But finally, via Boortz, I came across this article which convinced me something needs to be done about the EPA.
The EPA wants the corporate average fuel economy to be 62 MPG by 2024.
Note please that it means the average, not the peak--meaning that if a corporation wants to sell a useful vehicle (like a pickup truck or van) that gets 20 MPG, it'll have to sell several models of cars which get 80 MPG.
Ford of Europe makes a Focus with a turbodiesel engine that gets 65 MPG. That's about the height of the pile; it's going to be really difficult to get much more fuel economy out of even a small car without taking extreme measures.
Like? Reducing the weight and performance of the things. Make it a 2-seater with no cargo room and give it a tiny engine. It'll go 0-60 in 20 seconds and you won't be able to carry much more than a few bags of groceries in the thing, but it'll get 80 MPG. It'll also cost $40,000 in 2010 dollars and even a minor fender-bender will total the thing because it'll be made out of carbon fiber and plastic.
The last paragraph of the piece sums up the situation quite nicely:
So far as one can tell from EPA's 62-mpg proposal, the agency thinks that in a mere 14 years Americans will buy hybrids that they can't stand, subcompacts that families hate, an electric car that can only run 30 miles before it likely becomes more inefficient than its conventional counterpart, and a 100-mile electric car that requires hours of charging once it runs out of juice.The "state of the art" in electric cars has not improved one whit since the 1970s. Sure, we've got batteries which are better than lead-acid batteries, but it's a matter of degree; there have been no revolutionary breakthroughs which enable a battery to store as much energy as an equivalent volume of any hydrocarbon fuel.
Eh? "Fuel cells?" Fuel cells aren't batteries and they're not ready for prime time; they're finicky and hideously expensive (they use a lot of rare-earth metals in their construction) and they don't last long enough. No one is going to spend $90,000 on an econobox which needs a new $20,000 fuel cell every ten thousand miles. Sure, you can get a fuel cell with better longevity, but then you need to feed the thing pure hydrogen and oxygen, and until someone figures out how to drill a hydrogen well, hydrogen is an energy storage medium, not an energy source.
Regardless of whether you use batteries or a hydrogen-fed fuel cell, you still need to get the energy from somewhere; and right now, in America, most of our electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels--so your electric car still contributes to pollution and global warming and all the other horseshit you think you're not doing by owning an electric.
And the more I learn about things like Chevy's Volt, the more disgusted I become. The Volt weighs thirty-five hundred pounds. Do you know how freakin' heavy that is?
When Ford designed the penultimate version of the Thunderbird--the one before the "retro" two-seat convertable version--there was a big foo-raw at corporate headquarters over the thing because it was too damn heavy. I owned one, from late '92 through '95--and it was a really nice car. It weighed 3,500 pounds with a cast-iron 4-liter V6. It performed well enough and it was comfortable and got around 25 MPG on the highway.
It was a big car. Okay? I put 92,000 miles on it in the three years I owned it; it was a fantastic car for an on-site computer technician. It was roomy and had a separate trunk, so valuables could be safely locked away, out of sight. It rode nicely. It was great.
A Chevy Volt is about the size of a Cavalier/Cobalt, costs 2.5 times as much as my Thunderbird did...and gets 10 more MPG. Yeah.
The people at the EPA who are responsible for this bullshit don't know a damn thing about engineering; they seem to think that the only reason auto manufacturers don't already build 100 MPG cars is that they just don't feel like it. They also seem to think that if Americans are forced to buy 100 MPG cars because they don't have any other option, Americans will do so rather than hang onto their older cars as long as possible and drive them into the ground, rather than cram themselves into overpriced cars they hate.
Damn it, Richard Nixon! Why did you saddle us with this shit?