By on June 15, 2011

As the industry (or at least parts of it) and the federal government face off over forthcoming 2017-2025 CAFE/emissions standards, a Center for Automotive Research study is getting more play than ever from an industry that seeks to portray the high cost of fuel economy improvements as being not worth the additional costs to consumers. CAR has yet to publish its full study, but it’s clearly intended to counter an offensive from groups like the Consumer Federation of America, which uses its own study to show that CAFE regulation will actually save consumers money. This battle, over the cost to industry and consumers of passing a 62 MPG standard for 2025, has been playing out for months now, and will continue to go back and forth over the rest of this summer. And sure enough, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Resources Defense Council have both hit back against the CAR study, calling it “industry-advocate propaganda” in the Detroit News and arguing that it underestimates future reductions in technology costs.

Meanwhile, another report from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that CAFE increases could yield big dividends to Detroit (although we have our doubts about that one). The point is that the 2017-2025 emissions standard seems to be turning into something of a Rorschach Test, as there’s research out there showing nearly every possible outcome, good and bad, coming from a standards hike (here is one way the government estimates cost increases). We encourage anyone who is interested to avail themselves of the data and make a case one way or the other in our comments section. Ultimately though, since California’s Air Resoures Board is leading the federal government on this issue anyway, expect CAR’s research to be ignored (or used to create some kind of “CAFE compensation”) as a 62 MPG 2025 standard is likely too far along to stop at this point.

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73 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The High Cost Of High Fuel Economy Edition...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    This is exactly the dilemma I’m facing with an imminent 100-mile R/T commute. Do I keep my long-paid-for 2004 Impala with 82K miles that I think will average 30 mpg, or trade it for something new that gets 40 mpg and make payments again? Our 2007 MX5 has averaged 32 mpg around town, not sure what straight highway will get, although the gearing in that thing may hold that from anything more.

    A TTAC commenter a few months ago did the math when I asked this same question and the consensus seems to favor keeping the Impala and enjoy the long ride in comfort. I tend to agree. Who knows? Maybe things will change and someone nearer my home will offer this old guy a job!

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      Another consideration: Safety

      Driving 100 miles in a death trap every day would probably cause you to have to get expensive mental-health therapy, thus negating any cost savings.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        What makes you think that a 2nd gen W-body chassis (that dates back to 1997) would be safer than a newly designed Focus or Elantra that is just a few inches, in each dimension, smaller than his Impala? I’d be stunned if the Impala had traction or stability control in 2004, either. Say what you will about driver training and ability, but these electronic features do work.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Quentin,

        The Impala has had traction control since 2000. Not that it matters, as all it does is prevent you from moving forward in the snow. (Much as the ABS prevents you from stopping in the snow, although at least the ABS does something on dry or rain-covered pavement.)

        Does it have stability control? No, I don’t think so. I am not sure why you would need it in a FWD family sedan that understeers anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Zackman, in my part of the country people tend to keep their old cars forever. I, myself, have been guilty of having as many as eleven (11) of my old cars parked on my property, in the desert behind the house. They were old, yes, but they all ran, and they were not junk. We do not know what rust is in my part of the country and the roads are never salted in the winter because it so rarely snows around here. That could be one reason why so many people from the East migrate to my area. It wasn’t until I bought my new truck in January 2011 that I actively sold off all my old cars, at the urging (and insistence) of my wife… Among the best of those was my 1972 Olds Custom Cruiser with the 455 and the 400THM. I see it often in the Wal-Mart parking lot and it brings pangs of nostalgia, memories of countless hours of R&R worn out parts. You can keep anything running forever as long as you keep replacing the failed parts in it and from that perspective it just might be cheaper to pay the $4.50/gallon gas because you do not have a new car payment or the new-car insurance rates. In many cases, just like with old wives, when it comes to cars, it’s just plain cheaper to keep’er.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Zackman: Keep the Impy. Run it until it won’t go any further, which will probably be closer to 250K miles. It’s a fairly big car if the worst case scenario should happen. It’s a big American car, made for long distance drives. Quiet and smooth, and if you keep your foot out of it, probably gets better fuel mileage than you realize.

      Hopefully by the time you have to replace the Impy, you’ll have found something else to do for money. I’m in an allied field, I know what’s happening.

      I had a 76 mile R/T commute at one time, something I pray God I never have to endure that again…

    • 0 avatar
      Otterpops

      I was able to get 36 highway out of a 96 Miata without much effort, but that’s a completely different powertrain. Regardless, I doubt I could have done much better than that considering how high strung the Miata is.

      Well, I mean I could have slowed down.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      I also own a 2004 Impala (mines an SS) but it would also get around 30 mpg on the highway if I kept my foot out of it. I’ve done the math, it’s not worth trading my Impala in on a more fuel efficient car by the time I factor in insurance and car payment. Once you include the comfort of the larger car on the highway and the fact that you seem to be quite fond of your Impy, I’d also say keep it. No reason it shouldn’t see well north of 200K, especially since you’re putting highway miles on it.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    What’s wrong is they’re not comparing apples to apples; the extra cost needs to be amortized properly. If they’re taking the 5 year savings in gas costs then they need to put back 30% of the additional manufacturing costs that the original owner recoups at 5 year resale. If they’re saying the original owner eats all that cost then they need to total the gas savings over the 15-20 year lifespan of the car.

  • avatar
    monomille

    Classic statistics game for the status quo. As my old high school physics teacher said “figures don’t lie but liars can figure”

    OBTW, what is the cost benefit of less foreign oil dependence? etc.

  • avatar
    jj99

    This anti-high MPG lobby out of Detroit is working on behalf of the UAW. Detroit knows it takes lots of engineers and testing to get the high MPG. But, they can’t afford the engineering needed if they also have to pay UAW welfare. So, they fight high MPG.

    In the mean time, the foreign automakers have no UAW problem, so they will hit the numbers. The foreign auto makers are already in the MPG lead. Detroit claims class leading EPA numbers on most products, but when testers get ahold of Detroit products, the foreign cars usually return class leading MPG.

    One more point. I support the high MPG law, even though I am not a Marxist ( I mean not a democrat ). I worry about the day when oil is scarce, and that day will be here sooner if we produce vehicles that use more fuel. What happens if the oil is scarce? War? I say take the money away from the UAW, and fund engineering such that high MPG cars save the world.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      But, they can’t afford the engineering needed if they also have to pay UAW welfare. So, they fight high MPG

      Oh, yes, because Japan and Germany are such low-cost areas with totally un-unionized labour and no legacy costs. That’s why this poses so much less of a problem for them.

      Oh, wait. They are unionized, high-cost zones with even greater union penetration! And yet they’re able to engineer cars that meet these standards. So what’s Detroit’s managements’ excuse now?

      I am not a Marxist ( I mean not a democrat ).

      You’re also not very good at language, by which I mean that you should read up on what certain words actually mean before you use them. I’d sound equally foolish if I said “Republican” and “Nazi”, which is why I don’t do that kind of thing.

  • avatar
    snabster

    Round 1 of CAFE was a huge defeat for Detroit and a huge win for Japan. Clean air act clearly didn’t help detroit. I think they gave up.

    Round 2 (today) is turning into a win for Koreans. Right now Detroit is loving it, but I suspect that’s because pickup sales aren’t being affected, and they have eliminated the wasteful SUV sales.

    Round 3 (this proposal). Who wins? I can’t imagine pickup sales under this scenario.

    Clearly, the answer is $6 gasoline, and we need to get there via gas tax. Time to but the burden on the consumers, rather than the producers.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Why bother with a gas tax? By 2017 it’ll be at $6 pre-tax.

      That’s the thing that always bugs me about these comparisons: they usually just use whatever the current gas price is as the future price, usually with some hand-waving about how we can’t accurately predict what gas prices will do in the next ten years. Sure, right, you can’t know accurately. But if I was to make a wager on it, I don’t think I’d bet on gas prices going down in the long run.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    do they even rationally look at these numbers? $12k to hit 60 mpg? really? at $10k, you’re kinda at the electric car tipping point. I know people here hate electric, but as I keep reminding, cordless power tools have made MONSTEROUS leaps and bounds in the past 15 years. IF I told you in 1995 that you could buy a purely battery powered nail gun, you’d have called me nuts.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Really? From what I can tell, the Prius today pretty much hits this standard now, and isn’t that much more expensive than the Matrix or Camry. In fact, if I recall correctly, the Matrix XRS and Prius Base are similarly equipped, perform about the same, and have about the same useful space, and the price is pretty much a wash.

    It really sounds like these are worst-case numbers for cars that would indeed be expensive to bring up to those levels.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Prius is 12MPG Shy of the 62 MPG target being discussed! There is no regular production car in the world that comes close to that standard, let alone a car/truck fleet averaging anywhere near that. VW’s best diesel only edges Cruze by 1 mpg at 34MPG. Smart is all the way up to 36MPG. The fleet that will comply with the near term requirements will be much different and more costly than most can now imagine.
      The 62 MPG standard is unimaginable.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        You got me—I was looking at Canadian mileage figures.

        Still, that 12mpg (for the Prius) is not that far from possibility. You’re right that the fleet in question will look different, and that for the size and power of car in question we’ll get less for our money. We’ll probably get more EVs and hybrids, and considerably fewer large trucks and crossovers

        That said, we’re in a period of relative automotive extravagance. We’ve been through utilitarian corrections before. We’ll survive, and we might learn something from it.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        According to this article from Ed, it is being done. CAFE ≠
        EPA window stickers.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/the-battle-of-62-mpg/

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        If the 37/50 ratio presented in the Hyundai piece can be applied, Prius is just about the only car that surpasses the 46 MPG EPA that equals 62MPG CAFE. Moving the average of the whole fleet of cars and trucks sold in America to the economy of the current exceptional best is a daunting challenge indeed.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    This car nut doesn’t care if sticking cars with the externalities they currently pass to the public, the military, and future doubles their price. It’s time for every product to stand on its own, to stop passing the damage they cause to others and future generations. If higher fuel economy can save lives in the defense department and keep the earth from warming with potentially damaging effects, then cars will cost whatever it takes to deliver those benefits. If half of Americans need to take the bus or ride bikes as a result, then so be it. But my lungs may no longer be a store for automobile generated pollution; my children may no longer be fodder for oil wars; and our environment may no longer be the dumping ground for product externalities. The auto industry needs to stop freeloading. I’m sick of so many industries that depend on public welfare in various forms.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Just so long as you realize that your children will live like Mexicans do today.

      • 0 avatar
        jj99

        If you send your children to a good college, they will be fine. If you do not, they might live like Mexicans. The UAW can not save them. I hope you teach them that.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        WTF – you usually make some sense. How does having a higher mpg requirement (like China and the EU are going towards and several cars already meet or very nearly meet) make the US become Mexico? And jj I get it you don`t like the UAW, fine. But they are not the fount of all evil – they are just not that talented!

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Well, Mike, see, if we have more stringent emissions requirements, then the next thing you know our cities will have some of the worst air pollution in the world, just like Mexico City does today. This makes perfect sense, it’s a logical correlation of the idea that when the government is running a deficit, we can fix this by cutting taxes.

        Also emissions requirements mean that our cities will be torn apart by warring drug cartels who are buying easily-available guns from our nearest neighbors. I’m not quite sure how that fits in but it’s totally there.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Mike978, I agree with you about the UAW not being that talented. However when it comes to the US auto industry and its disastrous downfall over a period of decades, the UAW is the fount of everything that could go wrong and did go wrong. I am neutral on unions because I think that there was a need for them, a long, long time ago. But in this day and age, with all the government’s regulation and mandates, it’s hard to make a case for unions. I was in the Air Force when Reagan shut down PATCO, and guess what? Military ATC made the system work just fine without any casualties that could be blamed on Controller error. And that was a lot more critical than half-assedly assembling any Detroit car.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        We already have a real unemployment rate around 18%. Price new cars out of the hands of more people and there will be less employment in manufacturing. Price energy out of more people’s reach, and there will be a reduction in standard of living and calls for more targeted subsidies. More subsidies equal more taxes. Fewer people working means that those that are will be disproportionately taxed. Net reduction of demand and higher taxes mean more business failures. A huge underclass dependent on a failing government will lead to unrest. Runaway inflation as the government continues to give people goods and services that won’t exist will wipe out savings for the responsible members of the middle class. I’m not surprised this sounds impossible to proponents of energy taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        CJ, I don’t think that America is so fragile that our entire society will collapse if CAFE is extended. I can never tell with conservatives: is this just hyperbole, or do you really think that the USA is that much of a big house of cards?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        In California, we already live in the green dystopia. We lose net 4.5 employers every day. Unemployment benefits are a way of life for college graduates. Our roads aren’t maintained and our schools are daycare centers for the useless underclass of tomorrow. Taxes are the second highest in the country, but budget shortfalls are endemic due to the closed-loop corruption of our state employee unions and progressive politicians burdening the state with 52 year old retirees guaranteed six figure lifestyles. Green initiatives close manufacturers and kill family farms alike.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        Green initiatives close family farms? I thought it was large corporate run factory farming that destroyed family farms (couldn’t compete), while green initiative actually opened up new niche markets for family scaled farming (e.g., organic farms), at least that’s what I’ve seen in my neck of the woods.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      mike978, I do have a problem with the UAW. Just imagine if the UAW did not exist. Then, Detroit would have had more $$ for engineering. This extra engineering $$ would have made Detroit vehicles as good as or better than the Asians. And, Detroit would still be an automotive power.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        We gotta hope that the US automakers make a come-back so we, the tax payers, can get paid back all that money we gave them. And they, the US car makers, are doing their best, even outsourcing much of production to Mexico, and getting a hell of a return on their investment in better quality and lower labor expense.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        This extra engineering $$ would have made Detroit vehicles as good as or better than the Asians. And, Detroit would still be an automotive power.

        I’d mentioned this in another thread, but hey, why not ask again:
        * You do know that the Asians and Europeans are also unionized in their domestic markets, right? And that in their domestic markets they also have legacy costs?
        * You do know that the D3 have been more profitable, at times and in Chrysler’s case, quite recently, than the Asian competition, and have almost always been more profitable than the Europeans.
        * You also know that the domestics have been offshoring production for a couple of decades, right?

        The UAW bears some responsibility, sure, but I think it’s not credibe to say that the D3 would have been competitive had they not been unionized.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        jj, calm down. I said I (and everyone) know you have issues with the UAW. Perfectly fine and they have cost the Domestics some money through stupid policies but they are not the devil incarnate. Can we move away from some of the hyperbole.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      djoelt1: This car nut doesn’t care if sticking cars with the externalities they currently pass to the public, the military, and future doubles their price.

      All of the talk of “externalities” always ignores the benefits of automobiles, which any rational analysis would show far outweighs their costs. If you want to pay twice as much for the same basic car based on faulty beliefs, and an ignorance of what is really happening with the environment, that is your choice, but please don’t force that “logic” on the rest of us.

      djoelt1: It’s time for every product to stand on its own, to stop passing the damage they cause to others and future generations.

      Except, of course, that all cars built in the last 15 years have been very clean, and air pollution has been DECLINING in this country for the past 30 years. Air pollution has been reduced to a degree that would have been considered unimaginable 30 years ago. These happy trends have occurred despite a dramatic increase in both the number of vehicles and the total miles that they are driven over the same time period.

      djoelt1: If higher fuel economy can save lives in the defense department and keep the earth from warming with potentially damaging effects, then cars will cost whatever it takes to deliver those benefits. If half of Americans need to take the bus or ride bikes as a result, then so be it.

      We get most of our oil from Mexico and Canada. Europe, however, is very dependent on Middle Eastern oil, so, perhaps instead of sticking the bill to American drivers, perhaps we should ask the Europeans to pony up, considering that they benefit heavily from a stable source of oil from the Middle East.

      I don’t take the bus, and I’m not riding a bike to work because you erroneously believe that air pollution is getting worse, or in junk science. When you show that you are better informed on these topics than I am, I’ll consider your views, but, until then, uninformed hysteria and a vague sense that we (“we” usally meaning “someone else”) need to do something are not sufficient.

      I’ve got better things to do than listen to Paul Ehrlich-style nonsense.

      djoelt1: But my lungs may no longer be a store for automobile generated pollution; my children may no longer be fodder for oil wars; and our environment may no longer be the dumping ground for product externalities.

      Pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act have been DECLINING for the past 30 years, and will continue to decline in the future. The air is now cleaner than it has been at any time since the Industrial Revolution got underway in the late 19th century. As newer vehicles replace older ones that account for the majority of pollution (around 50 percent of all air pollution is caused by 10 percent of cars – the old clunkers), these happy trends will continue.

      I seriously doubt that your lungs are being soiled by automobile pollution, considering the cleanliness of modern cars, unless you are in the habit of sticking your lips to a tailpipe, a la A Christmas Story and breathing in the exhaust for days at a time.

      If that is the case, the solution is for you to stop taking those triple-dog dares.

      djoelt1: The auto industry needs to stop freeloading. I’m sick of so many industries that depend on public welfare in various forms.

      The automobile industry has a spent a fortune making its products safer, cleaner and more efficient. That is why, in 2011, a brand-new Ford Explorer emits fewer pollutants RUNNING than a 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 emitted while sitting still with the engine not running (because of escaping gasoline vapors).

      That is why a 2011 Fusion gets better mileage at 75 mph than a 1969 Galaxie 5000 or Torino did at 55 mph.

      The idea that the auto industry has been given some sort of free pass by the federal government could charitably be described as laughable. It is one of the most heavily regulated industries in this country. Everything from the fuel consumption to the crashworthiness to the level of pollutants emitted by the vehicle is subject to stringent regulation, with heavy sanctions facing the company that fails to meet those regulations. If anything, many companies have EXCEEDED those regulations in the past decade.

      The real problem is that a certain segment of those supporting the regulation have never liked the automobile and the personal mobility it provides. They have therefore ridden the coattails of those genuinely concerned about pollution, safety and fuel use.

      Only problem from their perspective is that, in the 1980s and 1990s, computer technology and improved engine design allowed automakers to meet very stringent emissions and fuel economy standards, while preserving the qualities that buyers seek – comfort for at least four people; ability to cruise at 80 mph with the air conditioning running; crashworthiness; and control of noise, vibration and harshness.

      The response has been to continually move the goalposts while inventing new doom-and-gloom scenarios to justify raising the price of cars and get people to abandon the convenience and comfort of private auto travel for mass transit. While there has been an upsurge in mass transit use in the past few years in response to higher gasoline prices, most people still prefer the private automobile, as it better fits the patterns of their lives. I have no problem with mass transit, or even systems receiving a public subsidy, but, sorry, I do not ride the bus to work, nor do I plan to.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Prius 51/48mpg $25k
    Matrix 21/29mpg $21k for comparable trim

    Let’s just use highway mileage to Matrix’s advantage: 48 vs. 29 mpg. And assume 40% resale value at the end of 5th year.

    Car price difference = (25k-21k)x(100%-40%) = $2400

    Fuel saving for 10,000 miles/year = 50,000/29 – 50,000/48 = 1724 – 1042 = 682 gallons

    @ $3.5/gallon, net saving = 682×3.5-2400 = -$13 (about make even)
    @ $6/gallon, net saving = 682×6-2400 = $1692

    The calculation didn’t take interest rate/time value into consideration. But given that the rate is at historic low, it’s about in the ball park.

    If you drive more than 10,000 miles per year, you save more. If you driving more in the city, you save more. Not to mention that the Prius is a bit larger inside and better finished than the Matrix.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Enough with the “goals.”

    Show me federally-mandated “green” housing goals or “green” cell phone goals, or “green” toilets (whoops, they already got to that one!). Americans would never put up with Uncle Sam dictating what their house must look like. Yet because automobiles are an instrumentality of interstate commerce, they can be regulated. Damn you, Commerce Clause!

    We do not elect leaders to tell us what products to buy. Rational citizens will choose products based on the conditions of the market. Like it or not, gasoline is still a relatively cheap commodity. Trying to manipulate the choices of rational consumers in the end does NOTHING and costs lots of money.

    Recall Cash For Clunkers. When the program began, sales spiked (“See,” say the bureaucrats, “it works!”). When the program ended, sales plummeted (“See,” say the rationalists, “it did absolutely nothing!”). In the end, the dip in sales following CFC was about equal to the spike in the beginning. Again, lots of money, to achieve nothing in the end.

    When the government forces industries to adopt standards such as those above, it is really a TAX on the consumer, because it raises costs for the consumer. In some cases, such standards are a net detriment to the average consumer. In many cases the consumer would be better off had the government done NOTHING and allowed the market to function.

    If the federal government wants to launch a “Manhattan Project” for coming up with alternative energy sources, great. Just get out of my garage and off to Area 51, or wherever the hell you do your top research.

    Let’s also remember that automobile emissions are a small component of our total emissions! Look at the big picture, Uncle Sam!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Americans would never put up with Uncle Sam dictating what their house must look like. Yet because automobiles are an instrumentality of interstate commerce, they can be regulated. Damn you, Commerce Clause!

      Welcome to supply-side economics. Or rather, to the cowardice surrounding modifying the demand side. It’s why we cut taxes instead of investing in infrastructure and small business to create jobs, it’s why we do things like CAFE instead of taxing fuel, and it’s why education and health care is often such a mess.

      I don’t often agree with certain people on this blog, but when they say things like “Using CAFE to reduce gas consumption is like forcing people to lose weight by regulating the availability of clothing sizes” they’re right.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      “Americans would never put up with Uncle Sam dictating what their house must look like. Yet because automobiles are an instrumentality of interstate commerce, they can be regulated. Damn you, Commerce Clause!”

      Have you never heard of building codes? The government does in fact regulate how your house can look, how it should be constructed or put together, the kinds of materials you are permitted to use, and so on. I don’t see too many people here up in arms about that!

      • 0 avatar
        djoelt1

        Oh, and this includes requirements for levels of insulation. And, in some areas, savvy builders are competing to win customers via Energy Star. It’s like the Japanese vs. the Big 3 all over again. Homebuilders that build more efficient houses have something new to advertise. They advertise something that was not available before. The natural inclination of many humans is to think something new is better than the old. Homebuilders that don’t do energy star homes are then in a defensive position explaining why they don’t do it – and their reasons won’t be convincing. So progressive home builders will win and the dinosaurs will lose.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        In the southwest, they will tell you exactly what you’re house can’t look like.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The Government (local) does regulate housing – it is called the building code. Also the Energystar program is having an impact – gone on any major house builder website and you will see the blue Energystar logo and them touting the benefits of reduced heating costs etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Amendment X

        @Philosophil, Mike978, et al.

        Have you ever heard of LOCAL government? In no way did I suggest that there aren’t codes to govern such enterprises. Uncle Sam is a colloquialism referring to the FEDERAL government.

        Find me a FEDERAL housing guideline that doesn’t deal with discrimination or loans and you win. There are no federal regulations dealing with building houses, except toilets, which I have mentioned. The federal government should have no concern with you bathroom, your bedroom (literally and metaphorically), your garage (literally and metaphorically), or your yard. Period

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        I see your point, and it’s a legitimate one, but I honestly don’t see what difference it makes. Your home is still being regulated, whether at a Federal, State or Municipal level, and I thought your protest was against regulating lifestyle choices period, not about who does it.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        @Phil: the American distaste for government is kind of unique in how it scales with the level of government.

        I’ve never understood this because, in my experience, Federal government is at worst slow and bureaucratic, while local (municipal) governments, especially in smaller cities and towns, seem more troubled by nepotism and malice and less accountable to the citizenry.

        It seems like Americans fear the potential, rather than the actual or historical, abuse of authority.

    • 0 avatar
      Britspeak

      Amendment X — Take a gander…

      Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, Title 42, Part 5401, 42 U.S.C 5401 http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/42C70.txt

      Wow, that took me about 30 seconds to find: A federally mandated group of construction standards applied to ‘mobile’ homes, etc. Sounds like Uncle Sam is telling people what they can and cannot have regarding houses, yes? I guess I missed the revolution that was supposed to start.

      Now, what do I win?

      • 0 avatar
        Amendment X

        You win squat. Mobile homes fall under the Commerce Clause exception because they can cross state lines as manufactured products. As such, they more closely resemble automobiles from a legal standpoint.

        You could also attempt to “win” your argument by claiming your tie-die 1960s Volkswagen Bus is your “home.” But that is also a feeble argument.

        You still have not provided evidence for advancing your theory regarding the most traditional means of American home ownership, i.e., the brick-and-mortar solid foundation home and the federal government’s role in advancing “green” building laws in the same fashion as its regulation of the automotive industry.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Amendment X – Energystar is a federal program.
        Also why shouldn`t the Government mandate better, more efficient toilets. In some parts of the US water supplies are low and with expanding populations they will dwindle further (Atlanta is a great example). So if more efficient toilets can help alleviate the problem somewhat then who cares. I haven`t thought intimately about the water consumption of my toilet and it isn`t like there is great competition on toilets since they are installed on new homes as standard and the buyer doesn`t get a choice. So having mandated standards helps move things along.

      • 0 avatar
        Amendment X

        @Mike978

        EnergyStar is a federal certification to help sell products (think of it as federally-approved bragging rights). Here’s the critical difference between EnergyStar and CAFE – federal law does NOT mandate all new toasters/washing machines/blenders/computers/etc. meet EnergyStar guidelines. EnergyStar is a rating system which is OPTIONAL for product makers to meet.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with EnergyStar. In fact, I think extending EnergyStar to automobiles (again, giving consumers information, but ultimately allowing choice) would be more beneficial than CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      evan

      Thanks for reminding why internet discussions are hilarious.

      Here are 8 things I’ve learned from this thread.

      1.) Uncle Sam, who it should be understood represents the federal government only, has no business dictating housing standards.

      2.) Local government may instead do this, and it is therefore not as bad for some reason.

      3.) Mobile homes are not homes.

      4.) Government standards like CAFE are a tax!

      5.) Americans will not stand for their government dictating what their homes look like. Unless its local government. Then, I guess, we’re cool with it.

      6.) There is a federal standard for construction of manufactured homes, but remember these are not real homes.

      7.) If you have a tie-die VW Van and claim it as your home, that is a feeble argument.

      8.) The Commerce Clause is somehow the sole instrument that allows the federal governmnet to regulate the automobile industry.

      I’m sure there are more jewels in there but I can’t handle anymore right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Otterpops

      “We do not elect leaders to tell us what products to buy. Rational citizens will choose products based on the conditions of the market. ”

      Our leaders influence or set outright the conditions of the market.

      Which is how they dictate what your house looks like.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Whats wrong with this picture? MATH. Gives me a head ache, so I’ll just take the pretty little blue car.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    “if the UAW did not exist. Then, Detroit would have had more $$ for engineering. ”

    Right. Because every single dollar taken from the UAW will go nowhere else except into engineering.

    The engineer in me finds this laughable on a couple of levels. First, anyone who has ever worked in an engineering department knows how hard it is to get dollars out of management. Second, there’s a parallel to Ohms Law here. The colloquial expression thereof is “path of least resistance” which, in this case, is to the pockets of the same high-up managers who engineered the money-grab.

  • avatar
    don1967

    In these days of fuel efficiency hysteria, it never hurts to take a second sobering look at what we are doing, and whether or not it really makes sense.

    I say this as the price of crude oil tumbles sharply from what could be the peak of a major dead-cat-bounce. $40 oil by the end of 2011 is a greater possibility than the masses realize.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Maybe true – I cannot see into the future. However what are your estimates for 2012, 2013 – especially since oil is finite and more people are buying cars (China is a great example).

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        I cannot see into the future either. Just comparing the recent price patterns of oil to past stock/commodity/real estate bubbles which collapsed when people least expected it, then partly recovered, then collapsed again.

        Sure, prices will rise eventually. But from what level, and how fast? Recent price spikes are not necessarily the new normal; they only feel that way to the shell-shocked layperson. It is quite possible that a major retrenchment will be necessary before we can rejoin the long-term price curve – which by the way barely exceeds inflation – where we left off.

        As for China, peak oil, etc., these are just the latest versions of the same old stories that have been around ever since the first barrel was sucked out of the ground. Not saying they aren’t true; just that they aren’t new. :)

  • avatar
    Britspeak

    That’s a good answer! Does it make you feel vindicated, because it should.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    YOU have cheap cars very cheap gas and still you bleat and whine Your miliytary plays world bully so you can secure youre cheap gas supplies and now the US economy is in the toilet and reality may soon set in when you atre paying $10 per tiny gallon moan till then shutup

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      You do realize that the U.S. military ensures a reliable supply of oil for ALL oil-using nations, and not just the U.S.? That would include Japan, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Bryce- We do have it great here in America and thanks to us the world is safer, more prosperous, and our allies are allowed to shed the costs of their own defense, reducing YOUR taxes!

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Sorry, cars aren’t cheap in America, and neither is gas. They may be MORE expensive where you live, but, frankly, I don’t care too much about that. I am too busy making ends meet and feeding 3 people with 0.6 jobs.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        It may well be that you’re struggling (and I hope you manage to keep things afloat), but cars are considerably cheaper in the States than they are in Canada (with a lower average income In Canada as well), and my wife loves skipping over to Detroit to fill up her van on your cheap gas.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    There’s just one problem here: Achieving higher fuel economy has little to do with saving money.

    Anyone who cares about using less gas is not going to care about the possible loss of money over time based on the cost of a gallon of gas.

    What’s the alternative? A return to vehicles that get horrible fuel economy because they’re cheaper in the long run?

    CAR seems to have an agenda that is more political in nature than anything.

    And buying a fuel efficient vehicle does not automatically mean buying a gas-electric hybrid or electric vehicle. There are vehicles that get excellent gas mileage on either regular unleaded gas or diesel.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Look at it this way, Why do Europeans drive smaller cars with smaller motors? To get the most of their fuel economy since gas is around $6 dollars a gallon if not more already.

    Hens the preference for A/B/C segment cars that get the equivalent to 38-45mpg highway and 30-32 city at the very least.

    I’m looking at getting a small car that does around that myself and I live in the US and yes, I DO take the bus to work but use my car for pretty much everything else when I don’t have to drive into work and I have a bus pass FROM work to compensate for the bus fare.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    When has the “Center for Automotive Research” ever gotten anything right? They are nothing but a special interest lobbying group which will spin things to support their position.


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