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wildcat

Jerry Flint: Obama's Fuel Fantasy

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I think this is one of the best columns Jerry Flint has ever written. See what you think. Click here.

This is a wonderful article indeed. Someone gets it. Thanks for sharing.

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Good Read.

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The point of making these rules is to make them difficult to achieve, or just on the verge of achievable and impossibility. It forces engineers and designers to change and think in new radical ways. The idea that the only way to achieve these standards is to make cars really small and uncomfortable is an idea bread from the same thinking of the last 100 years. If we don't do things that seem impossible to achieve, then we'll just go on our current path of relatively low advancement.

Carbon Fiber is the perfect example. It is expensive because it isn't used in mainstream cars, and it isn't used in mainstream cars because it is expensive. The only reason it is expensive is due to the process of making it and recycling it. These processes haven't been refined or done in mass to where carbon fiber can become an economically viable replacement for steel - although it isn't too far off. Big automakers aren't going to adopt carbon fiber if there is no reason to; steel works fine and cars don't need to be lighter. Yet it is these big automakers that are the key to making carbon fiber economical and widespread, since they have the manufacturing and R&D power to do so. It takes government legislation saying that cars need to be more efficient (to save captain planet) for automakers to consider that carbon fiber may end up being more economical than steel, if they start investing in the process of making it.

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I love how these articles collect you guys like flys to $h!... and $h! is exactly what this article is.

Firstly, Jerry here is speculating about the fuel economy rules. He took the headline from somewhere, ignored any details in the article, and wrote his own column on the subject. Jerry then forgets that CAFE is a fleet average. The Cruze is slated to be able to hit 40mpg without any geewiz technology.... but that's the new EPA number. The mileage number used to calculate for CAFE is from the old EPA rating system and could very well put the Cruze into the mid to high 40s.

Jerry goes on to tell us about the E85 credit that allows a 20mpg car to count as a 120mpg car. Sounds great no? Well since Jerry read only the headline of his USAToday, he never discovered that the E85 credit is set to be phased out over the next few years.

He writes off the idea of using diesel or lightweight materials because he did the "off the top of his noggin calculation" that those would cost $10,000 over the cost of a car and suggests the average American needs to go on a diet. That last part is about the only intelligible thing he writes. Folks, if ricers can get carbon fiber hoods and fenders for their '92 Civic for a few hundred dollars then I'm CERTAIN Detroit can get a slightly better deal when buying in bulk.

Jerry jumps to the (in his feeble mind) most logical conclusion that the only way to meet these mileage numbers is with electric cars that cost $10,000 more than a gas equivalent.

He fails to even research the new engine technologies that the domestics have been developing. Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition or HCCI is a new technology being developed my GM that adds 15% fuel efficiency while also reducing emissions. Adding 15% increase in economy to the Cruze brings it to 46mpg. That's Pruis territory without a battery in sight.

There are so many of these terrible articles out there. Please don't repost them here unless you intend to debunk them. I don't have time to debunk them all, so I end up just deleting them.

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I love how these articles collect you guys like flys to $h!... and $h! is exactly what this article is.

Firstly, Jerry here is speculating about the fuel economy rules. He took the headline from somewhere, ignored any details in the article, and wrote his own column on the subject. Jerry then forgets that CAFE is a fleet average. The Cruze is slated to be able to hit 40mpg without any geewiz technology.... but that's the new EPA number. The mileage number used to calculate for CAFE is from the old EPA rating system and could very well put the Cruze into the mid to high 40s.

Jerry goes on to tell us about the E85 credit that allows a 20mpg car to count as a 120mpg car. Sounds great no? Well since Jerry read only the headline of his USAToday, he never discovered that the E85 credit is set to be phased out over the next few years.

He writes off the idea of using diesel or lightweight materials because he did the "off the top of his noggin calculation" that those would cost $10,000 over the cost of a car and suggests the average American needs to go on a diet. That last part is about the only intelligible thing he writes. Folks, if ricers can get carbon fiber hoods and fenders for their '92 Civic for a few hundred dollars then I'm CERTAIN Detroit can get a slightly better deal when buying in bulk.

Jerry jumps to the (in his feeble mind) most logical conclusion that the only way to meet these mileage numbers is with electric cars that cost $10,000 more than a gas equivalent.

He fails to even research the new engine technologies that the domestics have been developing. Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition or HCCI is a new technology being developed my GM that adds 15% fuel efficiency while also reducing emissions. Adding 15% increase in economy to the Cruze brings it to 46mpg. That's Pruis territory without a battery in sight.

There are so many of these terrible articles out there. Please don't repost them here unless you intend to debunk them. I don't have time to debunk them all, so I end up just deleting them.

I think healthy debate is fine - though I agree with 'ya the unsubstantiated omgtehworldisgonnaend name-calling, fear-mongering stuff isn't particularly insightful or helpful.

I do think we should take time to read these articles thoughtfully before jumping to outrage.

Edited by empowah
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Is this the same ol' Flintstone that people here would hiss and boo at only like, a year ago? Sheesh.

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I think healthy debate is fine - though I agree with 'ya the unsubstantiated omgtehworldisgonnaend name-calling, fear-mongering stuff isn't particularly insightful or helpful.

I do think we should take time to read these articles thoughtfully before jumping to outrage.

Healthy debate is great! I'd love if we had healthy debate here...... instead of:

1. Post insepid, uninformed, incomplete, poorly written article by an old crank.

2. +1

3. +1

4. +1

5. Z28 or myself coming in and ripping the article to shreds.

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I find this story very interesting and am glad it was posted. Personally I think this kind of legislation is good to drive inovation and push us to come up with better options, but also I feel it needs to be more realistic. I could see 2016 to meet half this proposed fuel standard and 2032 to meet it all.

Personally if the administration had a brain, they would force GM to build the baby Duramax and put it as standard in all trucks and suv's. This would get a big bump in efficiency and then go after the more difficult apples to get on the tree.

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This piece is one of the most convincing I have seen about argument against CAFE as part of continuation Car and Driver has been battling against the CAFE. People gotta know that it is not Obama but the hacks in the Congress who are playing major role in signing the regulation and they have shown that they can go against Obama if needed.

Obama's CAFE Fuel Economy Standards to Create Fleet of Tiny, Expensive Vehicles - Car News Mandate of 35.5 mpg by 2016 is like fighting obesity by outlawing large clothing.

BY STEVE SILER AND MIKE DUSHANE

May 2009

That thud you just heard was the "other shoe" dropping in Washington, D.C.: the Obama administration has used the turmoil in the auto industry as an opportunity to nudge—okay, force—the industry into a new, more environmentally sensitive direction, thus making good on its promise to impose stricter Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and tailpipe emissions standards across the automobile industry.

The proposed mandate raises CAFE standards about five percent annually from today's level of 23 mpg for trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars to 30 mpg for trucks and 39 mpg for passenger cars by 2016, for an average of 35.5 mpg overall. This is roughly four years earlier than the already aggressive 35-mpg goalpost established by Congress in 2007.

As Goes California, So Goes the Country

These standards more or less embrace the strict fuel-economy/emissions proposals that California and about a dozen other states have been trying to implement for years, but which have been blocked by industry lawsuits. The mandate should therefore put many of the existing state lawsuits to rest.

Interestingly, many of the same players that have been trying to block the implementation of the California proposals have embraced the Obama mandate. Ostensibly, this is because the new rules create a uniform standard for the country, instead of allowing states to dictate their own emissions and fuel-economy standards.

"We're cool with this," Chrysler spokesman Scott Brown told us in a phone interview. "Most important is that it's clear instead of piecemeal—we love that."

Moments later, GM environment and energy spokesman Shad Balch echoed the sentiment, nearly verbatim: "We love it. Now we know what to build," he told us. "As it was before, it was 14 states doing 14 different things, and we'd have to build products for each." The new regulations, he said, allow for a "harmonized national product program, which allows for more efficient product planning. For a company trying to become leaner and more efficient, this is a huge step in the right direction."

There's another force at play here, however, as both Chrysler and GM, recipients of massive government bailout loans, are in no position to voice dissent. Whether they think these policies are sound or not is moot; they will toe the Obama party line because he's their de facto boss. Ford knows it will have to ask for Obama's help if the economy doesn't improve soon, so it is also going along with the hype. Honda and Toyota have been tooting their green horns for years, so they can't very well be the voices of dissent on this issue. Put bluntly, the government is ramming this down the throats of the car companies.

How Do They Do It In Europe?

Senator after senator cites as evidence for the attainability of these standards the vehicles sold in Europe. But car for car, European vehicles aren't meaningfully more efficient. Take the Ford Focus sedan, a car that's comparably sized here and in Europe (although not the same vehicle). In the U.S., the base Focus sedan costs $15,000, has 140 hp, and is rated at 28 mpg combined by the EPA. The base Focus sedan available in Germany costs $20,000 (plus 19-percent tax!), has only 79 hp, and would be rated by the EPA at approximately 30 mpg combined if they were to test it. (Our estimate is based on standard differentials between U.S. and E.U. test numbers.) Paying an extra $5000, Europeans sacrifice 44 percent of their horsepower and gain less than 10 percent in fuel economy.

So why is Europe's fleet so much more efficient overall? The cars people buy there are much smaller. The Focus is one of the tinier mass-market cars sold in the U.S. today, but it's considered a reasonably sized family vehicle in Europe. The average European consumer buys a car a few sizes smaller than a Focus. (This is mainly due to space constraints in cities and smaller roads. If Europeans drove the long distances we do, they likely would drive Hummers, too.) And about half of Europeans buy diesels, which consume around 30-percent less fuel.

How Will They Do It Here?

Car companies have an extensive menu of options to meet the aggressive targets, but each has a high price tag. Diesel engines fired the efficiency revolution in Europe, but tough new particulate emissions laws mean thousands of dollars in extra costs for diesels, which are naturally dirty and require NASA-level catalytic technology to meet current U.S. standards. Hybrid technology works, but economy increases are closer to 30 percent (not the 35 percent needed) and the systems cost $4000 to $10,000, depending on the size of the vehicle. GM won't even talk about the cost of the extended-range electric powertrain in its Volt, but industry sources quote a $10,000 premium per vehicle—and that's for a small car (costs generally increase proportionally with size). Lightweight materials can help a few percent, but they are already in widespread use and further implementation would yield diminishing returns and massive cost.

Forget radical new technologies for 2016 vehicles. It takes roughly six years to take a proven technology to mass production because of the engineering, validation, and tooling needed to attain the durability required in a motor vehicle. Any new technologies for 2016 vehicles will have to be sewn up by next year to make it to the showroom in any quantity.

All of this means that the anticipated $1300 price increase per vehicle quoted by the Obama administration is absurd. Only if consumers trade down a few vehicle sizes and pay $1300 can the targets be met.

Wouldn't U.S. Consumers Buy Fuel Misers if They Could?

We hear a lot from regulators about the increased choice these new regulations will bring, but these choices seem to be answers to questions no consumer is asking. The few vehicles available today that meet these standards don't sell in large quantities because of their small size, poor performance, and high prices. Sales of the Toyota Prius and other hybrids briefly shot up when gas cost $4.00 a gallon, but as soon as gas prices started dropping, so did hybrid sales. Prius sales fell so sharply (even in relation to a market in overall decline) that Toyota last year halted construction of a Prius factory it was building in Mississippi. Today, the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. so far this year are the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks. Nobody is stopping buyers of these vehicles from purchasing Priuses instead.

Will it Work?

The Obama administration claims the new measures will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over seven years. But that claim assumes new-car buying habits continue unabated and that people will want to buy expensive, tiny cars. If people instead elect to purchase bigger, cheaper used vehicles, there will be no reduction in consumption; those used vehicles are the same "guzzlers" we're driving today. The fuel economy gains we might have seen with reasonable mileage targets for new vehicles won't be realized if fewer new vehicles are sold. Worse, the auto industry will continue to shrink because of the decrease in new-vehicle sales.

Cost cutting at Car and Driver means we no longer have unlimited access to the Psychic Friends Network, so we can't predict the future. There are a few ways this can play out. If gas prices go up significantly (naturally or with massive taxes)—or if the Obama administration introduces massive tax credits for new vehicle purchases—consumers might actually want to buy the vehicles that have been mandated. But if that doesn't happen, we'll be able to tell you about some great places to buy bigger, more comfortable, more powerful, and safer used cars and trucks.

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Z-06 thanks for posting, that was very insitefull. We truly are in trying and changing times.

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The thing that both articles miss is the absurdity of using CAFE to attempt to reduce reliance on imported oil.

It failed in the past, and it will fail again.

Idiot politicians.

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The thing that both articles miss is the absurdity of using CAFE to attempt to reduce reliance on imported oil.

It failed in the past, and it will fail again.

Idiot politicians.

No the second article does point that out if you read the penultimate paragraph.

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The 'imported oil' fixation always weirds me out, because much of your guys' oil comes from Canada. Why beef? :(

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The 'imported oil' fixation always weirds me out, because much of your guys' oil comes from Canada. Why beef? :(

Much, but not all.

But ok, let's just change it to "dependence on oil" .

The point remains.

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No the second article does point that out if you read the penultimate paragraph.

It "touches" on the concept, but fails to lay it all out.

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As much as some want to explain away this story the fact remains we will have smaller less powerful more expensive cars in the future at a time the auto industry is hanging by a thread.

Much of this could have been solved with just a fuel tax that would have made people want to by the $h! boxed vs having them forced upon them. The point is if you wanted to drive a CTS V you could if you pay for it but with theses laws were will not have that freesdom of choice. The fact is few in Washington had the balls to put the tax in as they knew they would never get re elected.

I still expect we will get a fuel tax anyway as the goverment is spending money faster than GM these days and will need the money. Hell they want to tax the hell out of Coke and Pepsi now where is this going to end.

Any way I think it is better to set the conditions and let people choose what they want vs limiting their choices. The last time CAFE jumps were added it led to the cars of the 80's. It took the auto insudtry 20 years to recover. This time in their condition they just might be finished off. Anyone remember the Citation!

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Lets just say that the late 70's and early 80's were the forgotten years of the auto industry and that is a good thing considering the junk everyone including the asian and europeans put out.

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