The Atlantic Wants 100 MPG CAFE Standard, Small Cars, Cheap Gas

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
the atlantic wants 100 mpg cafe standard small cars cheap gas

Marty Nemko is the “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach”, and a contributor to The Atlantic as well as U.S. News, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. So what makes him qualified to sound off on raising the CAFE standard to 100 MPG.

Nemko’s column, dubbed “Driving Is A Freedom: The Case Against Making Gas More Expensive”, Nemko dismisses some of his readers’ previous suggestions to raise gas prices. Why? Because it wouldn’t help reduce global warming but cause the price of everything to rise.

What would be better, Nemko suggests, is smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Says Nemko

I would raise CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards so that every vehicle manufacturer’s fleet of cars and light trucks would, by 2025, average 100 miles per gallon. (Automakers have already agreed to 50 mpg.)

Yes, that would mean that until a breakthrough technology arrives, more new cars would be small, which would cause some increase in car crash injuries. And yes, to accommodate apartment dwellers without a place to plug-in their car, we’d need to expand the network of electric vehicle charging stations that the taxpayer created a decade ago when it was thought electric cars were nigh.

Nemko backs up his proposal with more questionable assertions

In addition to abetting energy independence and decreasing carbon footprint, the 100 mpg mandate would mean our cost-per-driving mile would dramatically decrease because of the better gas mileage and because the lower demand for gas would force oil companies to cut the price. Those cost savings benefit all of us significantly, particularly the poor–and with 100% certitude.

TTAC readers know that buying a newer, fuel efficient vehicle, let alone a hybrid, EV or alternative fuel vehicle rarely nets any significant savings compared to a well maintained older vehicle – and based on anecdotal evidence and observations, gas prices rarely tend to fall as much as we’d like, though they’re quick to rise with the price of crude oil. Finally, “the poor” are often the patrons of used car lots, in particular the “ buy here, pay here” kind that charge usurious interest, rather than the new car dealerships that offer lower financing rates, provided the applicant has decent credit.

Aside from the fact that Nemko said nothing to indicate that he is aware of the difference between “adjusted” and “unadjusted” CAFE numbers, the whole suggestion seems arbitrary and poorly thought out – sound familiar? Regulating Americans into smaller, more fuel efficient cars, via CAFE isn’t a viable solution, to the point where Nemko seems to be talking out of his ass. By publishing unsubstantiated, pie-in-the-sky proposals, The Atlantic is lending de facto credibility to sound-bite theories that hold little substance.

Join the conversation
5 of 103 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on Mar 15, 2012

    And I want a world where competent engineers design vehicles based on what people want to buy, and people have brains enough so that "career coaches" either find themselves another career or starve to death.

    • See 2 previous
    • Bryanska Bryanska on Mar 23, 2012

      @Philosophil Right on with cutting the TV. I bought a $200 PC for my living room, and cut all but the most basic cable. I get all the shows I want and none of the advertising. I don't want my 1-year old growing up being told what he wants.

  • AMPKinase AMPKinase on Mar 15, 2012

    On a side note(maybe it's been already mentioned), but it won't matter in terms of cost for any of us if gas mileage were 100MPG. Gas prices would increase to compensate for our going to the pump less often and we'll end up paying the same amount as before. Yeah, less gas will be consumed, but the price will not change significantly.

  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......