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White House Issues New Gas Mileage Standards

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

Transportation 555

Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that the Obama administration has signed off on the nation's first rules on greenhouse gas emissions and set new fuel standards to meet a fleet-wide average of 35.5 mpg that will raise current standards by nearly 10 mpg by the 2016 model year. Although the new requirements would add an estimated $434 per vehicle in the 2012 model year and $926 per vehicle by 2016, drivers could save as much as $3,000 over the life of a vehicle through better gas mileage, according to a government statement. 'We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air,' says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Dave McCurdy, leader of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing 11 automakers, says the industry supports a single national standard for future vehicles. 'Today, the federal government has laid out a course of action through 2016, and now we need to work on 2017 and beyond.' As the auto industry seeks to emerge from ashes, many manufacturers already are trying for the right mix of approaches, experts say. Some will try to sell more hybrids. Others are introducing not-so-gas-guzzling SUVs. They may also push slightly downsized and small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta."

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Why? (4, Insightful)

Hardolaf (1371377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710580)

Won't this just make people buy new cars less often?

and? (2, Insightful)

RelliK (4466) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710632)

> Won't this just make people buy new cars less often?

and this is a bad thing... how?

Re:and? (2, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710704)

>> Won't this just make people buy new cars less often?
> and this is a bad thing... how?

Considering that cars are one of the few products that are still manufactured in the US, I'd say it could be a bad thing. A country that thinks that it can survive on imports without making anything itself is going to get exactly what it deserves: bankrupcy.

Re:and? (0, Troll)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710740)

Considering that cars are one of the few products that are still manufactured in the US, I'd say it could be a bad thing. A country that thinks that it can survive on imports without making anything itself is going to get exactly what it deserves: bankrupcy.

It'll only accelerate the inevitable... a country that thinks it can survive by producing shitty products that get 1/2 the mileage, and 1/2 the mpg of imports gets it exactly what it deserves.

Re:and? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711068)

your going to eat those words when you have no job because the enconomy collapses

Re:and? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711056)

>>and this is a bad thing... how?

Well, now that we (the American People) are majority shareholders in General Motors, I was kind of hoping to get our investment back.

But then again, I'm not sure anything can save GM.

No bad thing (3, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710662)

A lot of the total carbon emissions from a vehicles lifetime are incurred in construction (extensive high-energy metalworking)

Keeping a car a longer time might use more fuel but less manufacturing carbon emissions result.

Personally I worry that the result of this will be leaden, electronics/batteries-loaded vehicles that lurch and rumble along on their hard suspension due to the extra weight of systems to reduce emissions...

I live in hope of someone designing a mid-sized car with ultralightweight materials and putting a slow-running non-turbo diesel in it with high gear ratios and the maximum possible low-rev torque setup - economy and long life without complications. And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony

Re:No bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710700)

Ultra-Lightweight cars were attempted before.
You crash, you die.

Re:No bad thing (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710708)

You can have Light, Strong and Cheap - pick any two. I never said it had to be cheap.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710822)

If both vehicles involved are ultra-lightweight, then not really. Of course, the problem with that scenario is both parties have to be in lightweight vehicles.....

Re:No bad thing (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710856)

Ultra-Lightweight cars were attempted before.
You crash, you die.

No, not at all. Indy cars, for example, are vastly lighter than any standard American cars, and they crash at extremely high speeds with very few fatalities, and often without even injuries to the driver. Lightweight cars can be made quite safe. If I were designing cars from a safety point of view alone, I'd go with styrofoam as the main structural element. You crash it-- well, go and spend the ten bucks and buy a new shell to replace the one you broke.

The problem is that vastly overweight cars are dangerous to other cars on the road. To the extent that fuel economy makes all the cars on the road lighter, it doesn't hurt safety, and likely improves it.

Re:No bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31711050)

The two main reasons they walk away are the crumbling bumpers and very extensive restraints. From 5-6 point harnesses and head restraint systems and 10s of thousands in cushioning and crumbling energy lengthening materials. I don't believe most will deal with either of those issues.

Re:No bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710824)

You can actually purchase a pony.

Re:No bad thing (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710844)

I'd like a pony

You missed that April Fools by a few years.

Re:No bad thing (5, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710882)

Why do you worry?

If you do a little controlling for available horsepower, vehicles have improved a huge amount since 1980, but people have spent a lot of the improvement on having more power available.

Re:No bad thing (4, Insightful)

eclectus (209883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710990)

Mod This up! I have a hard time looking at the stats on new cars and see nothing but HP improvements, not MPG improvements. For example, I had a '89 Mustang GT with 225 HP, and it was fast enough to be dangerous. I could shift out of 2nd gear at 75 mpg, and spin the tires in 3 gears. It got (for the time) decent mileage, namely 18 in the city, close to 25 on the highway. Fast forward 20 years, and the new mustangs get THE SAME MILEAGE, but have 300+ horsepower. The government can mandate all they want, but until people's attitudes change, horsepower sells more cars than MPG.

Re:No bad thing (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710920)

Read the recent review of electronics-laden electric GM Volt:

http://gm-volt.com/2010/04/02/gm-volt-reader-test-drives-the-nasaman-report/ [gm-volt.com]

THE VOLT IS BY FAR THE EASIEST TO DRIVE, THE MOST RESPONSIVE & THE MOST EXCITING CAR I’VE EVER DRIVEN!!! It’s impressive from the getgo! Just a touch of the accelerator starts the car rolling without even the slightest hesitation or jerkiness like I’ve come to expect from any ICE-powered car. From a replay of the video I shot, I blurted out, “Oh man! .talk about torque!!!“ at the first nudge of the Volt’s ‘go pedal’. We turned the first short-radius corner so sharply that my new HD video camera, on its normally very-secure dash mounting rig went careening across the dash —and as I grabbed for it the Volt ignored my ‘panic antics’ and continued smoothly around the sharp turn on the wet, slick pavement with no detectable leaning or sliding —it felt like it was on rails!

_AND_ it will get 50mpg on ICE.

Re:No bad thing (1)

colordev (1764040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710984)

How Much Energy is Used to Construct a Car?

The average car will consume during its construction 10% of the energy used during its lifetime.

How many barrels of oil does it take to equal the energy consumed during 10% of a car’s lifetime? Let's see:

In the US, the average car has a median lifetime of 17 years. (Source: Matt Creenson, Associated Press: "Is This the Beginning of the End?" )

On average, a car will consume 750 gallons of gas per year.

17 years x 750 gallons of gas per year = 12,750 gallons of gas consumed during the median lifetime of an American car;

1 gallon of gas = 125,000 BTUs;

12,750 gallons consumed x 125,000 BTUs per gallon = 1,593,750,000 BTU’s consumed during the median lifetime of an American car.

1,593,750,000 x 10% = 15,9375,000 BTUs consumed during the car’s construction;

159,375,000 BTUs consumed during construction divided by 5,800,000 BTU’s in one barrel of oil = slightly more than 27 barrels of oil. Twenty seven barrels of oil (42 gallons of oil per barrel) contain 1,142 gallon of oil.

Michael C. Ruppert, editor of From the Wilderness and author of Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of The American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, has estimated the construction of the average car consumes 42 barrels of oil.

text shamelessly stolen from this source [lifeaftertheoilcrash.net] .

Re:Why? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710750)

Possibly, but they can always do another Cash for Clunkers.

That's assuming of course that they don't just up the standard again later. And why not?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710798)

So because nobody is doing it right now then it can't be done? We would be in serious trouble if thats how everyone thought about everything. Well nobody is flying now so no way will man ever be able to fly...

Re:Why? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711010)

I see your "why" and raise you a "huh?" What's your connection between having a higher-mileage car and not wanting to buy a new one?

No (or little) change to mpg (2, Informative)

eightball (88525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710606)

CAFE was already set to go to 35 in 2020, the only major thing (ignoring .5mpg) is that it was moved forward 4 years.

Re:No (or little) change to mpg (4, Interesting)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710942)

Worse, my 2005 Toyota Corolla gets BETTER gas mileage than this.

Seriously, WTF? By the time this goes into effect, my ELEVEN YEAR OLD CAR will still beat the requirement for NEW cars!! I get 40mpg on the highway, and 35-36 or so around town.

We have the technology to do at least 5mpg more than this in 6 years. I wouldn't be surprised if we could do 10mpg more than this.

I wish we could actually enact a law with some value, instead of it being neutered by special interests. We have the technical expertise to do so much more. It's sad that we lack the political will to do so.

Re:No (or little) change to mpg (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710994)

I guess everyone should just buy a 2005 Toyota Corolla and be done with it all. Oh wait...

Re:No (or little) change to mpg (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711070)

>>I guess everyone should just buy a 2005 Toyota Corolla and be done with it all. Oh wait...

Didn't we try that last summer with the Cash for Clunkers program?

And, as an added benefit, it turns out that Toyotas go even faster than expected.

Laws (0)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710610)

How do you enforce an average?...

Re:Laws (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710680)

Quotas, perhaps..

Re:Laws (2, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710722)

An average fuel economy across a fleet of vehicles sold by a manufacturer. Just work out the mean of all the models available for sale that year, per manufacturer.

So if Ford sells a 10mpg truck, it needs to sell a 50mpg compact to offset it, with the goal being many more fuel efficient models available for those who want them, while still keeping things like big trucks around.

Re:Laws (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710772)

...with the goal being many more fuel efficient models available for those who want them, while still keeping things like big trucks around.

And with the reality being that fuel efficient cars get sold with little to no profit which is a disincentive for manufacturers to build them. Face it, when people want a truck they buy American, when they want a fuel efficient car they buy Japanese, when consumers segment their purchases like this Cafe standards just bankrupt car manufacturers who consumers don't associate with fuel efficiency.

Re:Laws (5, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710956)

Ford makes class leading cars in the UK. Not just "average cars" - they make genuinely desirable, high quality, class-leading cars in several size/usage classes with some of the best handling and best engines available.

There is no reason for them to be selling shit in the US, which is essentially what they are doing with all but their trucks. They make some amazing vehicles, and do so profitably in Europe.

The engines they sell *right now* in the UK are way, way above what these CAFE proposals are mandating. They don;t even need to do any reseach so there;s no "bankrupting" going on - they just need to bolt those engines into the US models, or just tweak the UK models slightly so that US licence plates fit onto the back (ours are thinner but wider) and Bob's your uncle.

Maybe also tweak the screen slightly - I remember a story somewhere about the US safety requirement for airbags is to assume the occupant is not wearing a seatbelt, so the screen has to be more upright to account for this in some models. Just lobby to have that common sense thing changed and we're done.

The big automakers in the US like to hide behind that "oh woe is us, it will cost too much and we don;t have the time to do the R&D, and the margins are too low" wailing, but they are really just dragging their feet. Ford is *very* competitive in the European market, and has innovated and picked its game up to get itself there, in the commercial and the consumer market. Hell, the light commercial it sells is the word for van in the uk: Transit Van, and you can't turn left without seeing a Focus, Fiesta, Mondeo, Ka and occasionally the odd Galaxy (I'm afraid the French have pretty much sewn up the soccer mom van market - it's the only segment Ford doesn't have a class leader in).

With some minor tweaks here and there (nowhere ear enough to bankrupt them), Ford could sell its Euro models in the US and be right on top of those regulations. Even if they skipped out all of their diesels (which are outstanding) and only sold the petrol ones, the lowest mpg petrol Focus they sell is 35.3mpg - for the automatic one. The worst diesel automatic does 48.6mpg (best does 74mpg, but you need the manual gearbox).

Re:Laws (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710802)

It's simple. You force a company to manufacture products according to milage instead of according to customer demand. That way they have have thousands of cars sitting unsold on lots all across America because people don't want them.

A liberal is one who values personal liberty above everything else. A liberal would NEVER pass a law that takes away my liberty to buy whatever kind of car I want. There is a name for someone who feels the government should force people to live how it deems fit though.

Please! (1, Flamebait)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711088)

SHUT THE FUCK UP! I am so fucking sick of this bull-shit. You live in a society on a world where resources are becoming scarce. There isn't going to be enough of everything (and never was) for everyone to have whatever the fuck they want. If you don't want to be regulated by society than you're on your own. If so, I'll kill you and take all your shit! Dumb-Ass!

So what about trucks? (-1, Troll)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710620)

So what if I want to buy a truck? A Dodge Ram 2500 averages around 17mpg, and there ain't no way you're getting it to 35. Is Obama so mad at Scott Brown that he's going to make sure that nobody can buy a truck? I'd really like to see him demonstrate how to haul a ton of manure in a Prius. Really, Mr.President, let's see how you do it!

Re:So what about trucks? (2, Insightful)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710666)

Learn what an average means. Other vehicles in the fleet will have to get higher MPG to balance it out.

Re:So what about trucks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710678)

It's a fleet average. Most people don't buy trucks, and most of the people in SUVs don't need anything that large. Taking your kids to soccer practice isn't exactly the same as trekking across the Sahara, and, besides, most of the SUVs out there couldn't do any of the off-road/hauling stuff that SUVs were originally intended to handle (the original SUV craze was partly about showing how outdoorsy you were, and was often accompanied by wearing your water bottle on your belt with your caribiner, before colleges started making cheap caribiners to hold your keys on).

So, if a motor company on average sells more high-mileage vehicles, then they can continue selling gas guzzlers, under this policy.

Re:So what about trucks? (1)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710736)

Yeah, in Europe SUVs are largely diesel powered because that type of vehicle has more demand for grunt than speed. With diesel engines putting out their power in the lower range and having far more torque they're the only ones that make sense. I'd much rather have a 3.0l turbodiesel than a 5l V8 running my SUV.

Even the Porsche Cayenne has become a running joke here, it's clear that whoever buys them doesn't know much about cars. Not even a Porsche fan would opt for one of those.

Re:So what about trucks? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710886)

In Europe they have 50 mpg already. 35 mpg is way way way behind EU standards.

Re:So what about trucks? (1)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711012)

Yeah, if you my other comment I'm driving a 1.9TDI and I'm getting 60mpg+.

Re:So what about trucks? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710894)

It's a fleet average. Most people don't buy trucks, and most of the people in SUVs don't need anything that large. ...

Wow, you should be in government. The Obama administration needs even more folks like you who know what folks really need more than they themselves do... you could guide them to making the "correct" decisions and perhaps gently cudgel them away from wrong thinking, save them from themselves, you know.

Re:So what about trucks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710946)

Here's where idiot environmentalists fall apart in their thinking. An auto manufacturer can't force people to buy certain cars. People are going to buy what they want. Forcing a manufacturer to build a certain number of cars when public demand is completely different does nothing but destroy the business.
Of course ignore the fact that GM and friends already went under once because of rules like this. We don't need to learn from our mistakes at all. Unless the goal is to destroy american corporations and the economy of course.

Re:So what about trucks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710682)

You "haul a ton of manure" what, at most once a month? And the rest of the time you drive the thing around, blowing gas.

Rent a truck if you have such an extreme need to move a ton of anything. There is little excuse in this age for being as wasteful as people like you who drive around town in their trucks/humvees.

Re:So what about trucks? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710706)

"Fleet Average" is the key word here. ie, some things like trucks can be less, some things like small cars can be more. That's how an average works.

If Ford just goes and sells the cars it has for sale in the UK right now in the USA it will already be well on the way there, enabling it to sell the current crop of low-mpg trucks.

Re:So what about trucks? (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711026)

But the issue is that this is a low, low target. Yes, it's a fleet average. But my 2005 Corolla gets 35 mpg even around town, and my mom's 2008 Prius gets at least 45 mpg. We're talking about cars, on average, with a DECADE more technology than these ones. And the CAFE for Toyota is already 30 mpg.

This bar has been set really, really low, EVEN for a fleet average! It's pretty pathetic, really.

Re:So what about trucks? (0, Troll)

gothzilla (676407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710830)

You don't get it. You don't get to choose what kind of car you drive anymore. That liberty was taken from you a long time ago. You will drive what the government says you can drive.

More deaths (-1, Troll)

elgee (308600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710648)

Lighter and much less sturdy cars will lead to perhaps 10,000 more deaths per year.

Re:More deaths for the good of the country. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710694)

But more deaths means there are less people driving and using resources. Population control, its green!!!

Re:More deaths for the good of the country. (1)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710834)

Is this where someone is suppose to say, "Soylent Green is people!" Or, are we to believe that it would be more ecologically friendly if we consumed Soylent Green? I'm sure that would leave someone to comment about eating the neighbor's .... I'm at work, so I won't say it, nor the accompanying joke.

Re:More deaths (5, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710714)

For survivability you don't want "sturdyness", you want the car to be crumply. The crumpling absorbs the crash energy so the occupants don't. Lighter cars also means lower crash energies. Lighter cars are less likely to crash in the first place owing to better handling and manuverablilty.

Re:More deaths (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710906)

I use a bucky ball ballon car. It may look like a Mars Lander, but it has excellent survivability.

For survivability you don't want "sturdyness", you want the car to be crumply.

Re:More deaths (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710910)

For survivability you don't want "sturdyness", you want the car to be crumply.

It's striking how well that works. It's common to see wrecked cars where everything in front of the passenger compartment is crushed, but the windshield is unbroken and the passenger compartment is completely intact.

Re:More deaths (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710972)

Really, the crumpling reduces the acceleration, which helps with the real enemy, the energy in your body.

You have to deal with all of it, the various restraint systems and other crash safety systems help to keep the forces involved below damage thresholds.

Re:More deaths (1)

BabyDuckHat (1503839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710724)

A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation reveals that that is an acceptable level of death.

Re:More deaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710826)

Lighter != less sturdy. More fuel efficient != lighter.

Re:More deaths (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710896)

If there were a noticeable decrease in the average weight of cars, wouldn't that actually reduce total deaths, due to lower average kinetic energies involved?

Re:More deaths (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710938)

That's why I'm going to drive a monster truck and drive over your Dodge Ram or F250.

Re:More deaths (4, Insightful)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710950)

Lighter and much less sturdy cars will lead to perhaps 10,000 more deaths per year.

Until those who are driving around overweight behemoths are made to pay for their huge negative externalities. E.g. with mandatory sentences for manslaughter every time they bump into a smaller car and kill someone, increased taxes, etc. It's hardly fair that those who do the responsible thing are penalized.

Re:More deaths (-1, Flamebait)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711102)

Until those who are driving around overweight behemoths are made to pay for their huge negative externalities. E.g. with mandatory sentences for manslaughter every time they bump into a smaller car and kill someone, increased taxes, etc. It's hardly fair that those who do the responsible thing are penalized.

Yeah, it's totally fair to mandatorily throw a trucker in jail when someone plows their Miata into the rear of the truck and decapitates themself.

That said, I'm sure there's a ton of nutty greens that would love that policy, because trucks are the devil. Or would be, if they believed in the devil and not Gaia. Wait, is man the devil then? I get confused.

Save Weight (1)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710658)

I've read that in an effort to improve fuel efficiency some new cars are being sold with their spare tire replaced with a can of tire sealant, and of course the dealer will sell you a spare tire if your the kind of person who likes that sort of thing.

Maybe Saturn will go back to plastic panels, I bet that saved some weight.

Re:Save Weight (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710688)

Saturn is no longer.

Re:Save Weight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710728)

Well, I suppose that's one way to save weight.

Re:Save Weight (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710916)

You have to be pretty optimistic to think Saturn is going to build any new cars at this point, let alone create new designs.

Don't worry (0, Offtopic)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710690)

These won't go into effect until long after the Democrates have been kicked out, and these standards will thus be repealed. Political theater.

Smaller engines would be a good start. (3, Insightful)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710710)

The sad thing is that every time I read something about improving efficiency or consumption in the American car market it just seems to misplaced. Read this:

They may also push slightly downsized and small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta.

I've been to America several times and there are a few things that prevent this happening. First of all the Fiesta is far too small for your average American consumeer. These cars sell massively here in Ireland but they just won't work in America because you'll hear all of the horror stories about how they're not safe because they're small. Realistically the average weight and size of your average American citizen is a lot more too.

The problem is that I saw the VW Golf (you call it Rabbit now) all over the place in San Francisco, LA and Vegas. That sounds great except I only saw them in two sizes: 1.8l and 2.5l engines. You look at that same car in Europe and they sell better at the 1.4-1.8l range. What's the point in going to a smaller car if the engine is still big? I can only imagine if the Fiesta was to be pushed it'd have a 1.6l engine anyway.

Much in the same way that I think the Hybrid market was mostly lip service I think this isn't enough either. If you need a powerful car get one, if you don't then just get an economical one. Even with hybrids, it'd have made just as much sense for your averager American to switch to a 1.5l car to begin with because all of the cars out there are already overpowered or desperately inefficient - they're all automatic for a start! Just imagine the savings if every American switched down 30% in their engine size, more if your average Joe forget about his oversized petrol powered SUV and drove a modest saloon.

Let me put this another way; I look forward to electric or decent hybrid cars at a minimum. In the meantime I drive a SEAT Leon which is a badge-engineered VW Golf. I drive the 1.9TDI variant and on one 55l tank of diesel I drive 900-1050Km (550-650 miles roughly). I know that's diesel rather than petrol but the point is efficiency and it puts out the same horsepower as a 1.6l engine which would get you a good 450 miles plus per tank.

Forget the massive forced changes which will be rejected by the public - just start by reducing engine displacement and increasing efficiency. And hey, would it kill you to write the engine size on the back of your car like we do in Europe...awareness is half the battle!

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710786)

The Ford Focus over there only seems to be sold with one engine choice - a 2 litre petrol. Similarly, the Mondeo equivalent's smallest engine is a 2.4 litre. There isn't even an option of accepting less power in exchange for efficiency. While I can see that maybe some people will want the more powerful car, surely there are some who'd like higher fuel efficiency but aren't currently given the option.

Actually, just looking at Volkswagen's UK page, they do a 1.6 litre model that gets 47 miles per (imperial) gallon (39 mpg US) - and it's not diesel, and it still has 160 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 8 seconds. Clearly the technology to have decent performing efficient cars already exists.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (1)

drtsystems (775462) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710790)

And hey, would it kill you to write the engine size on the back of your car like we do in Europe...awareness is half the battle!

Lol all that would do is make people buy bigger engines so that everyone knew they could afford a top of the line *insert car here*. Thats why american car companies switched from cubic inches to CC's/liters, they had to lower displacement to make their cars more fuel efficient in the 70's and they didn't want consumers to be like wtf when their new car was half the displacement of their old one.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (1)

Schmodus (875649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710850)

I'd rather get to a point in America where the city planners meet with business owners and focus on reducing the time the majority of people commute from their homes to their place of interest. It's more plausible than changing the American's preferences.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31711062)

Doesn't that seem like something that could be done in addition to changing efficiencies? As the OP posted Americans simply don't have the choices available to them that other countries do.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710860)

In paragraph two you espouse a fallacy; specifically that large engines mean low fuel economy. It's true that a large engine _may_ get less fuel economy but it's less than you think.

As proof I submit the latest generation of Corvette's. 6.0L, or larger, V8 engines that will get 20+ MPG knocking around town when properly driven. By properly driven I mean that the driver doesn't ram the accelerator down at every opportunity and observes good start / stop procedure.

Why? Weight. They're light. Aluminum engine block, aluminum heads, lightweight bodies, lightweight frames, etc.

The converse is also a fallacy, namely that a smaller engine _always_ equates to more efficiency. It can but only to a point. If a vehicle is constantly being revved out in order to meet the demand then fuel efficiency will drop like a stone regardless of engine size.

Take my Audi A4 as an example. If I pummel the accelerator I can see fuel efficiency drop to 9MPG or *less*, and that's with a measly 1.8L in a small-ish car!

Driver input is almost as important to fuel economy as engine size is, perhaps more so.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (3, Insightful)

joggle (594025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710976)

You're exactly correct. A huge reason why Americans aren't seeing much better gas mileage now versus 30 years ago isn't due to a lack of progress in engine technology. It's due to ever-increasing horsepower. If our parents and grandparents could get by with less engine displacement but even heavier cars why can't we?

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (1)

plusser (685253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711032)

I've been to America several times and there are a few things that prevent this happening. First of all the Fiesta is far too small for your average American consumeer. These cars sell massively here in Ireland but they just won't work in America because you'll hear all of the horror stories about how they're not safe because they're small. Realistically the average weight and size of your average American citizen is a lot more too.

The current Ford Fiesta is exactly the same size as the mkI Ford Focus, which if I remember correctly was a big sales success for Ford in the USA. In fact the likelihood is that due to improved packaging, the chance is that the interior could be even bigger and have better crash protection.

True some Americans like big cars, but if the price of oil goes Northwards again (which appears likely, without even considering the impact of the AGW lobby), surely they will need to consider the fact that fuel consumption may be a factor in their next purchase.

I'll agree that the Ka is probably a bit too small and radical for the time being.

Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711094)

Realistically the average weight and size of your average American citizen is a lot more too.

Now we come to the heart of the matter.

America is about consumption. Whether it's oil, food, bling or large-screen TVs, we are taught from childhood to buy, to use, to waste. Everything has to be supersized and extra sauce on the side and there is no such thing as "enough". In fact, continuous and endless consumption is institutionalized here to the point where our very economic existence depends on it. When people stop buying for a few months, things start to fall apart and our economy is like a cancer patient, sucking smoke through their tracheotomy hole. It's just not in our social vocabulary to economical or for that matter, rational.

It wasn't always so. Ben Franklin and Henry David Thoreau very eloquently expressed a thriftiness that was uniquely American. It went hand in hand with self-reliance. When I see the over-fed, demanding, soft, food-stamp using Americans of 2010 who are claiming to champion a return to "every man for himself", I wonder how long they would last if any one of them were to actually be expected to pull their own not inconsiderable weight.

No. Americans aren't going to like the new fuel-efficiency standards, because they believe the world owes them whatever amount of fuel it will take to power their personal locomotives down the federally-funded highway, so they can waddle into the all-you-can-eat buffet. Like one of the porcine princesses we see on television, telling Maury Povich how she's going to "do what I want!" we're not going to even consider being more efficient with fuel until we suffer a shock to the system. They're not going to slow down slurping down the Colonel's Special Gravy until they get that massive cardiac arrest and they need a pair of high-voltage paddles to the chest.

And maybe not even then.

Social engineering is evil (0)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710770)

Social engineering is evil, nothing to applaud here. Whilst increasing fuel economy is good, trying to force everyone to drive a small econobox is pure social engineering and nothing to be proud of. If you want to get real about this kind of thing go after large freighters and coal power plants.

If you want real change look at things like trying to clean up commercial trucking, or improving the economy of a garbage truck. Run the numbers and tell me what happens if you can improve the mileage of vehicles like garbage trucks. I'll give you a hint, most such trucks average between one and two mpg. If you want real progress mandate commercial trucks to start using hybrid technology and help the manufactures with the research costs. Companies like Mack don't want to get into Hyrbrids because the bodies are done by third parties and they worry about liability.

All said as someone who has historically owned small fuel efficient cars (Festiva, Accord, Saturn etc) and did so when gas was cheap and for years before it became the politically correct thing to do.

Re:Social engineering is evil (2, Insightful)

Schmodus (875649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710874)

Spending the majority of the effort on a fraction of the problem won't solve anything.

Re:Social engineering is evil (0)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710966)

I'm curious, what fraction of the problem do you think that is? I'll start you off with the following link for reference that talks about just the ships [worldwindow.info] . Do the math, what fraction of the problem are cars? I'm trying to get people to have perspective on the issue. When 16 ships can emit as much pollution as every car on the planet, I'd say our priorities are misplaced. The goal of reduced pollution is not a bad goal, I'm no neocon. Do the fractions, factor in things like coal power plants (instead of nuclear) and put cars in perspective. The math should make priorities clear, even if those priorities are politically taboo.

Re:Social engineering is evil (3, Informative)

Schmodus (875649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711080)

I stand corrected. Policy Options for Reducing Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the U. S. Transportation Sector [harvard.edu]

Overall, the U.S. transportation sector accounts for 33 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and highway fuel consumption for 20 percent.13 Other greenhouse gases from the transportation sector such as methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons contribute an estimated 23 million metric tons of carbon equivalent,14 which is equal to about 5 percent of transportation carbon dioxide emissions.15 The remaining two thirds of U.S. emissions are attributable mainly to the industry and to industrial and commercial buildings and the energyusing devices they contain; this includes emissions from the generation of electricity, nearly all of which goes to the industrial and buildings sectors. The numbers show that U.S. greenhousegas emissions cannot be sufficiently reduced by focusing on motor vehicles alone, but neither can they be sufficiently reduced without a significant effort in the transport sector.

Re:Social engineering is evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710918)

Social engineering is evil, nothing to applaud here. Whilst increasing fuel economy is good, trying to force everyone to drive a small econobox is pure social engineering and nothing to be proud of. If you want to get real about this kind of thing go after large freighters and coal power plants.

You're a fucking idiot. Freighters are the most efficient way to transport goods that humanity has ever developed.

Re:Social engineering is evil (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710944)

You're a fucking idiot. Freighters are the most efficient way to transport goods that humanity has ever developed.

Not really. The most efficient are non-powered or sail-assisted barges on canals. Freighters use a lot of dirty bunker fuel.

I know this because I've been on both and I own shares in a freighter company.

Re:Social engineering is evil (0, Troll)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711040)

Reality check here for anonymous coward. The top 16 ships [worldwindow.info] put out as much pollution as all of the worlds cars combined. Shipping is incredibly pollution heavy (I never said inefficient, read carefully next time) and cleaning that up would reap far more benefit for the environment than we could ever do by magically replaced every car on the planet with a prius.

Re:Social engineering is evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710998)

No one is being forced to drive a small car. This is a fleet average requirement. If you or anyone else wants an SUV you can get it.

Aerodynamics (1)

jamesyouwish (1738816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710782)

If they worked more on about aerodynamics than aesthetics it would be easy. http://aerocivic.com/ [aerocivic.com]

Averaging across a fleet is useless (2, Interesting)

Chonnawonga (1025364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710816)

We need to make manufacturers calculate mileage averages from the total vehicles they sell, not the total vehicles in their lineup. This is just going to result in more abominations like the PT Cruiser, which was designed to lower the average mileage of Dodge's truck line rather than to be a useful (or even safe) passenger vehicle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pt_cruiser#Overview [wikipedia.org]

Some things not noticed - electric and size (4, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710832)

If you read through it, you'll notice they allow all-electric cars to count as zero-emission vehicles, when in actual practice, the emissions depend on where you get the energy from.

So, each manufacturer gets an allotment with a cap for any electric cars they churn out.

But someone in a state which makes electricity from coal - like Wisconsin - creates more emissions pollution using the same all-electric Chevy Volt car than someone in a state using hydroelectric, nuclear fission, solar, wind, and tidal like Washington State.

In Seattle, our utility is carbon-neutral - no emissions. In Madison it's carbon-heavy - coal.

Another thing to notice is that the mpg requirements vary based on the footprint of the vehicle.

So if you made a very thin batmobile you could get sucky mileage and be "better" than a car with twice the mpg that has a small footprint like a Smart Car.

Of course, none of this will prevent somebody installing an industrial electric turbine in their batmobile to go 0 to 60 in 0.9 seconds - cause all-electric dragsters outrace even the best gasoline or diesel vehicle. Unless you use jet fuel.

Not Worth it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710838)

A saving of $2000 over 180,000 miles (guesstimate) is not worth while if it causes the car to have a high increase in maintenance and repair costs which will probable will probably cost more then the $2000 in fuel savings. Lighter materials like aluminum in the chassis will dramatically decrease the cost of body repair. I am thinking the first 3 years or about 30,000 miles the increase insurance costs which will make the car cost 3 times the cost of a less efficient vehicle. Also the $1000 extra won't be recovered in the first five years which is what most people buying new cars are likely to hold on to them for. Things that could save money like plastic instead of glass which would need to be replaced because they would ware faster are unlikely to be done.

WTF is this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710842)

Pay more for better fuel economy? There's no need. Just put a smaller engine in the same car. Easy peasy.

Would be nice if average was "sales volume average (0, Redundant)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710858)

If a company sells some gas-guzzlers that everyone buys, and sells one or two token hybrids/EVs/compacts that no one buys for whatever reason (too expensive, too few features, ugly, piece of shit, bad reliability, whatever), this law isn't going to help.

Re:Would be nice if average was "sales volume aver (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710914)

Solution: per-class MPG numbers, and actually enforce the classes properly. Specifically: if you're selling compact SUVs to soccer moms, don't classify them as light-duty trucks, classify them as sedans or minivans and make them adhere to the stricter MPG ratings.

Re:Would be nice if average was "sales volume aver (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710954)

A better bet would be, don't sell trucks or truck-like vehicles, to soccer moms in the first place.

Or outlaw kids and dogs being in them.

shiT!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710862)

real pro3leMs that

Meanwhile the Tato Nano gets 60 mpg today (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710870)

One could also point out that, for $2000, you can buy a Tato Nano car that gets more than 60 mpg, uses less material to make it (thus less emissions during construction), and the excess capital between that $2000 and the $32,000 you spend on a hybrid can be invested in buying wind turbines in the US for a net loss of carbon emissions about 20 times that, over the lifetime of the vehicle, than for the hybrid

My current 1996 Saturn SC2 gets the required EPA mpg already. And it's paid for.

No one cares (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710872)

about saving $$$ in the long run. Everyone I know wants to see savings now because they need the savings now and not broken down to $1 per day over three years.

1999 MPG (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710884)

What is funny is that my 1999 Toyota Corolla regularly gets 40 MPG and it has 180k miles, if cars could get that then it should be no problem to produce them to get that now and better. And no I have not done any modding/hypermiling.

Great. Just Great. (1, Flamebait)

TaleSpinner (96034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710892)

As raising the CAFE has proven time and again, every time they are raised, they have the effect of increasing the amount of time older, less-efficient cars will remain in service, instead of being replaced with newer, more fuel-efficient models, and, once again, the country's overall average mileage will shrink. Way to go. Of course, once they ram cap-and-trade through the way they did health care, no one but Donald Trump, the President, and Congress will be able to drive. So much for sticking it to those rich people.

Re:Great. Just Great. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710982)

The original Model T got better mileage than most of the cars on the road, actually.

The problem is that we don't charge a $10 a gallon carbon tax on fuel like most of the world does.

Do that and you'll see fuel efficiency skyrocket.

Classic supply and demand curve.

Use the carbon tax from fuel to pay for building high speed passenger trains instead of airports and to build wind-powered and solar-powered refueling stations nationwide.

Well, probably it it's the best we can do (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710900)

Fuel economy standards are actually a stupid way to reduce petroleum usage. A far more effective way to do this would be to put a hefty tax on gasoline, and then the market can decide what the optimum trade is for fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, tax is such an incredibly dirty word in politics that this is just flat out impossible; anybody trying to do such a thing would not merely be voted out of office, they'd very likely be lynched.

If you're going to set new "standards" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710924)

Then can we drop the whole MPG nonsense and go metric: Kilometers Per Liter. Better yet, drop the volume aspect and measure in dollars: Kilometers Per Dollar (KPD).

The joke here, of course, is that he's not setting new standards, he's setting new goals and using the same old standards.

That doesn't add up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710968)

OK Slashdot, check my math here:

$3000 savings over the life of the car is ~1000 gallons @ $3/gallon
This is an improvement of ~10 MPG.

So, solving for mileage: miles/25 - miles/35 = 1000 gallons.
Solving for mileage, that means they're expecting the average car to go 350,000 miles?!? In what universe?

Even if gas prices double to $6/gal, that's still 175,000 miles which seems a bit excessive for the AVERAGE car.

High Mileage cars are easy to build... (2, Informative)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711022)

So long as you don't mind sacrificing safety.

A motorcycle, for example, can easily get 45 to 55 mpg. With rider, even a large bike won't top 500 kg.

About 20 years ago, MADD put up a billboard with a crushed Toyota Corolla - a man and his 4 children were killed when the distance between the dashboard and the trunk was reduced to a mere 6 inches by a drunk driver. They were trying to demonstrate the evils of drunk driving, but the impression it left on me was that we've been trading mpg for safety for quite some time in this country. It shouldn't come as any surprise that teens who grew up seeing the smashed cars caused by drunk driving are now buying behemoth SUVs with full frames.

Long story short - unit body construction saved hundreds of pounds of structural steel from car designs. It raised gas mileage. But the whole car - crumple zones and all - simply folds up like a tin can in an accident. Accidents which used to be survivable are now deadly, thanks to the weakening of car frames designed primarily to boost fuel economy.

Re:High Mileage cars are easy to build... (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711060)

I thought crumple zones were to absorb kinetic energy?

Otherwise the force transfers to you and you get thrown around the car extremely violently.

Those cars are available now. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711042)

Consumers can already buy cars that get that kind of gas mileage if they want them. This really means fewer options in car purchasing.

We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air,

Translation: "People don't know what kind of car is good for them, so we will to force them to buy the right kind."

Politicians are too cynical. I'm smart enough to make decisions for myself. I didn't need the old regulations and I don't want new ones.

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