By on August 5, 2014

2015-Lexus-NX-Exterior6

Although we’ve covered CAFE and its effects on the new car market before, the launch of the Lexus NX provides us with an interesting example of just how far auto makers will go to have their offerings classified as “light trucks” under the U.S. regulatory scheme which incentivizes manufacturers to offer these sorts of vehicles beyond mere market forces.

To recap quickly, CAFE splits vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) under 8,500 lbs into two categories: cars and light trucks. Each vehicle has a “footprint” formula based on the vehicle size, with fuel economy targets it must meet. These are added up to a “fleet average” for each manufacturer, and there are a whole host of byzantine rules regarding “credits” for different technologies, like start-stop systems, hybrids and EVs that can be applied. They key concept here is that two vehicles can be the same “footprint”, but the “light truck” has to meet a fuel economy standard that is less stringent than the “car” standard. This (along with market forces) has been one reason why crossovers have become such a prominent segment in the American auto market.

As the crew at Top Gear Philippines discovered, the Lexus NX doesn’t just meet the standard of being a “light truck” by virtue of its approach angle. The solution is a different fascia  for North American markets, such as the one shown above. Compare that to the one below, which has a “fuller”, square-jawed appearance.

The change in fascia isn’t the most onerous hurdle to overcome, but it does illustrate the fickle nature of the regulations, and how far auto makers will go to meet them – and exploit the various loopholes contained within.

lexus_nx300h_world

 

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133 Comments on “CAFE Case Study: Lexus NX Gets Different Fascia To Qualify As “Light Truck”...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great article. When simply changing a facia is enough to circumvent a regulation, it shows how much the regulation has failed. End CAFE. Let them build what they want and the market decide.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      End CAFE and end the 25 year importation rule, I see only good things following.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Good things? For enthusiasts? That won’t do. That won’t do at all.

        I’m all for some form of ensuring low pollution and higher MPGs are mandatory. But no, CAFE is not being adhered to as it was intended. And soon sedans and coupes will be gone in favor of tall wagons masqueraded as trucks so it will be completely toothless.

        Also, the 25 year thing needs to go. Completely.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        I understand not wanting to end the rule entirely – new dealerships should not have to compete with grey market imports of any kind – but at least dial it back to something sensible, like Canada’s fifteen-year rule.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The thing is, in other countries en-masse importation of cars is usually because said cars are much cheaper than domestic offerings.

          I don’t see that happening in the US, I doubt US buyers would be clamoring for Mahindra pick-up trucks and random South American Fiats.

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          One of my hare-brained ideas was to allow private citizens (as opposed to dealers) import anything they want with the only stipulation being that the title is non-transferable until the 25 year mark (15 would be even better). That way the buyer assumes all the risk and then the market isn’t flooded with newer cars competing with the dealers and manufacturers (whom I really have zero sympathy for).

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Like cheap Chinese junkers that fold up like cheap card tables in an accident?

        I’d say end the importation rule, but only after there’s safety and emissions harmonization using the union of the strictest controls. Or, offer a range of safety/emissions rankings that are harmonized, and let nations choose the level they want.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “I’d say end the importation rule, but only after there’s safety and emissions harmonization using the union of the strictest controls.”

          In other words, you want everyone else to follow US standards in virtually every instance.

          That ain’t gonna happen. The rest of the world can’t even harmonize with each other; what makes you think that they’re just going to copy United States safety and California emissions regulations?

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Or you let the market sort it out. Crash tests and Consumer Reports and sites like this (God knows NOT the mainstream automotive presstitutes) will inform the public of unsafe vehicles. As to those too dense to get it, well, the sight of a few frugal souls folded up in the middle of said cheap card tables should do the trick (which wouldn’t actually happen because you’d still have reasonable mandated safety standards). You can only legislate and protect so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      End CAFE and set the gas tax high enough to behave as a de-facto CAFE, by picking a reference MPG fuel-tax-per-mile and scaling it as appropriate.

      Say, 18 cents/gal with an average economy of 24mpg is your baseline. That’s .75 cents per mile. So, if the average economy you want is 30mpg, then the tax should rise to (30 * .75 = ) 22.5 cents/gal. At 50mpg, it would be (50 * .75 = ) 37.5 cents per gallon.

      If those numbers aren’t high enough to get the fleet average economy up, then adjust the per-mile cost factor appropriately.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I like it.

        If someone wants to drive a gas guzzler, that’s fine with me. But they should pay full freight as far as externalities are concerned. This would be a step in the right direction.

      • 0 avatar
        guevera

        That may be the first time I’ve seen a workable, superior public policy suggestion in the comments anywhere. I can’t even see where the opposition would be for this idea. No wonder your Doctor Noisewater :)

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          There seems to be a small but vocal segment of the voting public who are certain that all government and governing is bad, and taxes are treason. And for a lot of people who don’t think like that, “They want to raise taxes!” is a more memorable soundbite than “We need to pick a reference MPG fuel-tax-per-mile and scale it as appropriate.”

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Definitely a smart approach. I too like it. Shift some regulation to the fuel supply side. Consumers will then sort it out.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        I think there is actually a better case for the reverse as far as externalities are concerned. If you are talking about Middle East peace keeping, the benefits are actually similar per citizen rather than per mile driven. When a holy warrior blows up your office building the Prius owner is just as dead as the Hummer guy.

        Just raise the tax. The more you use, the more you pay. Pollution and road wear scale somewhat with gallons burned so it works. It won’t happen though because it takes power from the politicians.

      • 0 avatar
        mikefitzvw

        This is a great point, that will surely be shit on. I took a US Energy Policy class last semester, and this is the market way of ensuring high fuel economy – and market incentives such as this are far less intrusive than additional legislative mandates. In Europe, with fuel prices double ours in the US, fuel economy is nearly double as well. There is no requirement, merely the market requires small, efficient engines for them to sell. For those who have the means and desire to burn all the oil in Saudi Arabia, they can still get them. However, it will require a lot more than a few cents tax though. Probably at least a dollar increase – which will be painful until the market adjusts.

    • 0 avatar

      And this, kids, is why we don’t get those lovely station wagons we see everywhere else. Better we should have to buy a “truck” .

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Turbo-4…check!

    • 0 avatar
      olydoug

      Automakers have been finding ways to put their products in one category or another for awhile now. The PT Cruiser counted as a light truck for CAFE standards at one point. The line between cars and trucks has become blurred over the years. The Minivan for the most part has given way to Crossover type vehicles based on passenger car platforms but designed and marketed as light trucks.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The Japanese will do anything to lower their FE numbers. From thin glass windshields that crack more than one time within the lease period to expensive 0w20 synthetic motor oil all taken from the consumers wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Where does it say Japanese cars need 0W20? I’ve done oil changes on a few, and it’s usually 5W30 that meets SN, SM, SL and/or SJ. Doesn’t have to be synthetic, either.

      It’s possible a Lexus IS-F or Acura NSX might need something more ambitious, but I can’t recall the last time I saw a Japanese car that needed anything other than 5W30 or 5W20.

      Now, European cars, that’s a different story: synthetic, needs to meet ACEA A3/B3, can’t be bought in larger jugs, poured by a virgin on the night of a full moon, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Elorac

        My 2012 Camry Hybrid requires 0W20, as do all new Prius’.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        My run-of-the-mill 2013 Mazda6 requires 0W-20 synthetic.

        • 0 avatar
          Andy

          As does my 2013 “earth dreams” Accord 2.4.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            And the Accord V6.

            My dealer charges the same for that as a “normal” change at a quickie-lube or such — a local shop was charging ** $100 ** for the same service, versus $39.95 at my dealer (which uses the proper OEM crush-washer). Plus the OCI is long enough that it averages to twice a year–no big deal.

            I do have to agree that the windshield is thin; had one stone crack filled at SafeLite, and picked up the second of two other “badges” just the other day — damn trucks! (I wonder if glass thickness is another reason that the automakers are eliminating the tint brow on top, along with co$t-cutting in general?)

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Both my 2014 Forester (non-turbo) and 2012 Mazda 2 require 0W-20.

      • 0 avatar
        olydoug

        One some Toyota’s you can use 5w20 but only if you change the oil at 5k intervals rather than the 10k allowed with the 0w20. Depends on the manufacturer but it seems even Ford is going that route with the Fiesta and possibly others as well.

      • 0 avatar
        anti121hero

        A LOT of toyotas and hondas take strange oil like 0w20. Nissan seems to be more normal

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I strongly suspect that 0W20 oil “requirements” are for the benefit of EPA emissions testing on a cold engine and that you could substitute 5W20 with no adverse effects whatsoever.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Other than potentially voiding your warranty.

        And given that recent Subaru 2.5L engines seem to be developing a thirst for oil, better safe than sorry.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Bingo! 2012 Forester guzzles 2 quarts extra between changes of 0w20 synthetic. What worse is the girlfriend didn’t have any warning of running half a crank case low. Now misfires on cylinder one and two(p301/302l and blue smoke at startup. Second Subaru with cracked windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Too bad those Japanese engineers couldn’t get their hands on one of those 45mpg Saabs. They could reverse engineer it and give us a Prius that got 100mpg!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Tints only at the back? What is this 1996?

    Ain’t nobody got time for Pathfinder LE styling.

    • 0 avatar

      COMMENT OF THE DAY

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @Corey

      While I agree that Lexus’ implementation of their rear tint could be more subtle, this practice is called “privacy glass” and is used in most modern crossovers, as far as I’m aware. The idea is that children/passengers or belongings could use a good shielding from the public eye. I appreciate it’s application in my Equinox.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think it’s that the rear has very dark tint, and the front has none – that creates the problem. I don’t think it’s an acceptable practice any more.

        Other vehicles I feel will have darker in the rear and a bit lighter in the front. But overall, all windows should have matching tint to avoid clashing and a lack of cohesion. People in the front need shielding and privacy just as much as those in the back.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          You would think that, but there’s a host of people on all the forums who do exactly that–mismatch tint either for compliance to law or just because they have not sense of aesthetics.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The lack of aesthetics is extreme if they think THAT looks ok.

            RE: Laws
            I’m pretty sure mine are too dark for Ohio, but I’ve never been stopped. The car was tinted in MI.

          • 0 avatar
            DeeDub

            The lack of aesthetics is extreme if they think THAT looks ok.

            Um, did you notice the rest of the car? I mean light truck? I think lack of aesthetics is the overall theme.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            I wish more cars came from the factory with windows tinted fairly dark for the Sun Belt. Cheap to add color to the glass and valuable in the southern states that allow dark tint.

        • 0 avatar
          TEXN3

          Those are typically the regs for window tint in many states, but not all. Like all other manufactures, they’re following what they can get away with. For less than $100, you could have the fronts tinted to the legal limit.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          Laws in many areas prohibit tinting of the windshield and any windows on either side of the driver.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            IMO, nearly all cars look better with tint, so people in those states are getting a raw deal.

            Plus it just helps with the heat so much, less aging of the interior, etc etc.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I don’t think most places will bat an eye at 50%.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @CoreyDL

          Anything more than the absolute minimum of tint is illegal in my state on the windshield and front side windows. It is an inspection failure as well – and they WILL fail you. I assume many states are similar. The allowed amount of tint is exactly what factory front tinted windows are. The back windows can be whatever you want.

      • 0 avatar

        IMO tints shiould be absolutely minimal so that one can see through cars to waht the traffic is doing up ahead. This used to be taken for granted before the age of SUVs and minivans. I don’t see why passengers need to be shielded from the public eye.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Now you’ve got me pining for 1996.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        http://coastalautotruck.com/files/images/inventory/4c50b484e736b58b0f88f54735abec764722698d.jpg

        Don’t look.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          M’eh not a big fan. I keep thinking of the incredibly illegal and unsafe ’91 Pathfinder which was completely welded together at the midsection (I was told due to frame rot). Was is in fact two different examples welded together? We never found out.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You were pining for 1996, that’s 1996!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m pining for this:

            http://home.comcast.net/~wviands/storage/car/mk8.jpg

            this:

            http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/2993/3721/7481860075_large.jpg

            and this:

            http://cdn.doyouremember.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Regular-gas-at-70-cents-a-gallon..gif

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The hood and wheels on that MK8 ain’t gonna work out.

            I take no issue with the Riv other than the general build quality of GM at the time.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Here’s a better one.

            http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/179/d/0/1996_lincoln_mark_viii_rear_by_schaefft-d3kbgz6.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t open that one at work! I’ll check later.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            @28 Cars Later: Come on! It’s almost impossible to make a 1995-1999 Riviera look bad! I saw one in a junkyard- it was still beautiful!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @matador

            No disagreement here.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      I suppose that’s just to comply with some other country’s inane regulations.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      My friend said you can’t tint the front 3 pieces of glass in Vancouver it’s illegal. The 2nd pic shows the NX with a British Columbia plate.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        In Minnesota tint on SUVs, CUVs, and vans can go as dark as you want, but cars are only able to go to 50%. Theoretically it’s because the former can be used for business purposes where expensive components might need shielding from prying eyes, while the latter really can’t.

        I never looked far into the law though because it’s never been anything I’ve been interested in. Tinting my car is on my list of things to do, but it’s low on the priorities. Heated seats before winter however…

  • avatar
    k9H20

    Tragic. This really ruins the gorgeous cohesive aesthetic of the original design…PFFFFFFT! Sorry I can’t keep a straight face. Both are ugly designs straining so hard to look cool they might crap out their small intestine.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    At the risk of being labeled an EPA stooge, I like the American version more. Less Predator mouth and pointless fairings.

    That said, I wonder if American bumper standards might also have something to do with this. The American snout seems like it would provide more crush space over the world market design.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Holy crap. Someone finally, actually, went and did it.

    A car manufacturer has finally made a CUV that is actually uglier than an Aztek.

    Good Lord – Vellum Venom! Vellum Venom! Vellum Venom! Vellum Venom!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Could we get some Democrat to propose eliminating CAFE in lieu of a billion dollar tax on automakers? It would likely be a wash and we could spend the money on “the children”.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    An amusing side effect of the Cafe program for aiding the domestic automakers. I hope that the red states, who drive domestics in large numbers, are grateful and appreciative towards the coastal states for the implicit subsidies they receive for their car choices.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    This thing is so far beyond hideous it has actually gone plaid.

    And I second the motion to sic Sajeev on it – should be hilarious.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    I thought that there weer other, safety-related, differences between the regulation of passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    …so, is it solely the approach angle that classifies it as a light truck?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Unlikely. Rather, I suspect there is a list of items, and for this particular vehicle, they had to adjust the front to meet that requirement. Presumably, it already met all the other requirements (unless there are other differences that are not identified).

      Honestly, this would be a good topic for an article: What really is the difference between cars & trucks for CAFE? Link to the actual law. Highlight the sensible stuff & the not-so sensible stuff. Show examples of how automakers have gamed the system and point out the most questionable instances.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        For EPA/ CAFE purposes, there is a limit on the square footage of frontal area for a “truck.” It would seem that it was trimmed down in order to hit that threshold.

        Under the new formula, the target for a truck MPG for a given size footprint is lower than it would be for a car with the same footprint.

        The lesson here is the opposite of what most posters here believe it to be. If a minor design tweak is all that it takes to turn a popular crossover into a truck for fuel economy purposes, then the regulations are obviously not much of an obstacle to anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The classification of something as a “light truck” is based on insanely complex criteria, of which the approach angle is one of them – the intent being to classify the classic Jeep and similar vehicles suitable for off-road use as light trucks.

      I own another example of CAFE-related shenanigans; a new Ram ProMaster 1500 van. Despite the “1500″ designation implying that it is a “half ton”, Chrysler substantially modified the suspension from its Fiat origins in order to ensure that the GVWR was just over 8500 lbs – the load capacity inside the van is near two tons. Obviously it wasn’t enough for this to be classed as a “light truck” – this obviously isn’t a passenger vehicle! – but it had to be over 8500 lb GVWR to boot.

      I just got it back from a spring shop who brought the rear suspension down to a normal height (lowered just over 2 inches). I don’t need the extra load capacity and I’d rather have the lower floor height, and if the lowering makes the aerodynamics less bad and saves a smidge of fuel on the highway, I’ll take it.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      No, its various factors, of which you have to meet some subset, including ground clearance, approach, and breakover angle. I don’t know what they are however, and Google is not being happy at finding the numbers.

  • avatar

    When you see asinine regulations like this, there’s usually someone trying to protect rather selfish interests. This is along the same line of “Seriously? What the Hell?” as the dealership franchise regulations.

    Also, for what it’s worth, *I* think the NX is good-looking…nowhere near as hideous as the Aztek. But it would better still with the other (non-North-American) front end.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      And the answer is… protecting the profit centers of the domestic automakers. Just another example of non-tariff barriers.

      I like the tuckunder effect of the USDM bumper better, actually. Might help in surmounting snow berms, too.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The truck classification has been a sham for a long time and needs to end. This was originally intended as a break for commercial vehicles but has spread to every leather clad mommy mobile.

    Get rid of CAFE, introduce a fuel tax and let the market decide what it wants to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Then make it a penalty to misallocate highway funds and have IRS investigate officials who do. I’m sure they can find time in-between destroying evidence.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    So, what makes this a light truck now? The footprint – wheelbase and track – hasn’t changed; could it be the bumper height?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Is it so hard for them to add a clause requiring a body on frame design?
    That would clear up all the mess once and for all.
    No way something like this shouldn’t be able to get similar fuel economy to the Camry its (probably) related to.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Is it so hard for them to add a clause requiring a body on frame design”

      Can’t that would be racist toward all of the fwd unibody “trucks” (also Jeeps with live axles).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Do any unibody jeeps still use solid axles?

        Besides the whole point of using a uniframe FWD setup is for fuel efficiency, if it needs to be categorized as a light truck, then what’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      Ummm… weight, and aerodynamics, to start.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Similar not exact, similar as in an engine used in one car used in the next size up will net not the same but similar numbers.
        Obviously its not going to get the same mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      If you want to keep the “light truck” classification commercial, I’d recommend instead a governor, limiting speed to 85km/h, and a mandatory yearly emissions system inspection from purchase. The inconvenience factor alone would kill sales to soccer moms.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Sprinter and ProMaster commercial vans are unibody as are almost all minivans these days, whether cargo or passenger. The Honda Ridgeline is in a grey area – unibody. Some Jeeps over the years have been unibody.

  • avatar
    mjz

    It should be officially classified by the government as ugly.

  • avatar
    Andy

    Don’t hate the playa’, hate the game…

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I don’t see a difference between the two vehicles. They both have a proboscis, and they’re both kind of scary.

  • avatar
    turf3

    I think that vehicles, to be classified as “light trucks”, ought to be work vehicles – which should have been the reason for the exemptions in the first place.

    Vehicles with seating for more than 3 people have to be outfitted as below to be exempted from the pass-car requirements:

    - Single solid color, no metallic paint
    - Vinyl bench seat
    - 3 or 4 speed standard transmission with column shifter
    - No radio, no AC, no power windows, no power door locks, no power seat adjustments. No navigation system.

    Vehicles which have only one row of seating and cannot be fitted with more, and have either an open bed of min. 6 feet length or a cargo area with no windows and min. 6 feet length, may be fitted with air conditioning.

    How about that?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I get your point but tractor-trailers these days often have enough room for more than 3 people (sleeper cab), bucket seats, automated/automatic transmission, radio, A/C, power windows, power locks, power seats, and navigation systems! Plenty of them are pretty nice inside!

      The speed-limiter idea is not a terrible one, although I’d suggest 110 km/h (about 68 mph). That would probably be enough to discourage people who are buying them for vanity.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Your criteria for defining a work truck are too complex and at odds with actual trucks used for work. Automatic transmissions are more common than manuals and businesses frequently have specific color schemes as a trademark for their business. The better criteria is whether the vehicle devotes more space for cargo or for people. Generally single row seating, but crew cab pickup trucks are actually used to transport a work crew with cargo.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Looks like the official vehicle of Klingon trophy wives.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    As for just eliminating CAFE, it’s either CAFE standards or jacking up the fuel tax to get Americans into more fuel efficient cars. Because lets be honest, if neither existed, far too many American would probably choose to drive around in Hummers or Ford Excursions. Any before you all start screaming FREE MARKET!, free market only works when you have to shoulder all the costs of your actions. The downside of a country driving around in 15mpg 8 passenger SUVs are mostly external costs – pollution, highway wear, accident fatalities, foreign oil dependance, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      Most of the “FREE MARKET OR DIE” people don’t realize how heavily fuel is subsidized. If we paid the actual cost of fuel, the poorer folks would be stripping out the fronts of their cars and putting a horse between the subframe forks.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        We’re also heavily taxes in a myriad of ways. Simplification would put much more money in the pocket of people to pay for the actual costs of fuel (high as they may be).

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Koschei,
        Please look up subsidy in a few respectable dictionaries and then try to find actual evidence of fuel subsidies. Aside from ethanol, there really are not any. There is a continued propaganda campaign being waged by academics and environmentalists to make you think that oil is subsidized so you will be willing to accept subsidies for their pet projects that will enrich them or otherwise make then happy, but they are literally making stuff up.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Ensuring security of foreign supply counts as a subsidy in the spirit, if not the letter, of the word.

          It may be somewhat more externalized, but, say, the costs incurred by Britain prompting the US to depose Mohamed Mosaddegh so that the UK could retain control of Iranian oil-fields is a _de facto_ subsidy.

          (and an expensive one, when you consider the result…)

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            First, as you say, it’s not really a subsidy.

            But the reality is that we don’t just get involved in the Persian Gulf to ensure foreign oil supplies to make gas cheaper. We do it for global security and domestic reasons. It just so happens that it’s oil that is currently threatened and that much of the free world depends on.

            You can’t have anything close to free markets if wingnuts from different parts of the globe are allowed to interrupt supply of necessary commodities and use that to influence global politics.

            Let’s all be real. If Islamic fundamentalists were threatening to stop control the world supply of some commodity you could only get in Canada, and started stoning Canadian women for not submitting to their crazy “laws”, no one would be screaming we were only going to war for Hybrid cars.

            Had we taken the Iraqi oil fields, forced them into contracts with US oil companies, and otherwise acted like conquerors there might have been a solid argument that we went to war for oil, and that we are no better than our traditional allies. It’s really much more complex than that.

            Even so. If you want to tax gas to pay for the military, make an argument and run for office. No one on does this, so I suspect they realize it’s a nice cheap shot that really doesn’t hold up. Like closing Gitmo.

          • 0 avatar
            guevera

            We don’t import very much oil from the middle east. We import oil from Mexico (lots), Canada (lots), and South America (some).

            Europe and Asia import lots of oil from the middle east.

            We try and keep a lid on things in the middle east because our political elites have bought into the idea of a pax americana. It’s why we have 11 aircraft carrier battlegroups, but not universal preschool.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If you put that fuel tax toward highway improvement and maintenance (read: congress-critters of any party could keep their hands off of the $) sign me up for the increased fuel tax/elimination of CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Level taxes that don’t favor different parties do not keep you from having a free market. Taxing pollution fairly among the players will still keep the market free. It’s actually regs like CAFE that violate free markets by interfering with choice and innovation.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Hummers and Ford Excursions disappeared from the market independent of CAFE. Buyers would prefer to spend less money on fuel and will replace a truck with another truck with better fuel economy. Just don’t expect buyers to give up much truck capability.

  • avatar
    niky

    I wonder if CAFE regulations have anything to do with the awesomely slopey front bumper of our ’07 CR-V? That’s a car that has much more approach angle than it needs given Honda’s “RealTime” all-wheel drive.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Subaru did this over a decade ago with the Outback Wagon, and even managed to get the Outback SEDAN classified as a truck:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/13/arts/13SUBA.html

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yes wasn’t there even an LL Bean Outback Sedan (briefly)? The only way the situation could have gotten stranger is if Subaru had brought back the SVX, lifted it 4 inches, and called it an SUV.

  • avatar
    wmba

    To get back to the vehicle featured, what an amazing thought, it’s obvious that changing the shade of lipstick still leaves this vehicle looking like a pig. Oink, oink!

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I take back what I said yesterday about Korean regulations. It’s only fair.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Loophole. Noun.

    “Law the speaker doesn’t like.”

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      To be strictly accurate, a loophole is not a law. It’s a clause written into a law that contradicts the stated purpose of that law.

      You don’t have to dislike a loophole to point it out, or to point out that the law doesn’t actually achieve what it purports to do.

  • avatar
    excellentdriver

    The top picture is the base NX…the bottom is the hybrid (same look with the F-Sport package). Both are American versions. The whole point of this article is wrong.


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