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CAFE, the 0.2% Solution

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At Witz' End: CAFE, the 0.2% Solution

Why attack just five percent of it?

by Gary Witzenburg http://www.thecarconnection.com/contact/in...p?AuthorID=3016 (2007-11-05)

And consider that the U.S. vehicle fleet, currently about 250 million cars and trucks, is growing at the rate of six million a year. Even if those new ones get incrementally more fuel-efficient, their per-vehicle improvements will be overwhelmed by that explosive growth.Given that scenario, the demand for good used vehicles would skyrocket, and what may remain of the auto industry will have to survive on parts and service to keep them running. Is that far-fetched? Resourceful car owners in Castro's Cuba have kept 1950s vehicles going for five decades without access to proper replacement parts.

If CO2 causes global warming, why are critics attacking cars alone?

The man-made global warming theory touted by technologically challenged alarmists, agenda-driven politicians, and their willing accomplices in the mainstream media holds that increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing our planet to warm, potentially catastrophically. They scold us for burning carbon-based fuel in our automobiles, try to shame us into switching to tiny cars, walking or riding bikes to "save the planet," and cry for dramatically increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) levels.

With many excellent reasons to improve vehicle efficiency, all automakers have worked diligently to do so across their lineups. They do so to stay competitive and satisfy customers' recently increasing demand for it, while simultaneously ramping up their vehicles' levels of luxury, convenience, performance, and safety - all of which adds fuel-consuming weight - to meet ever-higher expectations.

But even if you believe that man-made carbon dioxide - which is not a "pollutant" but the fizz in your beer or soda and the harmless gas that all air-breathing animals exhale - is a major climate change contributor, you should understand how ridiculously futile increasing vehicle CAFE would be as a means of reducing it.

Cars' contribution

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) says that 20 percent of the total new CO2 produced in this country by carbon fuel consumption comes from passenger cars and light trucks. The EPA attributes 12 percent to "other transportation" (heavy trucks, planes, trains, boats, and ships), 31 percent to industry, 19 percent to residential, 16 percent to commercial sources, and two percent to agriculture.

So if cutting CO2 is so critically important to the future of our fragile planet, what about that other 80 percent? Are there federal CO2 limits on planes, trains, boats, and big trucks? Nope. The nearly one-third from industry? Nope (long-time limits on actual smog-producing "smokestack" emissions, yes, but not CO2). The 37 percent that comes from from agricultural, residential, and commercial? Nope. Does EPA even count man-made CO2 from lawnmowers, snow-blowers, backyard barbeques, and beers? If so, it has not tried to regulate any of it.

So why is media, public, and regulatory attention focused exclusively on that one-fifth from cars and light trucks?

"That's a good question," says Charles Territo, Communications Director for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents GM, Ford, Chrysler, VW, Porsche, BMW, Toyota, Mazda, and Mitsubishi in Washington . "For the last 30 years, the auto industry has been the only industry that is carbon constrained through the regulation of fuel economy, and we certainly have wondered why it is the only one. Even if you agree that CO2 has to be reduced, there has to be a comprehensive plan. You can't just get reductions from the auto industry and say you are doing something about it."

Despite the rapid economic, population, and fuel-usage growth of China, India and other developing countries, the U.S. is blamed for 25 percent of the planet's human-caused CO2. So the 20 percent of that the EPA attributes to U.S. cars and light trucks is just five percent of the world's newly generated man-made CO2. But only four percent of new CO2 is man-made; 96 percent comes from natural sources, primarily decaying plant and animal life and solar heating of sea water. So U.S. autos contribute five percent of that four percent, or just 0.2 percent of new CO2 added to the atmospheric mix. That is what CAFE targets.

Would you buy a 35-mpg car?

Legislators, media, and citizens with no understanding of technology or costs share the naive belief that greatly increased CAFE standards will make the same kinds of cars and trucks we enjoy today much more efficient. Those who know better know that's a pipe dream.

One engineer who has worked on CAFE compliance for decades says that to meet a 35-mpg CAFE, passenger cars will have to average 38-39 mpg and trucks 25-28 mpg, and achieving those levels will require virtually all of both to be either diesel or gas-electric hybrids at a probable incremental OEM cost (not retail price) of $5000 to $8000 per vehicle. He also points out that EPA uses "harmonic averaging" to emphasize fuel consumption (gallons per mile) rather than fuel economy (mpg). "In CAFE math," he says, "to offset a 25-mpg vehicle to get a 35-mpg average, believe it or not, you need a car that gets 58.3 mpg, not 45."

High-CAFE boosters also believe that whatever ultra-efficient vehicles their proposed 35-mpg car and truck standards would bring, people would have no choice but to buy them. But those less thirsty cars (and trucks, if any) would be dramatically smaller and lighter - less room, less comfort, less capability, far fewer features. And due to expensive technology, lightweight materials, and diesel and/or hybrid powertrains, they would be substantially more expensive.

Most people buy or lease a new vehicle because they want one, not because they really need one. They invest in a new model because it is clearly better and more desirable than the one it will replace. But if the old, less fuel-efficient one is otherwise far more desirable, why would most not recondition and keep it, maybe indefinitely, and invest the difference in their homes, education, or retirement? CAFE can't force consumers to buy what they don't want.

Better solution

If U.S. policymakers really want to reduce Americans' consumption of motor-vehicle fuel, they must muster the courage to somehow increase its cost. It should be abundantly obvious to even the dimmest political minds that higher fuel prices will motivate Americans to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles and drive them less - as they do in Europe, Asia, and almost everywhere else. And that boosting CAFE to increase vehicle fuel economy, by contrast, reduces the cost of driving, which encourages larger vehicles and more and faster driving.

Most of us remember the infamous 1974 seat-belt/ignition interlock, a well-meaning rule that Congress quickly rescinded as soon as it realized that the NHTSA had issued a mandate that consumers would not accept. That unfortunate mistake was corrected quickly and fairly inexpensively. But unreasonable and potentially disastrous CAFE requirements will not be easily corrected once in place and billions of dollars have been wasted trying to meet them.

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100% spot on.

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It's an excellent read, but will anyone in Washington listen?

I doubt it... They've been out to get Detroit for years because it symbolizes "all that is wrong" with americans.

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It's an excellent read, but will anyone in Washington listen?

I doubt it... They've been out to get Detroit for years because it symbolizes "all that is wrong" with americans.

They won't do anything because pop culture says global warming is human-induced, SUVs kill babies, and all American cars are gas guzzlers. The media tells the people what they want to hear and the politicians will do anything for a vote, so facts and reason kindly give way to sensationalism and boneheaded solutions such as CAFE. This country is pretty much a joke anymore.
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It's an excellent read, but will anyone in Washington listen?

I doubt it... They've been out to get Detroit for years because it symbolizes "all that is wrong" with americans.

They have probably listened, but they will not do anything.

I always ask my Greeny obesses friends who said that look we had bad hurricanes taking place because of global warming (Nobel Gore presents it in his "carastrophic" movie specifically mentioning Katrina.) Where have been hurricane seasons for the past two years? This year was below average and so was last year.

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Yeah well blaming the car industry is easy. If there is anything I have learned they like an easy way out matter how impartical or expensive it is thats what they want. If the Hollywood liberals driving Prius's like Al Gore and if they get anymore lobbying power in Washington not only will it be an end to GM, but Toyota will go down as a close second. Aside of the Prius hybrid, Toyota is scared as they should be in part because of the 4Runner, FJ, Land Cruiser, Seqouia, Tacoma and Tundra. (Especially the Turd, Chevy and GMC have class leading fuel economy by far.) Actually my favorite photo of George Bush is him on his ranch in his F-250, thats what America is. Not Al Gore driving a Prius. But hey what can I say, the Toyota biased media, the Global warming hype and the Hollywood stars all driving Prius's all have sadly taken there tole! What did we think would happen? On all accounts Detriot along with other auto makers should be in deeper $h! than they are currently in. No thanks to Obama, and Gore types. Saving the envoriment is good, but can be only taken so far. GIVE ME V8's, STYLE and AMERICAN CARS! The new media blitz and Prius phase will burn out but in case GM has the game changing Volt. That will be one to watch. Over all my point is screw the crazy tree huggers. I own 3 midsize or larger American cars with V6's do I count as a gas waster? I hope so because I could be proud of that. But if not... Maybe I should buy a 2007 Silverado Classic 3500HD LT 8100 Vortec V8 Alison Trans Ext. Cab, Long Box, with 2WD for sale on someones lawn in my area just to burn gas? Just something to think about with only 2.5K on its only 21,750.00 that is a hell of a deal on a 40K truck! But now that would just be crude, so would the I like big gas hogging American cars bumper sticker I would put on it, with a photo of someone pissing on a Prius and a tree! Sorry for this rant but where is the country is going is scary. At least we still have country music.

Edited by gm4life
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Despite the rapid economic, population, and fuel-usage growth of China, India and other developing countries, the U.S. is blamed for 25 percent of the planet's human-caused CO2. So the 20 percent of that the EPA attributes to U.S. cars and light trucks is just five percent of the world's newly generated man-made CO2. But only four percent of new CO2 is man-made; 96 percent comes from natural sources, primarily decaying plant and animal life and solar heating of sea water. So U.S. autos contribute five percent of that four percent, or just 0.2 percent of new CO2 added to the atmospheric mix. That is what CAFE targets.

Yes, but as we know from the carbon cycle, nature's release of CO2 is balanced by biological and physical processes (i.e. natural sinks), that remove nature's CO2 from our atmosphere. It is this unaccounted 4%, the 27,000,000 thousands of tons humans emit annually, that exceeds the balancing effect of sinks, resulting in the measured increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration (currently at 380 ppm).

IMO the fact that one nation's automobiles are responsible for *five percent* of the world's net CO2 is staggering. We need action, whether it's higher fuel economy standards as Congress proposes, or higher gas taxes as this author proposes. Of course, we need cooperation from other emitting nations as well, but developed nations have the greatest potential for reducing GHGs.

Edited by empowah
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Yes, but as we know from the carbon cycle, nature's release of CO2 is balanced by biological and physical processes (i.e. natural sinks), that remove nature's CO2 from our atmosphere. It is this unaccounted 4%, the 27,000,000 thousands of tons humans emit annually, that exceeds the balancing effect of sinks, resulting in the measured increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration (currently at 380 ppm).

IMO the fact that one nation's automobiles are responsible for *five percent* of the world's net CO2 is staggering. We need action, whether it's higher fuel economy standards as Congress proposes, or higher gas taxes as this author proposes. Of course, we need cooperation from other emitting nations as well, but developed nations have the greatest potential for reducing GHGs.

And why exactly should that "action" be forcing people to buy smaller cars?

Why can't that "action" be innovation and technology? We seriously have the technology right now (Or a few years away) to reduce CO2 emissions, yet everyone insists on lording over those 'awful car people' and their 'big honkin' pollutin' SUVs and sports cars.'

Oh wait, I forgot, this country doesn't innovate anymore. We just 'manage' other cultures innovations and sell/move the small parts of our society that do innovate to other countries.

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I got into a rather long discussion with one of my more politically argumentative friends about this topic. She is very intelligent but isn't really big on cars, and she doesn't see the down side of raising the CAFE. My standpoint is that in order to fix the automotive side of the problem (which is only a small part of the problem) people need to drive less, or have shorter commutes (or both preferably). Raising the CAFE will encourage people to drive more like that article infers, since it will cost people less to drive. That will put even more pressure on traffic systems and roads (many of which are already fully congested as it is) requiring more tax money to go into repairing roads and building new ones. More roads takes acreage away from building construction or plant and tree life. More driving also increases the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities, which puts more stress on many other areas of our economy (hospitals, court system, police, etc). Overall, I find that these politicians are failing to see the whole picture, and it is a result of the public not seeing the whole picture (since the politicians just tout what the public wants).

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And why exactly should that "action" be forcing people to buy smaller cars?

Why can't that "action" be innovation and technology? We seriously have the technology right now (Or a few years away) to reduce CO2 emissions, yet everyone insists on lording over those 'awful car people' and their 'big honkin' pollutin' SUVs and sports cars.'

Oh wait, I forgot, this country doesn't innovate anymore. We just 'manage' other cultures innovations and sell/move the small parts of our society that do innovate to other countries.

If we really do have the technology right now, then that's great; that means we can improve fuel economy without "forcing" people to buy smaller cars.

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If we really do have the technology right now, then that's great; that means we can improve fuel economy without "forcing" people to buy smaller cars.

We don't have the technology now. And people will still be forced to buy smaller cars, because it is cheaper to make a small car get 55mpg than a suv/large car. Sports cars, large cars, suvs, and trucks will be priced out of the majorities price range, and small cars will move up in price/technology.

When the public supports these increase in CAFE, I wonder if they really understand what it will mean for them, or if they think the automakers will pull all this magic technology out their a$$es to make their current cars get 55mpg.

If car makers could make Tahoes, Escapes, 300s, etc all get 55mpg, and still offer it around the same price, they would have done it already. I can see it now. Most of the people supporting raising CAFE to 55mpg are going to be the same people complaining cars are so expensive compared to the good old days.

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We don't have the technology now. And people will still be forced to buy smaller cars, because it is cheaper to make a small car get 55mpg than a suv/large car. Sports cars, large cars, suvs, and trucks will be priced out of the majorities price range, and small cars will move up in price/technology.

We do...

The Volt and Ethanol are two examples... (Remember, I said reduce CO2, not eliminate it.) In a few years we will hopefully have batteries that will allow an Escalade to achieve 70 MPG (A GM quote)

Anyway, my point was the tried old argument of why doesn't the government subsidize new technology and promote innovation as opposed to regulating everyone into a place NO ONE wants to be.

First it'll be our cars, next will be our houses. It's just another means of political control.

Most of the people supporting raising CAFE to 55mpg are going to be the same people complaining cars are so expensive compared to the good old days.

I agree 100%

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We do...

The Volt and Ethanol are two examples... (Remember, I said reduce CO2, not eliminate it.) In a few years we will hopefully have batteries that will allow an Escalade to achieve 70 MPG (A GM quote)

Anyway, my point was the tried old argument of why doesn't the government subsidize new technology and promote innovation as opposed to regulating everyone into a place NO ONE wants to be.

First it'll be our cars, next will be our houses. It's just another means of political control.

I agree 100%

The Volt can't be produced now, the battery technology isn't there yet. And even if every car was a plug in hybrid, it would still just be shifting the power from gas, to electric from everyones houses. That electricity needs to be generated somehow.

Once that happens, home electricity use will be the next target. We will have regulations on how much electricity we can use. Where will it end?

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In a few years we will hopefully have batteries that will allow an Escalade to achieve 70 MPG (A GM quote)

In a few years hopefully the Escalade and equally wasteful vehicles will no longer be produced. Unfortunately I don't see either happening.

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We do...

The Volt and Ethanol are two examples... (Remember, I said reduce CO2, not eliminate it.) In a few years we will hopefully have batteries that will allow an Escalade to achieve 70 MPG (A GM quote)

Anyway, my point was the tried old argument of why doesn't the government subsidize new technology and promote innovation as opposed to regulating everyone into a place NO ONE wants to be.

First it'll be our cars, next will be our houses. It's just another means of political control.

I agree 100%

FOG - sometimes you can be as bad as the tree huggers. Don't you realize the word "subsidize" really means "give government handouts?" When has ANYTHING the government done been done efficiently and inexpensively? With all the handwringing going on, nobody is noticing the fact that the problem is solving itself right now! Toyota is building the Prius and GM is building the Volt. Mercedes is bringing the SmartCar to the US. All kinds of things are happening to provide high mileage / gas saving vehicles. Guess what? No government needed to get involved in getting these products to market.

Did ya notice oil approaching $100 / barrel? Where do you think this is going to drive gas prices? 5 bucks a gallon? Higher? How many people are going to be buying Tundras and Tahoes when gas makes it there? Not many. They'll all be lining up to buy the Prius and the Volt.... if they can find one. Funny how this all happened without increased CAFE standards. Government should keep it's dirty, bloody hands out of the economy and the free market and stick to mucking up other things they don't know anything about.

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im scared of the day when regulations come around that limit or prohibit me from driving my nova.... my hobby is old muscle cars, and i fear sooner or later something's gonna happen to ruin it...

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In a few years hopefully the Escalade and equally wasteful vehicles will no longer be produced. Unfortunately I don't see either happening.

Freedom of choice...

FOG - sometimes you can be as bad as the tree huggers. Don't you realize the word "subsidize" really means "give government handouts?" When has ANYTHING the government done been done efficiently and inexpensively? With all the handwringing going on, nobody is noticing the fact that the problem is solving itself right now! Toyota is building the Prius and GM is building the Volt. Mercedes is bringing the SmartCar to the US. All kinds of things are happening to provide high mileage / gas saving vehicles. Guess what? No government needed to get involved in getting these products to market.

Point taken... I'm just really stressed about all the appealing cars going down the drain and I think it's better to innovate than regulate, even if it is at a bigger cost (which it will be with our hopeless government)

Did ya notice oil approaching $100 / barrel? Where do you think this is going to drive gas prices? 5 bucks a gallon? Higher? How many people are going to be buying Tundras and Tahoes when gas makes it there? Not many. They'll all be lining up to buy the Prius and the Volt.... if they can find one. Funny how this all happened without increased CAFE standards. Government should keep it's dirty, bloody hands out of the economy and the free market and stick to mucking up other things they don't know anything about.

Yes but, my point is this; unless we develop the technology to make Tahoes and sports cars viable FASTER than oil increases it's going to destroy our hobby. And since Detroit is in such bad shape, I don't see them doing it by themselves.

The market will dictate what happens but timing is essential is we expect to drive something other than crap for the majority of our lives

*Crap is defined as: anything remotely similar to an Echo, Yaris, Aveo, Smart, Prius, Fit, etc.

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Freedom of choice...

Point taken... I'm just really stressed about all the appealing cars going down the drain and I think it's better to innovate than regulate, even if it is at a bigger cost (which it will be with our hopeless government)

Yes but, my point is this; unless we develop the technology to make Tahoes and sports cars viable FASTER than oil increases it's going to destroy our hobby. And since Detroit is in such bad shape, I don't see them doing it by themselves.

The market will dictate what happens but timing is essential is we expect to drive something other than crap for the majority of our lives

*Crap is defined as: anything remotely similar to an Echo, Yaris, Aveo, Smart, Prius, Fit, etc.

Freedom of choice is fine and dandy, but it's not profitable to make vehicles for the sake of offering "choice." When oil reaches $200/barrel, what's "cool" and "appealing" today - Tahoes, Escalades, HUMMERs, and whatnot - will look ridiculous.

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Freedom of choice is fine and dandy, but it's not profitable to make vehicles for the sake of offering "choice." When oil reaches $200/barrel, what's "cool" and "appealing" today - Tahoes, Escalades, HUMMERs, and whatnot - will look ridiculous.

Doubtful. Those who can afford them will be able to afford whatever price of gasoline is.

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And...

Consider this reality: Some folks (myself included) with have our desireable cars converted to run on alternate fuels before driving some little $h!box.

I will never drive any of those nasty little rolling apologies.

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click here

Even Midwestern conservatives want the CAFE implementation. Personally I prefer rationing.

people are idiots because its easy to say something in a meaningless poll and its another when the cops show up at your door to take away your family acadia and replace it with a toyota matrix.

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people are idiots because its easy to say something in a meaningless poll and its another when the cops show up at your door to take away your family acadia and replace it with a toyota matrix.

Or worse yet, a Yaris.
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click here

Even Midwestern conservatives want the CAFE implementation. Personally I prefer rationing.

Just remember america... This is what you wanted.

I'll drive my classics if I have to. Then when they come to take those away I'll have my gun; waiting for them. :explode:

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