By on November 15, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE front quarter

Without getting deep into the emotional weeds of a contentious scientific debate, one which many would argue we’re not even allowed to have, let’s instead speak in broader terms. Emissions are bad. Always were. They’ll get you in trouble with the EPA and force you to promise fleets of electric cars while funding ads featuring your competitors. They blanket China in orange gloom to this day and once nearly suffocated an entire Pennsylvania town.

The true harmfulness of these emissions, of course, depends on your own personal views — even more so these days. In the past two decades, possibly because of progress on the pollution front, the climate-altering ingredients of emissions (methane, carbon dioxide) quickly superseded the direct health impacts of airborne pollutants like nitrogen oxide, hydrogen fluoride, and sulfur dioxide in the minds of many North American citizens and policymakers. Smog? You can see that. Was that tornado or flood a natural occurrence or did it have “help”? That’s less tangible, more opaque. Easy to ignore.

Still, the effect of this switch in green priorities on discourse surrounding the automobile (and ownership thereof) remains the same. We’re often asked to choose sides.

1970s smog controls didn’t stop your Bonneville’s boat-anchor V8 from emitting pollutants born of fossil fuel combustion — it just reduced them. Nor has turbocharging, direct injection, and lightweighting turned automotive tailpipes into cornucopias spewing oxygen and vibrant ferns. Engines just burn less gas than before, though the advent of SUVs has kept average fleetwide fuel economy stagnant for the past several years.

Lately, I’ve noticed an undercurrent of dissent, in some cases outright rebellion, in the online automotive community directed at, oddly, the automobile. Auto journos aren’t immune to the same environmental activism that afflicts (for lack of a better word) a person from any walk of life or profession. Recent, increasingly dire pronouncements from large, intergovernmental climate bodies have only heightened the trend.

Again, your personal stance on this issue likely falls somewhere between “Get bent, commie,” and “I’m distributing cyanide capsules to my family members to save them from tomorrow’s apocalypse.” That pretty much spans the gamut, I think.

Unfortunately, the debate often ends up with people promoting visions of how they feel other people should live their lives, regardless of geography or circumstance. There’s a big difference, as far as transportation needs and options are concerned, between someone living in downtown New York or Chicago or Toronto and your random Flyover Country resident with two vehicles sitting in the driveway, each good for 15,000 miles of odometer exercise per year. Here, taking a bike or Uber or e-scooter or subway or VrtuCar or Car2Go isn’t a realistic or even possible alternative to owning and driving a car. A one-size-fits-all strategy espoused by a carless, single urbanite is bound to wrankle those on the other side of the lifestyle fence.

Yet choice remains in the type of vehicle you drive.

There’s drawbacks and benefits to owning a small gas sipper, just as there are with limited-range electric cars — saving money at the end of the week, or perhaps saving the planet by the end of your life, at the expense of go anywhere, do anything.

As our light bulbs move from incandescent to LED, and as our newer fridges and stoves consume less juice pumped out by the coal- or gas-gulping powerplant in the neighboring county, our cars remain the most conspicuous form of consumption. It’s understandable why they’re singled out.

Image: EPA.gov

Interestingly, in 2016 the U.S. transportation and electricity sectors were equal in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere (28 percent of total emissions, the combined amount of which is on a slow decline). Industry came in third with 22 percent, with residential fourth at 11 percent. Ironically, placing more EVs in driveways to reduce automobile emissions would likely increase overall electricity sector emissions. You’re not getting off scott-free just because you’ve purchased a Leaf or Model 3.

The only solution to this upstream annoyance? Drive less. Buy a vehicle with a downsized motor or electric assist (but not plug-in assist), unless, of course, your household power comes by way of a hydroelectric dam or nuclear plant. If paying at the pump hurts the wallet, as it does mine, you’re still doing your part by choosing a fuel miser, even if your dreams involve a Ram Power Wagon or 1958 Facel Vega.

So, let’s put this to you, the reader. Was the environment a factor in the decision to purchase the vehicle you’re driving right now, or in the amount of miles you drive? Does it impact the vehicle you plan to buy next? Or, is the automotive area of your life simply off limits, regardless of your stance on the environment?

(Please be respectful to others in the comments, all of you. None of you hold the rights to the *only* opinion.)

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC, EPA.gov]

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105 Comments on “QOTD: Minding Your Mileage?...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    No to all of the above. I buy old cars based on minimizing ownership costs (most of which don’t come from fuel) and having some fun while doing it, full stop. Yesterday I was mesmerized by a ’83 Oldsmobile with a carbureted 307 on craigslist, not for a second did I consider the environment. The environment will be fine. I grow a garden that provides me with all of my produce for half the year and generally live a not-too ostentatious life, that’s all the “green cred” I need.

    • 0 avatar
      salmonmigration

      If we’re being objective about our environmental footprint, and not just falling for greenwashing, I would argue that it’s just as important to avoid buying a new car as it is to own an efficient car.

      A Land rover emits 35 tons of CO2 in the process of production. The same vehicle emits only 7 tons of CO2 each year by driving.

      I don’t have numbers for a Prius but I imagine you put yourself deep in the hole, so to speak, by buying a new one.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      ” Yesterday I was mesmerized by a ’83 Oldsmobile with a carbureted 307 on craigslist,”
      — I wouldn’t have even NOTICED an 83 Oldsmobile with a carbureted 307 on Craigslist.

      Now… a ’73 Olds, maybe. A ’72 or older almost certainly. A ’59 Impala hardtop… I’d be scrambling to find the cash to pay for it.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        @Vulpine

        https://kokomo.craigslist.org/cto/d/oldsmobile-98-regency/6725291579.html

        Take a look at that interior and get back to me.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @gtem: I’ll give you credit; that car has two things going for it; a remarkably well-kept interior and only two (TWO!!) doors.

          But that big thing is grossly underpowered and really needs about 50% more horsepower. Of course, with that you also have other issues unless you go for some serious upgrades to that engine for efficiency. Any consideration I would have for that car would certainly include means to upgrade its drivability. And yes, a BEV mod would certainly be in the book.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Oh I agree, the proliferation of electric motor retrofits actually makes a ton of sense for these old land yachts, as smooth and quiet propulsion is what they were all about from the factory, you’re not missing the sound and fury and connection to the drivetrain like you would in some kind of classic roadster. Hooking up the column shifter to a selector for drive/reverse/neutral for the electric drivetrain would be really cool. The surprising thing is, doing a bit of research, with all of the malaise-era retuning and 4 speed overdrive transmission and tall gears, even this stock carb’d Olds 98 can eke out close to 25mpg highway according to some owners:

            http://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2014/01/Brougham-Beauty—1983-Oldsmobile-Ninety-Eight-Regency/3733421.html

            Perhaps a switch to a Megasquirt type aftermarket EFI system could eke out even a bit more steady-state cruise mpg and cleaner faster warm-ups.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Vulpine said – “But that big thing is grossly underpowered and really needs about 50% more horsepower.”

            Looks like a good candidate for an LS swap! And if your looking for something a little less conventional I wonder how GM’s hybrid truck drivetrain would swap in there?

    • 0 avatar

      I drive used cash cars with a Total cost of ownership first on my mind. Financials and a reasonably large family mean getting something lower cost that gets the job done. I do think there are some serious issues with the environment but those parts of the decision making process fall much lower on the scale. The next family hauler will likely get 20% better fuel mileage for instance.
      I would love a electric car for the commute and truck for everything else (most of my power is Nuke with some Solar/wind and Natural gas so fairly clean) but honestly keeping my older cars does prevent some new production emissions and I don;t have the cash for new cars.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Agreed on all points.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    Very nicely done essay – kudos.

    I just moved from a diesel vw to a 1980s Porsche that gets 30 mpg on the highway. Fuel efficiency absolutely got consideration but mainly in the sense that it’s not as important as one would think in costing things out. Even ‘missing’ about 15+ mpg, over the next 100k miles my concern will be maintenance rather than fuel cost.

    BTW the GHG footprint that matters most is usually not your transport in N America, it’s home heating and cooling at about 30-50% of your emissions – depending on where you live and whether you airplane a lot.

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    When the time comes that I’m forced to replace my 2010 ES, I will get a hybrid. Being retired, I like to take long car trips so an EV is not practical. It is apparent to me that global warming is real and I have grandchildren. Small enough thing to do.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    The environment is not a primary concern of mine when purchasing a vehicle, but rater a side effect of choosing a vehicle that is the right size for my needs.

    My primary uses of commuting and carrying our 4 people have lead to the purchase of relatively small and fuel efficient vehicles, a 2014 2.0 non turbo Jetta and a 2015 Outlander Sport. Both vehicles are perfectly adequate for our needs, and return decent fuel economy numbers. Being new, they only consume wear parts and regular maintenance fluids. I appreciate not needing to spend my time changing worn out parts that have reached the end of their service life.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    Absolutely not. No global warming. Range more important than mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I agree. If the government does not care about environment then why should I cut myself of pleasure to drive what I like? When our “stars” will stop flying their private jets… On the other hand I don’t want to spend too much $$ on gas – this is different issue. So, if the car makes 30 mpg is reasonable. I can buy different car with better mpg but I would rather buy better car, one that uses regular gasoline.

      Do you people think about environment when you buy your lawn chemicals? First they pollute when they are processed, then when they enter soil and water. Come on! I gonna make it hard on myself on what is going out of pipe of my car when they are pretty clean these days? No way.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        All cars are a lot cleaner these days than the cars I grew up with in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

        Range is much more important to me as well.

        And with gasoline retailing for less than $2.35/gal, who cares about mpg?

        Buy a 4dr F150 or RAM today. Lots of great deals on left-over 2018 models. Now is the time for all good men, and women, to step up to that pickup truck they’ve always wanted.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Gas price where I live is $2.79/gallon and if I go just 10 miles north (into another state) it jumps another 10¢ and more. As such, I do care about economy because a full tank on my Colorado means about $5 more than you’d pay on the same amount.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, yes it’s weird how prices vary from state to state.

            I live in NM, the third ranking oil&natgas producing state in America, and along with OK, TX and AZ our gas/diesel prices are dirt cheap.

            But pop across the stateline into CA or CO and lo and behold, gas/diesel has jumped in cost by as much as $1/gal higher in CA.

            Years ago, like so many other travelers I started carrying 20-30 gals of extra gas in 5-gal containers in my truck whenever I traveled into states where gas prices were artificially high.

            Fill up and top off in places like Quartzsite, AZ, and that is money not spent in CA.

            Gas/diesel is even cheaper in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana, Old Mexico, and many people (who can) take advantage of that.

  • avatar
    deanst

    “The true harmfulness of these emissions, of course, depends on your own personal views — even more so these days. ”

    No, the true harmfulness is pretty well constant. We can disagree with what it is, but believing a falsehood does not make it real.

    That being said it definitely is a consideration, especially in Canada. I usually don’t spend more that $20,000 for a vehicle and keep them for 10 years. It would be easy to spend more than $2,000 per year in gas, meaning I could spend more on gas than the cost of the car. In practice, I don’t drive that much anymore but still like smaller cars and giving less to the government through highly taxed gas. While EVs still seem impractical, my next car will likely be a hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      +1, deanst. I found that sentence as cringeworthy as the author’s ongoing struggle with subject-verb agreement. It seems every third piece brings us some variant of “There’s drawbacks and benefits . . . .”

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    A host of factors went into my most recent purchase. Fuel efficiency was the top consideration. However, it was within a context of cost versus benefit. Despite the inferior mileage, a Corolla Eco is overall cheaper to own than a Prius. My work commute is 14,560 a year. I wish I lived closer to work or worked closer to home but that’s a post for a different topic (and each has been exhaustively argued between me and the wife). I really loathe spending money on gas. To me, it’s no different than taking a stack of bills and lighting them on fire.

    Frankly, as much as I love cars and would like to own every single one, the whole thing is laughably ridiculous. We go to great lengths to extract dinosaur remains from deep within the earth, refine it to an nth degree, then stick it in century-old technology so we can scoot from one place to another. And the only reason we are still doing it is because a generation that is now all but dead declared automobiles sacrosanct.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Trust, or lack of, is something that has most people (ya, I hate that as well) feeling it has all fallen into meaningless hate.

    For instance, after all these years horrifying headlines about the warming of the oceans and the soon to be underwater cities, we now hear it was all an error.
    The numbers were wrong.
    https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2018/11/14/another-global-warming-foul-up-scientists-catch-major-error-on-oceans-warming-re-n2535949

    This has happened over and over, the manipulation of data for a social, financial and political reason.

    And folks have become numb.

    And then there is the whole government regulation horror. Regulation has gone from preventing companies from doing hard to preventing all peoplefrom harm. Since when has it become part of the government’s right to protect anybody from personal decisions?

    IF I want to buy a beautiful, less protective convertible and possibly kill myself driving through the hills enjoying the world, who in hell is the government to tell me the car is too unsafe to build and buy!!??

    Hell…we have motorcycles…so we should be allowed fun cars that might roll over and get crushed, or might hit a tree and smash my legs…but that should be my decision, not the governments.

    Right now we end up with cars that are not beautiful, fun and are horribly heavy. All for my good. You can’t see out the rear or sides.
    I just want my all glass, small and slim c pillar.

    It is anger and mistrust that we have now.

    • 0 avatar

      Per NOAA we are running an average of 1/8″ per year sea level rise since 1993. The article you linked discusses the speed calculation of rise was wrong not that it wasn’t happening.
      FL has a number of towns already effected King tides have started washing out places that did not wash out before. Broward county government still projects 2 feet of sea rise by 2065 for instance. The 100 year data shows that sea level was rising before but by 1993 had accelerated by more then 50%.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        nope.
        see…numbers are important.
        if you read the release, it says the numbers are wrong.
        wrong in time.
        wrong in amount.
        wrong.
        the mentioning of errors in climate testing equipment, locations and sensitivity is also now proven totally wrong.
        nobody is disputing climate change or ocean rising and falling.
        we are questioning the alarmist.

        and so..it brings me back to the TRUST point.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @TT: “nobody is disputing climate change or ocean rising and falling.”

          — Then you’re not paying attention; certain people in high political stations are absolutely denying it. At best, they’re stating it’s part of the “natural cycle”, which has clearly been proven wrong. As for the rate of water level rise, there have been obvious reasons why certain parts of the temperature change has slowed which will no longer exist within the next several years. Ice pack is vanishing. Glaciers are almost gone except at extremely high altitudes. Even the Antarctic ice shelves are calving and breaking up into icebergs which as they float, even before they melt away, are raising the water level, where they’re not still resting on sub-surface land. All this melting has been cooling the air as best it can but once that ice is gone, there is nothing to prevent a very sudden and drastic increase in temperatures (yes, I know 1°C – 2°C doesn’t sound like much) but as the water temperatures around the world rise, so will the air in a far more dynamic fashion. The changes we’ve seen weather-wise over the last 50 years will be as nothing by the end of this century. Storms will be more frequent and more violent and localized weather patters will become more extreme and see more extreme variability. For many, homes may need to move underground simply to survive the extremes of heat and cold the seasons may offer. Some people are already doing it.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Nic Lewis, a British scientist, found fundamental flaws in a paper published in Nature. The paper’s authors have in fact walked back their conclusions. Lewis observed that the novel way of checking energy balances was useful. But the processed data was a hot mess. Properly recast, the error bound jumped from +/-0.15 to +/-0.5 on a number around 1. This moves the original conclusion from a SWAG to an ordinary WAG (wild assed guess). So, yeah, its a trust issue.
          If you want, you can find a link to Lewis’ presentation, in which he shows all his work, amazingly enough. Just google Curry and Lewis – his presentation was made in Curry’s blog.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And how many scientists around the world agree with Lewis’ conclusions? Obviously there will be some room for error but such a drastic jump as you show here is unrealistic without empirical support from the other ‘ologies. Geology, climatology, paleontology, anthropology… each has offered evidence of typical climatological variations taking thousands of years to shift and the typical hot- to cold cycles tend to run around 20,000 years overall, plus or minus. Yet measured indicators show that we have seen a shift contrary to the typical cycle in just over 300 years; where we WERE headed for a cold phase to suddenly nearly 3°C above where the cycle should be and nearly 2°C above where it was roughly 200 years ago.

            Again, these numbers sound small, but even 0.1° F crosses the point where water freezes and ice melts.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Funny you mention 300 years. Look into the little ice age. A spontaneous cooling took place that the Earth is still recovering from. Short term changes have more to do with current weather patterns on the sun, and the Earth’s current path around it.

            That being said, I’m all for wind, hydro and solar power. Why not use energy that is pretty much free. What’s funny, is that many of the hydroelectric dams here in the northwest are being shut down by the same self appointed scientists that are calling CO2 based global warming real

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @MBella: Maybe it is you who should look into the causes of that “little ice age” as that “spontaneous cooling” was due to geophysical events, NOT the sun and/or Earth’s path around the sun. There were multiple major volcanic eruptions around the world that caused that ‘short term event.’

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      With all due respect, I would not be surprised when Florida is half underwater, you will still find some rationale to believe in.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      Cognitive disassociation.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    If all we cared about is the future, nobody would ever do anything in the present.

    It’s up to government and big business to make meaningful change, but they can’t please everyone. That and there is too much money and special interest/lobbying for any real change to occur.

    I fully understand that I am not helping matters by driving a gas powered vehicle, a lot, but I and my family have lives to, you know, live. I don’t have children, however, so I may be biased in my “live in the present” line of thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly. I am going to worry about environment while government allows all sorts of chemicals in the food? When people flying private jets? when tons of fertilizers go into soil to make lawns pretty? when fracking is blooming? No way I will be put environment into my priority list

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Bought a lightly used 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum (plug-in) last spring. The environment played a role in the decision, that, and depreciation on the things is ridiculous (50% in a year), and I hate going to gas stations—especially in the city, and most days the battery is just enough to do all my daily activities, and the car is pretty nice—loaded with every option—and its weaknesses are mostly irrelevant in the city. Worst things are loss of trunk space and a spare tire.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My wife hates filling up, we have friends that recently bought a plug-in Fusion as well and have been quite pleased with it. Under those contexts I find hybrids and plug-ins interesting (mammoth depreciation in these days of cheap gas helps a lot too). Not having a spare would stink though, our roads are horrible and I’ve already had to drive down once to throw a spare on my wife’s Camry on her commute downtown.

      Something like a Lexus GX plug-in hybrid would be her ideal vehicle. Indifferent to potholed roads, and she could do all-electric on her commute.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The commute is a 20th Century concept. Pity the futurists and other evangelists never point this out or demand change. Seem to have all of the other bases covered.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes, my close friend was considering a Fusion Hybrid- nothing to do with saving the planet, her idea was not having to drive a miserable little car, yet getting fuel mileage as though she is.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Efficiency is, in my mind, the most important factor combined with a desirable and reliable vehicle. Efficiency is a major driver of emissions and pretty much go hand-in-hand. Electric and ICE/electric vehicles are fine for fine for urban areas but not for those of us choosing to live in the sticks. Folks worried about the environment of today do not appreciate how far we’ve come in the last 20 years much less the last 60 years when I was a kid choking on coal smoke and vehicle exhaust.

  • avatar
    cammark

    I like numbers. So I took a look at the source of the above graph. Lots of great pie charts! Since the question is kind of based on the numbers I wanted to get a better sense of what those numbers were. They (the EPA) report 28% of 2016 emissions from the transportation sector. In the transportation sector 60% of emissions are from light duty vehicles. Math… of the total about 17% are light-duty vehicles in the transportation sector. I wanted to find a further breakdown between commercial/public/government use and private vehicles but my search was fruitless. But based on very non-scientific data- the traffic around me every day… I would guess 70% are private. That brings total % down to about 12.

    To me that suggests that if everyone (private owners or lessees) either cut their miles driven in half or got twice the fuel mileage (my household mileage would need to be 58MPG for that…) from their next purchase the effect is only about 6%. Not a significant effect in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Using this reasoning, every change is futile. Do you vote? Buy lottery tickets?

      • 0 avatar
        cammark

        Using this reasoning, provided the numbers are accurate (not to suggest mine are necessarily) is how we ensure our changes are as effective as possible. Focus on the activities that can have the most effect, or the potential for the most effect based on the numbers.

        Do something, yes. But reason through it first to maximize the results.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Even when buying my new truck, MPG was more important than range. Not because of the environmental aspect specifically but rather the costs of operation. For being 21 years newer and almost 30% larger than my old Ranger, the fuel mileage on the V6 is almost the same as it was with the 2.3L I-4 in that Ranger with three times the horsepower. This means I can carry almost twice the bulk, three times the weight and tow 5x the load of that old Ranger for pretty much the same fuel mileage across the board. And it’s still smaller than full sized (but not by much.) Range means nothing without the fuel economy to support it. This Colorado has a 25% larger fuel tank than that Ranger and gets a reliable 25% more range per tank because of it.

    As for the older car that I want, it certainly wouldn’t be a daily driver so I simply wouldn’t have the same concerns about emissions or fuel economy. On the other hand, there’s a company out there now that will convert any older car (they specialize on 40s-vintage or so for now) to a Tesla drivetrain, which is like having the best of both worlds. I’d get to drive the car I’ve wanted all my life and simply not have to concern myself with buying gas… just plug it in overnight for a week or two of ‘typical’ driving for that car.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I picked our last car on need and performance. I wanted a mid-sized sedan with decent power and the V6 was only 1mpg less mixed than the I4 and the same highway mileage.

    I would hate to see people buying stuff that reduces CO2 at the expense of adding other harmful emissions. The problem is most people don’t think about the chemicals and airborne pollutants beyond what comes out of the tail pipe. With water vapor being the largest contributor to keeping heat in the atmosphere by almost an order of magnitude compared to other molecules in the air, I don’t think fuel cell vehicles would be good for our atmosphere.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Flipper35: “With water vapor being the largest contributor to keeping heat in the atmosphere by almost an order of magnitude compared to other molecules in the air, I don’t think fuel cell vehicles would be good for our atmosphere.”

      You would also need to consider the current cheapest means of cracking the hydrogen, which is being steam-cracked from petroleum oil. So the manufacture of hydrogen isn’t really cutting all that much of the other pollutants, including CO2, from the air.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Life is too short to drive boring cars. I use efficiency to save money at home with practical thermostat settings, an efficient air system, LED bulbs, and when the time comes to buy a house, I’ll throw a solar panel on seeing as how I’m in Texas. My car choice is devoid of any consideration for emissions.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      This is exactly my attitude as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Yet your car is notably more polluting than your house. I do agree that many of today’s cars are quite boring; they all essentially look alike to the point that it’s nearly impossible to determine brand at one glance if you’re not looking at the nose clip and quite often difficult even then. While I do admit I don’t really take emissions into account, I DO take economy into account, as higher fuel mileage means lower cost (as well as fewer emissions.)

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        I got 25mpg out of my K24A2 swapped Si, I got 18mpg out of my straight-piped 7.3L Powerstroke, and I’m getting 21mpg out of my 1.4L Abarth. It’s so worth it to drive things I actually want. Even if I had an “efficient” car I’d be driving the piss out of it and operating outside the emissions controls.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Apparently I used a word the TTAC autobot doesn’t like.

        I got 25mpg out of my K24A2 swapped Si, I got 18mpg out of my straight-piped 7.3L Powerstroke, and I’m getting 21mpg out of my 1.4L Abarth. It’s so worth it to drive things I actually want. Even if I had an “efficient” car I’d be driving the [synonym for urine] out of it and operating outside the emissions controls.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Boring is only relative to other cars. There is nothing intrinsically boring about any car. Do you think the people who designed the 1995 Corolla hated their work? Or that the people who race old beaters find that boring? Or that hypermilers find their driving style boring?

      As my driving instructor said long ago, anyone can stomp on the brakes and gas pedal, but it takes skill to drive smoothly. And efficiently, I might add.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @brandloyalty: “As my driving instructor said long ago, anyone can stomp on the brakes and gas pedal, but it takes skill to drive smoothly. And efficiently, I might add.”

        — Which is why I am usually able to exceed EPA ratings on any vehicle I drive by about 20% – 25%. I’ve always said, “It’s not how fast you drive; it’s how smoothly you drive.”

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          Smooth drivers can understand why “sporty” drivers find driving interesting. Sporty drivers cannot understand how there can be any challenge or interest or satisfaction in smooth or efficient driving.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Interesting thing about that, brand; the smooth drivers also tend to be the faster drivers in actually reaching their destinations… or at least, not nearly so far behind as some of those ‘sporty’ drivers want to imagine. There’s a reason racing schools teach smooth driving and “flow” over yanking a car around the track. It becomes a Tortoise & Hare situation as the smooth driver doesn’t need to stop as often.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      We put a geothermal unit in at home and it paid for itself in less than 7 years. Upper midwest climate. It is cheaper to run the unit in the summer than our attic fan. Both daily drivers get upper 20s mixed driving and the harmful to health emissions are so much lower these days so I don’t feel too bad.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I just bought a brand new car- the first one I’ve ever bought. For people who claim that that’s the most environmentally atrocious thing to do, and that we ought to only buy used cars…where are all these used cars going to come from?

    The environment was exactly 0% of my buying decision. For me, it came down to dollars and sense. I drive about 400 miles per week. So already my commute is on the outliers of what’s considered “long”, but we moved to where we live because we wanted a house and land and rural scenery and needed to be able to afford it on my salary. By my math, every 10 miles further I had to commute each day was roughly equivalent to 10,000 of home price less we could afford. Living 25 miles from work, we couldn’t find any house under 300,000 that met our desired criteria. Living 50 miles from work, 200k was easily achievable.

    Not everyone wants to live in a compartment and have their only access to “green space” be some community-shared park covered in other peoples’ dogs’ feces.

    All that being said…the new commuter car is averaging 37 mpg, which on a cost/mile stand point was pretty much ideal considering the purchase price of the car. A hybrid’s “payoff” period was about 10 years- too long. Plus, I’m one of those odd people who wanted a stick shift.

    The TLDR is, I guess, fuel economy is only a portion of the overall equation of the car itself….and the car itself is only a portion of the overall “life” equation. We all want to minimize some things and maximize others….and we all have different priorities. Trying to legislate into that quagmire and set policies while still allowing people to live free and independent lives (as much as possible, anyway) is bound to have…issues.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Even though 2 members of my household only drive to the closest train station and take public transit, we still spend over $6k per year in gasoline.

    Plus car maintenance, and our car insurance is over $5k per year.

    Three of our vehicles are 4 cylinders and one is a 6 cylinder.

    I acquire vehicles based on 1) meeting my budget, 2) being able to carry 4 passengers plus some ‘baggage’ in relative comfort, 3) safety features, 4) ease of driving/parking, 5) expected reliability. I let the government worry about requiring the manufacturers to meet stated goals regarding the MPG’s, emissions, etc.

    Narrowing down my choices for our next replacement, to be purchased or leased new. Favourites at the moment are 1) a Caravan which takes care of 99% of our annual transport needs and means only one vehicle needs to be used for attending family functions. 2) Kia Soul due to its ride height, visibility, ease of parking, reported reliability and warranty. And now the 3) Kia Niro, as its configuration seems quite useful, its size is also ‘useful’ and its reportedly low fuel costs. 4) Any of the new ‘cute utes’ in FWD format such as the Kona, or Kicks.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    When I bought my current car, I was driving about 40,000kms a year (because of my job), and spending upwards of $4500/year on gas. I bought the smallest, cheapest car I still liked (Mazda2, lifetime average is a little over 30mpg with mostly urban driving). So, thriftiness was the bigger appeal, but I don’t like the idea of being needlessly wasteful in general.

    Since then, I found a better job about 10km from home, so I’m driving considerably less (and bike to work on occasion). If my car got totalled, I’d feel comfortable replacing it with something used and less efficient (like BMW 3-series levels of less efficient, not ’76 Eldorado efficient), but at the same time, it seems irresponsible to buy a new car and not drive it until it’s a worn-out husk.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Maymar: Essentially I agree with your policies; why waste money on a low-fuel-mileage car when the cost of fuel can eat so much of your income? Buying used may give you a lower up-front price but the ongoing costs are still higher than a new, high-economy car by comparison? Worse, while the total cost of ownership on a used car may seem lower, you’re having to replace it more frequently or pay for expensive repairs you may not have even been expecting, if the previous owner didn’t take proper care of it. Buy new and keep it til it wears out is the way people USED to think… 100 years ago.

      In my own case I’m much the same; I buy and keep until I can no longer trust it to meet my needs. More often than not I have either sold to family who can’t afford to buy new… knowing they’re getting a better price than a used car lot and very probably one in better condition, despite moderately high miles (sold my father-in-law a 10-year-old Saturn Vue and he absolutely loved it… was amazed at the fuel economy and drove it until one of the computers died (that handled the power steering pump, among other things.) It had 130,000 miles on it when I sold it and he put another 30k on it before he traded it for something a little newer…that gave him constant problems. The point is that I tend to keep a car purchased new for no less than 10 years, while the average for buying used runs about 3-4 years. The trust factor comes in when the car either starts breaking down on a more frequent basis OR a circumstance comes up where the vehicle didn’t perform as expected. Only once did I own a new car for less than four years.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        As far at the operating costs go, in my last job, a non-functional car wasn’t an option – I exclusively made site visits to clients, so if my car didn’t run, I either needed a rental, or I had to reorganize an already busy schedule. But, in my current circumstances, I can survive without a car for a few days (it might take an hour to bus to work, but it’s an option), so I’d be more willing to take a chance on something a little more fragile. At the same time, buying a used car and financing it doesn’t save a ton of money over buying new, unless you’re getting something out of warranty.

  • avatar
    boozysmurf

    First, good editorial. It’s basically a question asked, with a lot of high-level history for context, and acknowledgement that beliefs over it are a spectrum, not black or white. Kudos on this one.
    As for me?

    Hey, I think we’re all gearheads at heart (Petrolhead for me – I’m born British, now Canadian).

    Given that, why do we drive? Oh, I know we need to get places, but commuting isn’t fun. It’s not fun an a Chevy Spark, and it’s not fun in a Ferrari, and it’s not fun in a jacked up brodozer. It’s what we do because we have to, mostly.

    I drive for fun, relaxation, and, if I have to, commuting.

    I bought my house (worst house on a good block) within walking distance of work. That’s a vague statement, so, for clarity – for me that’s 8km, in winter (about 5 miles). I can do it in around an hour. in summer, I bike – it takes about thirteen minutes, and is about 10km, because of the meandering route the local bike/activity paths take, but it skips almost all the traffic lights – I go a bit further, but I go a lot faster.
    Bonuses to this?

    Well, I have a 2016 5.0L 4×4 F150, and modified 2010 2.0T Genesis Coupe at home. Neither get particularly good mileage when commuting (but are remarkably good at 90km/h for extended periods).

    But I enjoy biking. And walking. I get some notable exercise, year-round. I don’t pay the commuting tax on my insurance (rather, I get a discount as I don’t commute by car). I get some excellent stress-relief. I lose a little bit of weight. I save ~$60/week in gas. I don’t spew emissions while I commute (unless I had beans on toast the night before). I save ~$30/week in parking. I reduce the mileage on my vehicles by nearly 4000km (2750 miles?) a year. Doesn’t hurt come resale time, I’m told (I rarely sell a car, although I can’t wait to get rid of the truck, i’m just not a truck guy).

    Do I suggest others could do this? Sure I do. I get very real, tangible benefits from it, beyond doing my (small) part in making sure there’s a decent world for my kid to grow up in. those benefits can be for anyone (who doesn’t like being a little less fat, with a little more money in their pocket?). But I also get that it’s not for everyone. hell, this week, it’s not been for me, as i’ve been single parenting, and I literally can’t be at work on time and take the kiddo to daycare, unless I drive.

    But I come down hard on people who complain about their mileage, and go sit in their idling car for 35 minutes for lunch, summer (a/c) or winter (heat), every day. Who start their vehicle from the office window an hour before they leave, restarting it repeatedly so it’s HOT inside when they go out to it, but expect the government to lower the price of gas, because it’s so expensive.
    The real thing in all this is – use less. I’m using less. Others can use less too, without it inconveniencing them, if they change their habits a little. They generally won’t have to give anything up, just… think… a little.

    At the very least, the most capitalist, I’m keeping somewhere around $5200/year in my pocket, that I can spend elsewhere in the economy and have something to show for it other than exhaust gas.

    I’m also looking forward to (eventually) a performance electric vehicle. I maybe a tad green, but I’m still an enthusiast. I want some issues with batteries cleared up first (mining, recycling of materials), but we’re realistically in the early days of mass adoption. The ICE wasn’t perfect in 1908, either, there’s a lot of years of subsidized development behind it, and the gasoline infrastructure. expecting perfection on day three from electric is unrealistic, and unfair.

    I like the idea that I’m leaving the world a little cleaner. And that’s the thing for me. Even if you believe global warming isn’t real, we have two options. First, we try absolutely nothing, burn all the gasoline, and make the world dirtier, with more respiratory issues. Or, we put a little work into alternatives, and leave the world cleaner. Even if we’re wrong about climate change (and I don’t believe we are, for the record) we have a cleaner world, with remarkably little effort beyond throwing out the idea of “we’ve always done it this way”. Seems like a fairly easy decision to me, but… *shrugs* It’s still an individual one. I just wish it hadn’t become an ideological one.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      Bikes work on so many levels.
      I CAN’T gain weight, even with an embarrassing diet.
      I am immune to traffic congestion.
      I don’t care about the price if gas.
      Significant comradery with fellow cyclists – how is that working out with fellow drivers.
      Parking is always great where I cycle to.
      I ride VERY high performance bikes and use it’s performance enough to be truly exciting (read freightening at times)
      No internalizing of frustration on the road. I deal with it immediately and don’t bring it home.
      What is this depreciation term I hear spoken of?

  • avatar
    RSF

    I bought a new 3.5L ecoboost F150 2 years ago and environmental issues played no part. I was concerned with buying a vehicle that can do what I need it to do, and do it comfortably. I can load up the whole family, all the bikes, hook up my 7000 lb travel trailer loaded for camping, and not break a sweat. Oh yeah, it’s got a 36 gallon fuel tank as well. Without the camper I can travel 650-700 miles without refueling. The fact that I achieve 22 mpg on the highway is just a plus. I’d still buy the truck if it got 10 mpg highway.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    “The true harmfulness of these emissions, of course, depends on your own personal views — even more so these days. ”

    A sad reflection of where society is today.

    GHG emissions will be a key metric of my next car. Practically, paying less to get to the same destination makes sense. Philosophically I want to do what I can to leave a better world for my kid(s).

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I have a small, very energy efficient house with supplemental solar. I work from home 2 days a week. Both my gas vehicles are v8s. I don’t know- I’m trying, but I enjoy driving too.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Can we try to be honest here?
    The environment is really not behind all of this.
    We are a selfish species.
    Most of our decisions are based on selfish reason.
    The purchase of electric or hybrids is hardly for the earth, but rather our desire to spend less on gas or stop to fill up less.

    Truly, everything we do to just get by is extremely limited. Everything else is just gravy. OUR gravy.

    Think. Think about the flights you take to visit relatives or worse, to take vacations. Do you really think you can justify your carbon footprint by making us drive electric cars or hybrids? Think about the packaged luxury food you purchase every day.

    What about all the population growth? I mean, really, do we need all these births? No, it is a selfish, DNA driven law.

    The hypocrisy of the green movement, people in general, is laughable.

    • 0 avatar

      TrailerTrash, have you researched population density around the earth? You may find that your concern on population”growth” is somewhat unfounded – or not. Your point on the general selfishness of humans is spot on. Thanks for the comment.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      What, you have to live like a monk to be environmentally conscious, and otherwise you’re a hypocrite?

      Okey dokey.

      People are selfish and they do want more than they actually need, but there’s nothing wrong with doing that in a more environmentally conscious fashion. And if someone wants an electric car to save money, and it helps the environment in the process, then that’s sauce for the goose.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        well, can’t argue with the obvious, just the percentages implied.
        but it is difficult being honest.
        it is difficult looking into a mirror and seeing the truth.
        but it doesn’t matter. self-hypnosis is always going to be here.
        i struggle with it.
        but i admit it. not pleased with it, but admit it.
        and i am a card carrying coward and understand bret maverick when he said a coward that runs away lives to run away another day…

        and it is something to admit life itself is ugly and selfish.
        life itself is a damned flawed, selfish rush. it demands living consume living.

        but then again, you’re probably one of those that sees meaning in all of this.

        now to if you need to grab a solid hold onto your righteousness to survive, so be it. if you need to claim you got a hybrid to save the earth as well as save money, good for you.

        but don’t shop it here.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Of the people I know, there is a direct correlation between their degree of environmental concern and the measures they take to reduce their impact on the planet. I’d also say there are also positive correlations in their quality of life and health.

      The hypocrisy claim is bogus and getting pretty old.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        One shill’s hypocrisy claim is an objective commentator’s observation. Environmentalism is just misanthropy with a marketing campaign, just like capitalism is what vermin call freedom when they’re trying to convince people to surrender it.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    My daily driver is a 2013 200 with a 4 cylinder and 6-speed auto. I bought it because I liked it and does really well for commutes. Fuel economy was slightly important but only because I’m a cheapskate. I’m not convinced that I need to buy a hybrid, electric or a conventional ICE pushed to its limits to meet emissions/economy targets. I believe that 21/30 is decent enough for a midsize (I see about 35). I also believe that we will soon be seeing cars not lasting much past the warranty due to their higher complexity, so all the progress towards fuel economy and emissions would basically cancel out as those cars will likely be recycled and replaced much sooner than if DOE/EPA/etc. just left things alone.

    My DD doesn’t get the highest MPGs but then again it will probably be on the road longer than the cars that are hitting these high MPGs as they are complex machines that are probably going to be really difficult to own and keep running outside of the warranty period.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the article, Steph. Well presented.

    Emissions played no part of the purchase of the vehicle I’m currently driving – 98 Stratus. At the time it was purchased (99 “program car”) it was to be my wife’s car as she was working at that time. I had a 84 Charger as my DD then. Got rid of the Charger @ 406k+ (bought a 95 Escort wagon) and my wife became disabled. Got rid of the Escort (structural issues that made it unsafe to drive, financial issues made two car ownership difficult) and started driving the Stratus. Every car I’ve purchased with the exception of the 72 Charger I owned was purchased with the expected MPG in mind. I felt I needed at least 30 mpg – 35 would be better – as I was (and still am) commuting around 90 miles combined a day.

    I live in what you coastal folks call “flyover” country. Very few things are close, although the small town I live in has a Wally World I “could” walk to (approx. 1 mile+ one way) and the downtown is 5 blocks away – hardware store, auto parts, grocery, etc. – from my home.

    I get the concern about emissions. Many have made good comments about the choices to be made and the solution not being as cut and dried as it may appear. I am skeptical that humans can control this issue sufficiently to make “enough” of an impact – elimination of pollution and reversing/stopping “climate change”. When was the last time humans were able to stop rain, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc? We were able to make a river burn, but that falls into the “not really helpful” category I would suspect. My point being it’s in most part out of our control as much as we are loathe to admit.

    It’s good hearing the different thoughts, B&B. It’s made me think a bit more about the issue for sure.

  • avatar
    arach

    Its all too confusing. I don’t trust the gov’t to help, and I don’t even know what data to trust.

    Every time I go down a rabbit hole, it ends up right back where I started.

    For example, Diesel polution = bad. Solution = Put complex diesel emissions system in place. Now emissions per gallon drop, but emissions per mile up? Since fuel economy is cut 30-40%? But if you remove diesel emissions system fuel economy goes up, and emissions go up per gallon but down per mile? Hmm… I drive miles per gallon, solution = remove emissions systems?

    For example, Gas = bad, electric = good. Where I love, electric comes from coal. Batteries use rare earth minerals. total environmental footprint of an EV > A Gasser? Therefore electric = Bad, Gas = Good?

    Newer cars = Better fuel economy. New cars good. New cars cause TONS of emissions in production. New cars = Bad. Used cars = Good.

    When considering the entire life cycle of energy, emissions, etc. in many ways it ends up being a bit of a crap shoot. Its easy to argue and analyze from a macro-environmental level, but awful at a micro-environmental level.

    For example, I like the idea of an electric car, but it would cause serious environmental issues such as:
    -Now I’d have an EXTRA car instead of a replacement car, which causes huge emissions costs just in manufacturing.
    -How green is the money? To buy new cars I do more work which causes more emissions.
    -The battery car uses coal to charge the battery
    -I’d have to have a charging station installed at my house which has emissions implications

    So I kind of come to a conclusion that it doesn’t matter that much. I buy a turbo car because its better economy.. oh yeah, but turbo cars put out more emissions than a non-turbo… https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110016817300960

    Analysis of Paralysis? Maybe, maybe not. I came to the conclusion with extensive research that it ends up being more negligible than we like to think. Some cars might be an itty itty bit better than another, but in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter, and worrying about it will cause more harm than good.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    My last car purchase was 3 years ago. Mileage and emissions were a factor for me and less so for the primary user, my wife. She wanted comfortable seating, and enough space in a sedan to ferry around three other adults with mobility issues. The car replaced one that was 12 years old and it achieved a 50% increase in efficiency – 2.7T A6 to I4 Camry.
    If there is a next car in the short term, its likely to be a hybrid sedan if they are still made. But not weird looking like a Prius. My wife won’t go for that.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I drive 22k miles annually. I make enough money to live comfortably, and can afford a vacation each year…so some might label me “affluent.”

    That said, though an automotive enthusiast, I am NOT willing to spend more than I need to at the pump. I drive a 2015 Mazda6 with manual trans. I am getting about 33 mpg on average, and can drive more than 400 miles on a tankful. I paid a bit under $26,000 for the car new.

    When car shopping in 2015, I purchased a slightly used Mustang GT Convertible from CarMax. After a single day of driving it, I noticed the fuel consumption was higher than I was willing to accept, the fuel tank too small, and the back seat too small for my daughter. It went back to CarMax, and they gave me a full refund as promised.

    The experience taught me that I am more concerned with practicality and economy than fun when it comes to daily driving. Perhaps, someday, when I can afford a weekend car, I will own a V8 monster, but as a Dad who is paying a mortgage and college tuition for children, the fun factor can’t matter much.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    For me, it’s not that environmental concerns are key to my decision making, but rather that the vehicles I gravitate towards – the ones that are faster and nimbler – all tend to be sounder environmental choices than my neighbor’s lifted Ram pickup. I just don’t have much interest (or need) in the “offender” vehicles, and never have.

    Having said that, though, the solution to the “environmentally irresponsible” vehicles shouldn’t involve making them unavailable, or shaming the people who buy them. That’s not going to work; in fact, I’d say any such effort just makes them forbidden fruit, and thus more attractive to people who just want to be “politically incorrect.” The answer is to use technology to make these types of vehicles less harmful to the environment. And that’s exactly what’s happening now.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and we have made scientific observation of our climate for only about 150 years. We’ve been industrialized for only 200 years. Prior to that, ice ages came and went, obviously without any human causation. Where I’m sitting right now, there was a 3/4-mile-thick glacier ~20,000 years ago. If the science of natural climate change is not settled, why should I believe you when you tell me the science of anthropogenic climate change is settled?

    I will continue to drive my gas-powered, non-automated vehicles, completely without guilt.

    I did care enough to replace the clogged cat on my old Miata with a new cat instead of just knocking the guts out of the old one and reinstalling it. How many Green Points do I get?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      You’d be amazed how many ‘No Pipeline’ bumper stickers are on the backs of cars with gutted cats. Industrialization killed the triceratops!

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I’ll give you some points. A friend knocked the guts out of his clogged cat on an early 90’Ranger. It is now incredibly smelly, the raw hydrcarbons in the exhaust are quit overwhelming.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Absolutely. Current vehicle is a hybrid, next one will be a phev.

    Since I was aware of environmental concerns from about 1970, I arranged my life to drive to work only a total of 9 months during my working life. Cars have been for recreation. And not driving for recreation. Driving to support getting out for self-propelled recreation. And most of that included several passengers. These choices have contributed to financial independence and excellent health.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I was not terribly concerned with mileage when I purchased my last car— a new 2018 Compass 4×4 6-Speed manual. The window sticker assured me it would get 31MPG highway because of its slick (automatic) rear axle disconnect system.

    Traded a 40MPG sedan that required premium for it based-upon the premise it took regular, and got 30MPG—

    Turns out FCA’s initial programming kept the 4×4 system from engaging the first couple hundred miles. Driving it for the first week it was 29MPG— When it started using the rear axle a bit later— the ‘service 4WD’ lamp illuminated.

    Prompted a 9 day stay in the shop and subsequent reprograming of the 4×4 computers.

    The car now struggles to get 25MPG.

    I’m pretty unenamored of the whole experience.

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      That is not good to hear, I was seriously considering a Jeep with a MT as my next purchase, as it was one of the last options available with a MT and 4wd. I was leaning towards Renegade, but I would assume the drive train is similar.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Renegade (for 2018) only had the specialty-parts-and-expensive-oil 1.4T of my previous Dart— this was why I had the money ‘left over’ in my budget for the new Jeep 4×4.

        Logic said 30mpg on regular, with a standard oil grade and plugs would leave me enough to make the higher payment without spending extra.

        That is not the case.

        Jeep is now FCA’s Oldsmobile. You’re going to pay more for your Calais-trimed Dodge.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I think it comes down to how many people buy the biggest/most capable/powerful car they can almost afford (e.g. non-base engine, AWD, seat heaters/coolers, 48 speaker stereo, etc.) versus how many people buy the smallest/least capable/powerful car they can get by with (e.g. base engine, FWD, minimal options). Given the sales of large SUVs, CUVs, pickups, largish cars versus the sales of small cars, electric cars, hybrids, it would appear that large/powerful is a much more compelling sales offer for most consumers. Higher fuel economy standards have perversely helped sell large vehicles, because why would I want an FWD HRV that gets 31 mpg when the AWD CRV with lots more room and power gets 29? F-150s now get better MPG than a Fiesta from 1970s, so unless gasoline goes to $10 per gallon bigger is better for most people. On the other hand, adding a high tech EV or plug-in to your personal fleet as a “cheap” or “green” commuter car will almost certainly never pay for itself emission wise (especially if you live in coal country) due to the higher manufacturing/scrapping emissions that would not be generated if you didn’t add to your fleet and merely used your “regular” vehicle for commuting despite its higher fuel use. In the end, however, virtually nobody cares about emissions, as the “green” element that anyone cares about is almost solely about operating costs.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I could never figure out why it seems people who drive greater distances drive less fuel-efficient vehicles. ie: the Hemi Power Wagon being driven daily from the country into town for a coffee.

    Personally, I want my next vehicle to use less fuel tan my current one which means no next vehicle can replace my Insight1. ‘saved a lot of money with this requirement and retired early.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My reason is…….comfort.

      I never cared about the cost of gasoline. I’m addicted to the stuff. I love driving. It beats walking or riding a bicycle.

      Add to that the fact that I live in the Great American Southwest, where distances between cities are great and the landscape is desolate and, voila, there you have it.

      My reason for driving large.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I did buy a V6 version of a car that had an EPA of 24 rather than the V8 version of the same car that had an EPA rating of 18, though neither version is a gas sipper. In my neighborhood, where many people own Priuses, I did not feel like having to be on the defensive, and even the V6 version was significantly faster than the turbo 4 car that I previously owned.

    I am not ruling out buying the more powerful version (which now sports a turbo 6) when I buy my next car, though. I keep my mileage down to about 4000 miles a year by use of public transportation, so the economic impact of fuel is pretty minor to me. I also fly overseas once a year. One does what feels right to you.

  • avatar
    midwestTDI

    To think anything less than 30mpg is acceptable is, well, crazy. Adds showing hubby and wife exchanging gifts and he surprises her with two new GMCs and she takes the truck?!? Not likely she’ll be using that truck for drywall.

    So mileage would be primary with an eye to some type of storage w/some regenerative options to boost the mileage and reduce the tail pipe issues. Gave my TDI back but found an AWD car that gets 40mpg and averages in the low to mid-30’s. Anything less is not responsible.

    Cost is not an issue. Anyone can purchase a viable option well under $30k that delivers something better than topping out at 24mpg.

    Look at Mazda and the efforts to produce a motor that can combust and compress ringing out more efficiencies for the same drop of fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “To think anything less than 30mpg is acceptable is, well, crazy. ”

      We consider me crazy as a fox then with an 18-ish MPG 4Runner and 22-ish MPG (premium) A4 Quattro.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I’m going to take lessons in responsibility from someone that went around poisoning the air with a ‘clean diesel’ because of some other propaganda they fell for?

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    How long will a Mazda last with that kind of technology (or for that matter, any other car with loaded with all kinds of efficiency voodoo)?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We were going to move out of the country at the end of this year. I started to cull the herd beginning of last year. The country we were moving to blew up into near civil war, ended relocation plans.

    I bought a replacement vehicle for the sedan (the Holdenized G8 GT) which was barely driven. Mileage was a moderate consideration, but not the primary driver. I added weight to start/stop technology as there is a lot of stop/start around here, and I can derive real benefits.

    We definitely drive less than 5 years ago, I definitely drive a lot less than 10 years ago. None of this is motivated by saving gas but because traffic around here sucks.

    I likely will never own a car like the G8 again because there just isn’t anywhere around here to take advantage of that kind of power.

  • avatar
    raph

    Mileage nor environmental reasons drove the purchase of any of my cars. However when gas was heading toward five dollars a gallon in VA it drove the location where I purchased my home.

    I bought a home about five miles from work and is pretty well situated where I can bike or walk for whatever I need including the work commute.

    Depspite the fairly low cost of fuel I’ve been biking to work on a regular basis with the hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars I save in fuel costs a month really just icing on the cake.

    As for my thoughts on environmental collapse. I’m little people and a little person with diabetes so I’m not on anybody’s Vault-Tec list to save humanity so I’ll just have to deal with it and crack open a beer on my porch and get through as best I can.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’m not a climate denier, I can read a graph, but I’m also not an idiot. All of the solutions that we’re being presented with boil down to more taxes to pay for more crony capitalism while addressing the purported problem so trivially as to be discounted entirely. The Paris CO2 treaty amounts to pushing the year 2100 catastrophe all the way out to early 2101. The machine feeding us this propaganda 24/7 is the would-be recipient of these taxes.

    So no, I don’t buy a single word of it. The people that say that they do are either paid shills or unpaid idiots.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’m with you Dan. I don’t deny the science, but I am incredibly skeptical of the proposed solution and who is proposing them (look up Al Gore and how he set himself up to profit massively from carbon credits, cap and trade, carbon sequestration, etc).

      I’d rather work on tangible engineering solutions to things like rising water levels rather than just the taxation and money making schemes by shysters like Gore. But I am certainly for various renewable energy tech. If you would use even a fraction of the 5.3 trillion (with a T) that we spent on wars in the Middle East over the last 2 decades or so, we could probably have just built enough solar panels and whatever else to go entirely renewable (and pay for everyone’s healthcare and whatever else). I just don’t think the renewables should so forcefully (by way of govt regulation) be forced to push out affordable and available traditional energy.

      • 0 avatar

        I have read alot on Cabon tax I’m still not sold on it but the idea of adding the costs of external consequences to a product of service does seem to have alot of sound reasoning behind it. And Cap and Trade did seem to have a positive effect on air polloution in our country with out killing the economy. I think phased in over time some versions of these are not a bad idea. But Rushing in with a huge change to our economy seems like asking for trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        gtem,
        I agree as I come from a farming family. If the wind or the sun could do your work for free, why not? Well, because in my little trashy state, oil bought the government long ago. Our government here will penalize you if you put solar panels or windmills up on your own property and plug them in any way into the grid. Even though the land you paid for has more wind and sun than we know what to do with. I work in a factory right now with acres of flat roof, which spends most of the year getting direct unobstructed sunlight, and could certainly use some help turning all the A/C units required to keep us from being in a Dutch oven. To their credit, they are slowly tarring it with the “white” stuff to do less reflecting…
        Without a federal mandate, the local governments around here will continue to cater to the industry that owns them (this is irregardless of party, they seem to own all candidates that make the ballots).

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The problem with “solutions” is that a certain number of people seem to believe there can only be ONE solution to the problem. It doesn’t work that way. There is no ONE solution; there can be no ONE solution. BUT… People need to do what they can to help. Reducing the amount of driving they do can be one of those things, as we’ve seen several people mention here already. Driving newer cars which are more efficient can help, as older cars simply burn more fuel than newer ones AND don’t offer the same kind of performance as these newer ones; a 2fer for those who like driving in a livelier manner. Going electric, either through hybrid, plug-in or pure battery is a help too, despite arguments that try to claim otherwise. After all, CO2 isn’t the ONLY pollutant we’re talking about, though it is one of the primary greenhouse gasses, next to methane, which is not fully burned in the ignition process. But again, greenhouse gasses aren’t the only effluvium from burning any fuel… not just petroleum fuels.

      Ignore the Paris accords; they’re not what we’re discussing here. Rather, look at the overall effects of the different anti-pollution laws over the last 60 years, if you can. Cities that used to be choked with smog so thick you could barely see the sun itself at noon are now clear enough to see the horizon, weather permitting. That’s not CO2 that caused all of that, it was particulates and toxic gasses that were poisoning the people. Some of that was the lead used in gasoline to help ‘lubricate’ the old engines in places lubricating oil would simply burn off. Some was that burnt oil itself while others are things like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and others, all of which were and to some extent still are emitted by cars and trucks burning liquid fuels.

      The problem is that politicians don’t understand the science or don’t WANT to understand the science. The legislations have been simplified to the point that people have begun to believe that it is only CO2 we need to control when it is ALL emissions from fuel-burning engines. Some few understand this and companies like Toyota and Tesla, specifically, have realized they can have an effect on those emissions by increasing the use of electric drives in their cars. The other brands are playing a ‘me, too’ game only to keep from getting left behind in the market; few of them are actively doing it to reduce emissions.

      So what you “buy”, Dan, is irrelevant. Understanding the causes and effects of the issue and the different means to affect them is what you should be looking at and it’s clear by your statement that you understand far less than you want to believe. You may not like what you see but if you believe the whole kit and kaboodle is about taxes, then you understand nothing. It’s about forcing people to do what they should have been doing all along.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        @Vulpine

        “Ignore the Paris accords; they’re not what we’re discussing here.” It bears repeating that, alone of the western signatories, only the US met its commitments so far, despite the announced intention to withdraw in 2020. Even the WaPo acknowledges this from a June ’18 article.

        “The legislations have been simplified to the point that people have begun to believe that it is only CO2 we need to control when it is ALL emissions from fuel-burning engines.” CO2 is a pretty good proxy to get rid of the other stuff, but there are always unintended consequences in the competition between efficiency and pollution.

        “…companies like Toyota and Tesla, specifically, have realized they can have an effect on those emissions by increasing the use of electric drives in their cars.” Yes and no. A pure EV lacks an engine or prime mover. The upstream part of that prime mover (supplying the energy) is mostly going to be a power plant. You need to factor in its efficiency and transmission/charging losses. Numbers from the internet suggest EV efficiency of 80-90%. Multiply that by roughly 35%-40% efficiency of the power plant and distribution. (Got no idea what the losses are from warming up the batteries during charging.) Now we’re down to 28%-36% real efficiency for an EV. Still better than the 21% from an ICE, but not better than a hybrid (still relying on a 40% number from the internet – a known repository of all truths and all lies). You’ll suggest free energy from wind and solar. Except its not free. See https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/. I’m more hopeful for solar, eventually.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @chuckrs: ” It bears repeating that, alone of the western signatories, only the US met its commitments so far…”
          — It might bear repeating but it’s still irrelevant to the discussion at hand. We’re not talking politics here, we’re talking the environment itself and what WE, the People, can do about it.

          “CO2 is a pretty good proxy to get rid of the other stuff, but there are always unintended consequences in the competition between efficiency and pollution.”
          — Yeah. To the point that commenters arguing for elimination of regulations use CO2 as the basis for their argument–in that plants and trees need CO2 to survive. They insist our world is ‘greener’ than ever before BECAUSE of increased CO2 while totally ignoring its greenhouse effect AND all associated pollutants that come from burning anything by any means. In other words, so-called ‘deniers’ are targeting one single component of fuel consumption as the ONLY component under discussion. In that one-chemical argument, they may be correct but when taking the other pollutants into account, that one chemical is only an indicator of one aspect of a problem that is far, far, broader.

          ” Yes and no. A pure EV lacks an engine or prime mover. The upstream part of that prime mover (supplying the energy) is mostly going to be a power plant. You need to factor in its efficiency and transmission/charging losses.”
          — This is where some commenters and discussions go astray. While I agree that EV use does relocate the emissions, too often that argument suggests that the total effluvium remains intact, which is NOT true. Studies have proven that even by transporting the “prime mover” to a power plant somewhere, a given BEV still produces less than half the emissions on a vehicle-to-vehicle basis than an equivalently-sized and -performing ICEV •at worst!• Moreover, those power plants themselves are becoming cleaner–at least in the US–while renewables such as wind and solar are proving less expensive to build and operate than an equivalent coal or even natural gas facility. Natural gas is proving cheaper than coal at least partially by rebuilding the existing coal plants to use gas turbines in place of steam while also demonstrating an ability for rapid spooling up or down to keep up with demand, rather than steam’s need for constant output due to slow warming and cool-down rates. So not only is natural gas cleaner than coal, it’s also more efficient than coal, while renewables are cleaner yet, if not quite so dynamic in adapting to load changes. https://www.utilitydive.com/news/even-in-indiana-new-renewables-are-cheaper-than-existing-coal-plants/540242/

          This link is just one among many demonstrating how the cost of renewables is proving cheaper despite a growing demand for energy. This also shows that the transferred emissions will continue to drop while we have nearly come to the effective limit of internal combustion engines IN the vehicles. ICEs have too many inherent inefficiencies.

          But worse, your own statement includes a fallacy: “Numbers from the internet suggest EV efficiency of 80-90%. Multiply that by roughly 35%-40% efficiency of the power plant and distribution. (Got no idea what the losses are from warming up the batteries during charging.) Now we’re down to 28%-36% real efficiency for an EV.” This statement is simply not true. Here’s an article showing the efficiencies of different power generation methods vs power distribution: https://www.mpoweruk.com/energy_efficiency.htm To make it simple, energy generation that uses no fuel has a very high efficiency rating while distribution losses are well below 20%. And while the first chart on this link appears to support your argument as to power plant efficiency for solar and wind, keep in mind that both solar and wind require no fuel, so while their energy conversion ratio from one kind of energy to another (sun/wind:electricity) may be lower, the cost of that conversion is lower still–by several factors.

          All told, we can see that the costs of renewable energy generation AND the pollution factors of going renewable for our transportation (electrified) are lower across the board than burning fossil fuels.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Given my previous fleets of V8 cars – and my short spell with turbocharged 4-cyls (that consume waay more gas than I expected – no.

    Heck I’m lucky to break 16mpg (city) in my Mustang, and it only has a 3.7L V6. It’s just that all the fun power is up in the higher RPMs, so I’m spinning that engine a lot!


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