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US To Require That New Cars Get 42 MPG By 2016 1186

Posted by kdawson
from the jevons-paradox dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "New cars and trucks will have to get 30 percent better mileage starting in 2016 under an Obama administration move to curb emissions tied to smog and global warming. While the 30 percent increase would be an average for both cars and light trucks, the percentage increase in cars would be much greater, rising from the current 27.5 mpg standard to 42 mpg. Environmentalists praised the move. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, called it 'one of the most significant efforts undertaken by any president, ever, to end our addiction to oil and seriously slash our global warming emissions.' Obama's plan also would effectively end litigation between states and automakers that had opposed state-specific rules, arguing that having to meet several state standards would be much more expensive for them than just one federal rule. The Detroit News reported that automakers were on board with the new rule and had worked with the administration on creating a timeline for the transition." There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.
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US To Require That New Cars Get 42 MPG By 2016

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  • Automakers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:33PM (#28006577)

    Of course automakers are "on board"! They're now pawns of the government, just like the banks. Do you think they could really go against anything the administration wants?

    Basically now Obama can do whatever he wants. He's playing all the hands himself.

    • Re:Automakers (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tcopeland (32225) <{moc.dnalepoceelsamoht} {ta} {mot}> on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:54PM (#28006771) Homepage

      > They're now pawns of the government, just like the banks.

      No way man! Their CEOs will fight back to keep the company viable! Oh wait... to quote Pete Hoekstra:

      The Obama administration fired (GM CEO) Wagoner. Is (new CEO) Henderson going to resist? I don't think so.

      Some numbers and more analysis are on Planet Gore [nationalreview.com].

    • Re:Automakers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frieko (855745) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:00AM (#28007347)
      We're probably boned either way, but at the moment I'm less distressed with the president buying corporations than I was with corporations buying the president.
    • Re:Automakers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:22AM (#28008293) Homepage Journal

      I say, it's about time, really. 42 mpg sounds rather high - but only because we haven't even TRIED. Remember the oil embargo of the '70's? Congress mandated some radical new goals for fuel mileage way back then, to help break our dependence on foreign oil. They even set the national speed limit at 55mph to save fuel. All sorts of drastic measures were taken.

      Joe Sixpack and Detroit, in their infinite wisdom (selfishness) decided to create new "cars" built on truck frames, which would be exempt from fuel mileage requirements.

      Ingenuity, huh? Well, that ingenuity has finally come back to bite Joe and Detroit in the ass. Today, we finally start seriously saving fuel, or else.

      I like it.

      (note - I'm not a demoncrat, I'm not an Obama cultist, I'm not even some tree hugging activist. It just makes sense to stop WASTING everything we can, just because we can.)

      • Re:Automakers (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ndixon (184723) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:10AM (#28009227)

        As a European (British, but I consider it a region of Europe), I find it strange that 42mpg seems so draconian.

        For the last decade at least, the UK and the rest of Europe has had diesel cars the size of an Accord / Aura / Fusion which could average 42mpg (50mpg Imp.) in mixed driving - at least it was never a problem for me - urban driving reduces the mileage of course.

        My Octavia (basically a Jetta liftback with a cheaper badge) averages 45-50mpg (55-60 Imp.) on my 30-mile runs to work; and there's enough room for a 6-footer to be comfortable (more head- and leg-room than a Freelander or a RAV4).

        My wife's Renault Clio averages 60mpg (72mpg Imp.) when I drive it, and the driving position doesn't feel cramped.

        These are not hybrids, by the way. Even the Freelander and RAV4 can achieve 35mpg with a diesel engine.

        Since we're paying the equivalent of $8/gallon for fuel over here, cars like this make a lot of sense.

      • Re:Automakers (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:40AM (#28010175) Homepage

        Ingenuity, huh? Well, that ingenuity has finally come back to bite Joe and Detroit in the ass. Today, we finally start seriously saving fuel, or else.

        Or else what? There's no laws, rules, or even social norms to discourage me from driving a 10 liter 3 ton pickup truck everywhere I go, in point of fact, we own a 5.9 liter 1/2 ton truck that could be used as our daily driver if we wanted, we choose to leave it parked unless needed, but my wife likes to drive it when the weather is foul because it makes her feel safer.

        The real waste in our two driver household is actually the third vehicle - we probably emitted more carbon footprint in the purchase of our "lightweight" around town car than we will save in fuel consumption difference over its lifetime. I didn't do a carbon analysis, but dollar-wise, assuming the (purchased at 1 year old) $13K commuter lasts 8 years and resells for $1K, that's $1500 per year in capital costs, plus about $500/yr in additional insurance / maintenance, so we'd have to save 800 gallons a year (at $2.50/gallon) to make the choice truly economical. Say the truck gets 12mpg and the car gets 36 (to be really generous, our car gets more like 27 around town)... we'd need to transfer about 14,400 miles per year from the truck to the car to "break even" on fuel consumption dollars. Considering that the car has only been driven about 12,000 miles a year, it's not really saving us money. What it is doing is giving us a small, easy to park "right sized" vehicle to serve our around town driving. It looks more economical than going everywhere in the truck, but it isn't.

        We have legitimate reasons for using the truck, about 10 times a year. Renting might be slightly more economical, but it completely destroys the convenience and power of owning your own vehicle, ready at a moment's notice. There's also the convenience of the redundant backup, the "third" vehicle is 19 years old - well maintained, but about once a year it needs some repairs and it's nice to be able to park it and do the repairs at leisure rather than having the pressure of "needing" the vehicle. The truck is 10 years old, so it's going to start falling into that periodic repair category soon too.

        Legislating increased fuel economy in new vehicles isn't biting anyone in the ass. It's about time, just like in the late '60s / early '70s, our engine technology is producing more power than is really useful for getting from A to B. It's about time to turn that technology away from making overpowered vehicles into making them more efficient, just like they did with the initial CAFE standards. The free market clearly values "fun" over efficiency, and why not? Life is short. It won't seriously hurt anyone's happiness for CAFE to rise by 30%, electronic engine management systems can pull off that and more, but not without additional incentives outside the free market.

  • Mostly just for cars (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:36PM (#28006595)

    The average for light trucks would rise from 24 mpg to 26.2 mpg.

    It appears SUVs will continue to have pretty horrible gas mileage.

  • by saiha (665337) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:40PM (#28006633)

    42 you say?

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:41PM (#28006645)

    There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.

    The link is really light on the math. In most systems that obey similar behavior, demand does increase, but the increase in demand does not completely erase the benefit of the increase in efficiency. In this case it can't completely erase the benefit, because if it did the end result would be a net increase in the price - and that was the original basis for the argument, that the drop in price would spur consumption. So the increase in demand has to fall short of that point.

    So in the end, demand will be somewhere higher than it is now, and the price somewhat lower, all else being equal. Where on the supply/demand curve things ultimately lie will depend on the relative elasticity of supply vs. elasticity of demand.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:55PM (#28006777)
      Besides, the historical data they're looking at was from an era of cheap gas. They world has changed. Now we need increased efficiency just to maintain the mileage we're all driving already - that is, just to occupy the suburbs we already built. Yeah, I know, gas is only $2.25 at the moment - but that's in the middle of a deep global recession! As the global economy recovers, you can bet your butt gas prices will soar again.
  • by line-bundle (235965) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:42PM (#28006653) Homepage Journal

    Why do administrations always set timetables beyond their terms? Remember Bush's "man on Mars"?

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:59PM (#28006817)

      "Why do administrations always set timetables beyond their terms?"

      Is this a trick question?

      By setting timetables beyond their terms they get the brownie points for passing some retarded law, but they know they won't be around for the shit-storm of public backlash when the law actually goes into practice.

      Consider Kyoto, for example, which allowed the governments who ratified it to make a lot of fuss about how wonderfully 'green' they were, even though there was little to no possibility of most of them ever meeting the quota requirements which would be imposed many years later; by that time they'd probably be fat and happy on the lecture circuit while other politicos would be responsible for destroying their economy for no good reason to meet those quotas or the bad press if they failed to do so.

  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:45PM (#28006687) Homepage

    There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.

    <sarcasm>
    I think it was established as a well known fact that driving a Hummer is many times more environmentally friendly than a little Prius. If Obama was truly interested in saving the planet he would mandate that every commuter drives a Hummer and we scrap these pointless high MPG cars.
    </sarcasm>

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Actually, what that study showed is that if you get 200,000 miles out of a Prius and a Hummer, they'll have similar energy costs. How likely is a Prius to run more than 200,000 miles? It has a teensy tiny little high-performance (for what it is) engine in it. Granted, only Diesel Hummers are likely to make more than 200k, and they are in the minority. Either way, if you're buying a new car to save the planet you're a dipshit :D

      • by winwar (114053) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:13AM (#28006941)

        "Actually, what that study showed is that if you get 200,000 miles out of a Prius and a Hummer, they'll have similar energy costs."

        Huh? Considering that the Prius gets over twice the mileage of a Hummer, I find that hard to believe. Having said that I certainly wouldn't trade my used car for a Prius-doesn't make enconomic sense.

        And the Prius will certainly use LESS energy. Most of the energy associated with vehicles comes from driving.

        "Either way, if you're buying a new car to save the planet you're a dipshit :D"

        True. About as useful as calling a large house in the suburbs "green". :)

      • by burnin1965 (535071) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:52AM (#28007287) Homepage

        Actually, what that study showed is that if you get 200,000 miles out of a Prius and a Hummer, they'll have similar energy costs.

        Actually, what the study showed was that if you wrote a report with complete bullshit absurdities you could convince some people that a gigantic vehicle that gets 14 MPG average would have better or equivalent energy consumption to a small vehicle that gets 46 MPG.

        Some people tried to analyse what little information was available about the report and found absurdities such as the Hummer H3 rated at 207,000 miles in its lifetime and the Prius at only 109,000 miles [pacinst.org]. While still others ran known models that are used to measure life cycle energy consumption and even when using the absurdities from the Dust to Dust report they still could not produce the ridiculous energy consumption numbers [rmi.org] from the report.

        The fact is that more than 80% of an automobiles life cycle energy is consumed in the operation of the vehicle. [carplus.org.uk] That bit of information makes it virtually impossible for a vehicle that consumes more than 3x the operating energy of a smaller car to some how use less or the same amount of energy as the small car over their life cycles.

        As far as new versus old, just as its a no brainer that a small fuel efficient car will consume less total energy than a monster SUV its also obvious that buying a new car will not magically reduce total energy consumption. However, since we know autos have a life cycle there will be a need for many new vehicles so it may not be a bad idea to use some of our no brainer knowledge to have a positive impact on our energy consumption.

      • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:10AM (#28007433)

        Actually, what that study showed is that if you get 200,000 miles out of a Prius and a Hummer, they'll have similar energy costs.

        Wrong. [pacinst.org] The study made a number of flawed assumptions, as highlighted in the link, such as that the lifetime mileage of a Prius is 109,000 miles, while the Hummer H3 gets 207,000 and the H1 379,000 miles. So yes, if your Prius craps out in 1/3 the time of the H1, you're going to get a worse overall energy cost. On the other hand, Vancouver cab companies have already clocked over 200,000 miles on Priuses without even replacing the batteries, so they don't seem particularly fragile. And there's no particular evidence that any brand of Hummer is going to last that long either. So yes, if you start with biased assumptions, you will find the Prius has similar energy costs.

  • Good luck! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:47PM (#28006703)

    Vehicles have simply gotten too heavy of late for this to be feasible without a big change in the way vehicles are powered... if we could join the efficiency of modern engines with the weight of vehicles from the early to mid 1980's, we would could meet this goal using existing technology.

    This will be the death knell for trucks and SUVs based upon them... the laws of physics mean there just not going to reach these goals cheaply (or perhaps at all), and they will die for all non-necessary purposes.

    Good riddance... maybe I'll be able to see traffic lights again without being buried amongst an oversized mob of excessively tall vehicles, or blinded by headlights that are at the same elevation at the roof of my car.

    I will miss multi-cylinder engines, though... every manufacturer is focusing on smaller engines now, implying the death knell for the V8. Americans seems to think that a V8 has to have at least 4 liters capacity... why not just decrease the engine volume? Sure, it's got more internal friction, but the sound and smoothness more than make up for that.

    It's an uncertain time for car enthusiasts.

  • 2016? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jethro (14165) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:47PM (#28006705) Homepage

    My car gets 42mpg average right now. That's the EPA estimate and is actually what I seem to be getting in the real world.

    Honda Civic Hybrid. I love it. But frankly I'd like them to be WELL up into 100 seven years from now.

    • reduce the weight! (Score:3, Informative)

      by ProfBooty (172603)

      On the otherhand a early 1980's civic got 41mpg city and mid 50's highway, but it weighed roughly 1000lbs less.

      I am curious how the fuel economy would be if we put a modern powertrain into an older much lighter body.

  • by panthroman (1415081) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:51PM (#28006745) Homepage

    If we want people to use less gas, why not just raise the darn price?

    There are times and places for government regulation, but requiring a minimum fuel efficiency? If the goal is to reduce greenhouse gases, then fuel efficiency is just a half-assed proxy for fuel consumption.

    42 mpg x 20 mile commute each day is a lot more fuel consumptive than 20 mpg x occasional grocery trip.

    And what qualifies as a "car" and what as a "light truck" and "SUV," all of which have their separate regulations? What a mess.

    People respond to their pocketbooks. In this case, it's easy to align people's incentives with the goals we want to achieve: Make gas expensive.

    • by Atriqus (826899) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:34AM (#28007129) Homepage
      Yeah, fuck everyone who can't afford to live closer to where they work. That'll show 'em!
    • by QuasiEvil (74356) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:10AM (#28007429)

      If we want people to use less gas, why not just raise the darn price?

      Or possibly because some of us think punitive taxes are an inappropriate use of government power, and only serve to distort the market?

      Despite being a hardcore fiscal conservative, I have no problem with taxing something that has a real, direct, tangible, accountable cost to cover. What I do have a problem with is setting up taxes to cover the "environmental damage" of doing things, such as releasing a ton of CO2. Exactly what is that cost? Is Mother Nature going to send me a bill at the end of the month? Not only that, but is the government going to use those tax revenues to somehow pay that cost so that there's no net impact of me polluting? It's all a sham pyramid scheme.

      I'm actually all for raising the gas tax to actually cover the cost needed to keep the highway system in excellent repair. Our infrastructure is going to hell and our politicians don't have the balls to do what needs to be done. The problem is that politicians as a group are a lying, sleazy bag of weasels, and the minute they see tax dollars coming in for roads, they'll try to either call everything a road or start cleverly siphoning off part of the cash.

  • Gas tax (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charles Dodgeson (248492) * <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:54PM (#28006775) Homepage Journal

    Milage standards haven't worked before and they will continue to fail. Forcing car companies to make vehicles that people don't want to buy isn't going to do anybody any good.

    Pretty much every economist knows that the way to achieve the stated goals is to dramatically increase gasoline taxes. After that, the market will work its magic. People will buy more efficient cars, or seek alternative transportation. When looking at where to live, the cost of commuting will play a bigger role in families' decisions. And we get to make a little dent in the whopping federal deficit.

    Of course no politician will even hint at endorsing what is clearly the economically rational thing to do. So instead, we'll spend money on subsidizing bio-fuels and other not-all-that-bright ideas.

    • Re:Gas tax (Score:5, Funny)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:35AM (#28007143) Homepage
      That God-damned representative government! People doing what they want, instead of what's best for them! I tell you, if I was in charge, we wouldn't have any of this inefficient "voting" or "town hall meetings" or any of that crap. I'd just say what was right, and anyone who didn't agree would be beaten. Let's increase taxes and ensure that no poor people can ever drive again! They don't deserve it, the cretins.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That God-damned representative government! People doing what they want, instead of what's best for them! I tell you, if I was in charge, we wouldn't have any of this inefficient "voting" or "town hall meetings" or any of that crap.

        I'm not proposing an alternative to democracy. There really isn't anything better. I'm merely pointing out that there are cases (and this is one of them) where democracies fail. Another failing that we are seeing is that representative democracies prefer public debt above either increased taxes or cuts in subsidies.

        The fact that substantially higher gas taxes isn't a politicly viable solution in American democracy doesn't take away from my claim that it is the most economically rational one.

        And just becau

    • Re:Gas tax (Score:5, Informative)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:53AM (#28007293) Homepage

      Pretty much every economist knows that the way to achieve the stated goals is to dramatically increase gasoline taxes. After that, the market will work its magic. People will buy more efficient cars, or seek alternative transportation.

      Yeah, and all those people who can't afford to buy new cars or who don't have access to alternate transportation will just have to suck it up and choose between gas and food or rent/mortgage payments.
       
       

      When looking at where to live, the cost of commuting will play a bigger role in families' decisions.

      Yeah, and all those people who can't afford to move will just have to suck it up and choose between gas and food or rent/mortgage payments. And who'll buy all those properties now too expensive for people live in? (And after selling your house at a loss, if you can sell, you'll be in a wonderful position to compete for houses closer in - houses whose prices are now rising because of demand.)
       
      It sucks to be a real person instead of a mathematical abstraction I guess.
       
       

      Of course no politician will even hint at endorsing what is clearly the economically rational thing to do.

      I find it much more likely that politicians and their advisers are much smarter than you are and understand that real world economics aren't abstractions and that what seems 'rational' in the extremely oversimplified and over abstracted world you live in is in fact a recipe for significant economic disruption in the real world.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:58PM (#28006813) Journal
    Instead of seeing it jump directly to it, I would rather that the fleet be required to increase to that on a straight line yearly. IOW, it is better to require that the fleet average increases ~2mpg each year. If we wait until 2016 to increase it, then the incoming admin will destroy it as being bad for the economy. In addition, over the next 8 years, America will buy the OLD standard cars and they will remain for 10-20 years.

    Hopefully, the dems will grow a pair and do what is right.
  • About damned time. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rnturn (11092) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:06AM (#28006883)

    It'd be interesting to see what the average and top mileage cars have been getting over the past 20-30 years or so. Up until 1990, I had a car with a small displacement 6-cylinder (instead of a 4-cyl, cuz I wanted air conditioning), manual 5-speed transmission, and cruise control that routinely got me above 40 mpg on the highway. If the weather cooperated and I wasn't driving into a headwind the entire way, more often than not I was able to make a trip from S. Ohio home to Chicago on a single tank of gas. Then, for some reason, it was almost impossible to find a car that got better than the low 30s. Once SUVs became popular, availability of high mileage cars dropped even further. If one were to plot mileage over the years, I'd bet that we'll finally be getting back to what should have been commonplace in the mid/late '90s. Fifteen years or more of progress totally wasted. Pity. And the managers of American auto makers wonder why their companies are in the toilet.

  • Don't bother (Score:4, Informative)

    by beej (82035) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:35AM (#28007139) Homepage Journal

    There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.

    So true. If my car got 8 million miles per gallon, I'd totally drive 8 million times as much.

  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:38AM (#28007167)

    Obama better get himself reelected then. Because, you can bet if he loses to the Republicans the deadline for compliance to the 42 mpg average will be pushed back to the year 2167 lickity split.

    And I don't mean that to sound partisan, because I hate both major political parties. But in my opinion, history has shown that the Republicans are definitely in bed with the oil companies. The Democrats might be too, but they keep it on the DL.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:51AM (#28007279) Journal
    At the end of the post, it is written:

    There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.

    Which references the following passage:

    Why? Because improvements in fuel economy effectively make fuel less expensive, and when costs fall, demand tends to rise. As driving has grown cheaper in recent decades, people have done more of it - choosing to drive to work instead of taking the bus, for example, or buying a second car, or moving to a house with a longer commute, or sending the kids to college with cars of their own. Between 1983 and 2001, data from the Energy Information Administration show, the annual amount of driving by the average American household rose from 16,800 vehicle-miles to more than 23,000.

    This is known as a variant of Jevon's Paradox.

    Jevons is ONLY correct if the supply of energy resource is A: available and B: steady or increasing in availability. This is true because with steady or increasing availability, price remains stable or decreases. However, if the availability is not steady and/or decreasing, then conservation is the only possible route for economic growth, as one must reduce one's consumption *below* the depletion curve in order for "extra" resource to be put into expanded production.

    This also eventually fails. Energetic resources (oil, coal, gas, uranium, the gallium in solar cells, etc.) eventually give out, and are never uniformly distributed. What happens is you run up against asymmetries and granularities. The asymmetries result in cartels, and testing the granularities results in Very Bad Things like revolutions.

    So, basically, the article is essentially correct, if we were living in the 1990s. But we are not. We are either at or very near peak oil production, and from here (or the very near future) it is a constant down slope in energy availability. Unfortunately Solar/Wind/Nuclear etc. is not ramping up fast enough and is ill suited to many basic applications and materials (such as carbon fibre, plastics, and fertiliser) and it seems very likely that we will get "caught out" in the mid 20teens, making the 2020s a rather dire time.

    According to the ,a href="http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf">Hirsh Report it takes 20 years of expensive conversion efforts to shift society to a new energy paradigm. 10 years is a bare minimum and likely to be difficult. We're still talking about trying to save the Happy Motoring Culture, which is another way of saying, we're caught with our pants down.

    Make plans or have them made for you.

    And remember, Mother Nature's plans do not include your survival, much less comfort.

    RS

  • by the Dragonweaver (460267) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:34AM (#28007607) Homepage

    This sounds like a great idea, but I fear it. You know why? Because something always happens that nobody properly predicts.

    Here's an example. Remember station wagons? Not the things they have now, but those great big monstrosities that used to carry something like eight people or a garage band + equipment. You don't see those around any more. Why? Because they raised the fuel standards and there was no way that station wagons could reach that. Bye bye, big loader.

    But just because they disappeared, it does not mean the need for large cars disappeared. Enter the minivan-- which has lighter standards, but still stringent. And most earlier examples of minivans were crap for anything but moving people. (Current models sometimes switch pretty well, but may not have engine capacity.) So then what? Enter the SUV. It falls under the "truck" standards, so it doesn't need to meet as stringent requirements. It seats more than four people, which is important for some people, and it can do things like move furniture. It also doesn't drive like a beached whale.

    A lot of the posters at Slashdot don't seem to have considered the family angle. Carseats are freaking HUGE and it's sometimes hard to fit them in a sedan. And of course, you can't do more than two since the front seat is off-limits. So no friends. (Remember field trips where the parents used to drive? Yeah, they can't do that any more either. But that's another rant.) Once again, minivan or SUV. And quite honestly, after being in a hit-and-run accident, I wanted five-star safety rating AND a slightly higher profile. So our vehicle is what's called a crossover-- six seats, so when we have a couple of kids we'll still be able to put some adults in. And incidentally, it gets 24-26 miles to the gallon IN city.

    The upshot is that yeah, this sounds great. I'm all for better mileage and I shop for it. BUT there's something else that's going to happen that we haven't predicted. It could be safety issues; it could be price. I don't know. But I'm always afraid of well-intentioned things like this coming back to bite us in the butt.

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