I don’t get it. I was just poking around over at Autoblog yesterday and I found this.
When the next step in the road to 35 mpg by 2020 CAFE standards was announced recently, those in the know made it clear that the Obama administration’s upcoming goal of 27.3 mpg by 2011 would not be hard for automakers to meet. In fact, the 2007 average was already 31.3, so the 2011 goal would not require any change in product lineup (more difficult changes are scheduled to come into effect down the line). The 2011 standards were so light, in fact, that the Center for Biological Diversity took the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation to court last week, saying that the Obama administration’s standards “ignore greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis, are illogical, illegal, and very disappointing from a president who has promised to make the United States a leader in the fight against global warming.”
Not something I was expecting out of the same administration that wants to tax carbon emissions… Wait, never mind, this makes perfect sense now…
On a slightly less political note. Let’s take a look at the Proposed CAFE standards for fuel economy for a minute.
The EU, as expected has by far the highest standards, and Japan is pushing a close second. And surprisingly enough China has set their standard at 35 mpg in 2009 and it doesn’t look like it’s moving. Australia, Canada, S.Korea, all have 30+ mpg standards already. Seems to me that the U.S. is the only one lagging behind. And we are pretty damn far behind.
California seems to be ahead of the rest of the country….wait… what?… WHY THE HELL IS CALIFORNIA ON THIS LIST!!!!! Now I am more in-line with their view on fuel mileage as I see no reason why manufactures should be waiting until 2020 to clear the 35 mpg average on their new cars in the U.S when they are already producing fuel efficient cars for other parts of the world (Japan and the EU already receive cars with an average of 40mpg). But California is a state not a country, or as in the case of the EU a group of nations, and as such should have no ability to regulate cars that are NOT PRODUCED IN THEIR STATE. (My GoogleFu could find no major manufactures that produced cars in California. Please note that I said major. Tesla is not a major manufacture.)
Back on topic. So why are we lagging so far behind in fuel economy? The technology currently exists to produce more fuel efficient cars. Europe already has them. So why are our standards so low? Cheep gas. Yup that’s right cheep gas. So long as our fuel prices stay so much under what the rest of the world is paying we will continue to drive large gas guzzling cars. (And by we I mean the collective SUV driving soccer moms of the country) Don’t get me wrong I love the throaty roar of a big displacement v8, but I also realize that most drivers will never even use the power that a modestly tuned 4 banger can put down.
As proof I offer this: Most of you know my daily driver is a 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS, you know the one with the 4 cylinder, and I drive it like I stole it. It’s plenty fast for every day street use, it’s a hoot to drive, and it gets almost 30 mpg.
Want something even quicker? You’ve got the Subaru WRX, VW GTI, the Evo, Cobalt SS and yes even Honda has something to offer in the Civic Si. That’s just off the top of my head. But you notice how there’s only one U.S car in the list? That’s becuase all the really cool feather weight hodrods we have to offer live in Europe. Cars like the Ford Focus RS, The Fiesta Zetec S, and GM’s just came up with the Spark concept, but it is destined for Europe.
So Americans can produce a good small car, we just don’t sell them here. But the Big Three are aim to fix that little issue, with Ford leading the way in 2010.