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Has CAFE reached the end of its usefulness?
And yet as it turns out, they STILL are not going to regulate all the vehicles on the road, despite the example of all the modern trucks that avoid the old CAFE regulations by exceeding 8500 pounds curb weight.
Sure, they are now going to catch most of the monster SUVs, right as the SUV boom is ending. But they are going to exempt most full-size pick-ups, on the grounds that these are mostly used as work trucks despite statistical evidence to the contrary.
This is disturbing for another reason - since the new regulation is going to be based on truck dimensions rather than weight, the standard for each automaker will be different. How is that equitable, and how does it help to reduce gas consumption, when it is not hard to figure out that all one has to do to defeat the regs is to make one's truck bigger?
I guess the new Ram Mega-Cab (crew cab with an extended cab behind the rear seats and an overall length of about 100 yards) is going to do Dodge even more good than it originally thought!
I say scrap CAFE and begin an incentives/penalties system to encourage better fuel economy in the overall fleet.
Begin taxing gasoline, nothing like the levels of Europe, but maybe $0.10/gallon to start, ramping up to $0.50/gallon by 2012, as an initial plan.
On the flip side, promote alt fuels and high-mileage cars with a tax incentive similar to the one available for many hybrids today. But let it apply to the top 5% of models in each size class in terms of fuel economy, and let it include gas cars too if they qualify - don't limit it to hybrids.
This last, of course, depends on the new EPA testing standards that are supposed to appear shortly - obviously right now, hybrid EPA ratings are unrealistic even as a standard of reference for comparison with gas models.
Tax-and-incentivize is a much better system than the idiotic CAFE, which automakers have been getting around for 20 years, and which they will continue to get around no matter how it is "reformed". I believe that there IS a need for the government to encourage high fuel economy, both from the environmental and security standpoints, so it definitely has a role there. But CAFE is not the way to accomplish that end.
2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)