Politicians ignore consequences

Many politicians talk about global warming and say they want to mandate cars getting 35 mpg or more very soon. These people live in fantasy land – and I should know because we just got back from Disney a couple weeks ago.

Let’s suppose these monkeys actually passed a law mandating 35 mpg cars. This would mean that the only new cars available would be smaller and less pleasant than a Honda Civic. No minivans. No SUVs. No large sedans or station wagons either.

The only kind of car you’ll be able to buy is something along the lines of the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, or smaller. Below is a picture of reality, from Edmunds.com:

That’s a car that gets only 27 mpg city. It’s tiny! That’s with a 1.6 liter engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. Below is a Honda Fit – a little better:

Now we’re down to a 1.5 liter engine and up to 33 mpg city. Tiny and slow. Still not good enough. We’ll have to drive smaller cars with smaller engines.

Even if you are genuine and you plan to drive a more fuel-efficient car, or are already doing so, do you really think your neighbors will too? A lot of my neighbors drive SUVs and minivans. Sometimes it’s not selfish – they have three kids and need something to carry all of them.

Reality is what will happen if the feds mandate 35 mpg or higher. People will stop buying new cars. We will do our best to maintain our old cars. Older cars will stay on the road longer, and cause even more pollution than the real alternatives.

The real alternatives (from the Stop Wasting Money guy, anyway) are encouraging the private sector to develop mass transit, and (gasp!!) higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels. Before anyone chokes on the last part, this can only be done by lowering other taxes at the same time so the change is revenue neutral. That way the people have the same amount of money in their pockets, and they can save money if they choose to use less fuel.

You see, mandating higher fuel economy encourages people to keep old polluting cars. Higher gas prices encourages everyone to use less gas.

Politicians want you to believe you can have your Corvette and drive it too. It ain’t so.

2 comments to Politicians ignore consequences

  • Mandating a fleet average of 35mpg for each automaker does not require all vehicles to get 35mpg or better. You should know better than that. Most likely, the fines imposed on the automakers will be passed on to buyers as price increases on the lower-mpg vehicles that are pulling down the average. Whether or not that is the right thing to do is another question, but please be honest.

    The second major problem here is that there are three different ways the government has used to calculate fuel economy, and you are mixing all three of them here. The CAFE standard uses the oldest and most lenient formula. It was used by the EPA for rating new cars until 1985, when the formula was made stricter, and again in 2008, when it was made even stricter. Simply put, a vehicle that gets 35mpg according to the CAFE standard will get well under 30mpg (city/hwy average) according to the new EPA tests. Most automakers already exceed the current standards, so taking 12 years to reach 35mpg is not as big a leap as it would seem. It is actually a much smaller and slower increase than was seen from 1978-83.

    Furthermore, let’s not forget that the original CAFE standards created an incentive for automakers to sell minivans and SUVs that guzzled more gas because it created a loophole for them. The new standard removes the loophole and should inspire more sane vehicle designs. Given that SUV sales are falling, and sales of hybrids and small cars are skyrocketing, this seems highly likely.

    For the record, I own a Honda Fit, which is neither tiny nor slow (you’ve clearly never been inside, much less driven one) and significantly exceeds the year 2020 standard (if you think it doesn’t, reread my second paragraph, or go look it up.) It is shorter than most cars people are used to driving these days, but it is very large inside, and it is also more car than most people need and will ever use. I have had to use it a number of times to carry items that others cannot fit in their bigger, thirstier cars–this includes large sedans.

  • our friend Ryan clearly has never taken a wife, two kids and grandma on a vacation with luggage. A Honda fit just won’t cut it.
    Ryan also ignores the loophole of people keeping older cars. And he seems to like the govt using watered down standards. Maybe he works for a teachers union. :-)

    Somehow Europe and japan have much more efficient cars without cafe. They use gas taxes and mass transit and it works. That’s why we dont do the same.