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Auto Mileage Standards Raised to 35 mpg 746

Posted by Zonk
from the change-of-pacing dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The Senate just passed a bill that will increase auto mileage standards for the first time in three decades. The auto industry's fleet of new cars, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and vans will have to average 35 mpg by 2020, a significant increase over the 2008 requirement of 27.5 mpg average. For consumers, the legislation will mean that over the next dozen years auto companies will likely build more diesel-powered SUVs and gas-electric hybrid cars as well as vehicles that can run on 85 percent ethanol. Automakers had vehemently opposed legislation in June that contained the same mileage requirements and Fortune magazine reported that American automakers were starting the miles-per-gallon race far behind Japan and that the new standards could doom US automakers. At the time, Chrysler officially put the cost of meeting the proposed rules at $6,700 per vehicle. The White House announced the President will sign the bill if it comes to his desk."
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Auto Mileage Standards Raised to 35 mpg

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  • by MadUndergrad (950779) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:40AM (#21706882)
    I'm glad they're finally getting to this. As for Detroit, they'd have been better off if they hadn't had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this if the bill gets signed. Although given that the deadline is 2020 it seems like they have more than enough time to do this. Between nutating and gerotor engines it seems like the technology is just waiting to be taken seriously by an industry stuck in the 1960's.
    • Well that sounds jolly techie. Nutating and gerotor engines? Not a chance in hell for sound engineering reasons.
      • Care to elaborate on these sound engineering reasons?
        • Gerotor motors need complex seals. see Wankel. They have high surface area/volume ratios. see Wankel.

          Nutating motors need very complex seals. They provide high power to weight ratios, but suffer from similar surface area to volume ratio problems as gerotors, so causing high emissions and low efficiency.

          I see no evidence that the traditional piston and crankshaft, poppet valve, type of mechanism is going to be replaced by a new IC engine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MadUndergrad (950779)
            The Wankel is old news. http://www.starrotor.com/ [starrotor.com]

            They get around the seal issue by not having one. By making the rotors with tight tolerances, and by using the Brayton cycle rather than the Otto cycle, thus allowing lower compression ratios, they reduce leakage to a negligible level with no seals to deal with. I've got my eye on this company for the next few years. As for nutating engines, the seal issue probably will get the best of them, but it's still a neat concept that may see limited use.

    • Gas is too cheap! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stoertebeker (1005619) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @08:24AM (#21707508)
      Regulating fuel consumption (and exempting the really big guzzlers) is just the wrong way to manage technology. All it does is tell the industry to get up to current standard (in 13 years) and not to innovate any more than needed.

      The best way to improve efficiency is market forces. Once gas is expensive enough to be a real consideration when buying a vehicle, people might actually see past the marketing hype and realize they don't need that huge StupidUglyVehicle after all.

      Yes, gas got expensive enough to get people to complain. But for most families it's still less than their cable bill. Clearly not something that would change habits.

      Another major component in reducing fuel consumption or CO2 emissions is modifying our behavior: number of trips, distances traveled, and god help us car-pools and public transport. Raising the mileage standard does nothing on any of these fronts. Increasing gas prices gives a strong incentive to reduce consumption in any way possible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        But for most families it's still less than their cable bill.

        Holy shit! How much do these people pay for cable?!

        I'm single and I drive an economy car. Up until last month, I'd been doing a typical Atlanta commute (Gwinnett County to downtown via I-85; about 30 miles or 45 minutes -- yes, this is typical for Atlanta). I was spending at least $150/month for gas alone, which is larger than any sane cable bill by itself. An actual family, with at least one member doing about the same commute but in a 15mpg SUV

  • Since Big Oil has decided to raise the prices to triple what it was 5 years ago, I see no reason why I can't expect my auto manufacturer to attempt at least double my MPG from 5 years ago.


    • by DavidShor (928926) *
      Why does the government need to mandate standards? Just buy some of the multiple Japanese Hybrids. There is no need for you to force your preferences on other people.

      And to preempt a flood of angry responses, I believe in Global Warming and Emissions control. But MPG and carbon tailpipe emissions are only weakly correlated. Instead of wasting large amounts of money on improving MPG, we could focus these resources on CO2 control.

      • Re:Only 35? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @09:44AM (#21707878) Homepage
        MPG is only weakly related to CO2 emissions?

        Odd. I thought the combustion of petrol split up the hydrocarbons in to CO2, CO, H2O and a few other things.
        One gallon of gasoline will pretty much always give out the same amount of CO2.

        Now assuming the amount of miles you travel stays the same, if the MPG is higher doesnt that mean less gasoline is burnt?

        In addition to lower CO2 emissions, it also has the benefits of reducing our dependency on oil and giving us more cash to spend.

        Please do correct me if my logic is wrong but it seems valid to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        And to preempt a flood of angry responses, I believe in Global Warming and Emissions control. But MPG and carbon tailpipe emissions are only weakly correlated. Instead of wasting large amounts of money on improving MPG, we could focus these resources on CO2 control.
        The ammount of carbon in the fuel is pretty much fixed. And what goes into the engine must come out.

        Some comes out as CO2, for the most part this is the preffered outcome, it causes global warming but thats about it. It also represents a complete
  • Finally. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:43AM (#21706892) Homepage
    I own a Ford Escort from the turn of the century. It may not be very pretty, or very fast, but gets roughly 40 MPG. I can't understand how people are content with their goddamn SUVs getting 25 or less miles to the gallon. Oh well.
  • Ugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidShor (928926) * <supergeek717@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:45AM (#21706898) Homepage
    Why exactly is Corn Ethanol a good thing? Haven't we caused enough food riots and inflation worldwide with this policy?

    And I'm not really thrilled with the other provisions of the bill, namely requiring 15% of every utility's power from every state to come from non-renewable sources. This is going to draw a lot of capital away from Nuclear energy, and in the states without wind or clear skies, will likely prompt a lot of wasteful programs(Apparently, burning Forests for energy counts as renewable energy).

    And the CAFE standards? I don't care enough to fight about it(mainly since it seems the market is heading that way anyway), but I would prefer more specific mandates that don't smack of populism. CO2 emissions are pretty poorly tied to gasoline consumption, and regulation on tail-pipe CO2 emission would make a lot more environmental sense(And cost a lot less money), at least until a carbon credit scheme is implemented.

    The funny thing, is that nobody is even considering implementing CAFE standards for the military and other government agencies. The Government's massive purchase of fuel inefficient cars, since agencies have very little incentive to save on gas costs, has a surprisingly discretionary effect on the production decisions of American Car Makers. We've all seen police drive around in SUVs.

    Instead of saddling American consumers with extra costs, why don't we mandate that all agencies that receive money from Congress must not use cars with a MPG below 35? This includes charities, police departments, the Military, and even foreign governments.

    • And I'm not really thrilled with the other provisions of the bill, namely requiring 15% of every utility's power from every state to come from non-renewable sources.

      I'm going to assume the 'non-' was a typo... but since that whole section of the bill was dropped from the Senate version anyway, it's a moot point. I will agree, though, that passenger-sized vehicles owned by the government should adhere to the same standards as passenger-sized vehicles sold to individuals. There's no reason for anything f

      • "I'm going to assume the 'non-' was a typo... but since that whole section of the bill was dropped from the Senate version anyway, it's a moot point."

        Sorry, it was indeed a type. I'm glad to hear that provision was dropped from the bill after all, thanks for brightening my day a bit.

        And indeed, I guess you could justify military vehicles as commercial vehicles.

    • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:00AM (#21708354)

      Why exactly is Corn Ethanol a good thing? Haven't we caused enough food riots and inflation worldwide with this policy?


      It's not. You are absolutely correct. The main useful effect of subsidizing corn/maize derived ethanol is to drive up food prices. Much/most of the food eaten here in the US has some corn/maize component in it. It does not in any substantial way reduce our oil dependency, it uses valuable arable land [wikipedia.org], and it is basically a handout to farmers who are already subsidized quite heavily. Like steel tariffs [wikipedia.org] it benefits a few at the expense of the rest of society.

      I have no beef with ethanol being a part of our energy supply, particularly from bio-waste. Diversity in energy sources is a good thing. But corn derived ethanol is just a terrible product to subsidize.
  • by 2020... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sethawoolley (1005201) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:46AM (#21706902) Homepage
    35 mpg average, not including all the except vehicles in their fleet, like the Hummer.

    Seriously, why else do you think Bush is going to sign it -- it looks like a good thing when it isn't.

    Legislation that's just good enough to keep pace with the status quo is exactly what the auto industry wanted. They know that if they completely succeeded in opposing the legislation, that they'd face consumer revolt. And as long as everybody else has to keep up with the status quo -- the most cost-effective manner for them -- then they don't have to worry too much about being undercut by companies in Korea and China that don't have emission controls. Instead, they only have to worry about Japanese and European cars, which they'll likely never be able to beat.

    All in all, it's a good deal for the auto industry, and a bad deal for the customer, as we'll never get an incoming Democratic administration to support higher CAFE standards in the future. Last time they were raise significantly was during Reagan. His administration also introduced the catalytic converter as a requirement, too. *sigh*
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DavidShor (928926) *
      How exactly is it a *gain* to the consumer to mandate higher prices in cars? Sometimes, higher fixed costs, and resulting better mileage, are outweighed by lower operating(gasoline) costs. In fact, higher oil prices make this situation much more common.

      Car makers, wishing to capitalize on this demand to increase sales, then proceed to produce fuel efficient models for this subgroup of consumers, while continuing sales of less efficient but cheaper cars to other consumers.

      Where does the government come i

      • Re:by 2020... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@ d a n t i a n . org> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @08:41AM (#21707580)
        Where does the government come into this?

        It was invited to the party by yet another market failure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428)

        How exactly is it a *gain* to the consumer to mandate higher prices in cars?

        Two reasons: because the TCO of the average vehicle will be much lower than if the mandate hadn't happened, and in the long term the US auto industry will continue to exist and therefore there will be more competition than there would have been had the industry gone under, as it very nearly did in the 1970s when similar myopia meant a sudden increase in fuel prices almost caused the entire industry's collapse.

        On the TCO point:

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hawk (1151)
      >was during Reagan. His administration also introduced the
      >catalytic converter as a requirement, too

      Wow, that Reagann could do *anything*. Mandating catalytic converters five years before he was elected. Wow.

      Catalytic converters were the only way (almost) to meet emission requirements at the time. Thus, they appeared on every vehicle sold in the US starting in 1975, save for honda with that silly dual-chamber cvcc engine, which managed to put it off until 1979. Reagan was elected in 1980.

      What's no
  • Very optimistic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:47AM (#21706908)
    By 2020 the world may very much on the other side of the peak. [wikipedia.org]
  • 35mpg isn't great... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:51AM (#21706930) Homepage
    ... but it's a start. If my car (big old 80s thing) was getting through that much fuel I'd check that it wasn't on fire.
  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:54AM (#21706944)
    The whole idea of engine design and track testing is to get the most out of your pint of gasoline. I's called cash economy. If a car maker isn't prepared to do their homework and give me an engine that will pull the maximum mileage out of my hydrocarbons then I'm not going to apologise for going elsewhere. I mean, /just what exactly is the point/ of building a car that does 150-200mph, when the only place you can open up to that kind of speed is on a racetrack??

    Two things need to happen here for the automakers to get their fingers out of their arses or die like the dinosaurs of the 1970's.

    1. Tell the automakers they have zero time to build a car that complies wit hthe /old/ standards, and /two years/ to build one that complies with the /new/ standards. Then cry open season on the local market for the foreign makers who are /already there/ with their ecobugs. That's right, drop the insane tariffs on foreign cars and give people real choice: SUV that pulls 8 to the gallon or the Honda that does 60.

    2. Give the people incentive to choose the ecobug. Hike gas prices to come in line with eg the UK. We're paying the equivalent of /ten Dollars US/ per gallon of gasoline! So, DAMN RIGHT we're preferring economical cars. Not all of us can afford a £55 bill every time we fill up, particularly considering the forty five minutes each of us spend commuting to and from work /every single day/. Just waiting in the queues burns petrol, and most people I know if they get stuck in standing traffic will turn the engine off. Just to save money.
    • by DavidShor (928926) *
      "Not all of us can afford a £55 bill every time we fill up"

      You complain about prices, yet want them pushed higher?

      I don't support Gasoline taxes precisely because they harm the poor. Gasoline is highly price inelastic, and so prices have to be hiked enormously in order to decrease demand. This takes away money that consumers could have spent on other things.

      If we want to control Global Warming, that is another issue entirely, that can be dealt with by controlling tail-pipe emissions. But with a

      • by cliffski (65094)
        Higher gas prices don't have to harm the poor. It means the poor drive to work in cars with smaller engines. Big deal. They aren't exactly suffering major quality of life reductions because they cant do 0-60 in the same time as the next guy, and for the vast majority of commuters, the vast majority of the time they are trundling along so slow that the cars performance is irrelevant.

        Regulating emissions from cars might help climate change, but it doesn't help people get to work quicker or find a parking spac
    • That is fine in dense urban areas , or places that don't get much snow , but it don't work in the heartland of the us or the northeast , even the south some times gets flooded and the need for bigger vehicles that can go through water is needed. The average suburban person doesn't need an urban assault vehicle painted to match thier bag , like is what is common these days , thanks to the hollywood pin heads who make it popular.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vidarh (309115)
        People in Norway manage fine with small cars. People in the Northern parts of Russia manage fine with small cars. Snow really is no excuse for large cars unless you are actually going to drive off road or your local government can't do their job properly and keep the roads clear.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          People in Norway manage fine with small cars. People in the Northern parts of Russia manage fine with small cars. Snow really is no excuse for large cars unless you are actually going to drive off road or your local government can't do their job properly and keep the roads clear.

          It's a culture thing.

          In the cities, Americans don't have any problem driving small cars (or no cars at all), just like folks in other countries.

          But whether you like it or not, this country has a tremendous amount of suburban population. When density is lower, it takes quite a bit more time to clear the snow. The suburbs also require a vehicle to get anywhere (little to nothing is in walking distance) and there is no worthwhile public transportation. Add to this the fact that American culture is not a fa

          • by fprintf (82740) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @08:09AM (#21707442) Journal
            Your SUV argument is bullshit. Really. I live in the Northeast, and have in various states around here for the 25+ years I have been driving. *Even* if you live in Vermont, NH, Maine or upstate NY there is very little need for an SUV. There is maybe once per year, if that, that an Audi Quattro, Subaru AWD or anything else could not navigate with ease. All have ground clearance of 6+ inches, and you'd really need a dumping of 8+ inches *and* very poor planning in order not to make it home. In fact, most of these cars handle the snow better than SUVs due to their lighter weight and lower center of gravity. Take a look around hill country and you will see people managing quite well with used AWD cars - particularly the Subarus as they are cheap and seem to last forever.

            I have lived in the lower Northeast, Mass and CT, for a long time now, where the snow levels are lower than hill country. I used to drive a Miata for 7 years and never, ever got stuck. Now I drive a Mini Cooper S and have yet to get stuck. I will say that for the first time, this year, I installed some snow tires I was given (versus the previous 15+ winters without them) and am quite happy with the results. As long as the difference in height between the ruts and the snow level doesn't reach 6 inches I can navigate just fine - if it does get that high, then the front airdam will act like a snowplow. But this has not happened locally for many years, and yet still the suburban environment here is packed with SUVs. My opinion is that the snow argument is not a rational one, but has been a very strong part of the sales pitch for these vehicles nonetheless.

            So I think we will survive just fine without the SUVs. As for the water crossings in the midwest and southeast, I'd bet that is potentially part of 1/1,000,000 people's lives. Most people I know there are smart enough not to try to ford a stream that has flooded the road as the current can quickly surprise and take vehicle and/or life with it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by kmac06 (608921)
      Buy what you want! If you want to pay an extra $6,000+ dollars so you can save $100/year on gasoline, by all means feel free! But don't tell me that I must do the same, because you feel guilty about raping Gaea.
    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @09:18AM (#21707770) Journal
      They already make cars that get this kind of mileage. I drive a 1998 Cadillac Deville that gets 31 MPG on the highway on the interstate, mainly at 70-75MPH. I drive 110 miles per day to and from work. It is a 4.6L FWD V8 that has 275HP and will flat out 'shit and git'. I bought it used because I wanted something comfy to drive 2 hours each day in. I also wanted good gas mileage, and this beats the average import.

      If I can get 31MPG in a car with heated, leather seats and tons of room for 6 people, and enough power to tow a boat, I'm pretty sure they can make a mid sized car with a V6, plenty of power and comfort, that can squeeze out an extra 4 miles per gallon. What they fear is that people won't want them.

      The recent sales of SUV's boil down to two factors: Soccer moms wanting to feel safe, soccer dads wanting more horsepower. Even the Hummer is EXCLUDED from the CAFE standards because its GVWR is "too high", same as the 2500HD Chevy truck I also own (this also means excluded from pollution testing, which is stupid). I couldn't get published ratings for my 2500HD for gas mileage anywhere: they don't have to publish it and they won't, and it doesn't count toward CAFE standards either since it is a "work truck". (it gets 13MPG, no matter how I drive it or where, 6.0L, etc.)

      All you have to do is LOOK at what Detroit is putting out to see they are chicken shit and not willing to take any risks, be it in design or for mileage. They have been so far behind the pack for so many years, and I don't expect them to catch up anytime soon. Fortunately for them, they are good at importing Japanese technology (1980s Nova was really a Toyota) or just ripping it off eventually. Detroit has not made it easy to "buy American" over the years, that is for damn sure.
    • by caseih (160668) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @12:59PM (#21709212)
      The answer is simple. And you will likely not believe it. The reason is that there simply is no demand for it. People, on the whole, are demanding that cars have lots of horsepower, lots of acceleration. They don't want little wimpy cars. All of the major US auto makers (Ford and GM at the moment; Chrysler is not a US automaker anymore) have made little gutless, high-mileage cars, and they can't sell enough of them to even pay for the R&D costs of developing them. So despite the outcry on slashdot, as a whole people just don't want what the government is seeing fit to mandate. In Europe and Asia, cars are smaller and much more efficient. The people there don't seem to want bigger, more powerful vehicles. So those companies are producing cars with higher mileage and doing just fine. Sadly here in the US we're the ones responsible for what GM and Ford are. And forcing through regulation rather than trying to change the attitudes of consumers, will just end up in the end killing Ford and GM and eliminating 10s of thousands of jobs from our own economy.

      Oh and electric cars? No demand on the scale that would break even the costs. It wasn't GM that killed the electric car back in the 90s (whenever that was). It was a combination of very immature technology and total and utter consumer apathy. GM lost a lot of money on that little venture. They couldn't actually sell the cars because to do so would have been a huge loss for them, so they just leased them. And when the car was deemed "finished," GM brought them all back and destroyed them. Because the cost to GM of leaving them with the few people that wanted them would have been far too high in terms of GM's maintenance obligations.

      Ironically, it's these large, gas guzzling SUVs that stand to benefit the most from hybrid technology. They are already large enough to easily replace the transmission with the hybrid module. Then in city driving an SUV should actually get close to 30 MPG, and have the perceived increase in acceleration (perceived power) that people think they want.

      In short, it's all of us who keep the auto industry back. Computer-controlled, constantly variable transmissions for optimal engine efficiency? Nope, it feels too unnatural and the acceleration feels poor, even though it's actually better: put in artificial shift points so I can feel my body pushing back into the seat as I accelerate in spurts. Electrically-controlled breaks? No way! what happens when a wire is cut? Too dangerous! More efficient vehicles? Oh yeah, as long as I can accelerate off the light to 25 MPH in 1 second flat! Oh, and I might need to go 90 MPH on the freeway too. Oh, and I want to be able to drive 500 miles on on tank of gas. But it's so wrong that it costs me $130 to fill up my tank every day. Someone needs to do something.
  • Headline: "Auto Mileage Standards Raised to 35 mpg"

    First sentence of summary: "The Senate just passed a bill that will increase auto mileage standards for the first time in three decades."

    Of course, given the current state of affairs, it seems unlikely this bill won't become law (considering Democrats can force it through the House even if it doesn't get support from Republicans and Bush says he'll sign it). But it's still a bill, not law.

    Then again, given the current state of affairs, it would seem
  • by megla (859600) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:58AM (#21706972)
    ...so before all us Brits start going on about how our cars perform so much better, you need to multiply US MPG figures by 1.2 to make them equivilant to UK MPG figures, as an Imperial gallon > US gallon.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:00AM (#21706980)
    There were cars getting better than that average in the late 70s and all that took was the threat of people refusing to buy gas guzzlers because of the oil shortage. The problem is they just spent 15 years convincing people they needed to drive tanks and now they have to figure out either how to make the tanks get good gas mileage or convince people they no longer need SUVs. With hybrids I'm sure they can reach those standards. The real problem is trying to figure out what the mileage is on a rechargeable hybrid. They'll either try to overstate the mileage to offset the gas sucking giants or they won't want to produce them unless they get to take additional credit for the extra mileage potential. I can't see they not trying to use it as a barginning chip. Unless it directly benifits profits or numbers of cars sold the auto industry has a history of resisting change.
  • by savuporo (658486) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:01AM (#21706982)
    I dont think US automakers like Tesla Motors [teslamotors.com] or Phoenix Motorcars [phoenixmotorcars.com] will cry much about this. They are aiming for complete zero emissions vehicles anyway.
    Look, the crying from automakers is silly, like the DaimlerChrysler announcement that "we cant make it". Well, tough luck. Innovate or die. Its a market and competition, you dont have any birthright to sit there and dictate things.
    Auto industry is long overdue for some serious shakeup, and the ones that get with the future sooner will likely survive.
  • by Doug Neal (195160) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:05AM (#21707002)
    And by 2020 the rest of the world will be on 70mpg. And then there's electric cars. The Tesla Roadster has proven that the technology is viable - by 2020 there will surely be a wider and affordable range of electric vehicles.

    The smart thing for the American manufacturers to do would be to start using Japanese or European engines and start achieving 30-40mpg now, while they develop their own technology.
  • Ethanol and diesel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zakezuke (229119) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:14AM (#21707024)
    I was looking for alternative fuel to my self back in the early 1990s. I commuted to work, and fuel at $1.00/gal was an expense, a legit expense but regardless. My first choice for a retrofit was Natural Gas as your typical carbonated vehicle, which was normal at the time requires very little modification. Just shut off the petrol supply and add an air air mixer, adjust the timing and poof. The ONLY reason I didn't shell out the couple of grand to do the conversion was the simple fact that there was NO place with in 30 miles I could fuel up.

    Ethanol looks attractive, more so now that fuel is in excess of $3.00/gal. Brazil tried switching in the 1980s IIRC and last I checked continued to promote the use of the sugar beet surplus to make Ethanol.

    Turbo diesel engines on the other hand look even more attractive. Diesel makes MORE sense for SUVs and trucks than petrol or Ethanol, and AFAIK is are much more flexable as far as the fuel medium due to the very high compression ratio and fuel injection at the top of the stroke cycle.

    Methane, while not as practical to store as fuels which are liquid at standard pressures, is another form of fossil / renewable we should look into as well. We produce a ton of waste, some is converted to tegro, a form of fertilizer made from human waste.

    But regardless of the path America decides to go as far as fuel, we NEED good public transportation.
  • The summary points out E85 as a possible alternative to gasoline that lowers emissions. From what I have read it appears that E85 is not something that will reduce emissions. Looking at Wikipedia's E85 entry [wikipedia.org] and today's NY Times article [nytimes.com], it appears that E85 will lower fuel efficiency up to 20-30% (depending on the car). From Wikipdia's Ethanol Fuel article [wikipedia.org] it appears that comparing to gasoline, CO2 emissions are the same, CO emissions are lower, but more ozone is produced. I'm not sure if these numbers are
    • by tm2b (42473) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:38AM (#21707136) Journal
      The thing is, the CO2 is not from carbon being pulled out of the ground but instead from carbon dioxide being scrubbed by crops from the atmosphere, so it's atmospheric CO2-neutral regardless of the efficiency.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Osty (16825)

        The thing is, the CO2 is not from carbon being pulled out of the ground but instead from carbon dioxide being scrubbed by crops from the atmosphere, so it's atmospheric CO2-neutral regardless of the efficiency.

        Beyond that, the original poster missed this from the E85 article:

        Depending on composition and source, E85 has an octane rating of 100 to 105 compared to regular gasoline's typical rating of 87 for regular and 93 for premium. This allows it to be used in higher compression engines, which can lower em

  • Confusing units... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bdraschk (664148) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:25AM (#21707082)
    At least for me as a German reader, i had to read TFA to get an idea what "mpg" means in the first place, than had to use google and xcalc to compute the unit we use to measure how much cars spend. 35 mpg is about 6.7l/100km, which does sound pretty good to me.

    But still do not know under which circumstances these 6.7l shall be attained. City traffic, highway, or total mix? I have trouble keeping my moderately motorized car on 7l/100km in city traffic, it can do much better on the autobahn (if i don't push it too hard).

    • by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:59AM (#21707198)

      Actually 6,7 L/100KM is moderate for now, but in 2020 that should be considered more or less crap. In example new BMW 3-series with 3 liter diesel gets 6,1 L/100 KM and the 2 liter version gets 4,8 L/100KM. Even X3 with 2 liter diesel gets 6,5 L/100 KM. So in that sense that todays cars can get to that standard easily, it's really abysmal to set the standard for the future on the level what can be achieved in today.

      In my opinion the standards should be set so that they make the car industry to invent and make innovations in order to stay in business. Actually in developed markets, I would say that it's actually a good way to protect own car industry by setting the standards higher as then the low cost low R&D manufacturers from developing countries can be easily closed from the markets. Thought as the US car industry really hasn't spend any money to R&D in the last 20 years, maybe in the point of view of US administration, that wouldn't be so good idea.

  • Some numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aaron Isotton (958761) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @07:44AM (#21707352)
    Disclaimer: I'm a European and am not familiar with the US Auto Mileage Standards regulation, or the US in general. Still, as most Europeans, I find the American love for big cars a bit funny.

    I somehow think that the $6700 extra per car is highly exaggerated. Your average European or Japanese car is already there, and they're not more expensive than the American cars (at least not in Europe, if you exclude the luxury cars). I mean, you can get an *entire new car* for about $9000 (not a very big one, though). On the other hand the current development of the Euro and the US Dollar will probably make European cars less and less attractive for US residents. I don't know about the Japanese ones, though.

    Assuming that the average car does 100k miles in its lifetime, the new regulations imply that it'll use 100k/35 = 2857 gallons instead of 100k/27.5 = 3636 gallons. That's 779 gallons saved. At a price of $4 per gallon that's $3116 saved. Which is less than $6700.

    Assuming that it does 200k miles that's $6232. Still less than $6700, but much closer.

    At European gas prices (I'm taking $7/gallon) the saved costs would be $5453 and $10906.

    Assuming that gas prices in the US go up another bit, that the $6700 are exaggerated and that your car will run 150k miles, I don't see the big deal. The costs are about the same, with the additional benefit of wasting less fuel. If you don't buy a bigger car than what you actually need, you might even save some money.
  • by Xafier (1122155) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @08:11AM (#21707450)
    I don't mean to be offensive but it seems from my POV in the UK that Americans (and other countries like Australia?) need to stop putting such damn big engines in cars/pickups. I mean seriously, there is no need for everyone to own a vehicle with a 3.0 litre or bigger engine. A big engine in a normal car (non sport) in the UK is around 2.0 litre? Something like a Ford Mondeo? My car (Peugeot 107) has a 1.0 litre engine, it does upto 60MPG, although I usually get 50 - 55 out of it in the current cold weather, and it gets me to and from work fine and is plenty fast enough for motorway driving too. It has extremely low emissions, one of the lowest of any car you can buy at the moment. Unless you need to carry passengers regularly or your constantly transporting things in your car then there is no need for a big car with a big engine, its just pointless! Wasting your money, wasting oil and ruining the environment!
  • Still quite lax (Score:4, Interesting)

    by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @08:38AM (#21707564) Homepage
    European regulation requires car manufacturers to average 100 kilometers on 5 liters, which is roughly 47 mpg. This is in 2012, not 2020!
  • by Detritus (11846) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @09:04AM (#21707686) Homepage
    Stop blaming Detroit for the poor choices of you and your neighbors. There is no conspiracy to prevent people from buying efficient cars. They just don't sell that well in America. I can walk out into any parking lot and see large numbers of SUVs and trucks owned by people who will never use them for their intended purpose. For many of them, it's a fashion statement. People like driving over-powered land yachts.

    If we were really serious about cutting gasoline consumption, we would take a serious look at land use and zoning, so that people didn't have to drive such long distances to get to work or shop.

  • by murderlegendre (776042) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @09:45AM (#21707886)

    In case you aren't aware, gasoline-ethanol blends are subject to a little trick known as the water scam. As you are probably aware, water is not soluble in gasoline - but water is soluble in ethanol, and this ethanol-water mix is partially soluble in gasoline. In short, water can be mixed into gasoline-ethanol blends.. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

    As high-ethanol blends such as E85 become more widespread, and fuel prices climb, the opportunity and ability to scam the consumer will multiply. Fortunately, testing for water in gasoline blends is relatively simple, requiring only a simple, inexpensive test kit.

    Believe it or not, I actually managed to get an Amoco station shut down (temporarily) in the late 1980s for pulling just this scam. I was in tech school at the time, and noticed that fuel from this station had a way of making my fuel-finicky BMW motorbike run very badly. Did the test, found something like 8-10% water, and called the regulatory authority. Saw the closed sign on the station several days later..

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @02:59PM (#21710114)
    Unfortunately, there's a loophole. When applying fuel economy standards to fleets of vehicles, it is necessary to exempt trucks over a certain size. If this isn't done, your food bill (and everything else) will go through the roof when your local supermarket takes its deliveries from fleets of hybrid mini-SUVs. Typically, this exemption is granted to vehicles over a certain GVW.


    As Congress has sought to target the increasingly large vehicles that Americans seek to buy, the auto makers response is to market larger and larger GVW vehicles to the consumer segment of the population. While many people will end up buying the more economical vehicles, there is a certain segment of the population that cannot deal with the tradeoffs* in performance and will switch to the next larger size. Currently, our local GMC dealer is beginning to carry pickup trucks based on the 4500 Series [gmc.com]. They are selling like hot cakes. Larger vehicles are also possible, depending on how the MPG standards are written.



    *One interesting tradeoff has nothing to do with fuel economy, but rather with the IRS's treatment of vehicle expenses allowed for 'cars' (and other light vehicles) vs those allowed for heavy trucks. People who use vehicles for business purposes, even if these do not involve the hauling of goods or equipment, realize such a tax savings by purchasing a vehicle that qualifies as a large truck, that fuel costs just vanish in the economic equation. Until the IRS removes the penalties for using smaller vehicles, I anticipate that this trend will only continue.

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