts and customers say they are turning the corner -- others say electrified vehicles still don't make sense [1] [2].

FedEx Corp. (FDX) joined the fray, when its Chairman, President, and CEO Frederick W. Smith published an editorial in The Financial Times, which FedEx later reprinted on its own site.

In the article Mr. Smith firmly throws FedEx's support behind electrification, which he characterizes as vital for U.S. security and financial stability.

Regarding the financial costs, he writes:

Every American recession over the past 35 years has been preceded by – or occurred concurrently with – an oil-price spike. The last time this happened, just a few years ago, the average retail price of gasoline in the US increased from $1.46 to $3.27, costing typical households $2,115 a year in increased fuel expenses. That price spike contributed greatly to the recession and financial crisis which the world is still struggling to recover from.

And Mr. Smith, who served as a U.S. Marine from 1966 to 1970, also complains that America's "addiction" to foreign oil is also costing the lives of servicemen:

This addiction has also led the US to commit its young men and women in uniform to protecting the world’s oil infrastructure. And it means that western diplomacy is handicapped by the need to placate oil-producing nations, including those that do not share America’s views or values. 

II. What Should be Done?

Mr. Smith says that given that the U.S. spent $260B USD last year on foreign oil, the "wisdom of producing more [oil] domestically becomes clear".  He praises stricter safety and environmental standards regarding oil exploration, but complains that some environmentalists and government bureaucrats are acting as obstructionists.

Fuel economy improvements are another vital mechanism, according to Mr. Smith.  The CEO praised former U.S. President George W. Bush and current President Barrack Obama for passing updates to the CAFE standards, which are actively forcing automakers to improve fleet wide efficiency.

But he complains that oil drilling and fuel economy improvements are only "interim measures".  He comments that the only real way to save the U.S. is through electrification, stating:

Only electricity can give the transport sector the flexibility to switch fuels when one or more become too expensive. Electricity from homegrown sources – wind or solar, coal or hydro, natural gas or nuclear – would free America’s mobile economy from dependence on a single source. And unlike some alternatives, the infrastructure backbone for “refueling” electric vehicles already exists in the US national grid, which offers significant spare generating capacity at night, when it is needed for this purpose.

He says he's not one usually for government intervention, but that the government must intervene to push electrification as there's no free market on oil.  He writes:

I am not someone who tends to advocate for increased government involvement in the private sector. Free-market solutions to these economic threats would be ideal. But there is no free market for oil. To the contrary, today more than 90 per cent of proved conventional global oil reserves are held by national oil companies that are either fully or partially controlled by foreign governments, whose interests often have as much or more to do with geopolitical considerations than free-market principles. 

The issue is one that hits close to home for FedEx.  FedEx has attempted some modest electrification projects, but the majority of its fleet runs on gasoline.  And as a business heavily driven by ground shipping, the company is very vulnerable to gas price fluctuations.

The company's CEO remains optimistic that America can electrify and kick America's "addiction" to foreign oil, but warns, "The time to do so without truly calamitous consequences is rapidly running out."

DailyTech has raised similar thoughts, in some regard, in past editorials about transition America's economy to an all-electric infrastructure driven by clean nuclear power.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

A conservative agrees
By GruntboyX on 5/20/2011 9:07:44 AM , Rating: 2
He hits the biggest reason we need to get off oil. National Security, the benefits to the environment are a nice bonus. While we can debate the means to do that, Electrification is attractive. Only problems I for-see is securing the minerals to build the batteries. But theoretically the material can be recycled to a degree. Additionally battery technology can be built from many different chemistries so this is less of an issue than oil.

I would still like to see the feasibility of hydrogen, but I dont think the fuel cell technology has reach a point were it can be mass produced. Not to mention the infrastructure nightmare of delivery.

I agree we need government intervention to drill domestically to temporarily secure our future, and then move to electric vehicles. However, I fear our government lacks the fortitude to stick to a plan long enough to accomplish the goal. Every election cycle the pendulum will swing violently and in the end nothing will be accomplished.

We also need to control the lobbying that is crippling and corrupting the effectiveness of our government.

This is our number 1 national issue, we solve this then we can tackle other priorities like health care and social security.

At the end of the day this is something we should all unite around. High Gas prices hurts us all, no matter the political spectrum of your opinions.

RE: A conservative agrees
By Zuul on 5/20/2011 10:14:08 AM , Rating: 3
I'm always surprised when major public figures fail to realize that the largest supplier of oil to the United States is infact Canada. A rather quiet, but friendly neighbor.

There are major projects under way in Canada to export more oil to the US, however the environmental groups are pushing back quite heavily and several are at risk. These are projects that will bring more stability to the US oil and gas industry as it is coming from a friendly stable neighbor. There are also other major projects under way in Canada to bring more oil to the coast for export to Asia (China).

Canada has significant reserves of oil that if the US does not secure, will see itself competing heavily with China for. China doesn't care about any internal issues or politics when it comes to buying resources like oil. They don't care about environmental policies, what kind of government the country has, or how it treats it's citizens. They just want to burn the oil.

RE: A conservative agrees
By ClownPuncher on 5/20/2011 12:04:35 PM , Rating: 4
Yep, I don't understand the idea people have about the Middle East supplying our oil when Canada is obviously the biggest.

This trade with Canada is also GOOD for our economy. (and theirs)

RE: A conservative agrees
By Reclaimer77 on 5/20/11, Rating: -1
RE: A conservative agrees
By ClownPuncher on 5/20/2011 4:39:57 PM , Rating: 1
Oddly, if you post facts about where our oil comes from (Canada) you get rated down...

RE: A conservative agrees
By Reclaimer77 on 5/20/11, Rating: -1
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki