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Gas Pains

Well, Congress is working on raising the federal gas-mileage standards, and I have to say I'm not surprised. It's a short-sighted, feel-good solution to a problem that doesn't really need fixing -- in other words, it's precisely the sort of thing that we should expect from Congress.

The idea is simple -- seductively so. We can decrease our dependency on foreign oil and save people money if cars simply use less gasoline to move about. And the easiest way for the government to influence that is by fiat: to simply order the auto makers to make more fuel efficient cars.

It's been a tenet of mine that if you want something done in the most inefficient, most ineffective, most cumbersome, most expensive, and most unproductive way, have the federal government do it. (Remind me to discuss the "health care crisis" in this light some time.) And when it comes to micromanaging the automobile industry, that rule is especially true. And jacking up the fuel standards are a perfect example of a "solution" that is wrong on so many levels -- but it makes the "right" people (a bunch of voters and sheep-like lawmakers) feel like they've done something noble.

Let's start off with the enforcement mechanism. The way fuel economy is enforced is through a metric called CAFE -- Corporate Average Fuel Economy. This means that companies can sell vehicles that get poor gas mileage, as long as they sell enough high-economy cars to balance them out. That sounds fair, right?

Yes -- right up until you realize that for every car they sell, they have to have a buyer. Ford might be required by law to sell a certain number of highly-efficient cars, but there is no obligation on the buyers to buy them. That means that if the people don't willingly pony up the bucks for the econoboxes, Ford has to make them want to buy them. The main incentive Ford has is economic -- they have to discount the cars radically, even to the point of losing money on each sale, just to make up for selling the less-efficient cars that people are more willing to buy.

It's worse when it comes to hybrids and electrics. Those cars are actually subsidized by the government, meaning that we get to join the automakers in paying people to drive cars they really don't want. In other words, you and I are helping Ed Begley Jr. tool around in his electric car.

Next up is related. People say they want more fuel-efficient cars, but their actions speak differently. There are a lot of vehicles that get really good mileage, and a lot that get less than great mileage. Which ones do we see more of on the road? Big, powerful cars. Small, high-performance cars. And the much-hated SUVs. Unlike hybrids and electrics, there is no subsidy for buying cars that get crappy mileage. In fact, there's a financial penalty involved based purely on the increased operating expenses of keeping them gassed up. Toss in that, until recently, these vehicles were being sold at a premium (meaning that dealers would just toss on an extra charge for them simply because they could get people to pay it), and we see that despite all the harsh condemnation of SUVs, people really wanted them.

Then there's the technical problems. Congress apparently thinks that all the automakers have to do is wave their magic wands (or dip into their magic bag of tricks and technological innovations) and they can simply find a technical solution to improving vehicle efficiency.

The problem is that there's no guarantee that such a thing will happen by the deadline -- or ever.

People want things in their cars. They want enough power to make them feel like they can do whatever they want behind the wheel. They want safety features that will protect them from the inevitable accidents. They want creature comforts so they can relax and enjoy the trip. They want room to carry around with them all the stuff they think they might want to have. They want space for their family and friends.

The problem is, all these things come with a price. And that price is, more often than not, measured in pounds. Every single one of these adds weight to the vehicle, and that weight directly drives the fuel economy of the vehicle downward. (With the exception of performance, which usually has the same effect without actually adding to the vehicle's mass.)

You want fantastic fuel economy? Get rid of the V-8 engine, drive a 6 or a 4 cylinder. Dump the front air bags, the side air bags, the crumple zones, the collapsing steering column, the reinforced body, the bumpers, the seat belts. Lose the leather seats, the air conditioning, the comfortable suspension, the CD player, the DVD player, navigation system, the extra lights. Downsize and lose the giant cargo area, the third row of seats, the roof rack.

There are a zillion Civics, Tercels, Focuses, Aveos, Calibers, Versas, and other cars just begging to be sold. They all get really good mileage, and they still have a lot of the safety features we want. But given the choice, we choose the bigger, more powerful, more comfortable vehicles by an overwhelming margin.

I'm no different. I've almost always had larger cars. I like having the room, I like the comfortable ride, and I feel better having the power of a bigger engine. But I've never groused about the price I pay in decreased mileage. I recognize that I've made a choice, and I accept the consequences of that choice.

Too many people don't want that. They want everything, but they don't want to have to pay the penalties that come with them. So they do what comes naturally for them -- they demand that the government give them what they want, and make someone else pay for them.

In this case, the ones who are going to subsidize these demands are the auto makers, who are already in big financial trouble. Chrysler is about to be sold for the second time in recent history. Ford is in seriously bad shape, and GM is not much better.

But that doesn't matter. We, the American people, want to have our cake and eat it, too, and dammit, we're going to have it.


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Comments (50)

Jay,Back when the ... (Below threshold)


Back when the first "pollution control devices" (remember the horrid "smog pumps"?) were introduced on automobiles, emissions reduction came at a huge price: the air pumps alone pulled over 10hp off the engine to operate. The first generation catalytic converters were just as inefficient, because their "pebble bed" design caused a lot of back-pressure (further robbing horsepower). That was back in the days of eye-stinging smog in major cities, horrible smelling fumes, and leaded motor fuels - a far cry from what the environuts consider to be polluntion today. But I digress.

In spite of the challenges, two previously unknown brands saw the handwriting on the wall, as it were. Whereas Detriot's Big Three collectively whined, moaned, and gave lip-service to tightening CAFE, CARB, and EPA standards, these two automakers focused on building cars that incorporated these improvements in ways that were invisible to the driver. They did it while holding costs down and pushing both fuel economy and performance up. At the same time, these automakers listened to the American consumer at a time where Detroit blithely assumed that they still knew better than those pesky car buyers.

One company honed its expertise in engines so well, that by 1977, it's flagship car met the EPA emissions standards of the day without needing the dreaded "smog pump". The engine was fuel efficient, and over time, developed a reputation for being practically bulletproof.

Another company used its kanban philosophy to lock in gradual improvements in emissions and fuel economy so that each year, its cars lasted a little longer and its performance got a little better.

Those companies? Honda and Toyota. The same two automakers who will once again rise to the challenge by quietly improving their lines. Meanwhile, the Democrats will just as quietly put Detroit - or what's left of it - into a position where they will collectively fall on their own swords, rather than work to find the right mix of improvements in performance and economy.

By the way, the Honda Civic of 1987 - ten model years after the landmark Civic CVCC of 1977 - posted the highest EPA highway mileage figures ever, when it's "economy" model was rated at 58MPG. To my knowledge, no car has matched that figure, at least until the hybrids began showing up 15 years later. Fuel economy standards have remained constant since then, however, so automakers - and the public - turned their appetite back to performance.

Raising standards in ways that allow automakers room to innovate and please customers, IMHO, will pay off - so long as the costs of those standards will be borne by the customer base. CARB's infamous "zero emissions" requirement of the early 1990's was a complete disaster because the costs of R&D required to meet this standard were impossibly high, and could never be recouped through sales.

So I think the answer lies in using standards legislation very selectively, and in understanding how those standards are likely to be received by both automakers and consumers. And as in all things, one should be wary of the law of unintended consequences.

"Too many people don't want... (Below threshold)
Jack Wilhite:

"Too many people don't want that. They want everything, but they don't want to have to pay the penalties that come with them." - J

I agree with this statement to a degree. I dunno, maybe I'm alone in this thought but I believe most people that own gas guzzlers know they have made the choice.

I own a big 1500 Ram 360cu (that's right I've never converted to L) that gets 9mi to the gallon, and refuse to give it up. However I balance it out with my own CAFE average by driving a "95" 4cyl (I think 1.2L?) Geo Metro back and forth to work.

This is what I call true conservatism, choice, responsibility and, practicality.

Quick... someone name the "... (Below threshold)

Quick... someone name the "sons" of the first CAFE standards.


Sorry times up. SUV's are the sons of CAFE. Without CAFE SUV's may never have existed. As Detroit lost money on small fuel efficient models they supersized models dubbed them SUV's that were exempt from CAFE and the rest is history.

And now some of the same envrio-weenies and political hacks are complaining about what they fostered into life.

Does anyone know why the Wa... (Below threshold)

Does anyone know why the Wankle (sp) engine isn't sold in the US anymore. It was a 3cylinder motor that had the HP and fuel savings, but for some reason it's gone from the US.

You also have to consider t... (Below threshold)

You also have to consider the self-defeating nature of the CAFE standard. Higher fuel efficiency means that the cost per mile to the driver is lower. This means that there is no economic incentive for them to drive less. In fact they can and likely do drive more for the same money.

In the end they are burning just as much gas as they were before, and the benefit to them is that they get to drive further while doing it.

The discounting of econo boxes by manufactures depresses not only the price of new cars, but eventually the price of used cars. This lowers the cost of entry into driving insuring that there will be more cars on the road - creating m ore traffic - more smog - and burning even more gas.

How does this reduce our dependence on imported oil?

You want fantastic fuel ... (Below threshold)

You want fantastic fuel economy? Get rid of the V-8 engine, drive a 6 or a 4 cylinder. Dump the front air bags, the side air bags, the crumple zones, the collapsing steering column, the reinforced body, the bumpers, the seat belts. Lose the leather seats, the air conditioning, the comfortable suspension, the CD player, the DVD player, navigation system, the extra lights. Downsize and lose the giant cargo area, the third row of seats, the roof rack.

And what's left is called a Harley-Davidson.

The Wankel rotary engine wa... (Below threshold)

The Wankel rotary engine was too much of a departure from the engines we all grew up with. (They did have a problem with their internal seals, but that's a subject that there is a lot of disagreement on all by itself.) There was just too much to learn and re-learn. Also, it was only available through one manufacturer, and at that time, they didn't have the number of dealerships and parts distribution networks, to support this new engine.

I think the Mazda RX-8 has ... (Below threshold)

I think the Mazda RX-8 has the Wankel rotary.

Does anyone know w... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Does anyone know why the Wankle (sp) engine isn't sold in the US anymore. It was a 3cylinder motor that had the HP and fuel savings, but for some reason it's gone from the US.

The Mazda RX-8 sold in the U.S. uses a Wankel engine, but calls it a rotary engine

From wikipedia: In terms of fuel economy, Wankel engines are generally less efficient than four stroke piston engines. Problems also occur with exhaust gases at a peripheral port exhaust, where the prevalence of hydrocarbon can be higher than from the exhausts of regular piston engines.

The Wankel is no magic bullet.

The RX-8 is a wankel. It g... (Below threshold)

The RX-8 is a wankel. It got better but it's still an oil burner...

There was an excelent editorial in Car &Driver this month about ethanol injection engines. Very small displacement, forced induction, high compression engines - that sounded pretty smart, but would require an infastructure change to support (car's would have 2 fuel tanks - regular gas and straight ethanol). Cool idea too - kills 2 birds with one stone ('cause e85 sucks).

There is a government "subs... (Below threshold)

There is a government "subsidy" for SUVs, in that many of the people who buy them are taking tax deductions as business vehicles (since they're trucks, and over a certain price and size, they have a specific deduction that cars don't qualify for).

It's a fairly large deduction, and goes a long way towards making up the difference, cost-wise.

As a side note (with a nod to Eric, above), motorcycle sales are apparently climbing through the roof. Just like in the early 1980s, when people needed good mileage but still wanted to get performance and have some fun.

"In spite of the challenges... (Below threshold)

"In spite of the challenges, two previously unknown brands saw the handwriting on the wall, as it were"

The most revisionist statement of the year award goes to...

They didn't see squat. Japan in the late 70's wasn't exactly prosperous and the price of gas was already high there. They were already making those models for its markets. They just made more of the same and brought them here. Performance sacrifices were made to help make emissions. But since they were tin boxes that couldn't even dream of passing Crash today, it didn't hurt them much.

Our daughter and son-in-law... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

Our daughter and son-in-law bought a Prius last month..I had no idea till they took us for a cruise..
hybrids are in fact the short term answer...
It is the eerie quiet when they start..it is the MPG...they have more room inside..and look cool...
It is the cutback on exhaust..
Hybrids are not some Jetson's car of the future...they are here now..
Perhaps a mandate that by 2017 all cars have to at least be hybrids...

Perhaps a mandate that b... (Below threshold)

Perhaps a mandate that by 2017 all cars have to at least be hybrids...

If they're truly better, there should be no need for a mandate.

nogo... the prius gets dece... (Below threshold)

nogo... the prius gets decent mileage... but at a horrific price... someone did a comparison of the total environmental footprint of a prius... including the manufacturing and disposal of that lead-acid battery... and it came out considerably worse than a hummer h3...

i also think that there are some hefty government subsidies on the sales of priuses... or prii... meaning that i helped buy your daughter and her husband buy that car... hope they enjoy it...


Anyone else find Wanderlust... (Below threshold)

Anyone else find Wanderlust's discussion of how things might play out vaguely reminiscent of the Underpants Gnomes' business plan?


"Perhaps a mandate" is the ... (Below threshold)

"Perhaps a mandate" is the story of nogo's life.

"Perhaps a mandate" is the ... (Below threshold)

"Perhaps a mandate" is the story of nogo's life."

A government mandate of any kind is a runup to communism. Right now we are in more danger from the democrat controlled congress than we are from terrorism, war, and weather change. All due to wounded childlike ego's in the democrat party. Most three year olds show more maturity.

The U.S. high gas consumpti... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The U.S. high gas consumption culprit are pickup trucks and truck based SUV's that are mostly used for transporting passenger, be it commuting to work, shopping, or taking the kids to school or events. People buy these gas hogs because they perceive them to be safer and more comfortable. The customers for such vehicles are often upper middle class and simply don't respond to high gas prices. Gas could go to $5 a gallon and many full sized pickups and truck base SUV drivers won't be deterred from driving.

However, extending the coverage and raising the CAFE standard to the point where full sized pickups and truck base SUV's are not available at any price is not the answer. Farmers, construction crews, and others have a legitimate need for such vehicles and if you need to tow an 8,000 pound load you need a heavy-duty vehicle. Even people who don't have a business need for such vehicles may need one for recreations purposes such as towing a travel trailer, a boat, or a trailer full of snowmobiles or motorcycles. Are we going to outlaw such uses, if not directly, then indirectly by making such vehicles unavailable?

As usual there's a simple answer, but one that escapes our politicians. Vehicles that don't have at least a 25 MPG highway rating should get a different license plate. Vehicles with these plates are restricted to a maximum of 55 MPH regardless of the posted speed limit. A decal with the 55 MPH limit must also be prominently displayed on the dash where the drive can easily see it. People who really need a heavy vehicle for hauling loads will put up with the 55 MPH limit, be safer, and save fuel all at the same time. People who really don't need such a vehicle are going to avoid them simply because of the speed restriction.

In many western states the interstate speed limit is 75 MPH and other roads are 65 MPH, so having to drive 55 MPH is going to greatly reduce the desirability of driving a gas guzzler. In Midwest states the interstate speed is 70 MPH and other roads are 55 MPH, so the impact won't be as great. In eastern states where 55 MPH is already the limit, the max speed for gas guzzlers would need to be dropped to 45 MPH.

Being the color of the license plate determines the speed limit, exceptions could be granted to individuals with special needs for large vehicles such as those equipped to handle drivers in wheel chairs. The trigger point for getting a gas guzzler plate can be adjusted for each model year, if needed.

Hybrids are a $5000 premium... (Below threshold)

Hybrids are a $5000 premium, at least. Most makers of hybrids make so few they can eat the cost directly or deter the cost by making hybrids only available in high-end packages which would normally carry high profits.

How about a sort-of offsets... (Below threshold)

How about a sort-of offsets for vehicles... The big 3 auto-makers can pony up a tax break that is applied to every motorcycle sold.

After all, I get about 70 mpg on my DRZ. If everybody else would pay for my bikes, I'd buy a few more. I just want to do my part :)

The real problem is that ev... (Below threshold)

The real problem is that everyone wants other people to drive responsible cars. They like their SUV's. Ask Harry Reid or Pelosi, who have been known to drive in convoys of SUV's to environmental speeches.

I personally hate SUV's. I preferr my cars to be more like the Lotus Elise, but they tend to get squashed by Escalades.....

the prius gets dec... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
the prius gets decent mileage... but at a horrific price... someone did a comparison of the total environmental footprint of a prius... including the manufacturing and disposal of that lead-acid battery... and it came out considerably worse than a hummer h3...

I wouldn't put much credence in that comparison given the Prius doesn't use a lead-acid battery for the traction motor. The Prius uses 168 Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries for a total of 201.6 volts. Whether that's better or worse than lead-acid I don't know, but if someone is going to do the comparison they at least need to get the facts right to start with.

Jay, the second point of th... (Below threshold)

Jay, the second point of the "plan" is that the thing being emphasized has to be something considered valuable to consumers. Admittedly that's a difficult prospect, but not always.

Chew on this example and tell me what you think: General Motors originally invented the "airbag" back in the early 1970's. I recall spirited arguments back then where GM resisted installing airbags on vehicles because it claimed that consumers were unwilling to pay the additional $800 per car to have one - back when a midsize car could be had for less than $5,000. On the other side of that argument were the automotive insurance companies, led by State Farm, who claimed that having airbags installed would save many lives (and presumably reduce policyholder claims).

We take it for granted now that a car has not one, but several airbags installed. Yet it took from 1973 to 1988 for them to be offered as an option in production vehicles. Airbags were required as standard equipment in all new automobiles by 1996. While they are not without their consequences (short drivers and babies placed in the wrong seat, for example), on the whole, they do save a lot of lives.

And jpm100, my statement is not revisionist. The fact is, the two major Japanese automakers thrived in the US market because they learned how to turn legal standards to their advantage while building cars that were generally of higher quality than their Detroit cousins. I don't recall any of them getting caught up in the CARB zero emissions mandate scam, either, which turned out to be a huge loss (the greenie little documentary lamenting the "sudden death" of the EV2 notwithstanding).

Oh, on a final note, emissions standards were not able to dodge the law of unintended consequences, either: while platinum catalytic converters neutralize CO, NOx, and HC, they do create small amounts of something far nastier, H2SO4. Gotta love it...

One of my vehicles is a Toy... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

One of my vehicles is a Toyota RAV4 with the 269 HP V6 and four wheel drive. Yes it's an SUV, but it's rated 20 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. It handles better than most cars and does 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds, yet I get 22 MPG in my normal driving and 28 on the highway. The point is that an SUV doesn't need to be a gas guzzler or drive like a truck. Vehicles need to be judged on their actual mileage, not by type.

A government mandat... (Below threshold)

A government mandate of any kind is a runup to communism.

Hmm. So I guess there are no emission standards right now for cars and trucks...wait! Actually there are! Scrap, you're so venemous toward the democrats you can't even see the stupidity in your 70 year old brain's logic.

Not that logic has ever been your strong point.

I have a novel and fun way ... (Below threshold)

I have a novel and fun way to beat high gas prices. Motorbikes aren't for everyone. But I sell a great motor scooter/moped on my merchandise website over at www.radiotvpartz.net that gets up to 100 miles per gallon and offers crisp acceleration that easily keeps up with any car in city traffic. Top speed is limited to about 30-31mph, for licensing purposes as a a moped, but a washer located on the cluth assembly can be easily removed later after the 200km gear and engine breakin period and the bike can go up to 45-50mph top speed as the fastest gear on the fully automatic transmission engages.

These big body bikes(71 inches long compared to just 48-53 inches for most mopeds including Honda) feature dual headlights, free rear trunk, locking steering antitheft system, locking underseat storage, locking glovebox, stylish plastic body on steel frame, front disc brake and rear drum brake, ultrasmooth 4 cycle engine and smooth CVT automatic transmission.

These bikes are a quality product of one of China's largest and most reputable motorcycle companies. Chuan Motorcycle Company is very proud of their products, especially their high quality engines.

Up to 100 miles per gallon economy. Able to easily keep up with any 30mph city traffic. Up to 100 mile range per tank of gas. All of this for just $999.00 delivered to your front door. What a deal to beat high gas prices and have a lot of cool motorcycling fun as well!

The market is doing this ju... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

The market is doing this just fine thank you.

The reason the big 3 are so bad off is that people are not buying trucks and SUV's like they did. Our fleet fuel economy is going up anyway.

Part of the problem with the hybrid is that it requires stopping to convert motion into electricity. If you drive a Honda hybrid to work, say 30 miles mostly on the freeway, you will not get much different mileage than a normal Honda Civic, and you will have paid a high price for nothing. This is the basis for the analysis Jay referred to. The batteries - of whatever type - still require expensive replacement.

Diesels are half of car sales in Europe where the gas price is much higher than here. With higher compression and a better burn, diesels can get up to 20% more from a gallon (that needs less refining) and cost way less than hybrids.

Have you ever noticed that diesel is sometimes fifty cents more than gas, and sometimes fifty cents less? This has everything to do with refining and distribution costs and it shows you how expensive that part of the cost is.

Part of this high cost is due to the requirements for many different blends, ethanol, and the lack of new refineries.

We need less regulation, not more.

So that's what the small gr... (Below threshold)

So that's what the small grease spots I have been seeing on the roadway. Squashed Mopeds!!!!! Wonder what happen to the driver?

Want to get better mpg? WALK

Forgot to add:1--eve... (Below threshold)

Forgot to add:
1--every day driver-1972 PU-502CID engine-450HP- 13 miles mpg (if you let it coast downhill :) )
2--weekend toy--1956 Chevy (purchased new Sept 12 1956)-600HP engine-gpm-1gal. per mile.
3--gofer car--1999 Chevy Cav.-4cyl.-27mpg.
You see I can have my cake and eat it too.

Diesels are half o... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Diesels are half of car sales in Europe where the gas price is much higher than here. With higher compression and a better burn, diesels can get up to 20% more from a gallon (that needs less refining) and cost way less than hybrids.

There's more to the higher mileage of Diesels than just higher compression and a better burn (lean burn). First, there's more energy in a gallon of diesel fuel than in a gallon of gas. Second, the power output of a diesel is controlled by the amount of fuel injected into the combustion chamber, not by restricting the air intake as is done in a gas engine. That means the amount of air entering a diesel engine is always at it's maximum and this insures the leanest possible burn and the maximum working medium (air) to respond to the temperature increase.

However, there are some important disadvantages for diesels. For a given displacement a diesel engine is heavier than an gas engine and produces less HP. To offset this, diesels are often turbo charged, which introduces turbo lag and there's also the reliability concern of the turbo. In cold weather the fuel needs to be switched from No. 2 to No. 1 or it will gel in the tank. Cold starting problems have mostly been solved, but a big problem in cold climates is that diesel engines don't warm-up when you let them idle. That means you always start out in a cold car and maybe with frosty windows. I know a man who has owned two diesel cars and one diesel pickup and that's his major complaint; the damn things won't warm up when you let them idle. In fact, if you get stuck in traffic the diesel engine will cool off to the point you don't have enough heat to keep the windows clear. Makers need to come up with some sort of auxiliary heater such as that used on the old VW Beatles.

Jhow66, I like big V8 cars ... (Below threshold)

Jhow66, I like big V8 cars too. But cars just don't handle as good a bike can. Even with the best front end components and alignment, most older American muscle cars have somewhat indifferent handling. Bikes always have perfect handling by comparison.

Most mopeds are small and pathetic. But I sell a big model nearly as large as any full size motorcycle with a big 71 inch body and quick acceleration as good as nearly any car at city traffic speeds. And nearly 100 mile per gallon fuel economy as well. Nothing beats great motorbikes for sheer fun.


Um, Paul, not to cast asper... (Below threshold)

Um, Paul, not to cast aspersions or anything, but did you happen to see what I posted just yesterday?



Sorry that link was to my e... (Below threshold)

Sorry that link was to my electric model model. Here's the big gas model that I meant to link to that has up to 100mpg economy and crisp acceleration.


I have owned several diesel... (Below threshold)

I have owned several diesel cars through the years. They have been good, reliable vehicles for me. My current is an '05 VW Jetta. It has a turbo-diesel that is very peppy (sufficient to leave a little rubber on the road in an emergency). Typical mileage of almost 50mpg makes it fairly economical for me.

The down side: there is an up-front cost plus to buy the a car with diesel, the g'vmt still taxes diesel far in excess of gas, and the g'vmt has stopped diesel auto sales due to percieved polution problems.

imho - diesel is a better short term solution than hybrid-electric.

The energy foot print study referenced earlier was incorrectly quoted. It faults the energy required to refine adn convert the nickle for the batteries as the primary equalizer in hybrid energy life-cycle use. Hybrids as a group are clustered close to the median across all vehicles studied. Diesels were not specifically included in the study.

Your post from yesterday on... (Below threshold)

Your post from yesterday on some cheap Chinese products is an important one, Jay. Some of their products are not good. The car featured is not from one of their better automakers like Geely or Chery which builds far better automobiles of much higher quality. Both brands are very good quality compared to some Chinese brands with less experience in the automobile business.

The Chuan Motorcycle company builds quality products to the tough specifications of American distributors like Tank, Roketa and Coolster. They feature quality models that range from 49cc to 250cc choppers for mere $1,895. Unlike some Chinese brands, parts are easy to come by and dirt cheap as well.

Here is the link to the Chuan company: http://chuanl.com.cn/en/index.asp

Chuan builds some of the best Chinese motorbikes, while Geely and Chery are their best automobile brands so far by far.

Mac,Thanks for the... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:


Thanks for the info.

I agree that diesel contains more energy, but that is the point. Due to less refining cost, you get more miles for the same buck.

Diesels are generally considered more durable and long-lasting than gas engines, turbos are getting better every day.

I'm sure you will agree that diesel Mercedees are fine cars, not "problem" cars.

The problems with heat are minor but true - you make them seem worse than they are. I have driven a German diesel through Bavaria and never had a problem. Our manufacturers are not nearly as good as the Germans with diesels in cars because we almost never do it.

I may like them, you may not. That is my point

Let the market decide. Lower regulation and we will get more choices. Some - like half of Europe - will like the operating cost advantage.

How about 100 miles on 4 ou... (Below threshold)

How about 100 miles on 4 ounces of water?


A little known new car comp... (Below threshold)

A little known new car company in Europe produces cars that run on compressed air. These zero-pollution cars are virtually unknown to most persons. Here's the company link: http://www.theaircar.com/

I'm all for alternatives fo... (Below threshold)

I'm all for alternatives for cars. High mileage. Hybrid. Electric. Air-powered. Mr. Fusion. You name it.

That being said, if people wanted high-mileage cars, they'd be buying them so quickly that car makers would build more and fleet MPG averages would take care of themselves.


Paul Ho' I used to have a H... (Below threshold)

Paul Ho' I used to have a H.D. (1954) that I rode to work. Those little Mopeds are just to small to mingle with today's traffic.

There are only two salient ... (Below threshold)

There are only two salient facts that one need consider in this debate:

1. CAFE standards effectively increase oil use since the cost per mile remains the same (or goes down) when the standard is raised. In fact, CAFE standards pretty much result in MORE driving (see: Jerry Taylor and Peter VanDoren, "The Illusion of Energy Efficiency," CATO Today's Commentary , April 24, 2001)

2. Oil is plentiful, cheap, and a demonstrably cleaner fuel than pretty much every other energy source except nuclear (looking at its ENTIRE environmental footprint).

It appears that the primary reason that Libs want to enact onerous regulation on mileage is not because oil is in short supply (we have HUGE oil resources in this country that the Dems just don't want us to access) or because it is polluting (again, one must look at the complete enviro-footprint of a given technology to determine its impact on the planet) but because they like to control our lives. The automobile allows people to live where they want (Libs HATE that), to shop where they want, take jobs where they want (and avoid the inner city if they want). If you want to control a populace then the car is the enemy.

By the way, the Prius, with its requirement for nickel based batteries, presents us with some tremendous environmental problems. If one looks at the total environmental "cost" of a hybrid, one eventually must be skeptical of such technologies.

The nice thing about the internal combustion engine (ICE) is that it is relatively simple, relies on an existing infrastructure for its fuel (as opposed to hydrogen or other alternative fuels), uses a minimal amount of nickel, and best of all, the internal combustion engine drives Liberals crazy! :-)

Oh,And for those w... (Below threshold)


And for those who want to read a good commentary on the Prius vs. Hummer debate go to http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2007/03/which-is-greener-prius-or-hummer.html

How about 100 mile... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
How about 100 miles on 4 ounces of water?

I viewed the link and found the overlooked flaw in the report. Did you catch the part about needing electricity to break down the water into hydrogen and oxygen? They even mention the word electrolysis. The Electrolysis of water is nothing new and produces both Hydrogen and oxygen gas, which is what the guy is burning in his torch. Big deal, that mix of gases has been used for various purposes for years and as hot as the video makes it seem, acetylene and oxygen are the hottest burning gas mix with a temperature of over 6,000 F.

As for running a car with water, you need electricity for the electrolysis and being the efficiency of converting water to hydrogen and oxygen is between 50% and 94% it takes more electricity than if you just ran the car directly with an electric motor. Calling it HHO gas is just a gimic and doesn't change the fundamental physics involved. This guy is just another in a long line of self-deceived inventors.

I was at a fair many years ago and some guy was selling a friction furnace. It produced heat by spinning a drum and then pressing against it with a pad similar to a break shoe. Yes the drum got real hot, but the point that escaped this "inventor" is that he could get the same amount of heat just running the electric he was using through a heating coil, just like they have in electric baseboard heaters. No need for a motor and all that mechanical junk. Of course it was like talking to a brick wall, but how many friction furnaces have you seen?

We better hope Honda and To... (Below threshold)
John S:

We better hope Honda and Toyota have some new tricks up their sleeve. New CAFE standards will be what finally puts the last three U.S. automakers out of business. Do you want to increase everyone's mileage by 10% tomorrow? (And lower the price $1 a gallon.) Simply ban ethanol. And then tell Congress and the farm lobby to shove their corn up their collective asses.

Yeah, try telling this to t... (Below threshold)

Yeah, try telling this to the WTO ! How are we to think that by cutting down, we're going to be safer and have everything more affordable ? As long as the money goes to other countries, we can't change a damn thing, we're in-debt to them; ask China !

Ethanol is a horrible boond... (Below threshold)

Ethanol is a horrible boondoggle. I've seen signs in grocery stores explaining the high price of milk on the increased demand for corn. While possibly true, it just help show that ethanol is not the panacea some would hope. It's requires massive amounts of monoculture, not good for Gaia, and massive amounts of tax subsidy. You know, too, that there is less energy in a gallon of ethanol than in a gallon of gasoline. You are paying more to go less distance, and wreck the environment, too. The CO2 from ethanol is not fossil carbon, however, but that whole mess is baloney, too.

Don't get me started.

Hey Gatorade, what a partic... (Below threshold)

Hey Gatorade, what a particularly useful ally is a creditor.

Jhow66, my 2005 Coolster F5... (Below threshold)

Jhow66, my 2005 Coolster F5 scooter/moped is nearly as large as any small fullsize motorcycle at 71 inches, nearly 20 inches longer than most mopeds and heavier as well at just over 200lbs with fuel. I get very close to 100mpg with it. I use AMSOIL synthetic four cycle oil in the crankcase and AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR OIL in the transmission which improves both horsepower and mileage by nearly 10%. AMSOIL products are so good that nearly any car will see a 5-10% horsepower and mileage increase as well. My 1973 AMC Gremlin with a 304V8 got 254,000 miles on it with AMSOIL products for example.

There are bigger moped/motor scooters available as well including the NST/TANK/ROKETA 150cc models that are 78inches long. And some big touring models with two seater compacity exist for easy freeway driving. A few rare big moped/motor scooters exist with big 500 to 600cc engines.

Tank has a fantastic chopper motorcycle for just $1,895 with a 250cc engine that looks just as good as a custom Harley for only a fraction of the price and far cheaper parts as well. Plenty of chrome including dual sidepipes and a real low seat only inches above the ground and long chrome forks as well.

You can't bike real well in the rain or snow, or really cold weather. But bikes are great most days of the year in most of the country and offer great mileage. Given a choice I'd prefer a bike over any four wheel vehicle any day. Bikes are cool and fun and give great mileage and handling and reliability.


One thing about ethanol tha... (Below threshold)

One thing about ethanol that has me curious.

I'm pretty sure that we still have subsidies for farmers who don't farm.
Wouldn't stopping those subsidies make them have to grow something thus lowering the price?
That just seems like win/win to me. But then, I'm an engineer type not an accountant type.






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