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Transportation United States Technology

The End of the Gas Guzzler 897

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-overestimate-us dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Grunwald reports that President Obama will announce today a near-doubling of fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, and the Big Three automakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — will support it in a final deal that will require vehicle fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which will reduce fuel consumption by 40% and carbon emissions by 50%. Although environmentalists had pushed for 60 mpg and the White House had floated a compromise of 56.2, 54.5 is pretty close, considering that last year's standards were only 28.3. 'I might point out that the same auto industry that ran attack ads about how 56.2 would destroy their businesses and force everyone to drive electric cars has embraced 54.5 as an achievable target,' writes Grunwald. 'It almost makes you wonder if the automakers may have exaggerated the costs of compliance, the way they always do.'"
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The End of the Gas Guzzler

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  • by bstory (89087) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:26PM (#36922660) Homepage

    The real question is will the market bear the new regulations? Americans as a nation have obviously NOT demanded higher MPG ratings from their cars or there would be no need for the regulation. How much more will each vehicle cost to use the higher technology needed to achieve the standards? By setting the standards the government may have artificially increased the market price and will thus affect supply and demand. I'm all for environmental policies, but outside of the academic towers, the real world still intervenes and economics will affect well intentioned government mandates.

  • Just a game (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:27PM (#36922668)

    This doesn't mean that you'll actually see cars that get 50-60mpg sold in the U.S. The automakers get credits on mpg for adding things that have nothing to do with fuel efficiency (like LED headlights and crap). So you might have a vehicle with a bunch of addons that only gets 35mpg, but the automaker gets credit for a vehicle that gets 50mpg (because they get 15mpg worth of fuel efficiency credits). Not to mention it's an average. If the automaker sells one vehicle that gets 20mpg for $25,000 and one vehicle that gets 100mpg for $60,000, they have a fleet average of 60mpg. It doesn't matter that they sell 10,000 of the 20mpg units and only 500 of the 100mpg units. And trucks get completely different (and drastically lower) standards than cars. It's amazing what you can classify as a "truck" these days.

    CAFE is a joke.

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:30PM (#36922740) Homepage Journal

    Why doesn't Obama require Intel to release the 10 GHz Chip? Apparently the only thing stopping progress is there isn't any legislation mandating it, right? So why stop at 60mpg? Why not 1000 mpg? We should also mandate flying cars and a PONY for EVERYONE!!!
    What is up with this imaginary thinking?
    Do people really believe everything they think?

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:31PM (#36922768)
    Consumers have been demanding better milage. Just look at how well the Prius did for proof. American car makers however have maintained that good milage was fiscally impossible. That is until they where forced into it via regulation. Now they all proclame how great they are for having gas milage that matches the rest of the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:32PM (#36922786)

    Well, since your behavior is punitive to those who can't afford those cars, perhaps you should suffer the consequences?

    After all, your behavior is driving the cost of gas up for everyone, not just you. You're overconsuming a limited resource, to the detriment of others who are also dependent on that same resource, but can't afford it as readily as you can.

    Is this really that hard to understand?

    Of course, the alternative is just to raise the cost of gas. Folks who buy cheaper cars that do better on gas will benefit. You'll feel the pinch, which you should... perhaps not least of which for being a self-absorbed prick.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:33PM (#36922800)
    The real way to tackle this problem is with gas taxes. Raise the cost of gas up to 6 dollars a gallon, and the fleet average will go up, from consumer demand.
  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plopez (54068) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:35PM (#36922842) Journal

    except that the change is not quick. If suddenly the price of gas jumps it may be months or years before a person can afford to buy a better car. Not to mention the time it takes for the car companies to tool up to meet demand for fuel efficient cars. Buying a car is not like buying laundry detergent. You just can't switch over to a new car rapidly enough to adapt to rapid changes in the price of fuel.

      Yet another situation where the failures of market economics is laid bare. This is a situation where only government has the ability to do the correct thing for the public good.

  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:39PM (#36922910) Homepage
    That would be fine - if cars were required to provide zero pollution. I always hate the idiots that try to cheat by ignoring the costs that OTHER people pay for your purchases.
  • by plopez (54068) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:46PM (#36923038) Journal

    and/or stop subsidizing the oil companies. But that initiative just failed in the House a few months ago.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:49PM (#36923102)

    The real question is will the market bear the new regulations? Americans as a nation have obviously NOT demanded higher MPG ratings from their cars or there would be no need for the regulation. How much more will each vehicle cost to use the higher technology needed to achieve the standards? By setting the standards the government may have artificially increased the market price and will thus affect supply and demand. I'm all for environmental policies, but outside of the academic towers, the real world still intervenes and economics will affect well intentioned government mandates.

    This doesn't have to cost much at all, quite the opposite.

    Your mileage depends on many things: The efficiency of the engine, the weight of the vehicle, how much energy is wasted on accelerating and braking, how much is wasted due to going at an inefficient (high) speed or due to choosing the wrong gear. A huge factor is weight. Some people think a heavier car is safer. It isn't; the only thing that is safer in an accident is having a car that is heavier than the other car. Halve the weight of every car, and you safe a lot of money on fuel, a lot of money on building the car, and you don't lose any safety. Then try to make traffic run smoother. My mileage is quite bad when I'm stuck in a traffic jam. So improving traffic saves time, nerves, and improves the mileage.

  • Re:America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:58PM (#36923280) Journal

    If I'm willing to pay the price of fuel, let me decide.

    $789,062,132,241 [costofwar.com].

    Your invoice is in the mail. When can we expect payment?

  • by data2 (1382587) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:00PM (#36923344)

    Luckily, the real Europeans (not the Brits ;)) got rid of those ancient units quite some time ago, so it's l/100km, everywhere, with every kind of liter...

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:11PM (#36923528) Homepage

    And thank God for that! I'll be asking my Republican's to repeal this smelly turd and replace it with something better. If you really want to tackle the MPG efficiency standards, you mandate maximum weight. The problem isn't the ICE, quite the opposite in fact. Engines have gotten far and away more efficient over the years that would have seemed impossible in the 1980s. You can thank computer controlled ignition and advanced sensors for that. No, the problem is that engine efficiency has been off-set by an arms race in weight for safety. Its basically the bigger your tank, the less of an impact you'll feel. The smaller cars however get the blunt of impact. Weight, is by far the first thing that needs to be regulated. That single aspect will improve you MPG numbers, less wear and tear on the roads (requiring less taxes to fix them), and improved safety for all parties involved in an accident. Not to mention better handling and improved reaction time by the driver.

  • by webheaded (997188) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:18PM (#36923682) Homepage
    Yeah, that's what everyone needs. We need all the poor people that can't afford a decent car to get raped on gas prices. Let's not pretend that public transit is a good alternative either because in a lot of places (like Phoenix where I live) it's a joke. You cannot function here without a car. I keep seeing everyone present this as a solution and I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the logic here. Not everyone buys that gas guzzler because they don't care about the environment...a LOT of people buy whatever they can afford. I bought my aunt's old SUV because she sold it to me cheap and I could pay her directly without interest. Did I WANT an SUV? Fuck no, but you know what, I needed a car NOW that I knew worked and I didn't have tons of money to do it (my wife and I got jobs on different sides of the city). We don't all have the luxury of choices. Sometimes you don't have the time and money to dance around and get the perfect fit.

    I understand the need to get people away from gas guzzlers...I do...but how is raising taxes to make it prohibitively expensive to drive at all any different from using the government to just mandate better mileage from the auto makers? Honestly, either way the government is forcing someone's hand, so shouldn't it be the car companies rather than all of us? It must be great to preach this from your armchair there, but this kind of sentiment really pisses me off. Take a look around at the real world. Things don't quite work out as neatly as some of you seem to think. Shit sucks sometimes and punishing people for this kind of bullshit isn't doing anyone any favors.

    Yeah, cars might get more expensive, but I think you paying more for a new car is considerably better than being immediately screwed by gas prices doubling. Especially right now...we're in a recession (yes, I know, it's getting old, but it is true). Do you really think raising the price on something you have no choice but to buy is really going to help? If they raised the price to 6 dollars today, you know what I'd do? I'd have to pay 6 dollars a gallon. And you know what's even better about that? It would be even harder for me to save for a new car. Lol. Great plan! Yes, I find this situation distasteful as well, but give me a break. This "solution" is ridiculous.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:36PM (#36924010) Homepage

    It's the reason this will fail too.

    EVERY automaker boss is thinking this right now: "54.5 is only the required average. That means I can still make gas guzzlers so long as there's some shitty little cars somewhere in the books that can do 100mpg. "

  • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:53PM (#36924300)

    If increasing overall vehicle energy efficiency is a serious goal, this part does need to be addressed. The problem is, the most likely way government would do so is to tell you what kind of car you may buy, and/or to attach absurdly high taxes to vehicles they wish to discourage.

    Luckily, we have Obamacare hitting the Supremes late this year or early next year.

    If the Supremes approve Obamacare's health insurance mandate, then they will have given the green light to a (hypothetical at this point) federal law specifying the type of car people buy, how often they have to buy new cars, the whole nine yards....

  • by Luke has no name (1423139) <fox@@@cyberfoxfire...com> on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:20PM (#36924792)

    Man-made global warming is a false theory.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by myth24601 (893486) on Friday July 29, 2011 @04:06PM (#36926300)

    It's the reason this will fail too.

    EVERY automaker boss is thinking this right now: "54.5 is only the required average. That means I can still make gas guzzlers so long as there's some shitty little cars somewhere in the books that can do 100mpg. "

    No, every automaker boss in thinking, "this is more than 10 years from now, I will be retired with a golden parachute long before we even worry about this."

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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