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Has CAFE reached the end of its usefulness?

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    hmmm...well, in my car I drive about 18K miles per year, and manage 40 mpg (actually 41 but I'm rounding for ease of calculation).

    The average midsize car (excluding hybrids for now) gets about 25 mpg in real-world driving, which is a savings of 15 gallons for every 1000 miles driven, or about 270 gallons per year in my case.

    270 gallons is going to cost me at least $860 right now (that's at the $3.19/gal I'm currently paying), which works out to more than $70/month. Now if you could save more than $70/month by changing some other choice in your life, wouldn't you consider it? ;-)

    Now imagine if everybody accomplished just half that savings and plowed the rest back into the domestic economy, and you have yourself the concept of something that is a powerful incentive for the federal government. Not to mention, it would reduce our trade imbalance in oil by something like 1/6, or perhaps 35 milion gallons of gasoline per day in savings. Wow, when you think of it that way, maybe it WOULD be good to save some gas by producing a more efficient auto fleet, eh?! ;-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The problem is that increased efficiency has historically not led to less gas use. The reason being that the amount of miles we rack up increases faster than the fuel efficiency. From 1975 to 1985 average fuel efficiency increased by 50% yet we were still using 10% more fuel at the end of that period. Most of that was due to more drivers and more cars. On a per vehicle basis the average miles driven has gone form 11,200 to 12,200 in the past 10 years. Of all CAFE's numerous flaws this might be the most glaring. It does not positively address this part of the equation. In fact, I've read credible estimates that it has an adverse effect here. If a driver's vehicle were to get 10% better mileage it is projected that he'd drive 2% more miles. Add to that the long term trend of people driving 1% more miles every year and you are clearly fighting a losing battle by simply looking at vehicle fuel efficiency.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    On a per vehicle basis the average miles driven has gone form 11,200 to 12,200 in the past 10 years.

    So basically we in this country are driving about 25,000 miles a year on average if you figure 2 vehicles per household, right ?

    DaRock
    :shades:
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The typical household that has 2 vehicles also has at least 2 drivers. I don't make up these statistics. I get them from The Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

    www.bts.gov
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    I'm not questioning your merit pal. I believe ya. I was just very interested in the topic. I was told by a car salesmen at a dealership a few years ago the average american drives like 15 point something thousand miles a year.

    Keep up the good posts pal. ;)

    Rocky
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    You're correct, of course, and that will be the quickest route to cash savings for all the folks currently feeling the pain of high gas prices: reduced consumption. Stay home more, people! Combine trips, drive slower, pump up your tires, save $50/month or more right there before you even start to look at other solutions.

    But the poster I was replying to was, I believe, questioning the merits of trying to rein in oil consumption AT ALL, and I was just pointing out one example of how we as a nation might benefit.

    Now, what better way to reduce miles driven than with a rise in gas taxes, eh?! ;-)

    I am tongue in cheek there, but I do not believe CAFE will ever accomplish anything again - the carmakers are too experienced at side-stepping it now, after 30 years' practice.

    It's so funny to witness all the hot air the politicians are expending right now in Washington as they scramble desperately to look like they are doing something as the gas prices rise into the stratosphere. Problem is, this is a long-term problem that required the implementation of a long-term solution 10, 20 years ago. And long-term solutions are something that politicians don't have the first clue about.

    Meanwhile, $3.25/gallon is the latest price for 87 unleaded tonight at the gas station I normally go to, which makes it official: that is $1/gallon MORE than it was in January this year, an increase in price of 45% in FOUR MONTHS. It's beyond unacceptable, but makes me very glad that I currently drive last year's EPA fueleconomy.gov grand prize winner for highest fuel economy among straight gas cars.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Now, what better way to reduce miles driven than with a rise in gas taxes, eh?!

    Maybe higher gas taxes isn't the answer. We haven't tried this approach so whether or not it would be beneficial is speculation. We've tried CAFE and it doesn't work. We've asked the public to voluntarily conserve and that doesn't work. I guess we could try rationing but I suspect that would be a disaster. There are a lot of people that say leave it to the free market. Funny, a lot of these people are the same ones complaining about the current market prices and asking the government to intervene.

    Out of curiousity. What do you think would happen if all these countries that currently have high gas taxes suddenly dropped them to US levels? Is this something that we'd like to see them do? Or have we adopted a double standard where we believe high gas taxes are appropriate for everyone else, just not the US.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    We all seem to agree on, CAFE doesn't work. CARB is in the came boat. There are simply too many competing political agendas for any political solution like CAFE to succeed. Taxing Gas seems like a simple solution but without mass transit that actually goes to where people work how will that effect the working poor?

    To answer the question about what we think if all these other countries dropped their high Fuel taxes? I doubt if the average American cares one bit. A few years ago, when diesel was still the way to go, I knew a lot of people that lived in lower San Diego county. They were perfectly happy to drive just across the border to buy Mexican diesel, at about half of what it cost in the US.

    Nippon is correct on this one. You have to have a solution that gives incentives to the consumer to conserve. The problem is, how do you do it in a positive way? Personally, I think alternative fuels would work better than trying to get people to stay home more. Biodiesel sounds like a positive step. But with programs like CAFE why would a manufacturer bother?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    How much am I really going to save ?

    That is what I have looked at each time I bought a new truck. Along the way I have owned several small Japanese PU trucks. The Fuel economy is just not enough to offset the hauling, towing & comfort of the fullsize PU truck. I came to Edmund's 7 years ago looking for a small diesel PU that would get good mileage. Still none are offered in the USA. I could own one in any country in the world outside the US.

    I blame the high usage of fossil fuels directly on the environmental lobbyists in DC. They have put zero emissions as their goal. Fossil fuel usage is not as important to them. GHG has caused a split in the ranks. CO2 is directly related to fuel usage. That is one reason the EU adopted higher quality diesel and the cars that use it. You get along with 30% better economy, 30% lower CO2 using diesel instead of gas.

    For example a Prius getting 40 MPG will put out more CO2 than a Jetta TDI getting 45 MPG.

    Switch to Diesel in cars and small PU trucks and we cut fuel usage and GHG faster than all the CAFE standards could possibly attain.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    I am tongue in cheek there, but I do not believe CAFE will ever accomplish anything again - the carmakers are too experienced at side-stepping it now, after 30 years' practice.

    Toyota is the prime example of what you are saying. They come out with a hybrid to match each gas hog. Notice the Camry Hybrid and the FJ Cruiser hit the streets about the same time. You watch the figures. They will not sell anymore hybrids than needed to offset the gas guzzling vehicles they sell.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    To answer the question about what we think if all these other countries dropped their high Fuel taxes? I doubt if the average American cares one bit.

    I agree that the average American wouldn't object to this proposal, its the ultimate consequences they might object to.

    It is reasonable to assume that consumers, who've gotten used to paying $6/gallon, would increase their consumption significantly if the price suddenly dropped to $3/gallon like it is here. That increased demand would have to drive up the price of oil. The price of oil would need to go up to at least $200/barrel before they were forced to pay the same $6/gallon price that they had been paying. Probably an equilibrium would have been reached before this. Let's say this happened around $150 barrel. So now all the gas consumers throughout the industrialized nations would be paying roughly the same $4.50/gallon. Would American's object to this? I think so.

    My point is we can criticize other countries' high fuel tax policies but it has led to increased conservation on their parts, which has benefited us.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    well, that is PART of the picture, it's true. To be precise, the FJ hit the streets the same time as TWO models that saved gas, the Camry hybrid and the Yaris, rated at 40 mpg.

    In addition to that, Toyota's two volume models are Corolla (rated 41 mpg, 350K sales per year) and the 4-cylinder Camry, rated at 33 mpg in the new model (and good for roughly 340K sales per year in the 4-cyl configuration). Meanwhile, they hope to sell 50K FJ's per year, I believe it is?

    However, carmakers will continue to make trucks bigger and bigger to get around CAFE, and if Bush has his way with the car standards, will probably abandon small cars outright in favor of the large cars that will now have their own lower fuel economy standard, and are more profitable, after all.

    In the rest of the world, sky-high gas taxes have caused them to structure their societies around walking and extensive, excellent public transportation. That did not happen overnight, and is why I do not advocate raising gas taxes overnight in the U.S. If we adopted a 20-40 year course of raising them, now that might be a good thing.

    boaz: why NOT ask people to stay home more? Americans as a group have some of the largest most luxurious homes in the world, with endless channels of video entertainment available at the touch of a button! Not to mention, we sure could use the space on the streets. :-)

    As for other solutions to our problems, we could try diesel, sure. We could somehow fix CAFE to make all the cars and trucks get 50 mpg (still running on refined oil products of course, let's not forget that! :sick: ). We could try hybrids, we could try alt fuels, we could even make a proper attempt at the ethanol thing, which is currently dead in the water - who cares if half the fleet runs on E85 when you can't buy it at gas stations?

    We are still avoiding the PRIMARY PROBLEM: we as Americans have a society and a lifestyle structured to consume WAY TOO MUCH ENERGY. Not a small problem, and not one with a quick fix, but one that gets more urgent with every passing decade. There will be such an ENORMOUS cost to our grandchildren for our follies today. :-(

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    There will be such an ENORMOUS cost to our grandchildren for our follies today.

    When you look at our National debt it boggles the mind. Our National debt has gone up every year for over 65 years, except one year, 1959. That does not include our personal debt level in this country. Will our children and grandchildren carry on the tradition? Will it ever end? Maybe when the oil truly runs out.

    I don't see CAFE doing anything to slow down our consumption level. I agree that a slow raising of the gas tax may be a solution.
  • gljvdgljvd Posts: 129
    I think its simple .

    Introduce diesel to the usa . Roll it out and mandate it to be offered by each car company in each class segment .

    Swith to ethonal blends on the unleaded gas side .

    Slowly move up the cafe standards for both diesel and gas .

    This is the way to move foward . I want to buy a jeep patriot , I would buy a diesel version in a heart beat if it was offered , I'm sure alot of others would too
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Slowly move up the cafe standards for both diesel and gas .

    This is the way to move foward


    Define moving forward. We use about 20 million barrels of oil a day right now. This increases by about 1 1/2 to 2 percent each year. So at the current rate we will be burning about 24 mbd in 10 years. If in 10 years, through higher CAFE, we are only burning 22 mbd would that be considered moving forward?

    I agree that expanded use of diesel would have a significant impact on increasing fleet fuel efficiency but I really don't think that is the goal. Reduced fuel consumption is the goal, which is fuel efficiency multiplied by miles driven. Addressing only one component of the equation will not be the most effective approach. In fact, increased fuel efficiency will actually serve to increase miles driven, which offsets some of the gains.

    CAFE has been conclusively proven to be a flawed approach. Why does anyone still support it?
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    One big problem, while I believe diesel is a great alternative there is in the US a great group of people against it. In the US the key word is, Particulents. Our standards are so much higher then Europe's that even the new diesel won't pass California standards without a particulant trap. And there is the rub, the trap needs cleaning or replacing and the laws on the books say the smog system must be covered for close to the life of the car. CO2 may be harmful but you can see Particulents. And what you can see is even harder on the lungs. The challenge is not an easy one.

    Nippon, ask people to stay at home and not travel? I imagine half of the economy of California is based on tourists. And half of our fuel usage is in other forms other than motor fuel. Our fuel usage in the airlines must be staggering besides. I remember after 911 the grounded the airlines and my fuel prices in our area at least dropped 40 cents a gallon. But you are correct, there has to be a change in mindset.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    A barrel of oil yeilds approximately 20 gallons of gasoline, 4 gallons of jet fuel, 10 gallons of diesel/heating oil and about 10 gallons of other stuff. I don't think this is adjustable. So if we burn 400 million gallons of gas a day we will need 20 million barrels of oil regardless of how much jet fuel is being used. While I've heard this rational before I've never completely understood how demand for heating oil or jet fuel effects the price of gasoline. Maybe I'm wrong on this. Is it possible for a refinery to produce more than 20 gallons of gasoline per barrel of oil by choosing to produce less diesel or jet fuel? If someone definitively knows the answer to this I'd appreciate the info.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    yes, the mix of things we refine crude oil into is strictly our choice. The current mix reflects the current demand. If air travel were to skyrocket, you would see refinery demands for jet fuel rise, and the price at the pump go up accordingly. Ditto the demand for heating oil if we get an especially cold winter. Gas for cars is in a squeeze. I don't see gas prices coming down much any time soon.

    Here in California, election season has heated up in the TV ads with two candidates battling it out over increasing gas taxes to combat this problem, which one candidate advocates and the other opposes.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    I remember reading that the reason we started using gas in our cars was the fact that it was a byproduct of making kerosene and heating oil. Kerosene, # 1 diesel and jet fuel are basically the same thing. Gas, way back when, was just dumped as a useless byproduct.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Here in California, election season has heated up in the TV ads with two candidates battling it out over increasing gas taxes to combat this problem, which one candidate advocates and the other opposes.

    That's interesting that a candidate actually has the balls to suggest increasing the gas tax. Throughout the rest of the country most politicians are suggesting that the gas tax be reduced to provide some assistance at the pump. That is absolutely the wrong thing to do in that by lowering the price you will simply increase demand, which will in turn offset some of the savings. A state might end up forfeiting 20 cents a gallon in revenue, which might result in only providing an 18 cent reduction in gas prices. Not a very good investment. There's got to be a better way to mitigate the effects of high gas prices on the economy.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    There's got to be a better way to mitigate the effects of high gas prices on the economy.

    People could drive less. The roads are packed all day. I don't think anyone is at work.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    I think historical this country gives lip service to political correctness on things like the environment and conservation until we reach a economic crisis. Then political correctness falls to the wayside. The price at the pump may be discomforting and people may complain but they don't seem to care as much as they did when we thought gas was running out, like in the 70s. Because we as a culture are consumers and are willing to work to pay for what we consume even if it seems excessive to our foreign cousins. Because we have the ability and capacity to do so. Go to a dinner party and the conversation hardly ever turns to the plight of our poor european cousins paying higher fuel prices because of high taxes. If anything we as a culture believe they are foolish to not vote their leaders out, even if it is more difficult to vote them out than it might be here.

    what we over look when we propose higher fuel taxes is higher costs on every thing we buy. Higher taxes to the average consumer makes it harder for the lower income person to survive so they often find is easier to go on welfair. A reaction very common in parts of Europe. Higher fuel taxes and fuel prices drive up the cost of food. Do we as a nation care that in Japan a Cantelope costs $38.00 each? No we only care what it cost us. De we care if they pay twice or three times what we do for beef? No we only care that we pay less.

    There is simply no way a program like CAFE can work without lowering our life style to that of other countries and that is simply something most Americans can't support. At least that is how I see it. ;)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    The latest wrinkle in the CAFE standards will be E85. Most of the vehicles offered for E85 are at least 10 MPG under the CAFE 27.2 MPG standard. So you can buy a FFV to circumvent the CAFE rules and just run regular gas in it.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Yes, GM used to get CAFE credits for making Multi fuel vehicles. Just making them allowed them to get credits on what their bigger vehicles used. Just my opinion but that is why I believe the Japanese made a brilliant manufacturing move when they conned CARB into dropping their zero emmisions demands and settled for Hybrids. Thirty years ago CARB demanded zero emmisions vehicles from the manufacturers by the year 2000. The manufacturers countered with the suggestion that they couldn't do it in the time allotted but they could produce a Hybrid even back then. As 2000 approached GM, Ford, Toyota and even Honda were working frantically on Electric cars. GM had the EV-1, Ford had the Think and Toyota had a whole fleet of Rav4 electric cars operating in New York. Just as soon as Honda and Toyota decided to market the hybrids CARB and CAFE dropped their demand and the manufacturers dropped electric cars. Now the common thought by CAFE is that zero emmisions aren't practical and no one is pushing for it. CAFE is rule by committee and a Committee is only as smart as their dumbest member. CAFE has to have a lot of fools on it. :blush:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    CAFE has to have a lot of fools on it

    Amen and CARB likewise!
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    If Supreme Court rules EPA must regulate emissions, Big 3 would have to invest heavily in alternative fuels.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060627/AUTO01/606270378/- 1148

    Rocky
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    to see how the Supremes rule on this thing. Either way, though, I don't think it will have much impact on fuel economy requirements for cars. Remember, the EPA is just a division of the government, and it operates under the heavy thumb of whoever is in the administration. Under Dubya, EPA has reneged on just about every duty it has for the last six years, and reversed decades of progress on protecting the environment.

    But if the Supremes rule that EPA DOES have this authority, it will strengthen the positions of the state governments like California's (and a dozen others so far) that want to regulate CO2 emissions themselves. That's a good thing.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    as the primary "greenhouse" gas causing a warming of the earth, carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

    I think the Supreme Court will side with the Appeals court. If they can control CO2 they can tell you when to breathe and when not to. It is way to basic and foolish. I am surprised they agreed to take the case. Too bad it is such a political football. If we want less CO2 open up the gates for more diesel cars. They put out less CO and CO2 per mile driven. Kyoto is a flop and even the progenitors in Japan cannot live up to their own stupid idea. Britain is waffling when Tony Blair said it was unrealistic to try and achieve.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    hehehe, yeah, and DOZENS AND DOZENS of other nations are forging ahead with what is admittedly a small first step that must be followed after 2010 by much more drastic action.

    Diesels sound nice until you consider other pollutants. We need to reduce use, etc etc.

    The Supremes only have about what, two months until their yearly break? So this should be decided by then. As you and I BOTH say, this is merely a political exercise, but I hope it helps out California's latest legislation and litigatory battle.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

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