Monday, January 7, 2008

CAFE subStandards

I recently watched Who Killed the Electric Car? and it made a recurring thought resurface: why do new model cars get such shitty gas mileage? I know that I'm awesome and my car is an anomaly, but I have a 4.6L V-8 engine and I just got 15.3mpg in the city. That's a little on the low side, but it was strictly city. When I go on strictly highway trips, I've pulled 29.9mpg in the past (maybe with a tailwind?) and a few 27+mpg trips, but I'm usually in the 24-25mpg range. Oh, did I mention that my car is THIRTEEN years old?? Oh, and it's a full size car, considered by many of my peers to be "huge" or "a boat"...

Given the performance of my huge old car with a big engine, it is absolutely pathetic that cars newer by a decade and smaller by over 1,000lbs are only getting 5 more mpg than I am. The 2008 model of my car is advertised to get 15/23 mileage!!! I pull better than that!! The only difference I can see in the engine is that I have ~190hp and the new one has 224hp. Honestly, the industry is moving NOWHERE in regards to fuel economy.

Who's letting car companies get away with their not-improving-fuel-economy shenanigans? Consumers and government. We keep buying gas guzzlers like the H2. Even for those of us who only need a commuter car and get a mid-size or economy car, we're not so selective when it comes to mileage. It's also partially a government problem due to the car companies' incentives. If one company tries to increase fuel economy, it will have to charge higher prices to compensate for R&D and higher manufacturing costs in the short run. Other companies will maintain their prices and our slightly improved company will lose market share and ergo profit. However, a government mandate can help some consumers get what they want while not putting car manufacturers at a loss for investing more into R&D.

OK, last rant: it pisses me off when new cars are marketed as having "good" fuel economy if they get more than 30mpg. Mostly because they hardly outperform my car (on the highway) and they're all tiny cars that get that only marginally more than 30mpg. By now, 55 or 60mpg should be the standard for "good" fuel economy, not half of that. Maybe by the time I'm ready to buy my next car, plug-in hybrids will be available factory.
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