My whole family drives Toyotas. We love America and all, but we want good, solid cars. The U.S. is, understandably, concerned about how much oil we’re using. So we’re trying for a requirement that, by 2020, all cars sold get 35mpg at a minimum. Of course, the car companies are complaining that this is going to be incredibly difficult to do.
- This is utter BS. My mom gets 50 mpg with her Prius. Honda did it in 1987.
- Why does the government need to get involved? The way I think it should be working is that we say, “$3 a gallon for gas is ridiculous! I want a car that gets better gas mileage!” We stop buying cars that get horrible gas mileage, and, consequentially, Detroit stops making cars that get horrible gas mileage because no one is buying them. It costs me $40 every time I fill up. I wince every single time.
I found this video online. I’m not going to lie: it’s dry, and 20 minutes long. I was kind of proud to follow him most of the time as he talks about internal rates of returns and demand pull and the like. He makes some extremely obscure references, and even now, I’m not sure what he was talking about with oil at $12 a barrel.
And yet, despite it being presented in a technical, academic manner to an audience that’s definitely not normal people, he makes some points that are really, really, really worth hearing. One of the simplest ones: efficient cars are going to be made, the question is who’s going to make them. And, at least right now, it’s not us. (And it really boggles my mind, frankly. Ford makes one hybrid: the Ford Escape Hybrid. 34mpg on an SUV is impressive (I get 20-22). But what the heck market are they appealing to? They manage to completely dilute the effects of a hybrid engine by putting it in an SUV.)
GM developed a “concept car” 16 years ago that, as I recall, got close to 100 miles a gallon. Where is it?
Besides oil, another huge problem we’re facing is a ridiculously huge trade deficit. If we could make cars good enough that we wouldn’t have to keep importing cars, we could certainly help.
He presents some amazing statistics, too. 87% of the energy from fuel used in cars is utterly wasted. Only 6% of the total energy actually moves the car. (And when you figure in that the car weights significantly more than the passengers and luggage, he says that less than 1% actually moves the passengers.)
He says the solution is to lighten the car. I cringed for a minute. Lighter cars, especially on today’s roads, are asking for disaster. You can go drive your 500 pound car, and I’m sorry if I kill you when you crash into my SUV.
But it turns out that this is somewhat wrong. He showed a picture of a McLaren SLR (a $400,000+ car) that was made out of carbon fiber. It’s very light. Some idiot T-boned the car. Their car was totaled. The McLaren driver had to buff out a scratch in the paint. He suggested that, if you were to smash the car head-first into a brick wall, about 25 pounds of carbon fiber is all it would take to absorb the impact and let you walk away unharmed.
He goes on to call heavy cars “hostile cars,” and really, he’s got an excellent point. We’re making heavy cars solely for safety with other cars. But we can increase fuel efficiency, maintain (or increase!) driver safety, and decrease risk to other motorists by simply changing materials.
Oh, and one final point he makes that I thought was interesting: we think of OPEC as a cartel that has tons of power. In actuality, our power of demand far outweighs their supplier power, and we have the power in the equation. Except that we can’t stop buying oil. Years ago we saw a lull in demand, and basically gave OPEC the bird. He suggests doing it again.
I didn’t expect to watch the whole video, which is 20 minutes long. But before I knew it I was done. And it’s pretty thought-provoking.
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