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Unbearable Lightness?

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Camino

is there a way to run an engine on straight ethanol? safely? reliably?

Brazil does it now. They started their conversion to pure alcohol engines about 12 years ago. They are the furthest along getting to an entirely bio-fuel fleet.

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What I hope for is some action on that front, and a diversification of both fuels and propulsion systems used in automobiles. We should never again have our economy rest on the supply of a single commodity.

We need electric cars, extended-range electric cars, cars that run on ethanol, natural gas, hydrogen, bio-fuels, propane, as well as gasoline and diesel. With each car optimised for its intended use as well as its intended energy source.

I agree. To some degree electric cars have an automatic diversification of fuels, as there are so many ways to make electricity. Unfortunately, there are 2 problems: the fact that pure electric vehicles still don't make good sense for primary vehicles, and there is still a risk that electric companies would become too powerful and gouge.

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Electric companies in most states are regulated heavily.... and in the ones where they aren't regulated, there is very healthy competition.... far more than the oil companies have.

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cars have gotten very cheap over the last 10 years....but here's an example from before that too...

model T first year "$825.00. Over ten thousand were sold in its first year, establishing a new record. Four years later the price dropped to $575.00"

the first year was ~41 ounces of gold... the 4th year was ~29

huge inflation leading up to the 70's

"Buick Le Sabre $3,337 1970 "

that was ~95 ounces of gold, but obviously isn't a bare bones car like the model T

"Ford Pinto $2,078 1972 "

~60 ounces. if it was $35/..

but looked up the high/low and it's average was 57.. so that'd be 36 ounces

a new aveo?

"MSRP1: Starting at $11,965 "

that's ~ 11 ounces

so even with all the regulations, prices for a car are practically rock bottom... until GM (and others) has to raise prices because of previous and most likely more future inflation

so of course if prices increase substantially, very few people could afford it, so i don't see any positives from these "urgent regulations"...or it just shows how bad things are gonna get if it raises the $$ prices >10%...? ... if they have to keep raising prices, they'll corner themselves, except for exports.... i'll stop there.

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Electric companies in most states are regulated heavily.... and in the ones where they aren't regulated, there is very healthy competition.... far more than the oil companies have.

where aren't they regulated?

and the first part, obviously.. they're given monopoly status, they better be regulated.

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This article is poorly researched as it doesn't take into consideration two important facts: CAFE uses the old EPA driving cycle raw measurements, not the adjusted consumer MPG; and the new CAFE uses an attribute-based system supported by the industry, which sets lower targets for manufacturers of larger cars and trucks.

Running the numbers for a typical car—say, a Toyota Camry weighing 3,260lb (1,500kg) and averaging 26mpg—suggests it would need to shed a little under a third of its weight, at a cost of roughly $2,000, to meet the 2016 standard.

Wrong. The 22/33-mpg Camry, the typical large family sedan, already averages 35 mpg in CAFE-speak. With the 19/31-mpg 305-hp Mustang, Ford has managed to average 30 mpg CAFE using simple improvements (VVT, electric steering, six-speeds), even without EcoBoost, lightweight materials, or stop-start assist. The Cruze is 30% more efficient than a five year old Cobalt, while being one of the safest cars ever tested by Euro NCAP. There have been lots of opportunities to improve fuel efficiency cheaply, but manufacturers are only really focusing now because of CAFE.

These efficiency mandates may increase vehicle prices by a few hundred, but their implications on the national energy picture are far greater. As to improving vehicle safety, an arms race to higher curb weights isn't the answer - it's more about vehicle crash compatibility, road design, and driver training. Heavier vehicles handle more poorly, rollover more frequently, and when it comes to a head-on crash with a semi, you're still screwed.

Edited by pow
  • Upvote 1

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cars have gotten very cheap over the last 10 years....but here's an example from before that too...

model T first year "$825.00. Over ten thousand were sold in its first year, establishing a new record. Four years later the price dropped to $575.00"

the first year was ~41 ounces of gold... the 4th year was ~29

huge inflation leading up to the 70's

"Buick Le Sabre $3,337 1970 "

that was ~95 ounces of gold, but obviously isn't a bare bones car like the model T

"Ford Pinto $2,078 1972 "

~60 ounces. if it was $35/..

but looked up the high/low and it's average was 57.. so that'd be 36 ounces

a new aveo?

"MSRP1: Starting at $11,965 "

that's ~ 11 ounces

so even with all the regulations, prices for a car are practically rock bottom... until GM (and others) has to raise prices because of previous and most likely more future inflation

so of course if prices increase substantially, very few people could afford it, so i don't see any positives from these "urgent regulations"...or it just shows how bad things are gonna get if it raises the $ prices >10%...? ... if they have to keep raising prices, they'll corner themselves, except for exports.... i'll stop there.

Again, the reason for these weight reductions is where fuel costs are going to go in the future. It's a much easier bet to reduce the weight of a vehicle <and hence it's fuel economy> than it is to make a bet on an alternative fuel infrastructure being built. Gas will hit $4.00 a gallon again this summer.

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where aren't they regulated?

and the first part, obviously.. they're given monopoly status, they better be regulated.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio (partially), Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania (partially), Florida (partially), California (was deregulated, then re-regulated after Enron, moving towards deregulation again). I'm sure there are others, but those are the states my company does business in.

And no, electric generation companies don't have a monopoly status there is a lot of competition there. The distribution companies (the wire owners) have a monopoly, but they aren't allowed to charge a markup on the cost of the power.

Without revealing who I work for, we are in the top 5 nationally in a very crowded market. Our expertise is in the commercial sector. We can analyze the hourly usage of a customer (say Home Depot or a GM Manufacturing plant) and make predictive purchases of power on that customer's behalf. We lock that customer in at a set KWH rate and then it's our job to find the best price for that customer's power.

Our company and companies like it help to drive down the cost of power on the wholesale market while at the same time giving a stable price to the end user.

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Another thing maybe for their next gen GM should attempt to make there wieght lightest by 500 pounds instead of heaviest by 500 Lbs

Edited by CanadianBacon94

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Wrong. The 22/33-mpg Camry, the typical large family sedan, already averages 35 mpg in CAFE-speak.

Could you explain this further? How is its average higher than the highway rating?

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Could you explain this further? How is its average higher than the highway rating?

CAFE uses the raw score obtained from the original EPA driving cycles:

The Guide and Label values are adjusted to account for the in-use short fall of EPA

numbers (EPA conducted a study and determined that real drivers in actual conditions get

90% of EPA’s city value and 78% of EPA’s highway value). The city value is multiplied

by 0.90 and the highway value is multiplied by 0.78.

Furthermore, in 2008 the EPA added additional driving cycles, which further widened the gap between the raw EPA number used for CAFE and the figures consumers actually see.

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Fascinating. So is that just a giveaway to the carmakers? It's confusing to have two different sets of numbers for fuel economy--so if you use the new (and presumably more realistic) EPA numbers, what is the actual CAFE 2016 goal?

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Fascinating. So is that just a giveaway to the carmakers? It's confusing to have two different sets of numbers for fuel economy--so if you use the new (and presumably more realistic) EPA numbers, what is the actual CAFE 2016 goal?

Not a giveaway... it's always been that way. It wouldn't be fair to automakers if their efficiency improvements were erased each time the test procedure changed and got harder. What's more important is the percentage improvements each year.

I would estimate the actual 2016 CAFE goal to be 25 "new MPG" city/highway combined.

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I agree with you that we should be addressing the fuel issue first... but I see no reason why we can't tackle weight as well. We have the technology already, it's not like someone has to go out and invent the stuff or build an infrastructure around it.

I never said we couldn't. But stong-arming the manufacturers to do it via CAFE is the wrong way to get there. It is limiting.

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Again, the reason for these weight reductions is where fuel costs are going to go in the future. It's a much easier bet to reduce the weight of a vehicle <and hence it's fuel economy> than it is to make a bet on an alternative fuel infrastructure being built. Gas will hit $4.00 a gallon again this summer.

ok, but if silver keeps going like it has ... towards $20 an ounce... that's still like .20 a gallon if we used silver dollars... that's not horribly that expensive. right now it's ~2.60/gal and $18 / ounce, that's like 14 cents per gallon...that's pretty damn cheap. but silver is prolly under valued right now because of probable fraud in the paper silver market.

update:

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/gas-prices-history.html

1950 - 1959 $0.19 to $0.26

http://inflation.us/coins/coin_details.php?coinID=20

$3.2782652989664 is the melt value for the 1932-1964 Washington Quarter on Apr 10, 2010.

using the local price of ~2.65 ....price of gas would be 20.1 cents. on the low side of the 50's price, but not as low as it is right now.

Edited by loki

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I never said we couldn't. But stong-arming the manufacturers to do it via CAFE is the wrong way to get there. It is limiting.

Unfortunately the energy lobby is stronger than the auto manufacturer lobby.

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Camino

is there a way to run an engine on straight ethanol? safely? reliably?

Brazil does that, they use sugar cane ethanol.

A problem in the country for sure is the lack of production facilities to produce more ethanol and more diesel. We have a lot of dated refineries, and as was already mentioned, they aren't set up to produce diesel. Europe already beats our 2016 CAFE standards, if they did it, we should be able to do it. And Even if it does take 10 years to get new refineries up and running, that isn't an excuse not to build any, in fact it means we better start expanding now because it does take so long.

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I consider energy diversification to be a national security issue - one that we are ignoring.

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Brazil does that, they use sugar cane ethanol.

A problem in the country for sure is the lack of production facilities to produce more ethanol and more diesel. We have a lot of dated refineries, and as was already mentioned, they aren't set up to produce diesel. Europe already beats our 2016 CAFE standards, if they did it, we should be able to do it. And Even if it does take 10 years to get new refineries up and running, that isn't an excuse not to build any, in fact it means we better start expanding now because it does take so long.

Also, the US blocks the import of Brazilian cane ethanol and insists on subsidizing the Iowa-grown garbage to the hilt.

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My take of CAFE is to simply ignore it.

Let me explain... I am not against fuel efficiency. It is prudent to have fuel sipping offerings in a manufacturers line up in case fuel prices sky rocket and consumers flock to such vehicles as a 3~4 year development cycle is too long for an adjust on demand strategy. Having said that, the market should be the mechanism that decides what vehicles are built and in what numbers, not ideologues in Washington DC or some one's theory on "corporate social responsibility".

The way the CAFE law is written, there is nothing preventing automakers from completely ignoring it and still manufacture and sell cars. All it stipulates is a $5.50 penalty per 0.1 mpg per car manufactured if the manufacture does not meet CAFE standards. Let's put that into perspective...

Let's say the CAFE standard is 36 mpg. And you come up short at a 31 mpg (GM is currently at 31.3 BTW, Ford is at 31.1). What this means is that every car hitting the showrooms will carry a (36-31) x 10 x 5.50 = $275 CAFE "tax". That's all there is to it.

Now, what I recommend is that a manufacturer should have a full range of vehicles -- all designed to what they believe each segment of consumers want based on their best market research and understanding. They should then manufacture the vehicles in numbers, again, based solely on consumer demand. As for CAFE? They should let it fall where it may. However, to be fair, I'll amortize the entire CAFE tab only on those vehicles over CAFE mpg ratings. Beyond that, let's allow the market to decide. If you are a Global Warming coolaid drinker, prefer fuel economy over performance or if that couple of hundred dollars make or break your buying decision, buy the cars under CAFE ratings with no surcharge. If you want that Corvette or Tahoe? Well, they are there for you at a few hundred dollars more courtesy of Congress (and clearly marked as such on the sticker).

What an automobile manufacturer shouldn't be doing is making cars around the artificial CAFE standard -- performance cars that don't perform as well as they otherwise would, big SUVs that isn't as big as their buyers prefer, trucks that don't tow as much as their owners want, family cars with engines less refined due to reduced cylinder count, or saddle every buyer with "green technology" which they don't care for and don't want to pay for. They should also not gate production volume of various models to meet CAFE and end up with under supplying certain models and oversupplying others (which then leads to an unhealthy combination of heavy premiums and generous discounting).

I say the above based on the following premise:-

  • It is perfectly legal to ignore CAFE.
  • The CAFE penalty is small compared to the selling price of vehicles.
  • It may cost more to meet CAFE that pass on the penalty.
  • It is fundamentally unhealthy to the bottom line to meet the ideologies of the political class rather than market demands.

  • Upvote 1

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This article is poorly researched as it doesn't take into consideration two important facts: CAFE uses the old EPA driving cycle raw measurements, not the adjusted consumer MPG; and the new CAFE uses an attribute-based system supported by the industry, which sets lower targets for manufacturers of larger cars and trucks.

Wrong. The 22/33-mpg Camry, the typical large family sedan, already averages 35 mpg in CAFE-speak. With the 19/31-mpg 305-hp Mustang, Ford has managed to average 30 mpg CAFE using simple improvements (VVT, electric steering, six-speeds), even without EcoBoost, lightweight materials, or stop-start assist. The Cruze is 30% more efficient than a five year old Cobalt, while being one of the safest cars ever tested by Euro NCAP. There have been lots of opportunities to improve fuel efficiency cheaply, but manufacturers are only really focusing now because of CAFE.

These efficiency mandates may increase vehicle prices by a few hundred, but their implications on the national energy picture are far greater. As to improving vehicle safety, an arms race to higher curb weights isn't the answer - it's more about vehicle crash compatibility, road design, and driver training. Heavier vehicles handle more poorly, rollover more frequently, and when it comes to a head-on crash with a semi, you're still screwed.

Creepy, As I was just thinking along the same lines....

Just time for the automakers to get their asses in gear....

My take of CAFE is to simply ignore it.

Let me explain... I am not against fuel efficiency. It is prudent to have fuel sipping offerings in a manufacturers line up in case fuel prices sky rocket and consumers flock to such vehicles as a 3~4 year development cycle is too long for an adjust on demand strategy. Having said that, the market should be the mechanism that decides what vehicles are built and in what numbers, not ideologues in Washington DC or some one's theory on "corporate social responsibility".

The way the CAFE law is written, there is nothing preventing automakers from completely ignoring it and still manufacture and sell cars. All it stipulates is a $5.50 penalty per 0.1 mpg per car manufactured if the manufacture does not meet CAFE standards. Let's put that into perspective...

Let's say the CAFE standard is 36 mpg. And you come up short at a 31 mpg (GM is currently at 31.3 BTW, Ford is at 31.1). What this means is that every car hitting the showrooms will carry a (36-31) x 10 x 5.50 = $275 CAFE "tax". That's all there is to it.

Now, what I recommend is that a manufacturer should have a full range of vehicles -- all designed to what they believe each segment of consumers want based on their best market research and understanding. They should then manufacture the vehicles in numbers, again, based solely on consumer demand. As for CAFE? They should let it fall where it may. However, to be fair, I'll amortize the entire CAFE tab only on those vehicles over CAFE mpg ratings. Beyond that, let's allow the market to decide. If you are a Global Warming coolaid drinker, prefer fuel economy over performance or if that couple of hundred dollars make or break your buying decision, buy the cars under CAFE ratings with no surcharge. If you want that Corvette or Tahoe? Well, they are there for you at a few hundred dollars more courtesy of Congress (and clearly marked as such on the sticker).

What an automobile manufacturer shouldn't be doing is making cars around the artificial CAFE standard -- performance cars that don't perform as well as they otherwise would, big SUVs that isn't as big as their buyers prefer, trucks that don't tow as much as their owners want, family cars with engines less refined due to reduced cylinder count, or saddle every buyer with "green technology" which they don't care for and don't want to pay for. They should also not gate production volume of various models to meet CAFE and end up with under supplying certain models and oversupplying others (which then leads to an unhealthy combination of heavy premiums and generous discounting).

I say the above based on the following premise:-

  • It is perfectly legal to ignore CAFE.
  • The CAFE penalty is small compared to the selling price of vehicles.
  • It may cost more to meet CAFE that pass on the penalty.
  • It is fundamentally unhealthy to the bottom line to meet the ideologies of the political class rather than market demands.

I love it!

Rumor is Ford is considering that very Idea with their Trucks....

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My take of CAFE is to simply ignore it.

Let me explain... I am not against fuel efficiency. It is prudent to have fuel sipping offerings in a manufacturers line up in case fuel prices sky rocket and consumers flock to such vehicles as a 3~4 year development cycle is too long for an adjust on demand strategy. Having said that, the market should be the mechanism that decides what vehicles are built and in what numbers, not ideologues in Washington DC or some one's theory on "corporate social responsibility".

The way the CAFE law is written, there is nothing preventing automakers from completely ignoring it and still manufacture and sell cars. All it stipulates is a $5.50 penalty per 0.1 mpg per car manufactured if the manufacture does not meet CAFE standards. Let's put that into perspective...

Let's say the CAFE standard is 36 mpg. And you come up short at a 31 mpg (GM is currently at 31.3 BTW, Ford is at 31.1). What this means is that every car hitting the showrooms will carry a (36-31) x 10 x 5.50 = $275 CAFE "tax". That's all there is to it.

Now, what I recommend is that a manufacturer should have a full range of vehicles -- all designed to what they believe each segment of consumers want based on their best market research and understanding. They should then manufacture the vehicles in numbers, again, based solely on consumer demand. As for CAFE? They should let it fall where it may. However, to be fair, I'll amortize the entire CAFE tab only on those vehicles over CAFE mpg ratings. Beyond that, let's allow the market to decide. If you are a Global Warming coolaid drinker, prefer fuel economy over performance or if that couple of hundred dollars make or break your buying decision, buy the cars under CAFE ratings with no surcharge. If you want that Corvette or Tahoe? Well, they are there for you at a few hundred dollars more courtesy of Congress (and clearly marked as such on the sticker).

What an automobile manufacturer shouldn't be doing is making cars around the artificial CAFE standard -- performance cars that don't perform as well as they otherwise would, big SUVs that isn't as big as their buyers prefer, trucks that don't tow as much as their owners want, family cars with engines less refined due to reduced cylinder count, or saddle every buyer with "green technology" which they don't care for and don't want to pay for. They should also not gate production volume of various models to meet CAFE and end up with under supplying certain models and oversupplying others (which then leads to an unhealthy combination of heavy premiums and generous discounting).

I say the above based on the following premise:-

  • It is perfectly legal to ignore CAFE.
  • The CAFE penalty is small compared to the selling price of vehicles.
  • It may cost more to meet CAFE that pass on the penalty.
  • It is fundamentally unhealthy to the bottom line to meet the ideologies of the political class rather than market demands.

The fact major automakers would rather abide by CAFE than pay the fines is telling enough. Improving fuel economy to 26 "new" MPG by 2016 is hardly as difficult or expensive as initially thought. And I think most consumers would rather pay an additional $300 for 10% better fuel economy - savings that will add up in the long run - than a dubious tax that has no immediate benefit to them.

Further, costs of any new technology, green or not, are amortized more quickly when you have economies of scale. Not investing in better fuel economy only puts you at a competitive disadvantage. And as for ignoring CAFE, that would give a brand such a crappy image... nobody wants to buy from a company that has to be dragged kicking and screaming into making technological improvements.

Soichiro Honda allegedly said that if higher efficiency standards are proposed, Honda would 50 more engineers to tackle the challenge whereas GM would hire 50 more lawyers. Whether that's true or not, it certainly helped them sell Hondas...

Edited by pow

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