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Re: Smaller is better
Bunter   8/28/2012 3:33:58 PM
Have you compared interior dimensions?  I haven't with the Jetta but it might be revelatory, the Prius comes in at the lower end of the midsize groups.

Typically I have seen the opposite mistake with the Prius-people make mileage/cost comparisons with compacts that have a similar footprint but smaller interiors (it is a well packaged car, I suspect in part because they didn't need to make provision for different powertrains).

Considered on it's actual utility it is a midsize car at a midsize price with an extra 20 mpg thrown in.  I don't own one but it has never been a mystery to me why many do.  I find it a tough sell that all, or even most of the Prius owners are just "making a statement" as some have said.

The TDI makes a lot of sense also but VW needs to address their reliability issues before I will look at their products.


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Re: Question to Editor - More efficient options not in US
Bunter   8/28/2012 3:23:02 PM
Hi Peter,

I suspect market forces are at play.  Typically when a smaller engine version (smaller than class norm) is introduced they do not sell well. Another factor is that the test cycles for the Euro and Japanese cycles are different and the mpg figures may not be comparable.

If there was a substantial untapped market for these vehicles somebody would be delighted to jump on this market.

Just some thoughts.


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Re: 54.5 MPG at WHAT cost?
akwaman   8/28/2012 3:19:42 PM
To Island_Al.  You on your own island can have all the freedom you want.  You can run around naked, but you can't do that down main street.  The purpose of government is to PROTECT the people, and that also means to protect our freedoms, UNLESS THOSE FREEDOMS YOU WANT AFFECT OTHERS IN AN ADVERSE WAY.  The goverment is there to protect OUR freedoms, not YOURS ALONE.  You are the kind of individual that we need protection FROM.  You dangerous and selfish attitude is poison in our society.  I will say, that you are right to say " Congress is NOT filled with "do gooders", rather it is filled by self serving individuals ".  It is the do-gooders that keep the politicians in line.  It is those who expose what is going on, and expose politicians improper actions that protect us, not people like you that want the government to turn a blinds eye and let you do anything you want, in OUR society.  We live in a Capitalistic society, that requires that inflation happen.  The problem is that greedy business owners would rather spend MANY millions to fight for their tax loopholes in the form of nasty campaign ads, than hire more people, or give people raises.   Your final quote is good, dig deep, you missed it's meaning: 
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation" -Herbert Spencer

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Re: 54.5 MPG at WHAT cost?
Island_Al   8/28/2012 2:28:52 PM

And I, for one, am not happy with central economic planning. I thought the purpose of government was not to keep us safe, but to keep us free.  Today government fails on both counts.  I am forced to buy a car with airbags, but would choose not to do so if it were optional. It must be forced on me, at gunpoint no less.
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

Congress is NOT filled with "do gooders", rather it is filled by self serving individuals. When Congress passes a law, we as citizens might see some small benefit, however the real benefactor is usually unseen and makes a great deal of money because of the laws. 

In things economic, there is that which is seen, and that which is unseen.  The broken window fallacy is a great example.  When mpg improves less gas is sold, therefore less gas tax is collected, thus government is forced to increase the tax.

Government has created monetary inflation (printed money) causing all prices to increase, some increasing faster than others. In the mid sixties gasoline sold for 10 cents per gallon. Today it is over $4.  A 1963 dime has about $4 worth of silver at todays prices and a new Chevy in 1963 cost $1,600, now $25 to 35K. Gold back then was $35 an ounce, now $1,600. I suggest trying to read Rothbard's "The Case Against the Fed" to gain a better perspective of reality.

Of course it is likely that you will not agree with me.  Unlike government and its shills, I force my opinion on no one. 

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation" -Herbert Spencer


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Re: CAFE loop holes
analyst   8/28/2012 1:09:19 PM

Thanks for the reply.
Going to call it a day.

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Re: CAFE loop holes
Kevin   8/28/2012 1:01:06 PM
@ analyst,

Yes, the latest combined-cycle natural gas plants can get up to 60% thermal efficiency.  The best current car engines (prius, VW TDI) get 37% - 40%.

see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brake_specific_fuel_consumption

Note that generally, BSFC is the usual published data in technical reports, and you need to convert to %thermal efficiency.  Note that there are examples of (HUGE!) piston diesel engines that get >50% thermal efficiency!

for gasoline, a BSFC of 215 grams/KWh = 38% thermal efficiency.


Hopefully you can see that I'm not distorting anything - these are 100% facts!

Now...back to the original question - is the 54.5 CAFE target reasonable and acheivable ?  I studied the details of the proposal, and found that it isn't just a "brick wall" of 54.5 MPG.  It has a sliding scale based on vehicle size and type.

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAFE_standards

So....While I think that the new standard is quite aggressive, it should be do-able.  It will certainly add to the avg. cost of cars, and it will probably reduce the percentage of cars that have lots of power...but with a combination of incremental engine improvements, hybrid powertrains, and smaller cars + better aerodynamics, it seems quite possible.

cheers to the engineers that will make this happen!


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Question to Editor - More efficient options not in US
PeterC1   8/28/2012 12:53:06 PM
Great piece on what it takes to design more fuel efficient cars.  Charles, maybe you can answer me this question: 

 Why is it that the really fuel efficient engine versions offered outside the US for the same make are not available in the US? We are talking here about the same body style, same safety features, same model year.

 In some cases those engines have more torque and even more horse power.  Yes, the MPG rating for Europe is slightly different, but not significant.  I could find you several more examples.  And each car maker has smaller models with even better gas mileages not offered in the US.  In my opinion,  we in the US should have a choice to purchase all available engine options of an US approved model.  

Really curious. Maybe someone else has an opinion?  

Example 1: Honda

US:   Civic HF, 140HP, rated at 29/41 MPG

Germany: Civic S1.4, 100HP, 35/50 MPG

Germany: Civic S2.2iDTEC, 150HP, 46/62 MPG  (diesel)

Example 2: Volkswagen

US: Golf TDI 2.5l, 140HP, 30/42 MPG

Germany: Golf Blue Motion 1.6l, 105HP, 50 / 64 MPG    

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The real truth, without the statistical outliers. The bottom line by an independant test.
akwaman   8/28/2012 11:33:07 AM

The Bottom Line

It appears clear, no matter what the driving conditions, that the Toyota Prius will return around 44 mpg—if driven with a sane right foot. That's impressive, and that means the Prius remains the most fuel-efficient car on the market. The Jetta falls short in pure city driving, but it does meet (and barely beats) the Prius when it comes to highway fuel economy in our testing.
The price of fuel, of course, remains a big factor. On our test days, regular unleaded was $3.79 a gallon and diesel was $4.09. So on the city drive, which approximated a week's worth of stop-and-go commuting, the Jetta required about $10 more fuel to do the same job. Over a year, that would equate to about $500 if fuel prices stabilize. Granted, that's a big "if," and 500 bucks ain't nothing with an economy like ours.



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Re: Smaller is better
RNDDUDE   8/28/2012 11:20:17 AM
I just want to correct something that has popped up several times so far...."full size Prius vs. compact Jetta TDI." when comparing stated MPG values. The implication is that the Prius is a BIG car that achieves great MPG, while the Jetta is a SMALLER car that achieves somewhat less MPG.

The Prius dimensions are 58.7 x 68.7 x 176.4 (H-W-L).

The Jetta dimensions are 57.2 X 70.0 X 182.2 (H-W-L)

The two cars are essentially the same size, if anything, the Jetta is a bit larger.

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Re: Smaller is better
analyst   8/28/2012 11:13:18 AM

I am afraid you don't know how the oil market works. You make an argument that since a large portion of the price Arab countries use to set the price at which they sell their oil is in the form of royalties and taxes, that their cost of producing the oil is less than what they are selling it to the world.

That is true, but not relevant. Whatever goes into the pricing decisions that the Arabs make, they are still the low cost producer in the market.

What you need to understand is that if, for example, some company puts an oil well in your backyard -- not a pleasant experience -- that they will sell the oil according to the highest price they can get for it.

And that means that company will sell it at the price the rest of the world is willing to pay. The world market price.

Now, it is true that domestic production results in more of that money being put into American hands. That is, assuming the company that does the production is owned by Americans. But the impact on the consumer is the same, regardless of whether the oil is coming from your back yard or Bora Bora.

Talk of oil production jobs is a common topic on the political scene, but the fact is that it requires very few people, less than 0.5% of the population, to run the rigs, weld together pipes, etc. It's like Facebook or even Google. A lot of employees just are not needed.

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