atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3552: I suppose if we started using pedal cars....

So Obama's finalized new CAFE standards, raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 55 MPG by 2025.

One word: impossible.

ABC News with a bunch of festoonery and crapware and overlays.

"The administration says the latest changes will save families up to $7,400 on fuel over the life of a vehicle."

Borepatch talks about it.

JayG talks about it.

Michelle Malkin does too, and includes a bonus image.

And then crashed my browser. *sigh*

Obama claims these fuel economy standards will save the average family about $8,000 per year. What's left out of that claim is how much it will increase the price of a car to save that family all that money.

The figure bandied about is "$2,000" but I simply do not believe that. Why?

Because if it only cost two grand to make a car super-efficient, automakers would already be doing it. Can you imagine how many cars GM could sell if they had a family car with good performance that got better than 40 MPG, and only cost $2,000 more than their competitors' models? Say, for example, the Chevy Malibu "Eco" model?

...but it can't be done. It simply cannot.

To get high fuel economy without sacrificing performance requires expensive hybrid drivetrains with elaborate computer control systems, large battery packs, and motors with rare-earth magnets. None of that stuff is cheap, which is why cars like the Prius and Volt are so much more expensive than the garden-variety econoboxes...and get only incrementally better fuel economy to boot.

A Chevy Aveo gets about 35 MPG. A Prius--real-world--gets perhaps 40 to 44 depending on circumstances. The Prius' rock bottom base price is $21,000; the Aveo's is $12,000.

So to get that extra 5-9 MPG you must pay not $2,000 but nine thousand dollars. Sure, you might save $8,000 on fuel over the life of the car, but figured as a whole you're paying a thousand dollars more for the Prius over its lifetime...and that's if you don't have to replace the battery pack or replace any of a hundred other complex and expensive parts that the Aveo simply does not have.

The Obama figures claim the higher CAFE standard will save the family about $8,000. Is that before or after the $2,000 premium is figured?

The real problem with pie-in-the-sky shit like this is that Obama and his cronies don't know a goddamned thing about engineering or physics, and think they can just sign a piece of paper and make everything happen the way they want to--so they sign the piece of paper because it suits their policies and programs.

But the low-hanging fruit has been harvested.

There were a lot of easy ways to make cars more efficient--reduce weight, introduce more precise fuel-metering systems, and use finesse rather than brute force to get cars to perform.

Reduce weight: cars were built strong before the 1970s. My first car was body-on-frame and weighed five thousand pounds. The base engine available in it was a 350 V8 because nothing else could haul that mass around with anything approximating reasonable alacrity. The bumpers were made from 14-gauge steel and as a kid I'd climbed all over that car without ever denting the sheetmetal. Heck, even at age 18 I could lay on the hood of the thing without fear of damaging the sheetmetal. (I could do the same now, even though I weigh 100 lbs more!)

Much of the suspension was cast iron or thick sheet steel, and many of the same components used on that car were found in pickup trucks. The car had a live rear axle. The trunk was big enough to sleep in, and even with the front seat all the way back rear-seat passengers had plenty of room.

So the first step in getting better fuel economy out of cars was to reduce parasitic weight as much as possible. They started by going to unibody construction--doing away with body-on-frame--and front-wheel-drive. FWD is both lighter and more compact than front-engine-rear-drive, and there are fewer drivetrain losses. As a bonus, it's cheaper to assemble the car. They also reduced the size of vehicles because size is weight. Also gone were live axles, and a lot of effort was put into making suspension components just strong enough rather than overbuilding them.

Less weight meant they could use smaller engines, which naturally consumed less fuel.

The second step was to get away from carburation and switch to fuel injection. The computer revolution helped with this, because it was now possible to build a computer small enough to run a fuel injection system without busting budgets. Fuel injection is much more precise than a carb can be, and can be tuned to suit the desired performance level--whether you define "performance" as "speed" or "fuel economy".

The third step was to start building engines smarter. Overhead cams, multiport injection, advanced materials--a lot of engineering went into squeezing as much power out of a given amount of fuel as possible.

Before all this, if you wanted a fast car, you went the "brute force" route: you crammed in the largest engine you could find. The fastest cars of the 1960s had monstrous engines--455 cubic inches, 500--running high compression ratios and multiple carburators. But the fast cars with the big engines turned in single-digit fuel economy numbers even when driven mildly on the highway. The engines were huge, but they were basic cast iron pushrod V8s, most of them, and they were built heavy in order to be reliable. Fuel was cheap, and there was no need to economize.

That changed after the Arab Oil Embargo and the stupid price controls.

But automakers worked out how to build engines out of aluminum, and how to make iron blocks play nice with aluminum cylinder heads, and so forth; and after about fifteen or twenty years we arrived where we are now.

These days you can get a sports car that'll beat the pants off nearly anything from the 1960s, and get 25 MPG in the process. Adjusted for inflation, it doesn't even cost that much more, and real-world fuel economy is probably about as good as it can get if you want comfortable vehicles with good performance.

What the Obama administration wants, though, is for us all to be driving around in econoboxes.

Take a look at the car you drive right now. Imagine it 20% smaller. Get rid of half the options, and make the engine about 25% smaller than it is. Your car will go 0-60 in perhaps 14 seconds if you're lucky. No power windows or locks, because those are too heavy, unless you use motors with rare-earth magnets that cost 2x or 3x what the typical power window motor costs now, which means they'll cost a lot more. Small, skinny tires--not the fancy wide tires on aluminum rims, but 13" steelies, because bigger tires cost fuel economy.

Oh, you'll still be able to get high-performance cars, but "high performance" will mean what it meant in the middle 1980s: 0-60 in nine seconds, and a quarter mile in perhaps 15 seconds.

Real high-performance cars--ones that can turn in the numbers of a Mustang GT of today--will cost a hell of a lot of money. Some of that cost will be the "gas guzzler" penalty.

* * *

The problem here is one of government interference. The CAFE standard only got its start because the price controls of the 1970s had the effect they always do, of limiting supply; so in order to Do Something About The Energy Crisis (which government caused in the first place!) the government decided to mandate that cars had to get a certain level of fuel economy.

Instead of letting gas cost what it cost, and letting the people decide how much they wanted to consume--because we can't let the people decide for themselves! Why, that's anarchy! we're stuck with an idiotic relic of an idiotic era, and the idiot-in-chief is making it even more idiotic.


* * *

How about just letting kids kick bullies' asses? Oh, no, we can't allow violence. We must have a zero tolerance policy!


* * *

Vox Day has news from the GOP convention and it does not change my mind about the way the GOP has been heading for the past decade.

All kinds of stupid crap is going on at the convention, and it's designed solely to ensure that the GOP party elites--the ones who want it to be the party of "Democrat Lite"--retain their stranglehold on the party.

Still not voting for Romney, especially in light of this shit.

* * *

Who is Reggie Love? He's Obama's former "body man", a personal assistant who woke him up, worked out with him, etc, etc.

There are implications that Reggie Love is also Obama's butt-buddy-man, too. Well, whatever.

* * *

It's still not a recession! Hooray! Because even if GDP grows at 0.2% it's still a positive number. Remember, kids: "recession" is defined as two or more financial quarters with zero or negative economic growth. As long as the number is positive, it's not a recession!


* * *

I just got a call from Comcast about my application. I had to re-send my resume to them.

But it's something. At least I heard back from one of my freakin' applications!

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