Has CAFE reached the end of its usefulness?

nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
I noticed in a news article this morning that after much blood, sweat, and tears, the Bush administration is finally ready to complete its "reform" of the CAFE regulations, the "biggest structural change in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program since its inception in 1975."

http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060327/SUB/60324048/1078/ne- wsletter02&refsect=newsletter02

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.

2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)



  • bumpybumpy Member Posts: 4,425
    Naah, just tax vehicles based on weight. Under 3,000 pounds- $0. 3-4k lbs- $1000; 4-5k- $2000, 5-6k- $3000, etc. Under 2500 lbs- $1000 tax credit, under 2,000 lbs- $2000 credit, etc.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    nippon - good post. I agree with everything you said. Let's move to a consumption-based penalty/incentive model instead of a fixed system that the manufacturers can just work around. Make it so that the consumer has a monetary incentive to buy higher-mileage vehicles, and they will follow.

    I might want to protect the commercial truckers from this to some degree, however, when it comes to a gas tax. Maybe just tax gasoline and not diesel.
  • sls002sls002 Member Posts: 2,788
    Railroads are far more efficient than trucks, so do not exempt commercial truckers.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    I hear what you're saying about commercial truckers and other commercial users like farmers for instance. However, if we tax only the gas and not the diesel, we have just created yet another loophole as bad as the ones in CAFE.

    Instead, I say give them the money back in their IRS tax filings. Give them a huge gas tax credit, provided they verify they are performing a business (like commercial trucking especially) that requires the use of fuel.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • socala4socala4 Member Posts: 2,427
    For one, I would give up the idea that increased fuel taxes are a viable alternative to CAFE. It won't happen, not because it doesn't make economic sense (a fuel tax would be the best way to incentivize reduced fuel consumption), but because it would be political suicide for any politician in the US, whether Dem or Republican, to support such a thing. Not only would the electorate rebel, but the automotive lobby would strenuously oppose it, and would surely bankroll an ad campaign that would help to kill off any such proposal, along with whoever had the courage/foolishness to support it.

    The problem with CAFE is that it never accomplished its intended goal -- to force the Big 2.5 to build a high quality small car. Instead of working hard to comply with the word and spirit of CAFE, the Detroit automakers have done everything possible to take the teeth out of it in order to make it a non-issue. And rather than step up to the plate by building a great small car that could compete on its own merits against Toyota, etc., it sought instead to build pretty bad small cars, and to dump them by selling them into fleets.

    As a result, not only does Detroit make minimal money on small car sales, but those cars help to feed Detroit's reputation for poor quality, which in turns hurts their market share. So it has been a double whammy that didn't have to happen, but was bound to happen when Big 2.5 management is intent on shooting itself in the foot. Talk about taking a potential opportunity, and turning it into yet another failing.

    At this point, I would simply increase the CAFE requirements. The electorate won't care, so the only ones left to protest it would be the lobbyists who could be end run in this case by most politicians outside of Michigan. Meanwhile, as truck and SUV sales decline, Detroit may have no choice but to build decent small cars if they wish to comply with strengthened rules, so perhaps some improved products might come from the effort. I have my doubts about this working, because the management of these firms seems so inept and shortsighted, and I'm not exactly a huge fan of CAFE, but I can't think of a better alternative that would actually pass political muster.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    it was recently in the news here in California that they have actually put a bill on the agenda this year, sponsored by CARB, that would levy gas taxes for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (ie burning less gas!). Now this is California only, of course, and there has been no news since so I don't know the fate of that bill - there probably isn't one yet, as it's early in the year.

    But if it passes here, I will be very interested to see if the other states that follow California emissions standards mimic the tax, and if so, if it ever makes it to a national action.

    Anyway, tax and incentivize is perhaps not the only way to fix this problem. But clearly the latest CAFE "reform" is one more in a long line of sad little jokes, so it isn't going to accomplish anything. Perhaps there are other alternatives to it besides a gas tax?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,358
    I recall reading a few years ago that GM supported higher gas taxes, and I seem to recall William Clay Ford, Jr., also coming out in favor of this method of encouraging conservation.

    They felt that if gas prices were higher, their companies would be assured a ready audience for more fuel-efficient vehicles. CAFE places all of the risk on the manufacturers...they can design a vehicle for maximum efficiency, but with that focus comes certain compromises, and low gas prices do not encourage buyers to pay for those compromises. Higher gas prices encourage buyers to give more weight to fuel efficiency (look at what last year's run-up in gas prices did to mid-size SUV sales).

    Most Americans still equate size with status and price. I remember looking at an Opel Astra in Germany in 2004 (about the size of a Cobalt). Converted to dollars, it would have sold for about $26,000 in the U.S. Granted, it was beautifully styled and finished, but not too many Americans (at least, not the 250,000+ GM needs to make it a profitable product) would pony up that much for a Cobalt-sized car, especially one with a Chevy badge.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    taxes make up half the price of gas, and I don't think anything that drastic should happen here.

    But all the folks who say wearily "just try to find the suicidal politician that would dare propose gas taxes" might be thinking 1995 a bit too much. This isn't the roaring 90s any more. This is the fearful '00s. A lot of people really buy into the notion that importing oil from terrorism hotbeds is a bad idea. You push that with your gas tax.

    There is a growing awareness that global warming isn't just talk or the fodder for movies, and that cars and trucks are a BIG contributor, for which less fuel consumption would be a perfect solution.

    And then there is the HUGE backlog of overdue highway maintenance in this country. You could remind people when you instituted a gas tax that all the extra revenues would be going to highway repair.

    Plus, if you present it to the automakers this way, using the arguments grbeck mentioned about no longer forcing them into a devil's choice with the ridiculous CAFE, they are likely not to oppose it in their typical knee-jerk fashion.

    This is only impossible if we say it is and don't try.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • turboshadowturboshadow Member Posts: 338
    I hold CAFE rules responsible for the minvans and SUVs. Families could no longer get the big station wagons they thought the needed to haul the family on vacation once a year, so they bought trucks, which were not included in the CAFE rules.

    In the engineering world, we call that an unintended consequence. Overall, CAFEmay have done more harm than good.

  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    with the latest round of "CAFE reforms", automakers will simply expand the use of crew cab family haulers with an open bed, a la Avalanche and SportTrac, in order to get around the latest regs that will now force them to improve the fuel economy of their precious SUVs, or be fined for failing to do so.

    And automakers will once again side-step CAFE regulations, and a new "crew cab" boom will replace the "SUV boom" of the 90s. And who knows what new variations this will spawn: automakers have MUCH more imagination when they are trying to create vehicles that sidestep CAFE regs, than they apply to trying to improve the fuel economy of their fleets.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • sls002sls002 Member Posts: 2,788
    I think that the minivan was the primary reason that the station wagon went away. The minivan was certainly a better choice if space was the needed feature. SUV's became popular for a combination of reasons: 1) 4 wheel drive, 2) higher seating position allows for better visibility, 3) towing, 4) SUV's became the in vehicle.

    The large station wagons were really not bigger or better than minivans for space. In the 60's, the VW bus was the only minivan. Big vans were/became available, but were more trucklike and burned a lot of fuel. The minivan had decent fuel economy and reasonable space.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,329
    Railroads are far more efficient than trucks, so do not exempt commercial truckers.

    Last time I checked, there's no railroad line running to my back door, so don't write off the big rigs just yet. :P Basically, the railroads and the trucking industry need each other.

    As for taxing vehicles by weight, I don't think that's very fair, because some larger vehicles might get better fuel economy than some smaller ones. And when you consider that roads are generally designed to support at least the weight of a school bus, garbage truck, etc, the difference between a 2000 pound Metro and a 5000 lb SUV, which is also going to have larger tires, a longer wheelbase, and wider track to spread the weight out, is practically nil.

    Definitely close that 8500 lb GVWR loophole, though. And even though it would cause me to pay more, close the loopholes for trucks in general. There's no reason that my 1985 Silverado should cost LESS to register every two years than my 2000 Intrepid!

    Also, maybe a distinction could be made between commercial vehicles and privately-owned vehicles, to help close the truck fuel economy loophole. And definitely change it so that things like the PT Cruiser, Magnum, Legacy, etc, don't get classified as trucks!
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    that's part of their proposal - only pick-ups with an open bed at the rear will be exempted from the "new" CAFE regulations, as long as they meet some minimum outside dimensions (size, not weight). Which is why I say that of course, all this means is that carmakers will find new and innovative ways to build large vehicles consumers want, that happen to have some type of small open bed at the rear. And voila! Another loophole will have been created. :-(

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,329
    carmakers will find new and innovative ways to build large vehicles consumers want, that happen to have some type of small open bed at the rear.

    Hmmm, maybe Subaru jumped the gun in canning the Baja? Naaaah! :) I wonder if this loophole might make vehicles with a convertible-type rear popular? I'm thinking along the lines of those old Studebaker wagons (Wagonaire?) with the retractable roof, or the more recent GMC Envoy that could do it. Or even something like those old Broncos, Blazers, and Ramchargers that had the removeable rear part of the roof.
  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,747
    If people want small cars they will buy them if not why is the solution always to tax people more? And just what does cutting our income do for our lifestyle? This might not be 1995 and people might be fearful of the future but doesn't higher gas prices do the very same thing a suggested tax would? So if the gas prices are already higher and you add a tax does it hurt the average person more than the upper middle class? No because some people will get a car allowance that increases by mile based on the cost to drive per mile. My neighbor working two jobs and having to drive to both will spend a bigger portion of his income on his transportation expenses than I will considering I only have to drive to work and back and have a company car using company gas. This kind of problem is not solved by taxing the "other" guy because we are taxing ourselves. Every thinking politician has got to realize this just doesn't work. CAFE doesn't work, and never has. CARB doesn't work and never has. If you ask why, deep inside you already know the answer. It is a political solution and by nature is too cumbersome to succeed.

    We have tried the CAFE and CARB solutions for more than 30 years and it has gone nowhere. Maybe we should for once just let the market decide what we drive and what we buy. It works in just about every other commodity from food to cloths it just might work for cars. Drop CAFE and CARB and see what happens, or are we afraid of the free market?
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    tell me how it works. Really.

    Food: we get half of our produce from abroad now, places 10,000 miles away in some cases, even though we have some of the richest most fertile soil in the world right here at home. Why? Because they can do it cheaper. And so we employ more and more illegals here every year even as farmers scrape their pennies together, trying to stay in business.

    Clothes: 12-year-old children halfway around the world beg for the privilege of working 12-hour days for $1 so that we can spend $49.95 at Sears on a pair of jeans. Meanwhile, the textile industry is gone in the U.S., and clothing manufacture is just about extinct here too. A perfect microcosm of what is now happening to one of the last manufacturing bastions of U.S. industry - the automakers.

    The free market does nothing but accelerate the spiral to the bottom, kind sir. That is why some controls are required, and indeed, the U.S. economy has never been close to a "free market" for its entire history.

    Right now we are like the fat kid in the pantry, busily chomping his way through all the food (he started with the candy!). Ask the kid what he will do when the food is all gone and you will get no answer. He doesn't care - he is way too busy stuffing his face to address such "mundane" questions.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,747
    Your point might be valid. And I understand what you are saying. However you are placing your hopes on politicians to do what is right and these are the very same ones that got us where we are in the first place. If the politicians we have, took us from a a lending nation to a debtor nation how can you trust them to. A: Make a tax that is fair to everyone? And B: spend the tax money on what they are supposed to? You live in the same state as I do and how many times have temporary taxes become Permanent taxes?

    I agree there has to be a solution but I don't see tossing money at the problem as that solution.

    Lets try another tack. Why aren't people buying the smaller cars CAFE and CARB have supported? What has kept bigger cars ahead of the pack? I don't think we can say that it is because we a just a whole pack of greedy dirt bags. And if it is National greed why would a politician go against his or her voter base? And if as you say we have never been a free market how would we know it won't work? We haven't tried it. We know CARB and CAFE don't work. If we want to keep them maybe we should toss everyone that has anything to do with them today and start over will all new people?

    We both see the problem, I just see taxing people as more of the same old solution. If we need to make rules then make them laws so we can all vote on it. Taxes are most often just a way to get passed the voter. In my opinion my friend. ;)
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    if we're going to try the cut-all-the-taxes approach, then we have to also accept that the age of wars in foreign lands to protect sources of cheap oil is over - that is just one more subsidy that our new free market simply will not allow on principle!

    America becomes more of a debtor nation every year, and it seems to me it is a sound proposition that decreasing imports of foreign oil to counteract that trend is a good idea for the collective well-being of Americans. But each individual American will never see that collective interest as they make individual purchasing decisions. It is human nature for people to want the OTHER guy to be the one to make the necessary sacrifices...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    Move comes as gas prices hit $3; Big 3 may be hard-pressed to meet higher standards quickly.

    President Bush talks to Michael Wade, left, and Marty James at a Biloxi, Miss., gas station. While in Mississippi, the president said Congress was debating several energy concepts, "and one idea is to give me a capacity to raise CAFE standards."

    WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration asked Congress Thursday for authority to raise fuel economy standards for passenger cars for the first time in more than 20 years as public pressure to reduce rising gas prices intensifies.

    The proposal, which administration officials acknowledge was prompted by recent gas spikes, could head off more radical efforts in Congress to immediately impose stricter standards.

    Even if he's successful, the change won't have an immediate impact at the pump or on consumer demand. However, the Bush proposal could eventually lead to a major improvement in passenger car fuel economy, which could save millions of gallons of gasoline but raise automakers vehicle development costs.

    Congress by law set the current standard of 27.5 miles per gallon for cars, which hasn't changed since the mid-1980s. Bush wants authority to raise car standards through an administrative process similar to what he now does for light trucks.

    "The president believes these actions are critical to promoting our nation's energy security and independence," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta wrote in a letter to Congress.

    While automakers have vigorously objected to tighter fuel economy standards in the past, they no longer reflexively oppose increases in vehicle fuel efficiency -- as long as they are involved in the deliberations.

    "We've supported reasonable and technologically feasible increases," Chrysler Group spokesman Jason Vines said. "All we ask is to be part of the process."

    GM said it wanted to ensure that any new rules were fair to manufacturers -- a position the administration supported.

    In Biloxi, Miss., Thursday, President Bush noted Congress was debating several energy-related concepts, "and one idea is to give me a capacity to raise CAFE standards on automobiles."

    "I encourage them to give me that authority. It's authority that I used for light trucks. And I intend to use it wisely if Congress would give me that authority," Bush said.

    Under current law, any changes in Corporate Average Fuel Economy wouldn't take effect for 18 months -- to give automakers time to comply -- and it would take months more to write the new standards.

    Congress must approve the proposal to give the administration the power to raise the standards. An earlier effort by Congress to grant the Bush administration authority wasn't approved.

    New size-based rules issued last month will raise the fuel economy standards for some light trucks to 24.1 miles per gallon by 2011. Smaller light trucks will have to meet a target of 28.4 mpg, more than the current requirement of 27.5 mpg for cars.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has "the technical expertise to regulate fuel economy in a manner that is cost effective, based on sound science and safeguards vehicle occupants," Mineta wrote in his letter to Congress.

    "Substantial increases in CAFE standards under the current single standard approach would increase fatalities on America's highways, raise health care costs and reduce employment."

    "It is imperative that CAFE standards be set through an administrative process based on sound science and data," Mineta said in his letter.

    When the rulemaking for new fuel economy standards begins, the automakers often provide highly sensitive sales forecasts for future years and technical specifications of future models.

    That helps regulators but hinders public scrutiny of the rules, since none of the material is ever made public, environmental groups argue.

    To quickly meet a new higher fuel economy standard, automakers might be required to drastically reduce the weight of cars, which could potentially raise traffic deaths.

    Last year, 43,200 people were killed in accidents, up 1.3 percent over the 42,636 killed in 2004 -- the highest number since 1990.

    Bush plans to meet with the CEOs of Ford, GM and the Chrysler Group on May 18, and among the issues for the tentatively set meeting are fuel economy rules.

    The Bush administration's effort also potentially heads off efforts by some in Congress to immediately raise fuel economy standards -- and without the automakers' input.

    Automakers have argued that arbitrary fuel economy standards might be impossible to hit.

    Fighting hikes in fuel economy rules has long been one of the U.S. and foreign automakers legislative priorities.

    In 1989, then-Sen. Richard Bryan introduced a bill to raise standards 40 percent over a decade -- to an average of 40 miles per gallon -- though automakers said the standard would be impossible to reach.

    In 2002, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass. and John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed to raise fuel economy to 36 miles per gallon by 2015, a bill that wasn't approved by Congress.

    A Ford spokeswoman declined comment, because she hadn't seen the letter.

    In March, the administration issued tougher fuel economy standards for light trucks and included larger SUVs for the first time ever. The new rules will save 10.7 billion gallons of fuel.

    Mineta said the new rules "close loopholes that have long plagued the current system."

    But it didn't go as far as environmental advocates had sought.

    In addition, the light truck fuel economy standards will save more than 250 million gallons a year by including the largest sport utility vehicles, those that weigh between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds. Mineta said these large SUVs will be included in the program starting in 2011.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060428/AUTO01/604280328/- 1148
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    yeah, this will accomplish nothing just as the revisions of the truck standards will do nothing but pander to the domestics. They will now make their trucks bigger to beat the standard. No prob - Americans love bigger trucks anyway.

    As for the cars, up until now automakers had to at least TRY to make fuel-efficient cars to meet the average, which applied to all cars they sold. Now there will be no need to try to do that any more, because they can just quit making small cars, and then will only have to meet a lesser standard becausr their cars are larger, which have a lower requirement for fuel efficiency.

    Way to go Bushie! :-)

    CAFE HAS to go. Period.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    I agree, CAFE is and has always been a joke.

    I do have a question about how these averages are computed. I'll use an extreme example. If company A sells 2 cars, one rated at 10 mpg and the other rated at 50 mpg would its CAFE be 30 mpg? I'm assuming it would be. Now if company B sells 2 cars that both get 25 mpg its average would obviously be 25 mpg. So which company's cars burned less gas? Well if you drove all 4 cars 100 miles then company A's cars burned 12 gallons of gas compared to only 8 for company B. A far more credible approach would have been not to average fuel efficiency ratings but to average fuel burned, say per 100 miles. With this approach company A's 2 cars would have been rated at 10 and 2 for an average of 6 gallons consumed per 100 miles. Company B's cars would have been rated at 4 and 4 for an average of 4. Like I said, I don't support CAFE at all but at least this approach better reflects which company's cars are burning the most gas.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    Taxes are unavoidable. I don't like them any better than anyone else and see them as having the same effect as a fine. So an income tax is a fine for working and a gas tax is a fine for adding to our trade deficit and putting CO2 into the atmosphere. Which behavior does it make more sense to fine? Your neighbor that works two jobs is probably fined at a higher rate for his harder work. If the revenue collected from gas taxes could be offset by adjusting income tax brackets and rates I'd be all for it.

    American's use about 330 million gallons of gasoline a day. In a year a $2/gallon tax on fuel would provide about $250 billion in revenue for the government. That would pay for a lot of tax cuts and also cover expansion of public transit for the poor. I recently read an article where an expert in the oil industry said that if the US cut consumption by 3% the price of oil would crash. If a $2/gallon gas tax resulted in this kind of reduced consumption, which in turn significantly reduced the price for oil you might find that the government was able to collect $2 in taxes but it only ended up costing you $1.50. Not to mention the benefit of cleaner air and reduced congestion on the roads. If you've got to have a tax at least make it one that produces some beneficial consequences.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014

  • rorrrorr Member Posts: 3,630
    "So an income tax is a fine for working and a gas tax is a fine for adding to our trade deficit and putting CO2 into the atmosphere. Which behavior does it make more sense to fine?"

    Sounds like you'd be in favor of eliminating income taxes and replacing them with consumption taxes.

    Sign me up.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    That's exactly what I'm saying.

    If the discussion is about the merits of CAFE then it makes sense to discuss better options, e.g. fuel taxes. And the auto manufacturers definitely favor this approach over higher CAFE. The appeal of CAFE is that it places none of the burden on the person using the product that you are trying to conserve. It also doesn't work. I don't believe that they have fuel standards in Europe and the fleet efficiency for cars is 42 mpg (almost 50% higher than here). Granted some of that is due to diesel availability but that doesn't explain it all. Germany, France and Great Britain all burn less gas today than they did 10 years ago.
  • john500john500 Member Posts: 409
    It is clear that the US government will NEVER do anything environmentally responsible when it comes to transportation. It has been ~35 years since the first oil embargo. It has been ~15 years since the EU/Kyoto emission reduction standards. I'm in favor of ANYTHING (high fuel tax, high registration costs, inflation) that forces the average American to get out of their tank. I can't take another 5 foot tall person in a high riding SUV with 97 % blind spots when I am on my motorcycle.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    My understanding of the way these new CAFE standards will be implemented is that cars need to meet an average efficiency within a weight class. So a 2,500 lb Miata that gets 25/30 city/hwy mpg might create more of a problem for the auto manufacturer than a 5,500 lb SUV rated at 15/20 mpg. Does anyone think that's not insane?
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    You are spot on. That's insane. Unfortunately, we live in a country of people who are singularly unaware of what is going on in the rest of the world and become more so every year, with a government that finds new ways to profit from that fact at every turn.

    50 years of being programmed to believe that the U.S. is the most powerful country in a world dedicated to providing it with infinite resources is a powerful disincentive to changing our ways now that a problem is looming...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gljvdgljvd Member Posts: 129
    The reason big trucks and big cars sell better than the smaller more fuel efficent ones is simple .

    You barely save any money on fuel yet get less room .

    I can go buy a Torrent for 25k almost fully loaded wtih awd. I get 18/22 . I can go buy a vibe for about 20k almost fully loaded with awd . I get 26/31

    How much am I really going to save ? The car of course you save about 5k . But gas what a few thousand over a 100k miles ? Lets say 8k in total between gas and price over say 100k miles . Now depending on driving habits that could be 5-10 years (For me about 10 years ) Is it worth it for me to save 7k to loose out on the much bigger vehical ?

    Take it another way . The ford escape . I can buy one for 19k no frills get 23/26 with the 2.3l or 20/24 with the 3.0

    Does the cost over a 100k really matter ? It would take me almost 10 years to drive that far. Even at 5$ a gallon it would take a long time for it to matter.

    How about the hybrid version. It starts at 27k and gets 33/29 . How long would it take for me to make back the extra money it costs .

    That is why people don't buy the fuel efficent cars . They need to have a good balance. I would love to get 50mpg but i'd never get into a prius . Its just not a car for me . First off I'm way to big for it and secondly it wont suit my needs . I'd need something in the size of a caliber or vibe at least (i'd rather have a torrent sized car but i'd give it up for much better mileage)
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    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?! ;-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tpetpe Member 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 Member Posts: 14,014
    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 ?

  • tpetpe Member 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.

  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    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. ;)

  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    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.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tpetpe Member 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 Member Posts: 2,747
    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 Member Posts: 31,450
    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 Member Posts: 31,450
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 12,555
    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. :-(

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 2,747
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 12,555
    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.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    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 Member 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.
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