There is one reason that car safety is phenomenally better than 40 years ago.
Government mandated seat belts. Government mandated collapsible steering wheel columns. Government mandated crash safety tests. New, mandated, off-axis crash safety tests. Government mandated air bags. Government mandated eye level brake warning lights -- Thank you, Elizabeth Dole. Government mandated head "rests" that prevent your head from coming off in a crash. Government mandated snap off light poles. If we lined all the American lives that have been saved, hand in hand, across the nation, it would double up!
And there is one reason that our cars are less likely to kill us with pollution.
Government mandated lead-free gas. Government mandated catalytic converters. Government mandated emissions tests. Government mandated positive crankcase ventilation.
And NOW, those same do-gooders want to dramatically improve the efficiency of our vehicle fleet. WE ARE ALREADY PROTECTED FROM PRICE SWINGS BY EXISTING CAFE STANDARDS. But they want our economy to be even less a hostage to the world price of oil. And you know what I say?
Go! Go! Go Do-gooders!
Ride your Prius all over the backside of the skeptics. Again.
PS. I forgot a couple more government mandated, lifesaving innovations:
Government mandated door lock standards that keep people from being ejected -- and having a much better chance of dying. Roll-over accident safety standards. Government mandated safety glass that comes apart into tiny pieces when you have a crash instead of slicing you up like a Vegematic!
Its not up to government minions to dictate who wants to drive what. I dont see their right to intefere in free enterprise anywhere in the Constitution Ive read. But to the subject at hand:
CAFE standards have killed thousands of motorist by forcing that cars be built from paper mache', to have overly complex drivretrains that are cost prohibitive to maintain or service and offer abysmal perfomance. They are not even feasible for powering vehicles that consumers actually want and thats why government is trying to force them and all these "alternative energy scams"--on the taxpayer-- because they are failures. THOSE should not be registered. These proposed cars are just llike like CFL light bulbs that you need to light a match to see when they are on. I have no problem with a Mercedes 500, and for those of us who have boats trailers and those awful off road motorcycles --- or just feel like driving a real vehicle were not going to be told what we are or are not going to drive by a bunch of political hacks benevolent to Marxist greens whose real agenda is to reduce the standard of living and freedom in America, and part of that freedom is mobility.
Oh by the way ... China has a near monoply on high field PM magnets, which if EV's are mandated is the only efficient motor techology. And right now, they have a near monopoly on most of the safe efficient battery production. We don't allow strip mining needed to recover the ores ... others do.
Without PM's eddy current losses in the iron cores, and in the variable frequency AC drives, suck up huge amounts of power, nearly 40% of the power in over the full stop and go driving experience.
Air core, PM designs, with DC trapazoidal wave forms can pull near 100% efficiency, that simply isn't possible with iron core, copper wound field stators and rotors.
Look at the CISRO air core motor used in solar racing.
When you have an 80% efficient motor, 80% efficient PWM drive system, and an 80% efficient energy storage system, regenerative braking efficiency in stop and go driving is then 0.8 * 0.8 * 0.8 * 0.8 * 0.8 = .328 or 32.8%
the well designed CISRO solar racer equation is more like 0.96 * 0.96 * 0.96 * 0.96 *0.96 = .815 or 81.5% AND there are ways to improve that!!!!
We should put the government mandate in perspective. The automobile is already extremely highly regulated. There are entire book shelf of books that regulate every aspect of car design. There are entire department of people working full time to keeping up with every requirement. Consumer can't just buy anything they want. It is even illegal to unplug the airbag in your own car you bought even if your wife is pregnant, and the airbag is a danger to her. Tail pipe emission is also highly regulated. Fuel economy is not much of a new mandate.
All the existing regulation already made the car way more complicated and much more heavy than in the past. In return, we get safer cars as more and more people travel on the road, and cities are more congested.
In general, the more people you have, the more regulations you need. In the old days with few people far and in between, you can drive anything you want. You hardly meet another car on the road. With 300+ million people, and many concentrated in cities, you can't drive anything you want. The resource people collectively consume would be too much. Government is forced to add regulation. Otherwise, you have situation like in India or China where you can hardly breath. Regulation adds stability as a country grow in population.
At the risk of piling on and forming rank with the esteemed PE glass-empty brother-and sister-hood I find this to be another case of strangling the fowl to increase egg production. Two outcomes I foresee. People will not get better at consolidating trips and using their cars more efficiently and making less errands because their payload capacity is decreased and carpooling will go the way of the dodo. And secondly, manufacturers will get better at making cars that pass the crash and survivor tests. Not cars that are durable, reliable, serviceable and smarter. An efficiency number should not be a singular metric on fuel consumption. If it was, the concorde would never have been built, we'd never proceeded with the space shuttle as a production fleet (which inevitably never came to pass) and baseboard residential heat would have been banned by executive proclamation. I'm not sure how to put incentive in the capitalism of private automobiles but an EPA sticker has gotten us as far as it can go.
Physics, engineering and some common sense lead us to consider the ramifications of our design mandates at some point, and that certainly includes the CAFE regulations and the end results.
A decade ago, when CAFE discussions were hot, and a bunch of car hating tree huggers where slaming big SUV's as unsafe to mingle on the roads with itty bitty tiny fuel efficent cars, I spent a week doing research to produce a rebuttal that resulted in my silencing that group, citing the actual facts from the government data bases on crash injuries and deaths.
The facts at the time were that for cars less than 2,200lbs the vast majority of injuries and deaths, had involved single car accidents (mostly from hitting stationary objects) and accidents with other cars of about the same wieght. As a percentage, accidents between small cars and heavy cars/trucks, were a very small number, making the single car, and same car, percentages dominate the injury and death statistics. The political means to silence that very nasty group of small car CAFE supporters, was to simply use the statistics available to call them "Baby Killers"
It's the G-forces during a crash that drive injuries, with injuries caused by restaint systems now topping the list of objects in a car that are responsible for those injuries. We have designed the interiors to reduce dash, steering wheel, window, and other interior objects out of the path of occupants, leaving just the restaint systems to injure occupants. Leaving how many G's can you pull against the restraints without being injured the design problem ... and the statisitics citing restraint systems leave us with some pretty clear engineering principles that says increasing safety requires reducing collision G forces on the occupants. And those high deceleration rates kill kids and babies too, because restraint and air bag systems don't work well for kids under 40lbs. This generally means safe cars require larger crumple zones, heavier cars to move or distort the object being impacted (shearing a telephone pole or tree, moving a parked car, etc), or lowering travel speeds (reducing speed limits both in town and on the hiway).
Consider the difference in reactions between a softball and a ping pong ball, when they react with various objects .... the ping pong ball (and your tiny micro car) leave the impact at higher velocities allowing multiple high G-force collisions with other objects before settling at rest. Sometimes significantly higher than starting velocities before the impact, with significant direction changes at extremely high G forces. Thus multiple force directions, multiple occupant impacts on restrain systems, and additional injuries. The heavier ball (and car) have a substatially better chance at leaving energy behind during the impact, and substantially lower G forces on the occupants, and will deflect less from the original path.
The IIHS testing repeatedly says that smaller micro cars result in a high probability of injury or death, when compared to classes of heavier cars/SUV's.
And with that, I've asserted that we should give the Darwin Award to the CAFE folks, not just because they are removing themselves from the gene pool, but because they are removing a much larger population from the gene pool that are stupid enough to ignore thae safety facts about smaller lighter cars.
Forget magnesium and titanium. Carbon fiber is getting less expensive every year and has the potential for becoming much stronger using fibers made of carbon nanotubes. It will probably be less expensive than steel in less than 5 years. I think the goal of 54.5 will be drop dead simple to meet. Remember in 1981 we had a 55MPG diesel VW Rabbit.
I was talking about giving incentives for short commutes. If you wan to drive an hour each way and spend extra money doing so, fine. Go ahead, but don't complain that commuting is soooo expensive just because you don't want to change. That said, I know of people who commute over two hours one way every day. Should be support such insanity?
Plenty of folks don't need an SUV (they never go off road, something SUVs are not designed for anyway) or the pickup truck with V8 engines. Unless someone works construction jobs for a living and really needs to transport a lot of stuff using a trailer for the occasional transport is much better. I've driven small cars that had no issues with towing. Do we really need to accommodate those who drive an H2 or an overmotorized car just to boost their ego or showcase that they make six figures?
Russia did this in the 50s due to the chronic lack of resources as well as securing what was available for mainly military use. That had nothing to do with environmental protection and coaxing people towards wasting less energy through unsustainable life styles.
As far as governments not regulating, we still suffer from the results of that approach. Bank regulation was basically removed entirely and the lack of such regulation and oversight was at the core of the current economic crisis. Also didn't help that the former administration amassed more debt than all administrations before together, but these days the fad is to blame that on people who just inherited that mess.
Do we need to regulate how much curve a cucumber is allowed to have? No, we do not. Do we need to regulate where otherwise anarchy and unsustainable processes will doom us and future generations? I am convinced we do. And the most effective way to change is to hit people and corporations (not the same!) in their wallets.
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