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How We'll Get To 54.5 Mpg By 2025 717

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-the-tires dept.
concealment writes "At the end of August this year, the US Department of Transport's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new standards to significantly improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks by 2025. Last week, we took a look at a range of recent engine technologies that car companies have been deploying in aid of better fuel efficiency today. But what about the cars of tomorrow, or next week? What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?"
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How We'll Get To 54.5 Mpg By 2025

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  • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:12AM (#41585519)

    cars suitable for average daily use by more than half the people with that kind of fuel efficiency have been available for decades.

    • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:25AM (#41585693)

      Spot on. I half intended to make a sarcastic post about how all we need is to get everyone to be willing to drive a plastic car with a 40 hp engine, but truly for a lot of people including me, a small (but safe) car is sufficient.

      I actually sold cars briefly. One customer who stuck in my mind was a little old lady who really wanted an 8 cylinder engine. This was about 1990. She might have settled for a 6, but a 4 was no sale, no way. Blew my mind. My own 4 cylinder car sitting in the parking lot, barely out of econo-box class, would do 120 mph. What the hell did she think she needed an 8 cylinder engine for?!? She would not be swayed. A lot of us, me included, are not so different from that old lady.

      • by locopuyo (1433631) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:47AM (#41586023) Homepage
        A poorly designed merge section from one highway to another is what convinced me I needed a quick car.
        It isn't safe merging into 60+ MPH traffic at 30 MPH. Top speed typically isn't a problem but acceleration on cars with wimpy engines is.
        • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:01PM (#41586249)
          You don't need a V6 to merge quickly. Hell, even a whimpy 80s econobox can merge quickly if you have a good driver and manual transmission.
          • by eclectus (209883)

            I used to own an '84 Chevy DIESEL Chevette, and it could get up to 65 to merge onto the interstate. (assuming no headwind) Having 200+ hp in a family sedan is overkill.

            • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:53PM (#41587073)
              But 240 hp with awd in the snow is freaking awesome!
              • you've just correlated yourself to the 80 year old lady who wanted the V8
                • by coyote_oww (749758) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:07PM (#41588277)

                  227hp awd in the snow is indeed fun. and not unreasonable, IMHO. Wanting a V8 was her generation's "I want a car that isn't klunky". That it doesn't have to be a V8 anymore is her ignorance of the changes in engine technology. But, for the young whipersnappers out there, keep in mind that in the early 80s, Mustangs with "sport tuned" engines had V8s that made 140hp. Seriously. The old lady probably experienced a 4-banger of that era, which were uniformly pathetic. As an ex-Pinto owner, I understand her feeling.

                  As a car salesman, you need to put her into a 16valve 4cyl turbo to help her understand that cylinders alone does not measure power very well. :-) And it would be funny...

            • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:36PM (#41587803) Journal

              Anyone can merge if the ramp is long enough. The problem the op described was the short ramps in which i find new 4 cylinder cars have difficulty getting up to speed. There are a lot of clover loop ramps in the east and mid west. These are particularly problematic because you have to merge on the off ramp of the same lane you are trying to pull into. You are literally trying to get up to speed while dodging people slowing down to exit.

              Also, the older 4 and 6 cyl engines were something wanting compared the v8 engines. The automatic transmissions of the time seemed to amplify this lacking of abilities quit a bit. It was still noticeably in standard shift cars but not as drastic. The old lady in question is probably going from experience over the years. I have driven some pretty peppy 4 cylinder cars and some v6 engines that would rival a v8. To this day, I'm still skeptical about small engines and automatic transmissions until I drive them and see it isn't the crap of yesteryear.

          • by omnichad (1198475) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:21PM (#41586509) Homepage

            You don't need manual transmission for that. Push the pedal to the floor in an automatic and it will drop to a low gear to accelerate.

        • by TC Wilcox (954812)
          I drive a pretty wimpy car around a really busy city (Austin, TX) and I've never had a problem getting up to a safe merging speed. In fact, the bigger risk around here is people going 60 mph on the on ramp for a highway when traffic on the highway is only going 20 mph. Perhaps there are other reasons besides safety that you feel you need to drive a car with a lot of get up and go? Of course, as everything I mentioned is anecdotal your mileage may vary....
          • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:43PM (#41586857)

            I live in Austin, and my family has a wimpy car (16-year-old Miata with a manual transmission) and newer cars (BMWs with both manual and automatic transmission).

            Getting the Miata up to highway speeds can be a challenge. I have to merge onto Mopac north and south every day, including taking the north-bound Mopac on-ramp from 2222, where the on ramp is a tight loop. I can wind out the transmission but if people don't get over I'm not going to merge successfully. The 645 can merge wherever because I can meet and beat highway speeds to find a safe gap.

            Honestly though, I think the problem with wimpy engine cars is the poor quality of turbochargers. My wife used to have a few Jettas and the turbo lag was atrocious. I recently saw though that there was new turbocharger technology that can "pre-charge" them or somesuch, effectively eliminating the lag. If those become standard, then turbochargers are great and smaller engines will be significantly more successful. (Also, as I see someone else mention, hybrids can solve this easily as well, as electric motors can provide the merge boost too.)

            • by SuperQ (431) * on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:02PM (#41587239) Homepage

              Yea, afaik all of the modern VW/Audi turbos are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable-geometry_turbocharger [wikipedia.org]. This lets them engage at lower RPM eliminating the turbo lag.

              Most of the time I find people complain about turbo lag I find that they are shifting too soon which keeps the turbo spooled down. Small 4-cyl engines like to be above 2000+rpm compared to 1500rpm that you find in V8/V6 engines.

            • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:15PM (#41587433)

              I recently saw though that there was new turbocharger technology that can "pre-charge" them or somesuch, effectively eliminating the lag.

              Years ago I read an article about a research vehicle that contained a compressor and air tank. When the engine had spare power it would compress air and fill the air tank. When it needed extra power, it would use the compressed air to supercharge the engine (burn more fuel on each piston stroke).

              But then they took it a step further: you could use household electric power to pre-fill the air tank. Then you could use the compressed air (without fuel) to start the engine, eliminating the need for a starter motor and big lead acid battery. And for short trips, and in places where tailpipe emissions are a problem (such as tunnels, or underground garages) you could run entirely on compressed air to move the pistons without burning any fuel.

              By reducing the size of the engine, eliminating the starter motor, reducing the battery size, and shifting part of the energy load from gasoline to grid electricity, they estimated this vehicle could consume 20% less gas while costing less to manufacture.

              Does anyone else remember seeing this? Does anyone know why this idea never took off?

        • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:10PM (#41586383) Homepage

          And acceleration despite a relatively wimpy engine is on major problem that hybrids are designed to tackle. The electric motor isn't enough to drive you very far or very fast on its own, but combining the power of the relatively wimpy internal combustion engine with the power of a relatively wimpy electric motor gives you enough power to merge onto a freeway or go up a steep hill with some confidence. When you don't need that extra power, the relatively wimpy engine is well chosen to give you good fuel economy at highway cruising speed.

      • by Solandri (704621) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:09PM (#41586367)
        Yeah, the problem is getting people to actually buy the high-mileage cars. Here's U.S. car and light truck sales data since 1931 [wardsauto.com]. Light trucks are a separate category under CAFE, and don't have to get as high MPG. Consequently they can be built bigger (relatively) and with more powerful engines. From 1931 to the 1970s (when CAFE was first implemented), light truck sales represented about 15%-20% of passenger vehicle sales. Since CAFE was implemented, light truck sales have climbed to over 50%.

        People in general want the big, powerful "cars" and don't care if they get crappy mileage. Forcing the manufacturers to improve mileage isn't going to change that. It makes me think CAFE is partially based on the conspiracy theory that automakers could make 100 MPG cars, but are all in cahoots with oil companies to keep mileage low. That simply isn't the case - consumers are the ones favoring low mileage cars because of the advantages they offer: extra space, extra safety, more power.

        If you want to encourage increased average vehicle mileage, this supply-side market manipulation just doesn't work that well. It needs to be done via demand-side market manipulation. Jack up fuel taxes to make gasoline more expensive. Then people will start to favor fuel economy more over size, safety, and power.
        • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:28PM (#41586605) Homepage

          Part of what you say is true, but that is not the whole story.... Some people don't just WANT large inefficient cars, they NEED large gas-guzzling vehicles.

          Take, for example, me. I have five kids (three are adopted, so no preaching about overpopulating the Earth). Add the wife, and I need a vehicle to carry at least seven people. Good luck finding a 50 MPG car that can do that. If the whole world drove tiny 50 MPG cars, I would need TWO of them to get anywhere on the weekend -- making an effective 25 MPG.

          Look at it this way: on the weekend, I typically have 7 or 8 people in my average 18.8 MPG van. Not great gas mileage, but that works out to be 150 miles/gallon/PERSON. To match that, you would have to cram four people in a Prius.

          Don't get me wrong. I would love to have better fuel efficienty. If my wife and I did not have any kids, I would likely get a smart car or some other little econo-box. But that simply will not work for my family. I live in a rural area. It is pretty common to see a pickup pulling a trailer with a couple of tons of hay for horses/cattle. How many trips woult that take in a Volt with the back seat crammed full of hay? Sometimes, bugger IS better.

          I am worried about the day when fuel efficiency is mandated such that larger vehicles are essentially no longer produced.

          • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:11PM (#41587369) Journal

            The number who actually need less efficient cars are far fewer than those that actually have them. So, yes there are exceptions, but honestly, there are very few people who actually have five kids these days.

            • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:24PM (#41587565) Homepage

              I do absolutely agree with you. There is a difference between "want" and "need." A few "need" and a lot "want." The problem is, however, who determined the difference? Raising gas prices by an insane amount would certainly drive people to cheaper cars, but it would have a disproportional impact on people like me who legitimately NEED a larger vehicle. Should you have to show proof that you need a larger car before buying one?

              Honesty, I think that $3.63/gallon right now where I live is certainly an incentive in what you buy. I remember when I was younger, people really did not even pay attention to the gas mileage rating of a car. Now, it is a selling point, so a lot of people are getting it.

          • by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:19PM (#41587491)

            I am worried about the day when fuel efficiency is mandated such that larger vehicles are essentially no longer produced.

            The station wagon was legislated away and the SUV took its place. I figure once they mandate away SUVs, we'll start seeing commercial vehicles converted for passenger use. I look forward to my future Mack or Kenworth 18 wheeled family car.

            Seriously, though, I bought a Ford Escape Hybrid for my wife and baby. The rear cargo area holds exactly one stroller, one pack'n'play, and one duffel bag. Nothing more. I posted about this once before and the slashdot community accused my wife and I of being too obese to fit in the car, which is absolutely not the case. It's just not that big. Of course, around here, they think you should let your offspring cling to your neckbeard as you go vacation in the park next to your highrise city apartment.

    • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:37AM (#41585879)
      The 2000 Honda Insight came out 12 years ago and drivers regularly beat this standard. Geo Metros, Suzuki Swifts, Honda CRX HFs, VW Diesel Rabits, VW TDIs.... the list goes on and on.

      The issue isn't making a fuel efficient car, it's making a Ford F150 get 54.5MPG
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:06PM (#41586321)

        Except that the F150 will not have to get 54.5MPG by 2025. It will only need to hit 30MPG by then due to the cluster fuck of regulations that CAFE is. That 30MPG only translates to about 23MPG in real world driving. Part of the problem is that a lot of the CAFE standards are based around the footprint of the vehicle. This provides the car manufacturers with no incentive to give the US small cars since they have to meet much tougher efficiency standards. Go read the link for more information.
        http://jalopnik.com/5948172/how-the-government-killed-fuel-efficient-cars-and-trucks

    • by CdBee (742846) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:42AM (#41585961)
      I run a 2.0 litre 4-cyl Volvo V40 compact estate (station wagon), which is now 11 years old. Over my last 10,000 miles I have had an average fuel economy (brim to brim method) of 37.5mpg - in imperial gallons. So you might say my technologically crude car is pretty close and a little improvement such as start-stop, higher final gearing ratios, low-rolling-resistance tyres, maybe a mild hybrid system, and use of aluminium instead of steel for structures might get it there

      BUT: That's about 31.2mpg in US gallons. I wonder how many Brits are reading this, thinking 'My diesel car does better than that' - and not realising that actually the Americans have set themselves a bar thats 20% higher than it appears to us as their gallons are smaller - 65mpg in fact.

      A handful of cars do manage that - VW's Bluemotion range for instance, and equivalents from other makers. But a Prius doesn't and my Volvo never will (I'm planning to convert it to LPG instead)....
    • by peragrin (659227) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:50PM (#41587007)

      ah but that is the point it isn't average daily use we buy a car for. most of us can only afford one maybe two cars. therefore we need something that is not only suitable to dealing with average daily use, but also the use that we enjoy. weather it is hauling boats for once a month weekend trips, loading up for vacations, or even hauling your kids and their friends around to various sporting events(both with them as players and just going out).

      I owned a full size jeep for years. terrible milage but that vehicle took me every where I wanted to go hauling all sorts of fun stuff. my next car I couldn't do that with. it may be fuel efficient but if the roads aren't perfect it doesn't like it. I miss my jeep several times a year when i need to go move something, drag something or simply go somewhere where the roads aren't in great condition.

      Being able to rent a trailer and is much easier than renting a truck or van that's big enough.

      Average daily use isn't what we buy a car for we buy for all of our needs and it mostly gets used for average daily needs.

  • the easiest way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Picardo85 (1408929) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:13AM (#41585533)
    Start importing cars made for the european market. We have loads of those cars here. [autoblog.com]
    • Re:the easiest way (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sez Zero (586611) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:22AM (#41585647) Journal

      Start importing cars made for the european market. We have loads of those cars here. [autoblog.com]

      Pretty much this. Later this year VW will release a 73 mpg Golf [autoblog.com]. They'll sell a lot of those, which will make room under the corporate umbrella for a whole bunch of 30 mpg cars.

      • Re:the easiest way (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:08PM (#41587329)

        Those are in English gallons, not U.S. gallons.

        When your gallons are 20% larger it's easier to get high MPG numbers.

        The car would get 61 MPG in US gallons. Still great, but not as great as 73 sounds.

    • Re:the easiest way (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#41585759)

      Combined with redefinition. Unemployment is low and dropping because labor force participation rate is dropping even faster. Eventually none of us will have jobs, but as we stand in the soup lines we'll see unemployment has dropped to merely 5% and good times are right around the corner.

      So we'll simply redefine such that the only "automobiles" on the road subject to the 60 mpg limit will be smart cars and Fiat Puntos (a real car, I rented and drove one in Ireland, and it was a fun and surprisingly comfortable little car). Tahoes Expeditions Escalades and the like will be redefined to be 4-wheeled motorcycles thus exempt from the 60 mpg regulation.

    • Re:the easiest way (Score:5, Interesting)

      by godrik (1287354) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:49PM (#41586967)

      I live in the US now, but I lived in France until a few years ago.
      The market is quite different in ways most people do not see.

      First of all, the weather condition in the US are very variating from a region to the other one. I live in ohio and we get snow about 5 month per year. That's a mid alps type of snow. Having a good traction is important. Most people will get "all seasons tires", which is fairly stupid, but that's what people do.

      Then, the road condition are different. I was reading recently that US policitians prefer opening new roads than fixing existing ones. The road are bad in the US in general compared to your average road in France. Having a car that can take bad roads is important.

      Most people will travel long distance, having a confortable car is important. You frequently hear "I'll drive there, it is only 18 hours driving away". People think whenever they buy a car, that they might travel for days in it.

      There might be issues on familly sizes as well, but I could not find good comparative data on it (beside fertility rate which does not mean too much).

      In France, half the problem of having a car is parking it. Parking is typically not an issue here. So there is less incentive for small cars.

      Importing car from the european market is difficult. European cars are more expensive to buy and to insure than american or japanese cars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:14AM (#41585541)

    For produces the 3 cylinder turbo direct inject engine here in America. But due to tax regulations and big oil with their hand in every pot of the USA they are not allowed to sell them in the USA. Many German cars in there diesel versions in Europe can exceed the 60MPG mark due the necessity of their higher fuel prices than the US.

    • by Solandri (704621) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:31PM (#41586659)
      Diesel cars are not a panacea.

      1) European (UK) gallons are 20% bigger than US gallons.

      2) European fuel mileage is determined using a different test than U.S. EPA mileage. There's less stop-and-go in the EU tests.

      Consequently it's not unusual for models which hit 50+ MPG in the EU to not even break 40 MPG in the EPA tests. CAFE uses a different test than EPA though. I'm not sure how CAFE mileage stacks up to EU mileage.

      3) Diesel contains about 12%-15% more mass and energy per gallon. Consequently it also puts out about 12%-15% more pollutants per gallon. So unless you're comparing on price or range on same sized fuel tank, you need to tweak diesel's MPG down to draw a fair comparison with gasoline MPG.

      4) When you distil a barrel of oil, some of it will naturally distil into diesel, some into gasoline. It's relatively easy to convert heavy fuels like diesel into gasoline. It's very difficult and expensive to convert light fuels like gasoline and kerosene into diesel. Consequently the most energy-efficient approach is to just take the fractions of diesel and gasoline which comes out naturally from the distillation process. The next-most energy-efficient approach is to favor gasoline.

      So for consumption you want to err on the side which favors gasoline consumption. Diesel is only a cost-effective fuel competitor to gasoline because there are lots of gas-consuming cars. If you lower gasoline consumption below the production from natural distillation, diesel starts to become much more expensive. Whereas if gasoline consumption rises above natural production fractions, you can simply cook diesel a bit to break it down and make more gasoline.
  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:17AM (#41585577)
    Why was it apparently so easy back then?
    • by seinman (463076) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#41585623) Homepage Journal
      Safety standards, or lack thereof. Cars have to be heavy now to pass the government-required safety tests. Lighter materials don't hold up as well in an accident.
    • by icebrain (944107) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#41585761)

      Your 1985 Civic would probably fail today's crash tests and emissions checks (in the areas that require them), and likely lacked features most consumers prefer these days.

      -Higher crash standards demand more structure and additional equipment like airbags
      -Higher emissions standards dictate more additional equipment (catalytic converters, etc.) and different combustion profiles
      -Consumer expectations for performance (acceleration/handling), size, and comfort (features, sound insulation, etc) have gone up

      All of the above add weight to the vehicle (making for inefficiency) Oh, and the mandated use of ethanol reduces mileage even further.

  • by Type44Q (1233630) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:18AM (#41585587)

    A) Instead of building lots of new tollbooths (you know they will), replace each of 'em with a Taco Bell drive-through.

    B) Build a methane-capture device into every driver's seat...

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:18AM (#41585599)

    What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?

    Campaign contributions to get that bad boy dropped to about 8 MPG.

    Followed by Sierra Club campaign contributions to raise it to 700000 MPG.

    Followed by auto industry contributions to drop it back to 8 MPG

    You get the idea. Very profitable, for campaign advertising directors, the legacy media platforms who get most of the ad budget, etc. For everyone else, we get screwed but thats business as usual.

  • Lobbyists... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flatt (513465) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#41585615) Homepage Journal

    What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?"

    Lots and lots of lobbyists who will get this number reduced before it goes into effect.

  • Not anti American (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdmV0rl0n (98366) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#41585619) Homepage Journal

    I'm a Brit. I understand the tradition, and history of US cars, and that this holds a place for many American people. But your business and political angles don't work well for you here. Most of the US car makers already make fuel efficient engines and models for other parts of the world. I don't know if its parts of the US car industry and some political levels that are messing around - but they should stop.

    At some stage the US will face a fuel hit. It would be much better to have the things lined up than be caught out. Your citizens should not face that having mistakenly bought high fuel consumption models after being decieved or lied to by car makers or political fools. The car is central to life in the US. The fuel munching car has no real future in this.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:41AM (#41585947) Homepage

      Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing.

      After they've exhausted all other possibilities.

      - W. Churchill

    • Re:Not anti American (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sez Zero (586611) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:21PM (#41586511) Journal

      The car is central to life in the US. The fuel munching car has no real future in this.

      Not the car. The truck.

      The Ford F-150 has been the best selling vehicle (car or truck) in the US for the past 35 years. In 2011 here are the ranks (from this source [msn.com]):

      1. Ford F-150 (584,917 sold)
      2. Chevrolet Silverado (415,130)
      3. Toyota Camry (308,510)
      4. Nissan Altima (268,981)
      5. Ford Escape (254,293)
      6. Ford Fusion (248,067)
      7. Ram Pickups (244,763)
      8. Toyota Corolla (240,259)
      9. Honda Accord (235,625)
      10. Chevrolet Cruze (231,732)

      For all the people complaining about Suburbans, Escalades and Expeditions, it is trucks, not SUVs that sell in the US.

      Of the top 10: 1,533,174 cars (51%); 1,244,810 trucks (41%); 254,293 SUVs (8%)

      How many trucks sold in Europe?

      • by Sez Zero (586611)

        How many trucks sold in Europe?

        To reply to my own question, no trucks were in the top 10 in Europe. In fact the top European seller for 2011 (VW Golf) sold 100k fewer units than the F-150.

      • by Alkonaut (604183)
        This is 99% cultural/political i suppose. Unless you haul a dirtbike or sheep *most* of the time when you use the vehicle, you don't need a truck. There is no way all those F150 and similar are actually used to haul things even 10% of the time. It's absolutely imperative that the US govt remove any tax advantages on trucks/SUVs unless they already have. A regular 4x4 with a cheap trailer does the exact same job, but also hauls 5 people and luggage so you don't need a truck AND a car. Here is also a big dif
        • American trucks and their owners are such a fucking joke. They put these giant cartoon pickup bodies on little wheels with street tires, give them ground clearance that still gives them obstacle-clearing capability similar to a car, waste tons of bed space on big bulging fenders and then most of them don't get used for anything a compact or mid-sized car couldn't do.

          The only sensible American pickups are some of the "compact" ones like the newer Ranger, which aren't even primarily aimed at the US market.

      • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:36PM (#41587793) Homepage

        Blimey. Just had a look at the Ford F-150. To provide an overview for my fellow Britons:

        That thing (F-150) is five and a half metres long, two metres wide and one point nine metres tall. Even if you're really, really tall, you still wouldn't be able to see over the roof, you'd still be able to lie down in it sideways, and it would take six paces to walk from the front bumper to the rear. It won't fit into a standard European parking space through the two horizontal dimensions, and won't fit vertically through most multi-storey car park "Max Headroom" barriers either. It weighs over two tonnes even before you put anyone or anything inside it.

        For comparison, a massive gas-guzzling British car such as the Vauxhall Zafira 7-seater has a maximum engine size of 1.9 litres, produces only 148hp and weighs 1.5 tonnes.

        The F-150's smallest engine is 3.5 litres and produces 350hp. That is roughly the same as a high-end BMW 5-series. Yup, their smallest engine is the same as a top-end BMW engine. That 3.5 litre, 350hp engine is branded the "eco" version.

        I could understand this if Americans drove everywhere. But from my repeated and frequent trips to the USA, my experience is - they don't. They drive hardly anywhere - they generally just drive to the shops or to work, plus a few outings to nearby towns and parks within a couple of hundred miles. Sure, Americans make a lot of journies, but they don't tend to be very long ones. Anywhere much further, they FLY and get a hire car. They don't generally, for example, take their cars on long-distance holidays like Europeans do. They don't ever get in their car in, say, New York and drive all the way to Charleston; they fly. Whereas lots of Europeans would think nothing of getting in our cars in, say, Manchester, and driving all the way to Bordeaux, or starting a journey in Rome and driving to Zurich.

        So I'm mystified by what Americans use an F-150 for.

  • Mitt Romney (Score:5, Funny)

    by bryanbrunton (262081) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:22AM (#41585643)

    There will be no next Obama administration. Didn't you see that last presidential debate?

    Obama is too stupid and lazy to be president.

    Mitt knows that it isn't possible to "heal the planet", (insert Romney smirk here), or begin to slow the rise of the oceans.

    So when Mittens is elected all of these silly MPG ratings will be rolled back once we achieve North American energy independence.

    • Very interesting. I, too, would like to subscribe to the cable TV network you get your news from.

    • Only after he puts on his cloak and wizard hat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah 'mittens' has no clue about how a car company should work. OH thats right his dad pioneered the fuel economy wave at AMC... Then got eaten alive by toyota and datsun in cost.

      BTW just stop with the derogatory remarks. Ok you dont like the guy. But name calling already (mittens? really?)? What are you in grade school? I call out both sides when the do this btw...

      Unfortunately Obama did not try for bipartisanship (like he said he would). Then instead went for 'do it my way or its not bipartisan'.

  • Autonomous Cars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Konowl (223655) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#41585757)

    The answer to better mpg, traffic shaping, less accidents is - as much as I hate to say it - is autonomous cars.

    They can drive at the best measured MPG zone, they don't get distracted, they have faster response times than human drivers. They don't hit the gas pedal stopping you from merging onto the highway or changing lanes, they don't pass illegally or drive recklessly. Numerous studies have shown that traffic jams are simply caused by people following too closely.

    I don't know for sure, but I really think the next evolution of vehicle transport will be autonomous.

  • by judoguy (534886) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:34AM (#41585829) Homepage
    Seriously, why does the government get to dictate this to me? If I drive an inefficient pos, I pay more taxes.

    Isn't that the dream of the Obamas of the world, people paying more and more taxes?

    • by PTBarnum (233319)

      Think of it like an indirect form of cap and trade. Nobody says you can't drive a giant SUV, just that if you do you have to find someone else who will agree to drive small car. If there are not enough of the latter to go around, then they can demand a significant fee for this service. The government is artificially limiting the amount of Gallons per Mile in the marketplace, but the allocation of that commodity is still left to supply and demand.

  • by anonieuweling (536832) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:40AM (#41585921)
    55 miles per gallon = 0.0427662879 l / kilometer says google.
    1 liter per 23,382903897 per kilometer is nothing special and is done with normal cars TODAY.
    So the goal of doing that by 2025 is quite ridiculous.
    See the modern Volkswagens, maybe the Prius (although the hybrid stuff is debatable), etc.
    Also do think about diesel instead of 'gas': it is way more easy to have high MPG with diesel.
  • by jensend (71114) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:50AM (#41586081)

    1. Realize safety is one goal among many and that we have to deal with tradeoffs. Over the past 30 years it's been "the engineer giveth and the safety inspector taketh away" as overblown concerns about collision readiness have turned into absurd safety regulations and a curb weight arms race.

    2. Raise the gas tax [washingtonpost.com] to reflect the real costs of driving- the tremendous spending on road construction and maintenance, the externalities associated with road congestion and pollution, etc. Everyone who's willing to be honest about the impact of different policies, from Greg Mankiw [blogspot.com] (former chairman of the CEA and an adviser to Romney) to Steven Chu (Obama's energy secretary), knows that this is the only realistic way forward.

    Higher gas taxes would be much much less distortionary and harmful to the economy than simply mandating higher fuel standards. The gas tax is also a better way to raise revenue than most other taxes; a revenue-neutral bill raising the gas tax while lowering the taxes on labor and productivity (payroll, corporate, income, etc) would be a huge boon to the economy.

    Of course, I don't expect either of these two things to happen, since political bickering and accusations ("you want to see more Americans dying on the highways! you want to put the pain on us every time we go to the pump!") will probably trump any kind of attempt to bring our policies back in contact with reality.

  • by na1led (1030470) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:55PM (#41588133)
    and we will have cars that get 55 MPG within 1 year!

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