35mpg by 2020: Your Advice?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
35mpg by 2020 your advice

I remain resolutely skeptical that the new Energy Bill's mpg mandate will fully fulfill its 35mpg by 2020 promise. Once the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tweaks the "attribute based" fuel economy calculations, once the manufacturers figure out how to trade credits to share the "burden," there's every chance that the changes we'll see will be mildly evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. But I could be wrong. Perhaps the environmentalists are right. Maybe we'll all be driving right-sized plug-in hybrids fashioned from lightweight materials, and telling tall tales of the days when SUV roamed the fruited plains (before the sainted tree huggers sent them all to Hell). In any case, Wired assumes the best (worst?), counts the cost of meeting the new standards and suggests all the ways automakers will do their civic duty (as opposed to paying the fines and calling it good). The fact the article features a photo of a SMART gives me the heebie-jeebies, but what the Hell. I cordially invite TTAC's best and brightest to survey this technological conundrum and place your bets on the future of high mileage motoring. Aluminum, magnesium and lightweight steel? Direct injection? Diesel? We report, you deride.

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  • Luther Luther on Dec 24, 2007

    Petroleum is basically a hydrocarbon...Hydrogen and Carbon slammed together really hard. Organic material (Anything containing carbon) + Hydrogen (water) + heat/pressure (Sun Energy) creates natural petroleum. I have no idea if the process creates more petroleum than we use. More oil will be discovered in the future so to say there is only 3.2T barrels of oil left is wrong. There has not been a year where the oil we all used was not replaced with an even greater discovered supply. The Earth is at least 4 billion years old.

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Dec 24, 2007

    Four billion years? Sounds like we agree on at least one thing. The Toshiba mini reactor checks out, as authentic vaporware, at least. One tech site breathlessly described it as a "fusion" reactor. Really? You ought to make a call to your home insurance company before ordering, and check your liability coverage. My underwriter gets nervous when I mention the words "wood stove." I've long puzzled over how some folks will reject current fuel-saving technologies like TDIs and hybrids, but they seem happy to accept much more daring high-tech dreams like the ones Luther mentions. Now I realize that the answer isn't technical- it's psychological. As long as they're awaiting some completely transformational technology that promisesr free energy-- or guilt-free energy, at least -- they feel no pressure to take practical, presently available steps here and now to improve the situation. They're like smokers who won't quit, because they just know that the cure for cancer is about to be discovered. I think the opposite way. I'm using current, proven technologies for renewable energy. I've burned biodiesel for years, and my home solar PV system is now in the process of installation. These are modest changes to my household economy, with little impact on my lifestyle. I'm not "shivering in the dark," not "driving around in a tin can." It feels good to me to take small steps on the right track, without waiting for some scientific or supernatural savior to arrive at the last minute and save us from our mistakes.

  • Macca Macca on Dec 24, 2007
    Wheatridger, I happen to be a petroleum geologist myself...the average individual's knowledge (or lack thereof) concerning hydrocarbons and their generation has always amazed and thoroughly frustrated me.
  • Luther Luther on Dec 25, 2007

    "The Toshiba mini reactor checks out, as authentic vaporware, at least." How did you draw this conclusion...Did Toshiba get back to you with this? "One tech site breathlessly described it as a “fusion” reactor." Your claiming it was a Tech Site? Macca - Please explain to us how hydrocarbon are formed naturally...It would be interesting to know. Even the creation of hydrocarbons in a lab environment from raw elements.