Believe it or Not....

... there are actually folks who think that Obama's farcical and unreachable 54.5 mpg standards for cars are too low.

Since cars are redesigned every 5 years, the 2025 date is basically 3 car revisions from now.  It also is far enough in the future the auto makers can cynically sign on now fully expecting to ignore or change the regulation in the future.

This is the corporate state in 2011.  Every single executive signing on to this is thinking "this standard is total BS."  But they go along with it because they fear the government's power over them and crave the valuable taxpayer $ giveaways this Administration has demonstrated it is willing to give its bestest buddies in the auto industry.

Of course, once again, some greenie has convinced himself this will create all sorts of jobs.   Sure, investments in car mileage is an investment in productivity (cars will uses fewer resources for the same output, ie miles driven).  BUT - the money that will be forced into this investment would come from other spending and investments.  Right now, private actors think that these other investments are a better use of the money than investing in more MPG.  I will take the market's verdict over the gut feel of an innumerate green.  So this standard is about shifting investment and spending from more to less productive uses.  Which has to reduce growth and jobs.


  1. John Moore:

    It is truly amazing.

    I can't blame the execs for signing on - they would be clobbered by the fascistic Obama regime otherwise, and, as you say, they know the rules are far enough in the future they don't need to pay attention.

    But who is Obama fooling? Presumably some innumerate greenies who will worship at his feet for saving Gaia, or sumpn.

  2. kebko:

    Since the proper measure to use if we are trying to limit oil use is gallons/mile, instead of miles/gallon, mileage improvements become exponentially more pointless as the mileage levels improve.

  3. DavidCobb:

    The problem is not just spending the money but how they spend the money. The much touted Aquatic Spieces Program (algae production) lasted 20 years and spent millions of dollars but was nothing more than one 6 month lab run to test the effects of nitrogen deprivation on oil content and a one year run of open air shallow pool production. If they what lower emmissions and fuel economy they need to start a San Antonio to San Diego road race where the winner is determined by points for least fuel and emmissions while maintaing close to 70 mph and the top ten or twenty get rewards (indecending amounts) to continue research.

  4. Sean:

    The mileage standard is not at all like a renewable energy standard where you mandate replacing electricity that costs a nickel a kilowatt hour with power that costs a quarter a kilowatt hour. The higher mileage standard has the potential to actually save people money.

    If you look at what happened with CAFE standards, we were stuck at ~27.5 MPG for years and that stardard had loopholes for trucks and utility vehicles as well as flex fuel vehicles. While at 27.5 MPG the technology in cars allowed amount of horsepower in cars pretty rapidly increased while holding the mileage steady. (One of our employees is a true gearhead and he's gotten more than 400 HP out of a small 4 cylinder engine on a dynamometer. The tricks he uses to get that power are the same ones being considered for high mileage engines with decent get up and go.) The reality is that for a family sedan, 140 to 160 HP is plenty of pep and the technology exists to get much more power of very small, light weight engines. And remember, a smaller lighter and more efficient power train means there are a lot of other parts of the vehicle that can be made lighter without affecting passenger space or comfort. My point is there is a lot of technology that does not need to be invented to sqeeze a lot more mileage out of internal combustion engines. It does need to be refined and its long term performance and durabilty proven but the technology exists.

    Another point I'd like to make is that while 55 MPG is the standard, the government and corporate negotiators did a lot of horse trading. That means that the real mileage cars will get, even on the government tests, will likely be quite a bit lower. I have heard that if a certain eco friendly refrigerant is used, it qualifies for 6 MPG offset. Similarly, movable louvres over the grill to reduce drag gets you more offsets. And for city drivers that spend a lot of time at stoplights, there is a credit for including systems that shut off the engine while waiting for the light to change. So the real target will be much closer to 45 MPG than 55 MPG.

    Finally there are the electrics. By assesing their mileage based only on the charge in the battery (rather than including the efficiencies of generation and tranmission losses) gives you triple digit mileage numbers. With the government indulging in this fantasy for the sake of the average fuel economy standard, electrics only need to represent 5% of the sales mix and it can increase the overall average by 3-4 MPG.

    Taken in total, the 55 MPG standard is a fig leaf for the environmental movement allowing them to declare victory. By reading the fine print and understanding all the offsets car companies designed in the real standard is likely 10 MPG lower. More importantly, its likely at a level that is technolgically achievable at a cost that will actually provide value to car buyers.

  5. Fred from Canuckistan:

    This is just another Obama distraction to cover up the Great Chevy Volt disaster.

    All that taxpayer poured into the Volt, the money poured into GM, well actually the Autoworkers Union, the theft of the bondholders wealth, the $7500 "rebate" for each Volt to juice up the sales and what do you get?

    GM sold 175 Volts last month.

    One HUNDRED and seventy five.

    Smart move Barry, smart move.

    AA suits you. Richly deserved.

  6. Hunt Johnsen:

    Sean has some good points - ever higher tech can result in higher efficiency, but it is going to cost and reach a point of diminishing returns. It is easy to build an economical car - I'll bet I could build one using a Briggs & Stratton lawnmower engine that would get 55mpg and go 65mph, but it sure wouldn't meet the current safety standards. As I understand it, the "Smart Cars" require so much extra structural weight to meet collision standards that their mileage is no better than some of the small 4 seat imports.
    I've never understood why we need 2000lbs cars to carry 400lbs of passengers, but the "big eggs break little eggs" makes some sense. Get the big trucks off the road and really light cars would be practical.

  7. Ron H:


    Good points. Just a couple - make that three - additional considerations, however. While it's true that improved technology can improve fuel mileage, there are physical limits to the amount energy that can be extracted from a gallon of fuel, using an internal combustion engine, and I don't think they are that far beyond current capabilities. Beyond that, it is strictly a matter of reducing weight, which brings up safety concerns.

    Additionally, when speaking of good fuel economy AND plenty of horsepower, it's important to keep in mind that it's not possible to have both at once. We can have one or the other at any given moment.

    Last, it should be noted that even as fuel economy has increased over the decades, so has our demand for fuel. We may tend to drive more as it costs us less to do so.

    Oh, and one tiny criticism: You said "The reality is that for a family sedan, 140 to 160 HP is plenty of pep."

    Who can decide that except the customer? Can the government nannies who dictate the fuel economy of my car also tell me how much power should satisfy me?

  8. anon:

    “The reality is that for a family sedan, 140 to 160 HP is plenty of pep.”

    Thank you, comrade, for giving the proletariat what they need rather than what they want.

  9. Sean:

    For those of you who think I am advocating for a specific horsepower for a sedan, I am not. I am expressing my opinion about adequate power in a vehicle from my own experience and the way I drive. In fact my current vehicle, a small SUV, has a bit more HP than that. But I expect that as cars become a little lighter with small, high power to weight engines, the lower value would be adequate for my needs. For those of you who think of horsepower as an aphrodisiac, remember that the way averages work, the high mileage green vehicles and the electrics will help raise to overall average so that the car companies can accommodate your needs as well.

    As far as approaching the limits of fuel efficiency, I really don't know how close we are to the limits of technology. But if you think about how much HP you need to cruise on the highway at 70 MPH, it probably much less than 100 HP. So you design the basic power plant for that and then you look at the tricks the gearheads play to double the HP when you accelerate or go up steep hills. If you drive mostly on the freeway, as I do, this is a good approach. If you drive a lot in town in traffic all the time, then the hybrid or electric approach would make a lot more sense. Not long ago, I read about a gathering in Cooperstown, NY where they have a car rally to see who can complete a course around the countryside using the least amount of fuel. They guy who won was in a standard gasoline engine vehicle 4/5 passenger vehicle, about 5 or 10 years old that he'd made some minor mods to such as louvers on the grill, high mileage tires and some aerodynamic things around the wheels. His average was 100 MPG. I think that tells you there is a lot room to grow when it comes to efficiency.

  10. blokeinfrance:

    That's the trouble with these social engineers. They think they're engineers.
    Just don't let Obama anywhere near designing the brakes, please.

  11. Craig:

    "The higher mileage standard has the potential to actually save people money."

    It's still not the place of the government to mandate how we save money. Let's not forget, either, that this same administration's energy and CO2 emissions policies will raise the cost of energy to the point that our new, gas-sipping cars won't end up saving us one devalued dime.

  12. Ron H:

    "That’s the trouble with these social engineers. They think they’re engineers. Just don’t let Obama anywhere near designing the brakes, please."

    Don't worry, Obama has no concept of brakes. He only knows "full speed ahead".

  13. Bram:

    The Executives are thinking "In 2025, I will be retired, living on an island with my funds safely stashed in a Cayman bank. Screw this idiot and the morons who elected him."

  14. Luke:


    Cruising at 70mph probably requires less than 10hp. The relationship between power and speed is cubic - doubling speed requires increasing power by a factor of 8(seriously). The car companies have already taken this into account in their design, a car engine operated at 75% power would fail in a very short period of time. Aircraft piston engines, which operate for sustained periods at 55% to 75% power are designed to produce their max power at very low revs (unfortunately resulting in a heavier engine).

  15. Craig L:

    1) I don't need horsepower to cruise, I need it to accelerate to get on the highway or get out of someone's way to avoid getting killed.
    2) When I got rear ended by someone going 40mph, I sure was glad I wasn't driving a Volt
    3) It is imagined that the electricity used for an electric car is coming from pixie dust, but in most locations it is coming from burning coal. While it might make city air cleaner to move the pollution to a coal plant where it is easier to catch it, the elctric car does not do much if anything for climate change unless you allow nuclear.
    4) Most owners of minivans have them because they have kids, with strollers, lots of groceries, and even putting large items in the back like furniture. None of these needs are met by a volt etc.

  16. caseyboy:

    I happened to be in Wisconsin this past weekend and while driving through Fond du Lac county noticed dozens of "windmills" on the horizon. None of them moving? But I'm sure the greenies were happy with the gesture. It seems to be form over substance.

  17. Nick:

    caseyboy, which ones? There are 88 of them in the northeast corner of FDL county, and another farm southeast of FDL. The northeastern ones are almost always spinning, surprisingly, although I saw several stopped when I was out there a few weeks ago, which is unusual.

    Projections from before they were built showed they would generate a net loss without the government kicking money in, but they do appear to be generating much of the time.

    I grew up out there and never thought it was overly windy, but apparently once you get up a few hundred feet, there's plenty of air movement.

  18. richard:

    The fun part is that a car which does 78 mph -bit more than 54 mph- has been on the market since the 1930's. And what's more: It's French!

    And it's not some sort of design gimmick: nearly 9 million have been sold.

    Always nice to see the Americans climb on board a cool century later!

  19. caseyboy:

    Nick, saw the windmills when driving up Hwy 41 from Milwaukee. About a dozen visible from the highway and only 1 moving very slowly.

    I was concerned they might not have electricity at the hotel.

  20. Ron H:

    "The fun part is that a car which does 78 mph -bit more than 54 mph- has been on the market since the 1930′s. And what’s more: It’s French!

    And it’s not some sort of design gimmick: nearly 9 million have been sold.

    Always nice to see the Americans climb on board a cool century later!"

    I'll assume that your references of 78 and 54 refer to MPG, not MPH.

    You also forgot to mention the top speed of those 78MPG cars is 37MPH. Not something many Americans would drive then or now. And, unlike the French, few Americans needed to be coaxed out of their horse drawn carts between 1948 and 1990.

    In addition, most of the US had paved roads by 1990, so there was no need to drive a car through plowed fields.

    And speaking of faint praise, here's how CAR magazine journalist and author LJK Setright described it:

    "the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car".

    I don't really imagine many Americans will "climb on board" anything like this anytime soon. The price in comfort and convenience is just too high. Fuel economy be damned.

  21. Ron H:

    Nick: "I was concerned they might not have electricity at the hotel."

    Luckily, someone had the foresight to keep that coal fired plant humming "just in case". :)

  22. Goober:

    I'm tried to death of other people telling me what I "need" and "don't need."

    "Most people don't need a full-sized 4x4 pickup truck,"

    Yeah? i do. I have a 2500HD model with a diesel engine in it and I run it to the load limit regularly. I need it. You can tell me i don't all you want. I don't need to explain myself to you.

    "Most people only need a 140 horsepower sedan. You only need 140 horsepower."

    Thanks for telling me what I need. My pickup makes nearly 400 horsepower. i want more because it is fun. Who are you to tell me i can't have it?

    "People don't need big SUVs and minivans to commute, by themselves, to work every day."

    Yeah? Well i want one. Never claimed I "needed" it. Fuck off.

  23. Ron H:


    You need...

    To lighten up. :-)

    By the way, I agree with you.