The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) contends that as fuel efficiency rises to very high levels, the benefit to the customer shrinks. At $5 per gallon, for example, a 15,000-mile-a-year driver can save $3,750 on gasoline annually by jumping from 10mpg to 20mpg. But by going from 40mpg to 50mpg, the savings drop to only $375 annually, the curve shows. As consumers reach those limits, CAR says they are likely to keep their current vehicles longer, a phenomenon it refers to as the "Cuban-ization" of the American auto market. (Source: Center for Automotive Research)
I think I have to side with the consumer advocates on this one. Granted, it will take some extra engineering and innovation muscle, but much of this technology should have been (and has been) in the works for years given that it is no surprise that the mandate was coming. As for the added cost, what about the addition of bluetooth, entertainment centers, GPS, automated driving systems--all of those highly complex embedded systems and electronics jack up the cost of the vehicle and consumers buck up and pay extra for the technology. I just see this as a standard that pushes progresss. What's so bad about that?
You raise a lot of good points, Beth, particularly with regard to the added cost of entertainment centers. The big problem, though, is achieving that last 10 mpg. That's where most of the cost lies. It's worth it to take a hard look at the accompanying graph. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but a consumer saves ten times more in fuel costs by going from 10 to 20 mpg, than by going from 40 to 50 mpg. Going from 40 to 50 pg, a 15,000-mile-a-year driver paying $5 a gallon saves only $375 annually. The point is, we reach a mathematical limit as we go farther out on the curve. Unfortunately, most of the additional vehicle cost is in that last 10 mpg, the experts say.
I see your point. It's that that last 10mpg isn't worth spending the extra dollars that might get you the next model capable of 54.5mpg when you have an older vehicle that comes pretty close. I suppose that's a valid concern on the part of the automotive makers.
What if we let engineers build what the people want? People on this board have pointed out a number of examples where mandates have warped the market to the point where good, desirable solutions are outlawed. If you took off the chains and people flocked to buy gas guzzlers, well gas isn't that expensive, is it? Maybe safety is worth the extra money to some people?
I've got a cheap government mandate solution for you all that will improve efficiency and save tankers of fuel a day: GPS speed governors. Try getting that one through Congress.
Isn't it ironic that the same greener-than-thou types who work tirelessly to get your Hummer legislated out of existence are the same ones bombing down the highway doing 80 in their Pry-Us--late for yoga class, again!
The problem Beth, is that almost always, politicians strongly (and blindly) push measures like this one far over what is Feasible, Reasonable and Convenient.
Engineering is the art of carefully balancing many simultaneous factors in order to provide a solution. Engineering is almost always a compromise, the better, most well balanced one is often the most effective. Blindly or deceptively trying to elevate a single aspect above all on a complex system, is going to hurt several other aspects, remember the "Law of unintended consequences".
Lets all remember what happens when politicians invade the engineering and science fields, in a thriumphalist outburst of green (pun intended) proclaim determine whatever they feel is to be achieved, regardless of costs or worse.
An example: the absolutely stupid, myopic and counterproductive ban on incandescent lamps, procaiming that the CFL (Compact fluorescent Lamp) IS the way to go... Forgetting that CFL's contain sizable quantities of mercury (one CFL broken inside a bedroom SHOULD require a decontamination costing thousands of dollars, unless you don't mind your loved ones breathing mercury vapors for a long time!), have an absolutely worst Power Factor (less than 0.52 for the better ones), use a wide variety of non-reclaimable materials in their manufacture, have a terrible Colour Rendering Index (CRI) - typically 60 - 70, and among other disadvantages, cannot be used inside sealed or poorly ventilated fixtures, require several minutes to reach their full brightness, are damaged if subjected to frequent switching cycles... and not surprisingly, use a LOT of energy in its manufacture, and quite a bit more in their PROPER recycling.
But the brilliant politician gods have determined that the incandescent bulb is devil, and they had to kill them! (for an exhaustive, balanced and reasonable tehchnical discussion on the incandescent ban and CFL's, I suggest reading the essay written by a truly ingelligent human being, that happens to be a very good engineer from Australia: http://sound.westhost.com/articles/incandescent.htm#cchar
Another example: The serious problem of tin whiskers growth in electronic solders without any lead content, because of the insufficiently thought out "green" measure pushed by the European monkey politicians (RoHS, Directive 2002/95/EC), which is another example of twisted, tricky and stupid selective thinking: lead in electronic solders is banned, but only 2% of total lead use goes into the solders, most go to the car battery industry, and in a glaring show of hypocrisy, Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film PV modules in photovoltaic panels are explicitly allowed by RoHS to contain cadmium, even though cadmium is restricted in all other electronics. The solar panel exemption was in the original 2003 RoHS regulation and it was further extended on May 27, 2011.
So to me it is clear that when a politician promotes a green measure, BUT imposes insufficiently revised goals, humanity ends up harmed (albeit a few selected companies could benefit).
I'm just imagining the safety, price, durability, repairability and freedom from problems that new vehicles will have to sacrifice in order to meet that kind of goal. On the other side, as an engineer, I would be more than happy to see true advancements, perhaps to a more realistic, less delusive-dream number.
amclaussen, why don't you investigate further. There is NO mandate to use CFLs. The mandate is to get more efficient bulbs. CFLs was a first attempt. LED are the next step. YES, there is mercury in the CFLs - much less mercury than is spewed into the air by power plants supporting the power needs of incandescents. And, there is much less than other bulbs (why aren't you complaining about T12s, with 10X the amount of mercury thatn a CFL??)
You may not remember(or old enough) the clamor caused by eliminating lead in gasoline. Lead was a component added to gas to prevent preignition. It was causing real problems to our environment. We now do not line the sides of roads with lead particles.
Your argument is another "all or nothing" argument, then state you, as an engineer "would be more than happy to see true advancements, perhaps to a more realistic" number. You can't have it both ways.
There are many shades of gray in the middle, and people (especially engineers that understand tradeoffs) should understand that. The premise of the article was NOT to eliminate MPG mandates, but to highlight that the mandate may be too high - the old 80/20 rule, so to speak.
Dear lcormier, please bear in mind there is a world outside the USA... Take a couple of minutes to check on world-wide banning moves in a lot of countries, (WIKIPEDIA even mentions it is a scheduled phase-out for the USA in 2014!). AFAIK, a sizable part of the world has some kind of CFL use promoting laws or forced exchange programs.
Your short analysis or statement about mercury from power plants vs mercury from broken CFL's is not fair, but I much prefer the extremely low concentrations of mercury from distant sources than a couple of broken CFL's inside the bedroom of my child. Call me whatever you want, but for me it is clear that this matter has strong economic interests from at least two companies that fabricate CFL's and other lighting devices. One of the two companies that form the Duopoly HAS (at least in Mexico) bribed no less than the president and the former energy secretary (frequently changed as a matter of national sport) in order to promote a disguised "benefit" program for the poor. But, it has a dark side: In order to receive 4 free CFL's, the recipient has to deliver four tungsten working bulbs, which have to be destroyed in the act. The thing is that there is a large company benefited with the popular program, they now have secured their production and the ignorant people and its equally ignorant governants happily pay for it. My position is simple: I don't like stupid, self-promoting politicians dictatating large scale measures that had not been completely analyzed by an unbiased and truly capable technical comitee (if that exists!).
And yes, I'm old enough to remember when the "green" arguments against the low lead level gasolines (capable of notably reducing the lead contents to really low levels) transformed the car and fuel panorama. In that one, the owners of the precious metals used to fabricate the catalyst were the ones capitalizing on that. At the time we had almost ready a different catalytic converter that was tolerant to those low lead levels, but someone from the top levels assured to stop the development in its tracks and destroy everything related to that project.
I was not saying I'm against fuel economy measures, what I'm against is the way they usually handle it: without proper and solid unbiased studies. Measures like the "MetroBus" in Mexico City, which eliminates a wide lane for exclusive use by it, produce much more contaminants simply because it carries a huge automobile congestion in the same street, and aditionally in many nearby streets, because that "improvement" prohibits many left hand turns; so that the drivers have to drive longer distances, at much reduced effective speeds, in order to favor a comparatively few bus users. Another "law of unintended consecuences" example, courtesy of dumb politicians of the "green kind".
Amclausen, again, you decry CFLs. As I stated, there is NO CFL mandate. There IS a no tungsten mandate. CFLs will most likely play a smaller part in the near future, with LEDs becoming more economically feasible. I'm sure those are not perfect, either. AS you stated, there are ALWAYS engineering tradeoffs.
You state that you would rather have guaranteed mercury all over, rather than an occaisional bulb breakage?? EVERY tungsten bulb burns more fuel, causing more dependency on foreign oil, more demand for power plants, with many old ones grandfathered in to burn dirty. Constant exposure to mercury is very bad, as it deposits in the brain. The catalytic converteres would not have taken the iarborne lead out of the fumes. So, you would prefer lead in the air too?
Most assuredly, people will make money from changes. New products, new methods, new mandates to improve our lives. Drill, drill, drill, without any conservation will inevitably lead to problems. More foreeign oil dependency, more environmental damage, eventual run-out, with the accompanying health effects. We should go back to stone age and not improve?
Beth Stackpole writes: "I just see this as a standard that pushes progresss. What's so bad about that?"
While a lot of us Geeks enjoy the leaps and bounds advances that electronics and computers make, while following Moore's Law, unfortunately the same doubling in performance every 18 months doesn't happen with mechanical systems which have hard bounds in thermal and mechanical efficiency. Otto Cycle ICE efficiency is bounded at roughly 58% for most cars, less friction, heat, pumping, and other losses that are well optimized in 35% efficient gasoline engines today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_efficiency
ICE's and automotive designs are subject to significant diminishing returns effects, after decades of successive optimization of nearly every part of the design for fuel economy. Every step past the last 20 years gets exponetially more expensive for smaller and smaller gains ... there simply isn't a free lunch here, as long as the emission requirements reduce efficiency.
Besides hybrids, the best we can do with ICE drive train efficiency is to switch to clean turbo diesels, and pickup about a 30% efficiency gain from the higher effective compression ratio, over Otto gas engines. VW Diesel Jetta's already are in the right range, without an expensive heavy electric hybrid. Unfortunately, there are a lot of environmentalists that hate diesels very strongly. And there is an NO3 emissions issue, that the EPA will have to relax.
Hybrids and EV's have a very difficult time with efficiency at slow speeds, especially serial hybrids and pure EV's, where electric motor efficiency runs below 50% at slow speeds ... like stop and go driving, and there is very poor kenetic energy capture for regenerative braking. Hybrids like the Prius have very small battery packs, trying to safe weight ... and can only capture a tiny amount of energy -- about 600watt-hours. Electric Motor efficiency decreases with increased torque requirements, so operation on hills is significantly less efficient.
As you increase battery capacity, so increases wieght, and a larger share of the battery energy is consumed to accelerate the battery weight. Kind of the same problem as launching rockets in space, where a small increase in payload, requires a significantly larger increase in propellent to leave the ground.
And both Hybrids and EV's dont' save the fuel needed for climate control and lights in both hot and cold weather, that becomes expensive during stop and go driving in commuter environments that affect more than half the population, at least half of each year.
Downsizing to unsafe smaller mini and micro cars remains the most likely choice driven by costs, that consumers will be forced to accepts ... and with that a lot of deaths.
Some environmentalists belive these regulations will be "Saving Oil for future generations", the real outcome is that we spend a very high cost to reduce US oil consumptions, while the rest of the world consumes the cheap oil that was "saved in Amercia" and use those lower costs to continue to undercut American living and manufacturing costs, sending even more jobs overseas.
So, my question is: is reducing US oil consumption, really worth increasing US automotive deaths, and leaving the US economy even further less competitive in global markets?
Recall that a Volkswagan Jetta (diesel) has been recorded to routinely achive 50 MPG in 1982. Also recall that putting a spacecraft on the moon was done in less than the prescribed 12 year roll-out time. This 55 MPG objective is niether ambitious or technologically challenging. The reluctance to get on with it is mind boggling. I have to wonder if the oil companies are involved with influencing the holding back of progress.
In 1982 a VW Jetta diesel weighed much less than 2500 pounds and did not have six to eight airbags, and other mandates that now make it weigh over 3200 pounds. It's a wonder that it still gets the high mileage it does. Aerodynamics and other engineering advances surely have helped. To the matter of trucks meeting the standard. Due to truck aerodynamics and the need for heavier frames rather than unibodies on most trucks, so they can haul, etc. without extensive and expensive new technologies, the MPG goal will not be met. Diesel engines help with torque and MPG but you pay a premium for diesel fuel, often offsetting the mileage advantage of gas vs diesel. Hybrids typically boost city MPG the most (read the sticker) because electric motors have near instantaneous torque but may not be much help on a diesel driven on the highway at a constant speed.
I have to agree with you on this one. Every time the auto industry has been required to comply with a regulation, they whine that it's too expensive, nobody will want to buy the cars, the auto industry will be driven out of existence, cars will actually be LESS safe (or efficient or whatever). Safety glass, seat belts, pollution controls, shoulder belts, air bags, CAFE standards, crash test standards, pedestrian safety standards and many others; all have been decried as the death of the auto industry, the end of "affordable" or "desirable" cars, and every one of these goals has been achieved ahead of schedule at much lower cost that originally stated, with much less disruption to the industry, and without destroying sales of cars. And all of these standards have improved safety, fuel economy and driveability.
We've got to at least try to get there, even if we don't quite make it. Some bright boy (or girl) will figure this out and make a fortune.
SORRY, but I MUST disagree with you on one point ..... BLUETOOTH, etal. ARE optional capabilities that one does NOT have to purchase when buying a vehicle for transportation. I certainly would never consider all these "amenities" in my vehicle purchase plans, over and above a standard AM-FM radio. I am in my vehicle to transport myself (and passengers!) from point A to point B, and beyond. IF I want entertainment, then I'll go to a show or the movie theatre, etc. It's evident that with so many of these modern electronic portable marvels that we as a society are becoming MORE distracted during vehicle operation than at any time in the past. In my daily commute, I see so many people driving up & down the highway (at speed!) with one hand on the steering wheel, and one hand on the smartphone, pushing the keys. Without sounding sexist, it is my observation that the majority of these "offenders" are young women, sometimes with youngsters in the vehicle also. That IS a recipe for disaster!!!
Nice to hear the voices of both consumer advocates and engineers, Chuck. As for the costs to gain fuel efficiency, are some of the costs one-time costs for innovation and altered design? I would think that many of the improvements would not continue to add cost with each individual car after a certain pay-back period.
Most of the upfront costs -- such as product development, engineering, tools and production equipment -- will diminish, Rob. Parts and labor will remain, however. It's particularly problematic in big ticket items, such as the dual powertrains in hybrid vehicles. Two powertrains will always cost more than one.
That makes sense, Chuck. But with the limited sales of hybrids and EVs, most of the CAFE gains will come from traditional engines. Wouldn't most of the gains on those engines involve upfront innovation rather than the incremental costs of parts? Or, is there something intrinsically more expensive about the parts that would be needed for a high-efficiency vehicle?
You're right, Rob. The engine enhancements -- features such as active fuel management and variable valve timing -- don't require much in the way of hardware. For the most part, it's a matter of electronics, software and a solenoid or two. Reducing engine displacemnt, however, is slightly different. The key to reducing engine size lies in the use of turbochargers. Turbochargers mean additional hardware and some extra cost, although some of that is offset by the use of smaller engines.
I agree Charles, smaller turbo charged engines are a good small incremental efficiency gain by engine downsizing. Doubling MPG, would require a 100% efficiency gain by the drive train, if car mass/size is held constant. With a good gasoline engine already around/above 35%, that would require 70% if done with the engine alone ... well above the 58% thermal efficiency limit of a perfect loss free Otto engine. Where do we get the rest of the 100% gain without downsizing cars and trucks?
Active Fuel Management becomes less important with a smaller turbocharged engine, because the throttle will already be well off idle at road speeds, a diminishing returns problem when trying to combine both enhancements on the same engine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Fuel_Management
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbocharger "Only 10 percent of light vehicles sold in the US are equipped with turbochargers, making the United States an emerging market, compared to 50 percent of vehicles in Europe that are turbo diesel and 27 percent that are gasoline boosted."
Good points, Chuck. I think another aspect of this will be lightweight -- though strong -- steel. Also, composits are competing in this area. So we'll probably see lighter cars that are still able to hold up in crashes.
No, the new aluminum Rover has not finished production in its new plant yet, so Rover has not received official mpg rating yet. But it is not hard to double the old mileage since that was so bad. And they have a new 3 liter diesel and hybrid models now. They are saying they will achieve 40 mpg. But neither is likely to be released to the US.
I don't know very much about the switch to aluminum at Rover other than that they built a whole new plant in order to make it work. I would assume aluminum required heliarc welding robots that are more expensive. It probably also is easier to go all aluminum with off road or 4WD because they tend to have a separate frame beneath the body, that would allow for inherently stronger I-beam shapes. Aluminum would have to be much thicker than steel in order to have the same strength. Although there are many parts like suspension arms on Porsche, that are well suited to cast aluminum/magnesium alloys. Perhaps a cast, ribbed, aluminum alloy pan shaped like the stamped steel pan of the old air cooled VW could be done cheaply enough? Then if you ran a thick aluminum arch from the front, through the windshield pillars, over the doors, and down the back window pillars, it could be a nice rigid shape, and not weigh nearly as much as cars do now.
I would also suspect we will see more 3 wheel cars, to eliminate differentials. With direct fuel injection, 2 stroke engines could also make a comeback, because there would not be a pollution hit as long as the fuel and lubrication were no longer mixed. That would allow engines to be half the weight and size, for the same hp.
Future cars will be more like motorcycle technology than it is today. The way to cut weight is to increase rpm, go alloy and fiberglass, add gears, and make engines more disposable.
Good detail, Rigby5. I would think these changes would affect the sticker price of these cars. Or perhaps -- like the Volt -- the carmaker will absorb the costs until consumer acceptance reaches a critical mass. At any rate, a slightly higher sticker price could be justified if the MPG is high.
55mpg for a small passanger saloon? Easy. 1.2 ~ 1.5 turbocharged diesel engine. It's happening now in Europe. Take a look at the figures for EU market Volkswagen Jetta and Polo, Seat Octavia and Fabia, Citroen C3 etc.
Volkswagen turbo diesels? Look at their reliability before flaunting them as a solution! Consumers won't accept a car engine that only lasts 80,000 miles before requiring a rebuild that costs thousands of dollars. See, e.g., Consumer Reports for reliability records.
I have no sympathy for the car companies. Clean diesels are incredibly efficient. An intercooled turbocharged diesel hybrid would blow these standards easily. And the technology is OLD technology. Sure cars will have to be smaller. We need to change the road infrastructure to get the small mass cars away from huge semis,etc. I drive an MB 190D that gets 35mpg on a gallon of home brewed biodiesel. In Europe you can get diesels that do exceed these 54.5 mpg standards.
On another point, get govt out of regulating things they don't understand. Diesels are currently regulated on particulate matter and they put those stupid post combustion units on them making them lose up to 30% of their fuel efficiency. All because some idiot didn't bother to think that what's really important is pollution per mile driven.
Increased infrastructure for bicycles and e-bikes would get many out of their cars and save so much money that we wouldn't have as much need for this kind of silliness from the government.
I've been asking this question since the 1st hybrids rolled off
the assembly line...........Why doesn't anyone make a hybrid diesel? Cummins already has one of the CLEANEST running diesels on the market. They even have been able to avoid the urea injection in vehicles line the Dodge Ram. They have a 4cyl version of their popular inline 6 cylinder. Their 6.7L could have a 4.5L sibling mated to a hybrid system that makes almost as much torque as the 6cyl and would get WAY over 30mpg on the highway in a FULL SIZE truck. A 3/4ton Ram could really play double duty as a daily commuter, a work truck, and a weekend warrior.
Then an even smaller version could be put in a half ton truck with highway mileage near 40mpg.
Then cars like the Diesel Jetta that already get 40mpg could be getting 50 to 60 mpg! Even better, the addition of a hybrid system to a diesel would get the performance of these diesels up there with the gas engines. It's a win win for everybody.
Like the article points out, this would probably add $8,000.00 to the price tag. A diesel jetta already cost $4,000 more than a 2.5L 5cyl gas version. A Hybrid Civic cost about $3000.00 more than the same non-hybrid. Mating the diesel to the hybrid should be a no brainer.
Good thinking for cars, but a 4.5L couldn't give the same performance when towing and hauling that the bigger engine does. Also, truck buyers are much more performance driven than the average car buyer.
Any advancements for trucks will likely have to come from optimizing the engine. Hybrid technology just doesn't add that much in the current state of the art.
The rest of the world is already using the 4cyl version of the Cummins 6cyl. If American automakers actually did this they would just be catching up to the rest of the world. Adding hybrid technology to this 4cyl diesel would put us ahead slightly in this area.
Maybe US automakers could even EXPORT something for a change rather than importing all the time!!!
If you could have a 4cyl diesel hybrid that has the same torque as a 6 cylinder diesel but got better fuel mileage than a regular 4cyl diesel you wouldn't buy it? Even better, a 6cyl diesel like the 6.7L cummins with a large hybrid electric bewteen the engine and tranny to bump torque by another 50 to 100 ft-lbs??
Seriously, I would buy into your perspective if most of the pickups on the road were diesels. Most diehard pickup owners drive a gasoline engine. Most people buying a diesel for performance reasons has issues. Most people buy diesels for one thing and that is pulling heavy loads. Torque is torque. If you made up the torque deficit of the 4 cylinder diesel with an electric motor, most "truck guys" wouldn't care.
Electric motors provide instant torque which is perfect for truck applications. Once the load is moving down the road at cruising speed a 4 cylinder is all that is needed to maintain speed. When you need the extra torque the electric motor would assist in the duties. The electric motor would also help the diesel keep up with gasoline engines that can rev quicker.
The only thing I see being a problem is the engine shutting off at stops. In city driving it may become an issue on any diesel other than Cummins.
I see where you are coming from and agree that electric could assist during a start from a stop or near stop. Torque is only half of the equation.
In this country we haul heavy at highway speeds. If I have a truck that has to downshift on slight grades where others have not, I will get rid of the truck. Your idea definately has merit in applications like a dedicated city delivery truck or bus (like they have now), but open road still requires loads of horses (so I can haul my horses).
Heavy machinery is another area that may be worth looking into. Low speeds, lots of torque required... If I can get 12 hrs of operation out of my fuel tank that usually gives me 8 hrs then it is a win for me. However, power is an even more important metric here. But I beleive that series hybrid is on the cusp of being efficient enough for this app; parallel doesn't seem to make sense to me in this context.
Ditto IRON. I have both a diesel & bicycle, oh & a motorcycle. The bicycle only takes pasta to run, haha.
America is so far behind Europe, the bummer is it's only because we have cheap gas. Get those prices up to $5 or $6 a gallon & see what happens. We could've had 50-60 mpg cars now if detroit had forsight, but they don't.
Like IRON I don't have any sympathy for the car companies.
Diesel is definitely an underplayed option. My husband just got a diesel SUV and can't stop raving about the difference in gas mileage. He says it's an average boost of around 25% consistently, which is definitely not insignificant.
I agree, Beth. Diesel is definitely an underplayed option in the U.S. There are reasons for that -- the precision injection systems are costly and the fuel is harder to make because there are only so many long-chain hydrocarbons in a barrel of crude. Also, the rule of thumb among automakers is that a base diesel engine costs about twice as much to make as a base gasoline engine. But it would be nice to see the auto industry move toward diesels, rather than pure, battery-electric cars, which appear to be niche vehicles for now. I believe Europe has been able to make it happen with a strong political push in the form of tax incentives (maybe one of our readers knows more about this). I definitely agree with your husband: Diesels make great engines.
If it is desired by consumers, then it does not require a government mandate.
Example: both Ford and GM have benched programs for new hybrid truck platforms, citing that solutions are technically and financially unattractive. A government mandate pushes them to build the unattractive solution anyway.
Some will say that this encourages Ford and GM to innovate. Yes, they must devote resources to develop a solution that competes against other companies forced to release unattractive solutions. At the very least, this diverts resources away from development that is attractive and desired by consumers.
Rather than a marketplace that reflects the cumulative values of consumers, we end up with a command economy. Engineers love a technical challenge, but step back further and realize that this is a liberty challenge.
To your point. I drive a 1994 Geo Metro that gets 40-45 MPG. I have people waiting for me when I come out of the grocery store asking to buy my car. California, on the other hand, penalizes me for keeping this car through increasing annual registration fees and punitive smog checks. The state sends me a letter every year encouraging me to sell my Geo to them so they can get this "old" car off the road. My pollution per mile with my little 1 liter engine is miniscule compared to my neighbors Escalade.
Suzuki could sell these things like hotcakes at today's fuel prices, no R&D at all. Just restart a mothballed line. So why don't they do it. The consumer demand is certainly there.
When comparing U.S. mileage vs. Canada and the UK, you have to consider they use Imperial gallons, whch have more gas per gallon and will show a higher MPG. Oil consumption is already down in this country, we're shipping oil overseas, and gas prices are still very high. Will the consumer really see a reduction? More oil will be sent to China and other developing countries that have air pollution issues. Will air quality improve in those countries as we presumably make our air cleaner? As fewer gallons are used in the U.S. gas taxes (revenue) per gallon will be reduced to the government. They won't like this, so taxes will increase, or we will pay a road use tax based on miles driven annually. This, added to the increased cost of vehicles, will probably mean that people will keep their 30mpg vehicles longer. This will affect auto manufacturing and therefore jobs. Increased unemployment. Another government idea not thought through, or if it was, making a good sound bite and playing on our ignorance.
Gas prices are high ? Where I live petrol, as it is known, costs $2 a liter, thats about 8$ a gallon (US or imperial?). Gasp. So we drive smaller cars, 1.6 liter engine Corolla or Focus is car enough for anyone. The trend is towards smaller cars. If I lived in the US, I wouldn't buy a larger car, I'd enjoy the savings from paying less for fuel. US rural and suburbia citizens might have ot give up he idea of driving around in trucks.
I've driven small cars since I started buying cars in 1976, often taking abuse from drivers of larger cars and trucks. Efficiency has always mattered to me. Prices of gas are relative to where you live, as are most things. If you live in Toronto or another large Canadian city, I understand that real estate has gone up about 80% in the last 10 years. I don't know if Canadian wages have kept pace, but my point was/is that most people vote with their wallet, and will keep an older vehicle with fairly good mileage vs buying a new expensive, probably same size, vehicle just to save a few cents at the pump and be "greener". And as I stated, taxes for highways or whatever that are collected by the government will also go up as revenue goes down with fewer gallons used. Especially now, people will look out for their own best interests. Don't forget that most consumables are delivered at some point by truck. If fuel prices go up, so do the price of those items. I can't speak for U.S. suburbia, but in the rural U.S. there are many places where trucks are used as trucks should be used.
In the caption of the graph, it says: "But by going from 40mpg to 50mpg, the savings drop to only $375 annually..." I just have to say, very few cars currently get 40mpg. I have a one year old relatively efficient car, on an all-highway long trip if I'm really lucky I can actually get 35mpg. But in regular driving with traffic lights and traffic jams, I often don't even get 25mpg. The only cars that reliably get 40mpg in normal driving now are hybrids or range-extended electric vehicles. So citing 40 to 50mpg change, when I will see 25 to 50mpg change, seems a bit disingenuous.
This requirement will put more hybrids and electric vehicles (possibly range extended) on the road, more than tiny unsafe gas powered cars. If due to economies of scale it makes the price of a future Volt come down from $40K to under $30K, that would be great.
It seems hilarious, or more just plain scary, that anyone would think that just because some nimrod somewhere decides we should have 54.5 mpg, that this makes any sense. Sure we can have a vehicle that gets this milage, but at what cost, and at what value/usefulness? I see the beginning of a new business opportunity, the refurbishment of trucks, SUVs, and high performace vehicles. I deal with government regulators everyday, and frankly most all are dumber than a door knob. The government is never correct in any cost prediction, so we will just end up spending an extra $10k for a car we don't want, or an extra $20-30k for the cars we do want (but have to be rationed), and everybody will wonder how did we get here. The laws of physics are not dictated by the whims of man, and your not going to be able to make my truck, which I use for hauling stuff, towing trailers, carrying 6 people (and this is not for work), ever get 54.5 mpg. And if you have ever paid attention, outside Chicago and DC, a lot of people like driving trucks, and SUVs. We can have faux gas milage, in the form of electronisity, but that energy has to come from somewhere, so now every municipality will be needing to build another power plant, and the EPA is not going to allow it to be coal, and everyone's electric rates will end up being double, and we will wonder how did we get here. I'm sure all of those in favor of the mpg mandate will proudly state that we all exist because of the self governing rules of evolution, survival of the fittest, naturally adapting towards an ever more complex co-existance with our world. But, for some reason when it comes to things involving money, or oil, then we need a designer, some higher power to dictate how we live our lives now that we have risen from the muck. Makes no sense.
Give me a break. I'm trying to get an 8 year old vehicle fixed to be smog-legal NOW and there isn't a CARB-approved (for California) catalytic converter available from ANYONE, so instead of replacing a $70 converter I'm stuck shelling out $900 for a whole new exhaust system, and THAT isn't even critical to fixing the vehicle's problems! (And it's getting where I have a hard time remembering how many years ago I was last offered a job to make some money to help pay for all this but I know it's well over 5.) What would this be like weith a 54.5 MPG vehicle, I don't even want to think! I want to make a point of reminding everyone that this isn't an oversight by our government, the current administration is so extreme that unless you belong to a public sector union or you're an illegal alien looking to not just stay in the country but join a profession (like become a lawyer) or you're in a gay couple trying to get married or you're a young woman trying to get government-provided birth control, YOU'RE labeled a radical extremist and your needs and rights WILL BE TRAMPLED AND IGNORED, as will the US Constitution and everything else you THOUGHT you could count on. Is this out of place for this topic? I don't think so, how will we ever pay for this or any of the other "unfunded gonernment mandates" with no job and no income except handouts from the govt? Tell them to quit trying to "engineer utopia" and try going back to making markets that work foir a change - or is that too radical an idea?
Auto manufacturers do not sell vehicles in the same ratios that are used to compute CAFE. The 54.5 CAFE target will result in a real fleet economy of approximately 40 MPG, if it is achieved. There are a few vehicles available now that get 40 MPG, but most people do not want them. The government can not tell people what to buy. Market forces are much better at doing that, which is why high MPG vehicles are more popular in Europe where fuel is taxed at much higher rates. That will not work in the USA where a politician who suggests such a high tax rate will be railroaded out of office. The biggest air polution problems are in densely populated areas, which also have the wealthiest consumers who can can afford to drive what they want. There is a solution to all of this, but it will not happen by government mandate. The auto industry is already making great strides to reduce vehicle weight and to develop more power from smaller engines. This does not require exotic materials, but evolutionary improvements to metal alloys and plastics that enable less material to do the job. Many alternatives to the standard reciprocating internal combustion engine have been proposed, but are not likely to take over the automobile market. Steady improvements to engine control algorythms and variable valve timing are helping. Gasoline is already being blended with natural gas liquids when it makes economic sense, so it is not necessary to run on pure natural gas. Engine start-stop, downhill coasting, passive hybrid operation and regenerative braking will become commonplace because they can be implemented inexpensively. Body designs are becoming more aerodynamic, but they don't have to look like needles. Computer modeling and wind tunnel testing can achieve acceptable results without warping the interior volume into an unusable shape. Fuel economy is an engineering problem that will only be solved by engineers. The government stance needs to be proactive, not coercive.
I own a 2007 Toyota Prius that has been averaging 56.5 MPG on my daily commute to work for the last 5 years. In cold weather it gets about 52 MPG, in the summer about 60 MPG. Of course I drive it very conservatively. (When my wife, she of the lead foot, drives it the mileage is considerably less)
It cost $24,000 including tax and license when I bought it. I calculated that the extra $10K I paid over the cost of a Ford Focus (getting 35 MPG) would not be recouped over the life of the vehicle even with $5 per gallon gasoline. That being said, I am still glad that I bought the Prius instead of the Focus.
The point I am trying to make is that it is possible to profitably build commuter cars today that meet the requirement. Getting customers to accept the cost tradeoff is a problem though.
54.5mpg (number translates to 45mpg EPA) is alraedy here! I drive a Prius that gets 51/48 EPA. It cost $24000, which well bellow the average (the average price for a new car in the US this year is $33,303 acording to Forbes). I can go over 600 miles on a 12 gallon tank of gasoline. It caries 4-5 people with lugage, bikes and kayaks.
"Consumer advocates said the 54.5mpg number is not as daunting as it seems, however. That figure is not the same as the EPA sticker number on every vehicle, since the two are calculated differently, Gillis said. He pointed out that the 54.5mpg number translates to 45mpg on an EPA sticker. "So when you think of the fact that the goal in EPA numbers is 45, it becomes clear that it is very achievable," he said."
I read this. The article did not explain how they came up with what I consider a large gap. Approximately 20%. Frankly, unnamed "Consumer advocates" immediately makes me skeptical. Anyone can call themselves a Consumer advocate. Years ago the old CAFE standards weren't very accurate, and the new standards (within the last few years) are supposed to be better, yet still not perfect. I seriously question this 9.5 mpg difference, especially when it pertains to a government mandate. I expect that if the government states 54.5 mpg, then they expect that number to be attained in some manner.
Gillis is from the Consumer Federation of America, citing an unnamed National Consumer Expert, making a statement without showing provable facts. Check the website. They are interested in many diverse issues, ranging from hurricanes to the USDA. That doesn't make them automotive experts, and they just seem to be repeating what was told to them by the National Consumer Expert, No research done on their part, so yes, I do question Mr. Gillis, who is the Director of Public Affairs. If the government mandates a number, and someone who believes themselves to have better knowledge contradicts that data, I want to know their basis, so I'll have an explanation for what I see in print and in dealerships. If the government mandated numbers are not to be trusted or are incorrect, why are we wasting our time?
The cost savings associated with better mileage is not merely what we save at the pump, but associated environmental costs (global warming associated issues), health costs (from pollution), and energy security costs (going to war to assure we can fill our tanks). A comprehensive cost benefit analysis would account for all the factors to include individual and societal costs which we pay for directly or indirectly. We, as a nation, have, at least temporarily decided it's in our best interest to reduce the amount of petroleum products that we consume. Part of that equation is increasing our automotive fuel economy.
The idea that people will hang on to their cars longer to avoid the additional cost for mileage improvements in newer cars and thereby put people manufacturing cars out of work seems a bit contrived. By that logic we should only have crappy cars that last a month, and have to buy a new car every month. We could put millions of people to work manufacturing cars, towing cars, disposing of/recycling cars, and mining the raw materials to manufacture cars etc. Inefficiency to achieve employment harkens back to the old Soviet system. They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work. As far as paying for our highways, whether that comes as part of a gas tax, sales tax, mileage tax, GVW tax or some combination, we all benefit from the highways whether we drive/commute or not, and we need to pay for their efficient construction and maintenance. Why would we complain about the need for a different method of generating that revenue should a previous source become inadequate.
The idea that it's very expensive or difficult (from an engineering standpoint) to achieve 55 mpg is baloney. The Volkswagen L1 concept vehicle gets more than 200 mpg, and has since 2001, without regenerative braking or turbocharging. While not practical as commuter vehicles, the winners of the Shell ECO Challenge are exceeding 8000 mpg and provide a variety of applicable techniques for improving mileage. My old 1982 diesel Suburban (6.2L) got 25 to 27 (max 30) on the highway and 22 around town, consistently, without right sizing the engine, water injection, turbocharging, fluid dynamic optimization, or regenerative braking. And, sadly, most drivers could get a 20% increase in mileage just by changing their driving habits, and don't. We're in the pickle we're in because we have tended historically to buy large (heavy) powerful (arguably overpowered) vehicles that generally rely on the Carnot cycle. The Carnot cycle engine is most efficient at wide open throttle (WOT). So we idle around town, one person to a vehicle, operating our engines primarily in their least efficient mode, paying the fuel overhead for engines capable of putting out an unneeded 300+ horsepower and quote "experts" telling us that achieving 55 mpg is going to make our cars too expensive. Detroit makes most of their profits from luxury vehicles. I suspect the real issue is that Detroit is worried they'll find themselves selling a lot of high mileage commuter vehicles that they can't make as much profit on.
General Comments - good post. The diesel rabbit got 55MPG in 1982. Are the so called experts saying we can't meet this standard because we are going backwards technologically. Perhaps they have interests political, business or affiliations that lead them in a direction wanting to follow our gas-guzzling past. It's difficult to separate truth from fiction when there are so many special interests involved.
Yeah, but did you ever RIDE in or DRIVE a Diesel Rabbit? I did. They were total pieces of crap. Dangerous, underpowered, ugly, uncomfortable, etc.
It should be abundantly obvious the continued production, popularity and evolution of 35k+ 300+hp sport coupes and sedans as the fat part of the bat for profitable automobile production tells you what the consumer wants.It is a wonderful side effect that this new generation of powerful and efficient sport coupes are (mostly) very fuel efficient whilst retaining impressive performance in other areas.
If you want to push your oilless religion, so be it...but quit characterizing anyone who disagrees with your faith as part of a devil worshipping cabal of big businessmen. There are no "fatcats in a smoke filled room, cackling as they pull strings for puppet politicians", and anyone who believes that has been watching too many network sitcoms and A&E "documentaries" on mermaid civilizations being hidden by the CIA.
Consumers are not automatons...they are (by and large) not big babies, and they don't need a suger titty from the government regulators to keep them quiet and pacified. Most of all, quit bashing the manufacturers when they wonderfully respond to what consumers want by producing vastly better examples of automotive excellence than the 1982 Rabbit Diesel!
Totally false. I HAVE owned a diesel Rabbit, and it was one of the safest and most comfortable cars on the road. It also looked nice, has great carrying capability, and was easy to park. It was weak, but sufficient. And with turbo charging, diesels are much better than gasoline cars for power, mileage, ease of maintenance, and longevity.
82 diesel Rabbit was one of the 'safest and most comfortable cars on the road"?
I mean...really? What else have you driven?
Looked nice - compared to what? a cardboard box?
great carrying capacity - again, compared to what? MAYBE 600lb max if all flat roads, and MAYBE 60 mph top speed. I could put a damned rabbit on top of my GMC van and still have room to seat the kids and a dog.
easy to park - o.k. I'll give you that one
it was weak, Yeah, weak as in slower than a 125 moped. :-)
But, all kidding aside - yeah, you're right. Turbo/Deisel is the wave of the future. Just makes more sense from a pure engineering standpoint.
At one time I had a 1957 VW van, with an 1100 cc engine and 32 hp. With the big flat front, THAT was really slow. Compared to that, the diesel 1600 cc Rabbit was pretty nice.
But that also brings up a whole different aspect, which is that US drivers are going to have to learn how to drive more patiently. Back then gasoline was twenty-five cents a gallon, and I still drove carefully, in order to save money. When gasoline gets to $10/gallon, like it could in less than half a decade, we will see people driving a lot slower. Things are definitely going to change. We don't really have to guess. It is pretty much a sure thing.
Beside the Nano, which cars can get easily 80mpg on a gallon of gas or diesel? Are you talking Imperial gallons? At what speeds, and is the vehicle actually "usable" at U.S. speeds? I have a 250 pound Vespa that gets 85 mpg. Top speed is 50mph. Only usable on non-freeways. And the Nano would not sell in this country because it doesn't have the relevent safety equipment for dealing with American vs Indian traffic. That would add weight, the enemy of efficiency.
England has a Ford Focus and Germany has the VW Polo that get over 80 mpg, at higher than highway speeds, safely and reliably. There are dozens of others as well.
Safety equipment for the Tata Nano to be brought to the US, is actually just padding, and does not weigh much of anything, nor does it change mileage.
It is nice to pretend the US has safer cars, but I will take a 1967 Mercedes over a modern US car in an accident, any day. Putting an explosive airbag in your face makes a car more dangerous in an accident, not safer.
I wasn't just talking about airbags. U.S. cars have many other safety devices vs Nanos, not including the new electric nannies, including better bumpers, side beams in doors, collapsing steering columns, safety glass, and more than one windshield wiper. 624cc rear mounted 2 cylinder engine, 3 lug nuts per wheel, zero to 37mph in 8 seconds will make other drivers happy. Top speed is 65, which is not safe on most U.S. 60mph freeways. Get in an accident in a Nano and you will get hurt. Just like all the other microcars. This is less sophisticated than a 1960's VW Beetle. We've all moved forward.......... And if you have a 1967 Mercedes you won't meet the 54mpg no matter whether it's gas or diesel. Ford of England website says the Focus gets between 44.1 and 67.3 combined using either the 1.0 gas or 1.6 turbodiesel. Probably using Imperial gallons. Not quite the easy 80mpg. For the VW Polo. Highest I could find from tests. Best 51.5, avg 49.6 from a 3 cylinder diesel. We all think europe is so much better. Higher gas prices subsidize mass transit, which I'm for, by the way. Driving in Switzerland or Austria is extremely restricted, and lower speed limits than U.S. which would also help explain higher mpg. Load down a small car with a few people and cargo, and watch the mpg plummet.
And you are wrong about speed limits in Europe. They are much faster, not more restricted.
Small cars like the Nano are much safer in single car accidents, because it is the energy of the back of the car that crushes you onto the engine. The lighter the car, the better you survive. It is only 2 car accidents where you try to kill the people in the ohter car, with a heavier car.
It is not hard to get 80 mpg and still be practical and safe. We just need to use more carbon fiber and aluminum instead of steel.
Sorry to burst your bubble about the Polo but we don't get the Polo, that's a UK model, therefore, Imperial gallons. Check Google. Speed limits are close to U.S. Max speed in England is 70 mph and they use photo cameras to enforce, max speed in Switzerland is 75mph and more generally 62mph with strict enforcement. 75mph is used in Western U.S. Germany has even reduced speeds in parts of the Autobahn due to congestion. Carbon fiber is expensive compared to steel and although lightweight, is now only used in race cars and limited street car usages like hoods. Usually aftermarket, exotics, or bling. You state about the Nano but only mention rear crashes, probably at low speeds, where you're crushed onto the engine. Doesn't seem much real world except maybe in India. Crushed doesn't sound good either. The trunk is in the front. Not much to protect you. Most crashes are frontal or offset, and the front structure is desgned to deform before it intrudes into the passenger compartment. Aluminum is not only expensive to build with (Audi's, some Jaguars, Rolls Royce) but not all body shops are specialized enough in equipment or talent to do the repairs. Hence more expensive repairs. The NANO isn't the answer, not even in India where it hasn't sold like they thought it would. Given the right circumstances people can get killed in any car, regardless of weight. Try not wearing your seatbelt or texting. And I bet you think people survive accidents better without seatbelts because they're thrown from the car. I'm through. Beam me up Scotty, this isn't fun anymore.
You are correct that the Polo add was also probably imperial gallons.
However, both Focus and Polo are better than the 54 mpg still.
Carbon fiber or aluminum may be expensive compared to steel, but has longer life and the savings are worth it. The Smart car is all carbon fiber. LandRover, Austin Healey, Cobra, etc., have had aluminum bodies for half a century.
All front engine vehicles are deadly because of the passengers being crushed against the engine. That is why the rear engine VW bug has such a good safey record. Empty trunks provide more crash energy absorption. Even better is a front engine that swings down in an accident, like Mercedes.
No, Nano is not the only answer, but since the real answer is mass transit and we are not going to do that, we need to try smaller solutions like the Nano. Most people communte and don't need such big cars. Smaller cars have fewer accidents in general, so are automatically going to save lives.
I tried to walk away from this but you continue with incorrect claims or just your opinion. Check it out. The Smart car shell is made of metal, and body panels are made of plastic. Not carbon fiber. I had a 1973 beetle and there wasn't much in the way of front protection. The noses deformed whenever another car struck it in a minor impact. As far as safety, they didn't have CAD/CAM Design when the air cooled beetle was around so everything was designed without being able to see the results of a collision, then designing a safer structure. There weren't crash tests and results then like NHTSA has now, so saying the beetle was safe in a collision is basically moot. New cars are designed to avoid the engine moving into the passenger compartment, and that the energy is deflected. Manufacturers are aware of insurers' and consumers' demands for safe cars. If there is supporting data, prove your stement that smaller cars (and what do you consider small, as large cars are now the same size or smaller than the 70's midsize cars) are in less accidents. Where do you get your information? Austin Healy and Cobra (4 cylinder cars brought from the U.K. as the AC) were made of aluminum primarily because they weren't built in large quantities and the thin metal was easy to hand form. Try finding any examples of those cars where all the measurements are identical. Considering what Land Rovers, etc. cost, I find it fascinating that you say the costs are worth it. Maybe if you keep the vehicle for 30 years, but rarely does anyone do this. I don't know anyone that could afford to purchase a new Land Rover, so most must be leased, which is not "owning" the car. Maybe in the future through economies of scale will you see these materials being used, so steel is the metal of choice that most people can afford. It hasn't happened yet, and aluminum has been around a very long time. "Empty" trunks mean nothing but air. Air can't stop anything. Let's drop this.
The original Smart cars prototypes were carbon fiber, but the US regulations forced them to switch to steel.
The 1973 VW nose did deform upon impact, but was easily cut off at the firewall and replaced. The whole car was modular and easily put back on the road. The point is that the empty trunk gave plenty of room and time for energy absorption. It is the sides of the empty trunk that absorb, not the air inside. And you are entirely wrong to assume VW did not perform intensive crash tests, just because US makers did not back then.
Aluminum body panels are no harder to make or work on then steel. In fact they are easier.
The cost of the Rover is from the interior, not from the aluminum frame or body parts. All cars would benefit from the use of more aluminum, and it would not push the cost up much at all.
Looking to the future, Macmillan said that the Ford P2000 prototype, similar in size and appearance to the popular Taurus model, may help pave the way for the next generation of AIVs.
Alcan helped Ford to produce the P2000, the lightest mid-sized vehicle in the world at just 2,000 lbs. This vehicle represents a radical change in material composition with 735 lb. of aluminum, with stamped sheet being the major product form.
Equipped with a prototype engine, the P2000 can deliver 63 mpg with equal or superior performance to a steel-bodied sedan, including safety. Several such prototypes have been assembled and are being extensively tested. ... }
>Rest of the world gettng 80 mpg >Rigby5 9/12/2012 12:56:33 PM
>I was buying 4 cylinder cars in the 1960s that got 30-40 mpg, such as VW, Fiat, Renault, >Mercedes, Corvair, Pontiac Tempest, Nash Metropolitan, etc.
>Asian and European cars easily get 80 mpg, mostly with turbo charged diesels.
>Lets not pretend that 54 mpg is hard.
>We all know it isn't.
I think back in the 60's, and in the rest of the world, there were/are other a) safety requirements, and b) emmission standards, that effect mpg. So if we are to compare US mpg with these we need to compare other constraints put on american cars. ARe we going to relax these to get to 54 mpg? I have a '89 Dodge Colt Stationwagon with a 1.5l engine that get 30+ mpg in town, and its not a dog, it has some pep, but I think its very light. (I also note this engine is smaller than what is in the GM Volt!
Think about pollution regulations for a second? How could it be better to get low mpg in order to meet pollution requirements? Obviously pollution is not being fairly measured. It is insane to measure parts per million, when in reality a car puts out half the amount of pollution total. If they changes the DEQ measurements to capture a volume of exhaust over a period of time and measure the total, then high mpg would easily negate things like heavy air pumps that don't really help at all.
Sorry, I have to plead ignorance on the Corvair. I just know it by reputation. It was a bit before my time.
Same thing can probably be said of the Pinto. It was not a stellar mpg car, but it did push the mark for Ford. It likewise got a (slightly) undeserved bad rep. Ford could have moved that fuel tank if they needed to. But the ambulance chasers were already on them and Americans back then still thought that every charlitan that said they were looking out for them really was.
So in 30 years we have not been abve to double the MPG. The computer industry doubles the performance every few months. I think the leason here is that the objective is NOT consolidated: some consumers target performance, some economy, some luxury. The automakers strive to market a blend to try and satisfy everyone: not wanting to miss any sales. A radical new design that fully met any one target might not provide the average retun on investmet that they are accustomed to. This would be a huge business risk.
Forward thinking tells us the trends of price and availability of petroleum - so the future is obvious. We just need to enbrace the facts. IF any car manufacturer were to be so brave as to introduce a design that was fully internded to be the best/lowest 'cost of ownership' it would be any interesting thing to watch unfold.
While the proposed milage figures may be easy to meet in particular vehicles, to meet them as a fleet average, which is the requirement, will be very expensive. This will lower the demand for new cars and the economies of manufacturing scale on which the cost estimates have been based will no longer apply, especially since the high demand, high profit, low-mileage vehicles which have been subsidizing the small, high-mileage vehicles will have to be largely eliminated. The reduction in sales volume will increase the cost per vehicle far beyond the current estimates. I think Cubanization is an apt term. The focus of the automotive industry will move from manufacturing to preservation, and the change will be profound.
I disagree. There are many ways to meet them as a fleet average. One is to change the mpg rating to make is based on cargo. That way pickup trucks would not bring down the fleet average. And of course selling a high volume of commuter cars would also do it. And that is not at all hard to do. It does not mean lowering the demand for new cars, but increasing it. Smaller and more fuel efficient cars do not cost more, but cost less. That would not cut into US car sales, but greately increase it as we cut into import sales.
Lets face it, the imports are doing much better, not only in mpg, but in sales.
So this is NOT just an arbitrary government requirement, but the only way to survive and compete with foreign car makers. We should have done this voluntarily several decades ago. This is not the first gasoline price hike, and won't be the last. How many times are the US car makers going to ignore gasoline price fluctuations, and how many times are we going to have to keep bailing them out.
I must first apologize to all whom I may offend by my response. That said, it is my firm belief that the best solution is to allow people the freedom to choose what they want to purchase without gunverment intervention. This also means to allow engineers and manufacturers to build anything they choose to build without gunverment intervention. The horror you say? Look around at the high unemployment, rapidly rising food costs, and generally collapsing economy and then tell me that central planning is working! The US had a long history of non-gunvermental intervention, but the Progressives decided they could 'fix' the problem by passing laws and appointing experts to control manufacturers and the public who were too stupid to control their lives, but were genius level once inside the voting booth.
If people want high mileage cars they should have the freedom to buy them, but the same applies to gas hogs. If they do not wish to purchase airbags, seatbelts, third tail lights, or V2V systems, why must they be forced?
If central planning by experts did indeed work, Russia, Cuba, and related nations should be sterling economic models and the chaos of the former American free market should have resulted in third world status. Instead we see the opposite, yet many leaders and experts continue to press for central planning. The new mileage requirements and steeply rising costs of transportation should be evident. Yet more amazing to me is that so many engineers seem to be falling into this thinking, or at least I assume everyone responding in this blog is an engineer.
The high unemployment, etc., was all caused by lack of government regulation, not too much. US auto makers consistently make large and low mpg vehicles because they have the highest profit margins, not because they are the most popular. Three times now we have had gasoline crisis where US car makers have needed bailing out because foreign car makers consistently get much better mpg. It is clear US auto makers simply are incompetent. It does not take a crystal ball to tell us all that gasoline prices are going to always be volatile and always heading upwards. But again US auto makers are producing cars we know will not be possible to sell during the next gasoline spike. The only cars US makes will be able to sell are actually rebadged imports, which hurt our trade imbalance.
But I will agree that many regulations, such as airbags and catalytic converters, are poorly conceived, and need more study and input.
I have to smile. If we were truly living under a free market system, we would be clawing with each other to work 80 hours a week, for slave wages, under dangerous and degrading working conditions for any of a few monopolies, without health care, while our children started smoking at age 4 and a third of our population was addicted to heroin, and 2/3 alcoholic. 'Free markets" work when they are used to optimize a result once constraints, legislatively or otherwise, have been defined for the ultimate outcome that is generally considered to be beneficial to society. Feel free to argue about the constraints, but relying on enlightened self interest to automatically drive the "free market" in a way that benefits society has proven exceedingly unreliable.
Legislative constraints for performance, standardization, or safety are not the same as central planning. In an economy based on central planning the allocation of resources is determined by a comprehensive plan of production which specifies output quantities. We could go back to the good old days when Ford was making cost/benefit decisions about fixing flaws in the Pinto. "How many people do we have to incinerate before it will cost us more than the fix." I for one believe that my insurance rates are lower because of the crash worthiness, seat belts, and air bags legislated into our vehicles, and the statistics indicate these features are saving lives and reducing injuries. But then I have a preference for safe and effective drugs too, and household appliances that don't catch fire or electrocute me. If seatbelts and airbags are offensive to you, they can be cut out or disabled, but don't tell your insurance company, the break you're getting on your insurance for having (and using) them, almost certainly pays for the cost of their installation over the life of the car. You don't have to belt in your children either. Risk the fine. Drive drunk, uninsured. Teach them about individual freedom. Remember, what doesn't kill them makes them stronger. Driving is a privilege granted by the state, with the understanding that you will be operating and owning a vehicle while meeting certain safety and legislative standards. In general we all benefit from those constraints. If you disagree with the constraints circulate a petition to change the laws, but remember that driving is not a right.
I too had to smile. Spoken like a true public (government) school graduate. Henry Ford paid employees above the prevailing wage rate. He had two things in mind doing so. First, his employees would be able to buy his products, but more importantly he was able to outbid his competitors for the most talented help. The Edsel was a gas guzzler with a high profit margin. Yet it was a financial failure to Ford due to sales volume.
The "Progressive Movement" started in about 1890. Yet the period prior to that saw the greatest gain in the standard of living in human history. The Sherman Antitrust was used against Standard Oil by accusing Rockefeller of "monopolistic pricing". His "crime" was causing the price of kerosene to drop from 60 cents per gallon to 6 cents. He did this by inventing and investing in more productive methods to produce kerosene. His competitors lost money, thus leaned on government to make him raise prices to keep the competitors in business. I could go on for pages about separating myth history from reality history.
By definition monopolies are government inventions, used to prohibit competition. New York cab license "medallions" that sell these days for over 100 thousand dollars stop any competitors. Wonder why cab fare is so high in NYC?
My beef with mandated safety equipment has nothing to do with my using them, but rather that I am forced to buy them. If my airbag deploys it is against the law to drive my car. Who does my car belong to?
And by the way, our safe appliances come by way of Underwriters Labs which predated government hamfisted standards. Thankfully standards in fasteners were established by the SAE. The group that cant deliver the mail or get Amtrack to run on time or at a profit now takes care of food and drugs. That thought alone is enough to make me ill.
Lastly I have searched high and low for the law that says driving is a "privilege". Roads are not a new invention and predate government. One would think that this privilege might have been noted by the founders. Instead I find the opposite, that free travel is a right. Licenses to drive of course are issued by the state so I would be willing to say that licenses are a privilege, but licenses are also permission granted by the state. Only slaves need permission.
However in this blog, each of us is free to choose what we believe is truth and I can't convince anyone that stateism is a religion that I can't swallow. As a result we will have to agree to disagree and I will make no attempt to convert anyone.
The initial high wages paid, reputedly not Fords idea, was also balanced to some degree by Ford policing the personal lives of his employees. Both eventually abandoned.
The improvements in standard of living in the 1800's is generally credited to the industrial revolution. The "progressive" movement tended to be a response to perceived predatory practices of industrialists. Rockefeller's "crimes" were controlling freight rates, and predatory pricing (among others) to drive his competitors out of business. Had the playing field been level, it's possible other companies would have risen to preeminence and, the price of kerosene could have gone lower. We'll never know.
By definition a monopoly is exclusive control of a commodity or service. A monopoly can be granted by a government or king, but in an unregulated "free" economy it is the natural result of competition. Eventually someone will end up holding all the marbles. At which point they can prevent others from entering the business to compete, charge whatever they want, control by regulating supply, and depending on the commodity controlled, influence legislation outside of a democratic format.
UL is accredited by OSHA, my conversations with Europeans (Spanish, German, French, UK) indicate that our postal system (cheaper, more reliable) is the envy of the world, SAE includes government agencies (US and Foreign) in their forum.
Your rights in the US, are granted by the US constitution. You have a right to due process, a certain freedom to travel would likely be considered a right, but method, traveling, by driving a car, is not. Laws don't grant you rights, they define limits of behavior within the constitutional framework. (Jeeze, your making me despair of your private education.) If you believe you have a right to drive, don't renew your license, get pulled over and ticketed for driving without a license and take it to the supreme court. They will let you know if you have the right. Even a blind person has the right to own a gun, they don't have a right to operate a motor vehicle (but they can ride the bus or be a passenger in a motor vehicle). Before the laws were sorted out there was a fair amount of pandemonium with a lack of standardization, safety equipment, and rudimentary skills associated with owning and operating automobiles. Municipalities, states and the federal government eventually imposed standards for training, navigation, condition, and safety equipment to keep people from killing and maiming themselves or each other on the road. Believe it or not, there is a legitimate societal interest in keeping you alive and healthy. Keeping you an alive wage earner/tax payer, keeping your kids out of orphanages, and you (or other drivers) out of rest homes or cemeteries is generally good for society. It seems goofy to whine about safety equipment, or laws mandated to keep you and your fellow drivers alive and healthy. The cost of advertizing and "destination charges" etc. probably adds more to the cost of your car than the safety equipment, and does less for your general wellfare.
I don't necessarily disagree with your point in government being authorized to regulate transportation.
But I totally disagree with your mistaken idea that the Constitution is the source of rights. The 9th and 10th amendments specifically say it is not, and that rights are inherent and pre-existing of the Constitution. Laws then are merely implementations of protections and restrictions on those inherent rights, and can not grant or deny rights at all. The justification for restriction of rights is entirely from the need to protect the rights of other individuals from conflicts. Government by itself has no authority at all, and is not a source of authority.
I'm speaking from an engineering/pragmatic standpoint. The constitution does, indeed, attempt to set forth the responsibilities and limits on the government and the people. As I understand it (obviously I wasn't there), there was some debate about including the ammendments. Some drafters felt it would limit our rights (anything not covered would become government regulatable), and some felt it would preserve them by assuring things wouldn't be assumed to be regulatable beyond the defined limits (ergo the IX & X ammendments). For those of you wondering, the certain inalienable rights endowed by our creator, life, liberty... etc. is from the Declaration of Independence, not the constitution.
From a pragmatic standpoint, if a right you want to claim is not specifically or obliquely identified in the constitution, the Supreme Court has been generally unreceptive to recognizing it. The supreme court has gotten pretty good at shoe horning in whatever complaint is brought before them to fit into a pidgeon hole of existing verbiage. You can argue about how generous they have been with oblique references.
We don't really disagree much it would seem, but remember that Roe vs Wade is based on the right of privacy, one of those unenumerated individual rights. Another word the SCOTUS uses for oblique is penumbra.
WE don't have a choice about buying airbags, which still occasionally kill people, which puts them in the same class as chainsaws and rotary lawnmowers, it appears. But we must pay for them, since it is mandated, which was because otherwise they would not sell.
The 54.5 MPG car is just like the low-flush-volume toilet, a mandate created by emotions and wishful thinking, rather than by common sense and rational thinking. A much better approach would be to cut the sales taxes on the model that got the best of all mileage, with the selection being reviewed quarterly. That could help the good mileage cars sell better. Consider the possibility that perhaps most folks simply do not wish to own or drive a vehicle that gives up so much to cut fuel consumption. Is Big Brother going to mandate what cars we buy next? It could easily happen that the auto companies could build them but the customers don't want them. Then what? Does anybody have a rational answer for what happens then?
OF course the very first thing should be that senators and congress people should only be allowed to own and drive cars that get at least 54.5 MPG. That law should be put into effect a few years prior to forcing it on everybody else.
Let the consumers and free market dictate. High gas prices and environmental concerns will drive the designs of the future, not government mandates.
I wanted an economical everyday driver. Several folks I work with own Smart cars, seat 2, and barely get over 40 to 50 mpg. I found it not practical. I also considered a VW Jetta Diesel. But I purchased a 2011 Ford Fiesta, thats getting me over 40 mpg in town, seats 5 and it can handle highway speeds and pass safely. I feel my car is far more practical. I made my choice as a consumer, without being influenced by government wants.
As consumers in a free market, we decide. See what happened to the Chevy Volt?
I agree and disagree at the same time. Consumers don't have a choice in the US because car makers simply are not building low mpg cars in this country. But I agree governerment mandate is not working well either, because in Europe the Smartcar gets 90 mpg, and it is only the US government mandates that forces it back down to 50 mpg.
It is clear the current government DEQ standards are heavily slanted to favor large cars, because they don't at all take into account the total amount of pollution.
They instead only measure parts per million, so all a car makes has to do is add an air pump to dillute the pollution, and they can easily pass. Even though they produce 4 times as much total pollution, they can beat a Smartcar in the defective DEQ tests we currently perform.
The government mandates also deliberately try to preclude diesels by claiming particulates are overly harmful, when in reality they are heavy and settle out much more quickly than the formalins, cyanates, monoxide, sulfites, CO2, etc., of gasoline engines.
But the Volt is an example of not enough government mandates. Clearly all electric could be extremely successful if there were a batter module standard that allowed easy battery exchange to extend range. Recharging takes too long, and hybrid weighs too much. Some simple madates could easily make all electric extemely competitive and appealing.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
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