Congress approved a bill mandating car makers improve fuel economy from 25 MPG to 35 MPG by 2020. Hopefully there will still be a planet left to drive on by that time. [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. howie_in_az says:

    Only a 10mpg increase after 13 years of research and development?

    That’s disgusting.

  2. bohemian says:

    All of the major auto makers had plug in electric cars in the 90’s in California. They should require them to manufacture a set number of those models for sale each year.

  3. Shadowfire says:

    @bohemian: Plug in electric cars solve what problem, exactly? You’re still polluting, just by drawing more power from your power plant than you engine. Also, electric cars are only useful in certain areas… around here, they’re totally useless.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Shouldn’t we have hover cars by then? How many MPG’s did George Jetson’s ride get?

  5. scampy says:

    I hope all the car companies just stop making cars for sale in the US then the government will get the message that they need to keep their hands out of business. Their job is to make laws not regulate everything. Im so sick of hippies getting in bed with the government to tell me what I can and cannot drive. This is supposed to be the land of freedom. Ill only be alive another 50 years at best so I guess I can buy 5 vehicles now that should last me till Im dead. Im also going to buy 10 pallets of real light bulbs too before they go away as well. I cant stand those dim yellow CFLs. They wouldnt be so bad if they created light like GE Reveal bulbs

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @scampy: First of all, a good CFL produces a more natural white light than a standard bulb.

    Second, the government isn’t telling you what you can’t and can’t drive. You WANT to drive something that isn’t fuel efficent. I am sure they will still have the new Dodge Chargers and Chevy Camaros, giving you the power you want…and perhaps they will reclassify HD pickups so they won’t have to be 35MPG. Either way, I doubt you will be forced to drive Chevy Coblats and Hyundia Accents.

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Wow, my punctionation is terrible there. I meant telling you what you “can and can’t drive” and having a question mark at the end of “fuel efficent”

  8. scampy says:

    @AlteredBeast:

    Its not that I dont want to be efficient, its just that all the fuel efficient vehicles suck. They have no power, they cant get you up to highway speed on short onramps, and you cant tow a boat with them. Id be happy to buy a 35MPG vehicle if they could make one affordable with at least 350HP and a 0-60 time of at least 7 seconds. Also they should be sturdy and made of steel so if I get in an accident Im not dead on scene

  9. scampy says:

    @AlteredBeast:

    Also I tried CFL bulbs and found them to be VERY yellow and dim. As of now they dont put out half the quality of light that a GE Reveal bulb does.

  10. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @scampy: Perhaps those types of cars would be reclassified, or U.S. automakers would figure out a way to get customers the power they want when going up against European cars without the restrictions. Sorta like the chevy v8 that turns off 4 cyl when crusing.

    Then again, you can just spend $10K or so on a ’76 Trans Am with a 455, and get 12MPG. :D

  11. tekkierich says:

    at least 350HP? what the heck. Why do you need to get around in that? I have never had a car over 240HP and many of them where PLENTY speedy.

  12. howie_in_az says:

    @scampy: Try looking at European or diesel trucks, or perhaps consider storing your boat somewhere so you don’t have to constantly tow it, which I’m sure is drastically affecting your mileage.

  13. sburnap42 says:

    @Shadowfire: 1) Power generated by power stations is generated much more efficiently, which is why the Tesla Roadster can advertise “the equivalent of 135 mpg”. 2) It is much easier to capture/clean the exhaust at one power station than tens of thousands of cars. 3) Not all power generated on the grid is from polluting sources. 4) You don’t have to charge an electric car from the grid. You can get solar panels or windmills and power it completely cleanly.

    Electric cars don’t solve the problem by themselves. They are, however, part of the solution to the problem.

  14. mrestko says:

    I’m with scampy, the government doesn’t have a right to regulate MPG standards. What they can do is tax carbon in order to correct for the negative externalities. This has the benefit of directly addressing the problem on both the level of production and consumption.

    Fix the externalities but let the market figure out where it is most efficient to reduce carbon output.

  15. fishing-ace says:

    I can assure you that the planet will still be around in 2020. Scaremongering is lame.

  16. officeboy says:

    @scampy: Thats funny, I buy CFLs for some of my fixtures from ikea specifically because they are very blue in color.
    There is a huge range in available colors to pick from, just like conventional light bulbs. So pick ones in a color you want.. It doesn’t seem that hard for someone who has already specified GE Reveal bulbs.

  17. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Shadowfire:

    Also, electric cars are only useful in certain areas… around here, they’re totally useless.

    WTF? You don’t get electricity where you live? Then how the hell are you posting on the internets?

  18. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    Everyone should be happy this bill was signed at all, considering that this president doesn’t want to regulate big business. And car manufacturers can’t escape every loophole…

  19. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Shadowfire: “Plug in electric cars solve what problem, exactly? You’re still polluting, just by drawing more power from your power plant than you engine.”

    I don’t know where you get your power from, but last time I checked, the river that generates my power doesn’t pollute a dam bit by running (pun intended). The worst that happens is it disrupts the fish cycle.

    There are plenty of non-polluting energy sources available to us, we just need to use them. The sun, the wind and rivers provide us with free, non-polluting, infinitely-renewable energy every day.

  20. JiminyChristmas says:

    @mrestko: By what logic can the government assess a carbon tax but not set standards for fuel efficiency?

    If you don’t feel like familiarizing yourself with the US Constitution you should at least read Article 1, Section 8. It will go a long way towards explaining what Congress can and can’t do.

    For extra credit, read up on the Commerce Clause of Section 8. You may think that the government can’t regulate fuel efficiency but rules much more tenuously interpreted to be within Congress’s enumerated powers have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Repeatedly. And for many years. Application of the Commerce Clause hasn’t significantly changed since the 1930s.

  21. 2020?! Pathetic.

  22. parad0x360 says:

    excellent so by 2050 we will meet the standards that the rest of the world are going by as of right now!

    Way to go! Woo America!

    No wonder most of our cars are illegal to drive in other countries. The tech is here, its here now so why can other countries figure it out but we cant?

  23. mrestko says:

    @JiminyChristmas:
    My assertion was a philosophical one, not a legal one, but I appreciate you smarmy attitude.
    Secondly, if you think “Congress shall have the power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” so obviously grants the government the right to impose fuel efficiency standards that you see no room for debate, you must be incredibly arrogant.
    Finally, I believe the most important part of my comment was left untouched by you. I still assert that forcing companies and individuals to internalize the negative consequences of their emissions through the implementation of a carbon tax would be a far more effective way of lowering emissions across the board than having a few bureaucrats, vulnerable to lobbying and popularity contests, decide the best ways to reduce emissions.

  24. ON_WISCONSIN says:

    Okay Consumerists…

    Somebody tell me how a small truck will be able to pull itself with an engine getting 35 MPG. Unless Al Gore invents wormholes…

  25. overbysara says:

    we need a bill about about this new INTERNET thing. how about we say the internet will be used by just about everybody by 2065? and then we can have these computers that sit on people’s laps to access it. sweet.

  26. EtherealStrife says:

    @on_wisconsin: Hybrid.

  27. timmus says:

    We’ll have more Legislation That Should Have Passed in 1975 in a moment. Coming up… Weed: should it be legalized?

  28. EtherealStrife says:

    @on_wisconsin: Erm to clarify: the primary thing preventing electrics from doing the job of a penis enlarging diesel is the battery. As battery capacity is increased, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more “normal-sized” vehicles switching to pure electricity. In the meantime, diesel-electric combos are popping up all over (I saw a hybrid trailer the other day). As I understand it, the diesel engine is always idling but only kicks in when the electric motor can’t tough it out or is out of juice.

  29. clarient says:

    @parad0x360: Because there “isn’t a market” for those types of vehicles over here. Americans prove again and againt that they will pay as much for gas as you want to charge us and we’ll do it while driving vehicles with terrible emissions and shitty mileage.

    The companies in charge of the automobile business are not interested in the economy or your pocketbook. They are interested in profits, bottom line. And as long as they continue to make profits this way, they’ll go right on doing it.

  30. JiminyChristmas says:

    @parad0x360: Why should anyone respect a “philosophical assertion” that has no sound basis in fact or history?

    You said: government doesn’t have a right to regulate MPG standards. That’s simply not true. Regulations akin to the CAFE standards are so far within the bounds of settled case law regarding the Commerce Clause that it’s really just silly to argue about it. For all practical purposes that debate is over.

    As for a carbon tax, I think it’s a grand idea. A couple of points though: The CAFE standards weren’t cooked up by “a few bureaucrats.” They are the result of Congressional legislation, a product of public debate, and approved by our elected representatives.

    That aside, if we were to have a carbon tax, who would implement and administer it? Bureaucrats, right? Why would that policy be any less vulnerable to lobbying and popularity contests than any other?

  31. mrestko says:

    @JiminyChristmas: I’ll respond, since you clearly meant to reply to my post.

    Well, your dedication to the current interpretation of the Commerce Clause led me to do some more reading and I am now even more horrified at that interpretation. It is beyond me how one can interpret that phrase to justify the variety of laws that it currently does, but no matter…. It seems that we differ in our beliefs somewhat. Whereas I might feel that I am able to object to a law or interpretation, you, apparently, do not. I guess that’s okay, but, in my mind, it leads you down a path you probably don’t want to take. You don’t need to respect this view. I believe it is defensible, but this is not the place for a drawn-out debate on the philosophy of government.

    The reason a carbon tax would be less susceptible to corruption is its simplicity. The more complex a system becomes, the more difficult it is to keep out special interests (witness the current tax code). Also, when I referred to a “few bureaucrats,” yes, I meant to be derogatory. But I was also comparing the group of legislators with the whole of the market. I believe that my characterization holds when viewed in this context.

  32. mconfoy says:

    @scampy: The ones I got at Costco work great

  33. mconfoy says:

    Toyota meets the previously proposed tougher standards today that were to be implemented in 5 years, but Toyota fought against mileage laws? Why? Because anything that might force American auto companies to be more innovative is bad for Toyota. Nice.

  34. @fishing-ace: Seriously? You couldn’t tell that was a joke?

  35. @on_wisconsin: Everyone keeps saying other countries’ vehicles get this MPG right now. Can’t American car companies do what they’re doing or are light trucks not allowed in other countries due to poor MPG? (Serious question)

  36. cerbie says:

    ABS+Teflon undies, since we can’t use asbestos anymore: check.

    @scampy: straw man. No one is telling you that you can’t buy your silly 7 second 0-60*. They’re saying there need to be enough options that are more efficient, so that the fleet average is 35 MPG. That boat-towing diesel (you’re not towing with gas, are you?) that doesn’t get even 25 MPG will still be there for you (you’ll have an engine option that will get you less power and more MPG, to satisfy the unfair way that the fleet average value will be calculated).

    * 0-60 is a penis size comparison stat, and has no relation to how well the car can get from point A to point B. Same with high horsepower. Neither has a good correlation with towing ability, either (but, most vehicles don’t get advertised by foot-pounds at the wheels).

    Now, for CFLs…some are actually good, but dimmer-capable ones still suck (new dimmers would be a better way to do it). They aren’t dim, though. You must have gotten one brand, at one time, and not tried any others, since. Check lumens, not watt-equivalence, in the future, too (no doubt sleazy marketing will still be around as they kick incan’s butt). They’re getting there, in color. As long as we don’t get a mandate like Canada, we’ll be switching over as they are able to actually replace incans. They are cheaper, they are less harmful to the environment, and they are also…still fluorescents.

  37. JustAGuy2 says:

    CAFE is just kind of silly. If we really want to reduce gas consumption, the answer is simple: raise gas taxes. At $6/gallon, we won’t need to mandate high efficiency, people will buy it for themselves.

    Also, CAFE doesn’t take into account how much people drive. A Hummer driven three miles each way every day is a much smaller problem than a Prius driven 30 miles each way every day. Banning the Hummer doesn’t solve the problem – getting the Prius driver to drive less does.

  38. jeff303 says:

    @Shadowfire: When you plug in cars to get power you decouple the production of the power from the consumption. That way you can vary each independently (you can gradually transition the production side to “greener” techniques without changing the consumer). The only problem is line loss, infrastructure, etc.

  39. Hamm Beerger says:

    @parad0x360: This is the Internet, please link to proof when you use a canard like, “Our cars are illegal in other countries.” Al Gore’s line about American cars being banned in China is completely false.

  40. swalve says:

    @howie_in_az: Science isn’t magic. Gasoline contains a finite amount of energy, and we’re running up against a theoretical limit for the internal combustion engine paradigm.

  41. rdm24 says:

    @Shadowfire: You are probably right on that, but not necessarily. If your local energy company uses a lot of hydroelectric power, for instance, you won’t be contributing to smog somewhere else. (Not that dams are without environmental consequences!)

    Furthermore, it’s easier to regulate and control pollution from a large publicly owned utility than it is from a tailpipe. All neighborhood have cars in them, but few have power plants….

    Plug in cars are not a complete solution, but they are a (potentially huge) improvement.

  42. rdm24 says:

    @scampy: If it weren’t for government regulations, I could dump massive volumes of human waste upwind of your home. Damn gubmint….

  43. rdm24 says:

    @swalve: You are right, but do you honestly believe we are anywhere close to that limit? A combustion engine–at best–transfers 10% of the energy in fuel to movement. Huge amounts are wasted as heat. That limit for all intents and purposes is theoretical.

  44. scampy says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    I disagree about the 0-60 thing. Where I live I have an onramp to a major interstate that is about 200 feet long. So I need to be able to get to highway apeeds in that 200 feet or else Ill be like the old ladies who merge at 25mph and cause accidents

  45. scampy says:

    @rdm24:
    True but that is offensive and dangerous to everyone around you while driving a 20MPG vehicle hurts nobody but my wallet