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The Beginning Of The End: DOT To Push For 62 MPG CAFE By 2025

Posted in auto industry, Car Buying, Cars, Environment, Fuel-efficient, Newsworthy by Kurt Ernst | October 3rd, 2010 | 9 Responses |
2008 Toyota Prius

Will this be considered a sports car in 15 years?

I wish I could say that I didn’t see this coming, or that I thought absurd fuel economy requirements wouldn’t actually get passed. Sadly, neither is true, and Autoblog tells us that the DOT, in conjunction with the EPA, will push for a 62 MPG standard by 2025. True, this represents a “worst case” scenario based upon a six percent improvement each year, beginning in 2017, but even the “best case” scenario (a 3% improvement each year) still requires a CAFE of 47 MPG. Say goodbye to high horsepower, fun to drive cars; in the world according to our elected officials, socially irresponsible cars like the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Corvette or (God forbid) the Cadillac CTS-V can’t exist. Say goodbye to manufacturers like Lamborghini, Ferrari and probably Porsche as well.

Why the jackbooted approach to fuel economy regulation? Two reasons, according to the DOT: preservation of the environment and competition in the global economy. Put another way, no other country will want to buy American cars unless we meet or exceed the mileage of our EU counterparts. Or so the DOT says, which completely negates the fact that cutting edge technology costs additional money, at a time when most Americans are struggling to even keep their houses. Will the government subsidize the purchase of 62 MPG automobiles that cost 3x what an economy car does today?

I’m all for protecting the environment and passing rational laws, but knee jerk reactions mandating technology that simply doesn’t exist today do no one any good. Maybe we’ll be in a position where electric cars are a viable transportation alternative in the future, but I don’t think that will be as early as 2017. How can you schedule a quantum leap in battery technology by a specific date? Maybe hybrid cars will improve over the next seven years, too, but I still don’t see a 47 MPG, affordable hybrid sports car anywhere on the near horizon.

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9 Responses

  1. Mark Smith says:

    I think you miss the point Kurt. This has nothing to do with pollution because, in fact, automobiles are so clean at this point (especially in the Peoples Republic of California) that increased mileage standards don’t make a huge dent in the amount of pollutants that they are putting out. What this is about is National Security. We are so dependent on foreign oil that even minor disruptions in supply are a major threat to our economy. We’ve seen that demonstrated very graphically over the past several years.

    Now, is mandating a 62 MPG limit a good idea? Of course not. In fact, it is just another example of what morons we have in Washington! If you want higher gas mileage and a decrease in gas usage, the answer is obvious. You need to change the economics of the situation. Why are European cars so efficient? Because gas costs so darned much! Why does gas in Europe cost so much? Because they tax the ever living c–p out of it! If the idiots in Washington had half a brain, they’d give up on mandating mileage and simply apply a big tax on oil and let market forces take you where they will. If somebody still wants a Supercar (and most of the Supercars are…EUROPEAN!!!), fine. It will just cost you more to operate it.

    Darn. You got me off on a rant again, didn’t you…

  2. eddie_427 says:

    i cant believe you are the harbinger of doom kurt.you know that wicked propulsion systems are going to be forced to develope.performance cars will allways be around in different new and exciting forms.as for hybrids the stupid goverment will have to subtidise them.spend more than they have,just like they are doing now! note: disregard all spelling errors

  3. Kurt says:

    Mark, I agree that weaning us off of foreign oil is a good thing, but you can’t do this by mandating technology that doesn’t exist today. Maybe we’ll get there in 15 years, but maybe we won’t, and I don’t want to have boring econoboxes as my only options to drive. I don’t care how many MPG it gets, if it takes longer than 7 seconds to 60 mph and won’t do close to 1 G in a corner, I’m not interested.

    The problem with your Euro based model is that most drivers in the EU don’t have commutes like we do in the U.S. Also, public transportation (trains, streetcars, buses, etc) is much more established than in the U.S. Our whole infrastructure is tied to driving, and if you bring gas to $8.00 per gallon with taxes you’d create anarchy.

    Like the muscle car boom of the late sixties and early seventies, I think we’re seeing the end of an era here. We’ll eventually develop electric cars that are fun to drive, practical and affordable, but it’s not going to be in the next ten years. I doubt it’ll be in the next twenty years, either.

  4. Kurt says:

    Eddie, you’re right – performance cars have always been around, and they’ll always be around. That said, it took a long time to create cars equal to those of the late sixties and early seventies. What would you rather own – a 1969 Z28 Camaro or a 1979 Z28 Camaro? How about a 1970 Mach One Mustang versus a 1980 Mustang GT?

    Like I said above, I think this is the end of an era. After 2015 or so, cars will get progressively worse (slower and more expensive) until we have a quantum leap in propulsion technology. Putting a timeline in place to implement new technology is ludicrous; if we’re going to play with imaginary numbers, I’d rather see the government mandate 1% unemployment in five years, because both situations are equally likely.

  5. Set says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you, Kurt. There’s definitely a changing of the times, but not necessarily in a bad way. I agree that the Government’s interference with the market is not the solution; the Gov’t should neither raise taxes on fuel, nor mandate a certain fuel economy from all cars. I think the industry, of it’s own accord, will reach that point when it’s practical, feasible, and profitable. The key part is that last word, profit. If there’s no profit to be made in cars, manufacturers will simply close up shop. Then we’ll be far worse than we started.

    Progress can be made in both fuel economy and performance. Engine efficiency (turning more fuel and air into power, instead of wasted energy), weight loss, aerodynamics, and rolling resistance can benefit performance and efficiency. The current generation of economy cars are, in my opinion, a step backwards in many regards to that. They keep trying to add more weight (from useless features and “technologies”), less aerodynamics (a few excluded, including the dreaded Prius), and the same inefficient engine designs. Their only saving grace being they put absolutely no guts in the thing so you can’t actually burn any fuel.

    And Mark, seriously? Just no. Europe is not a model for anything save maybe public transit. Maybe a model of how not to set up an autonomous automotive society. Taxing the crap out of something isn’t a good deterrent when you’re addicted to it (see alcohol or tobacco for a good example of how well “sin taxes” work). I have to drive over 700 miles a week, whether I like it or not. Taxing it wouldn’t stop me from driving that, it’d just piss me off more. (I use as much public transit as is humanly possible, mind you)

    • Kurt says:

      Set, well said. The big problem with today’s economy cars is “up contenting”; everyone wants a leather interior, power windows, power locks, a 500 watt stereo, Bluetooth and a shiftable auto tranny. When the shit hit the fan during the first oil crisis (1972, if I remember correctly), Americans dumped their bloated luxo barges for 35 mpg base model Corollas, Civics and even Beetles. When you can’t get gas, or when it’s priced prohibitively high, then fuel economy becomes paramount. It is, as you point out, self regulating.

      I’m also a firearms instructor, so laws pertaining to guns are near and dear to my heart as well. About ten years ago, while I was still living in New Jersey, the state tried to pass legislation mandating that handguns use biometrics to “recognize” their owners. In theory, it sounded like a good idea; after all, who wouldn’t want to keep guns out of untrained hands? The problem was this: the technology was the stuff of science fiction, and even prototype systems couldn’t be built with any measure of reliability. Ultimately, sanity prevailed and the idea was dropped, but I see the same thing happening with a mandated 62 mpg CAFE. If it can be done, the net result will be stratospherically expensive and utterly lifeless automobiles.

  6. Set says:

    The biggest segment that will be affected by these laws? Trucks. Can you imagine a 62 MPG truck? I sure as hell can’t. It’s not possible. Bye-bye 3/4 ton dualies. Just saying.

  7. Kurt says:

    Which makes me think they’ll grant an exception to trucks above a certain GVWR.

    I suspect that “compact” pickups will soon be a thing of the past. Ford’s already decided not to bring the redesigned Ranger here, despite the fact that it’s available elsewhere with a fuel efficient diesel.

  8. […] The Beginning Of The End: DOT To Push For 62 MPG CAFE By 2025: I wish I could say that I didn?t see this coming, or that I thought absurd fuel economy requirements wouldn?t actually get passed. Sadly, neither is true, and Autoblog tells us that the DOT, in conjunction with the EPA, will push for a 62 MPG standard by 2025. True, this represents a ?worst case? scenario … – Readmore […]