It's pretty common knowledge - especially if you're the type to regularly visit sites such as AutoblogGreen and its ilk - that it's simply cheaper to drive a mile on electrical power than on gasoline. We also know that it is inefficient to convert oil sands into usable fuel relative to other sources of oil. Yet the demand for gasoline remains high, mining the tar sands of Canada remains profitable and it has also undeniably created a lot of jobs, so that petroleum is coming out of the ground.
For a deeper look at the economics, look at this article from Hybrid Cars, which breaks down (and even quantifies) what is involved in producing gasoline from the bitumen mined in places like Fort McMurray, Alberta, and how that compares in cost and efficiency to filling up from the socket. Basically, it takes a certain amount electricity and natural gas to turn the bitumen into a gallon of gasoline in a multi-step process that even consumes some of its own product. It is much more efficient and economical to convert that natural gas into electricity to power our vehicles. The author compares it to feeding bread to cows instead of grain, with the oil sands crude industry as the baker.
Plug-in vehicles eliminate the middleman, along with the associated costs. And though the electric car industry is still young, it is here to stay, and will only grow and improve. What impact will this have on tar sands operations? The conclusion is powerful, particularly after following the journey of the tar sands to the gas tank. Dig deep over at Hybrid Cars.