November 29, 2007

Screw Cars, Ride Your Bike Says Hillary*

The Fuel economy debate is ramping up in the presidential primaries. Each candidate wants to out-do the other with higher mandatory rates.

Hillary wants 55 mpg by 2030, the current bill being considered is 35 mpg by 2020. If Hillary is running on her experience being a first lady and Bills accomplishments shouldn't someone be bringing up the fact that Bill and Gore did nothing to increase fuel economy all 8 years in office?

With the push for huge raises in fuel economy is it realistic?

The Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic hybrid you could buy today are rated at about 46 miles per gallon and 42 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving -- and the numbers that would be used for Corporate Average Fuel Economy compliance are higher. A new generation of lithium-ion batteries and some tweaks to the computers in their gas engines probably get them to 55 mpg.

A more sober analysis of what's possible in advanced automotive design comes from a group of MIT researchers, including John B. Heywood, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory at MIT.

The paper, "Factor of Two: Halving the Fuel Consumption of New U.S. Automobiles by 2035," assesses three basic scenarios for boosting the average fuel economy of U.S. vehicles to 42 miles per gallon by 2035. First, car makers could channel future improvements in vehicle design toward boosting fuel efficiency -- instead of using them to goose power or 0-60 performance. Second, they could increase the use of diesel, turbocharged gasoline and gas-electric hybrid technology. Third, they could reduce the size and weight of vehicles.

"Over the next three decades, consumers will have to accept little further improvements in acceleration performance, a large fraction of new light-duty vehicles sold must be propelled by alternative powertrains, and vehicle weight must be reduced by 20% to 35% from today," the MIT scientists write.


So we would have to accept slower performance, alturnative fuels and smaller/lighter vehicles. But how much slower, smaller and lighter do they mean?

For example, today's Toyota Camry accelerates to 60 miles per hour in 9.4 seconds, weighs about 3,157 pounds (1,435 kg), delivers 160 horsepower and averages about 27 miles per gallon (8.8 liters per 100 km,) according to the MIT study.

A hypothetical Camry that weighed 2,525 pounds (1,148 kg), and had a 1.4 liter, 128-horsepower engine could accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 9.2 seconds, but would average 42 miles per gallon (5.5 liters per 100 km.) The same exercise applied to a Ford F-150 pickup would produce a vehicle that weighs 877 pounds less than today's vehicle, gets around on a 162 horsepower engine and averages 27 mpg, compared with 17.3 mpg today.

Would an F-150 with only 162 hp engine be able to tow or haul what today's F-150 at 202 hp (4.2L engine, not sure which engine they used for the study) can haul? I think not. They don't even get into those facts. (The Taurus with a 2.3L engine gets 160 hp, it does not have towing recommendations, which means they don't recommend towing)


Depending on how various technologies are applied, the total costs of re-engineering cars to get to an average of 42 mpg (which is short of 55 miles per gallon, of course) would be $54 billion to $63 billion. Some of that cost would reflect the expense of designing small cars to be safer, although the researchers argue that by eliminating the heaviest vehicles from the road, overall safety would be improved.

Safety would improve by taking the heaviest vehicle from the road, dumocrats only want people to drive Prius's. They don't want people to have a choice, it's drive what I tell you to drive not what you want to drive. Oh and about those 18 Wheelers, well we will think of something after tens of thousands end up being buried in their vehicles because it was impossible to pry them out after that collision.

So who will be picking up the tab for these advances?

Putting full emphasis on boosting fuel efficiency would increase the average cost of a car by about $1,400 by 2035, and the cost of the average truck would go up by about $1,600, the MIT researchers conclude.

Sen. Clinton's proposal calls for offering the auto industry (Detroit's Three or all the auto makers with factories in the U.S. isn't clear) $20 billion in low interest bonds to "retool the oldest auto plants to meet her strong efficiency standards."

That $20 billion sounds like a lot, except when put against the auto industry's capital needs. For that sum, you could design and tool up about 10 new cars and 10 new engines for the whole industry. GM alone sells more than 70 models in the U.S.

So our esteemed rulers want to tell you what you should drive, making it slower and less safe (that weight has to come from somewhere, I hear aluminum is light weight), screw it make everyone ride bikes.

* Hillary didn't say that exactly, but you know that is where all this is leading.

Posted by Quality Weenie at November 29, 2007 02:18 PM | TrackBack

Scary stuff!!

Posted by: pam at November 29, 2007 04:51 PM

I've seen her ridin' a bike, must've been early in her actin' career... Wizard of Oz I believe was the title of the movie.

Posted by: RedNeck at November 30, 2007 05:17 PM