Recycling water and metals requires energy, usually supplied by fossil fuels. Ethanol and biodiesel are the products of the same resource used to provide you with lunch. You can drive, or you can eat, but not both (oversimplification, but you get the idea). The raw materials for bio-fuels also require vast quantites of artificial fertilizer, which is also produced with fossil fuel. It will grind to a halt eventually.
Perhaps we should let facts and data puncture pontification about fuel efficient cars and safety. We own two Prius, 2001-03, 1.5L model, a compact sedan like the Ford Focus, and a 2010-current, 1.8L hatchback. Both cars achieve real-world, annual mileage of 52 MPG, higher in the summer and lower in the cold dense air of winter. We know there are still 'low hanging fruit' including variable, cooling air inlets that can further improve this performance especially in the winter.
Looking at the NHTSA, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, we found the Prius has half the fatal accident rate per 100 million miles as the USA fleet. In fact the NHTSA pubishes an annual "Comparison Insurance Costs" and the Prius always rates lower than the average for its class. They are notable safe cars to drive.
We have 100,000 miles on the 1.5L Prius that remains my primary commuter car. The 1.8L Prius is our cross country and towing vehicle:
If one chooses to believe today's design rules are the limit of engineering capabilities, imagination, innovation, and skills have died. To compete, to succeed, engineers have to stretch and sharpen their minds, skills, and imagination. Achieving 54.5 MPG is well within the capabilities of today's automotive technology as any Prius owner can attest. But to give up saying "it is too hard" marks lazy thinking.
Due to some of its loopholes, the changing CAFE standards could actually result in larger population of less efficient vehicles. As currently written, the CAFE rules favor a reduction in MPG as vehicle footprint increases. Increase the wheelbase and/or track and you get a bonus reduction in MPG. Given public preference for larger vehicles there is some logic for an automaker to start stretching their platforms.
Perhaps a more interesting point; CAFE as a policy is designed to minimize our county's reliance on foreign sources of energy. With plug-in electrics arriving on the scene MPG is going to become less and less meaningful as a metric of Corporate Average Fuel Economy. Clearly you can't factor in a model with infinite MPG and get a sensible composite result.
Anyone out there in the industry know how this is going to be handled?
Maybe some people are tired of paying for your "freedom" to live a wasteful lifestyle. Maybe our government wouldn't need to support 11 aircraft carrier groups to maintain a steady supply of gas to your 8mpg Hummer. Maybe your freedom is not worth the price to me and others. Especially if all it takes is to kick the lazy corrupt car companies into action and demand reasonable modern products from them.
The formula used to calculate the CAFE value takes into account the production volume of the models used in the calculation. So producing a handfull of 80 MPG cars does not offset production of high volumes of gas guzzlers.
While HP is a factor in fuel consumption it is not valid to set HP limits to improve efficiency. A 400 HP Corvette today can get 35+ real world MPG. There are plenty of 150 HP "economy cars" that don't do any better. Combustion efficiency is pretty good today, so the major factors are total vehicle mass and number of passengers carried.
You might like to pause and consider that liquid hydrocarbon fuel is a finite resource. The more we use today, the less there will be for our grandchildren. You can argue 50 years left or right of the scale as to WHEN the resource is gone, but not IF. Speaking for myself, I feel uncomfortable about wasting limited resources, be it oil, fresh water, copper wire, or whatever.
The car companies have been shining up the model "T" since it came out. They make money by convincing you that they have inovated, when in fact they haven't.
A modern car only converts about 12% of the energy in the fuel into motion, the rest is wasted heat and greenhouse gases. There is plenty of room for improvement. A common electric motor is at least 90% efficient.
Our society (our government) provides all of the necessary infrastructure necessary to make an automobile useful(roads, right of way, bridges ect.) at enormous cost to taxpayers. We even subsidise the fuel through billions of dollars payments to the oil companies, and providing billions more to defend the foreign sources in the Middle East and elsware. The car companies would not exist without the Government! We have the right to demand that the car companies, who profit off of this Government investment, meet certain specifications.
Here in Boston we are looking at billions of dollars in expenses that will need to be spent to cover the cost of sea level rise in the next 20-50 years. It will be an expense shouldered by future generations just because the car companies "lawyered up" to fight the mpg standards instead of doing the right thing 30 years ago and improving their product! The cars may be cheaper but the cost of 100million on the road will be much higher if this doesn't happen.
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