The Coming Autopocalypse

The Obama administration's proposed CAFE rules declare a war on cars


The thinking behind the Obama administration's proposed new fuel efficiency standards seems to be: What won't kill the auto industry will make it stronger. But these standards are the regulatory equivalent of a bunker buster that will, in fact, decimate the industry.

In an effort to bring its global warming initiative back from the dead, the administration has announced that it wants automakers to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, of their fleets from the 34.2 miles per gallon that it mandated in 2009 (which the companies are still scrambling to meet) to 56.2 mpg by 2025. Not a single car—big or small, hybrid or non-hybrid—currently delivers this kind of mileage (with the exception of electrics). But CAFE backers are pooh-poohing industry claims that these standards are unattainable. "Virtually every major improvement in U.S. fuel economy and emissions over the last quarter of a century started as a stringent government standard that automakers … initially insisted was impossible to meet," harrumphed a recent Detroit Free Press editorial. "Then the same companies turned their engineers loose and met or exceeded the threshold."

Did they?

Not really. Rather, they unleashed armies of lobbyists on Washington to poke holes in the CAFE regime. For example, companies that don't meet CAFE standards face fines. But the fines are so low that many luxury brands prefer to pay up rather than comply. Likewise, companies get CAFE credits, the auto equivalent of indulgences, for flex-fuel vehicles built with gasoline as well as ethanol tanks. Fitting them with both doesn't add much to manufacturing cost, which is why carmakers happily churn them out even though everyone knows that few drivers ever use ethanol.

But to the extent that carmakers have complied with CAFE, it is less through radical innovation and more by simply slashing vehicle weight. In the 15 years after CAFE standards were first introduced in 1974, vehicle weight diminished by 23 percent. But every 100-pound weight reduction results in a 4.7 to 5.6 percent increase in the fatality rate. A 2002 National Academy of Sciences study concluded that CAFE's downsizing effect contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths in a single representative year, and to 10 times that many serious injuries.

Even ignoring this loss of life, the era of improving fuel economy by slashing vehicle weight is drawing to a close. Indeed, Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, notes that it is technologically impossible to squeeze anything beyond 45 mpg in fuel economy from current vehicles. That's why Europe's fuel economy has plateaued at that level, despite $8 per gallon gas. The 56-mpg-mandate will require a total, top-to-bottom overhaul of cars. Every part of a vehicle from its transmission to its engine would have to be replaced. "Even a vehicle's screws and fasteners would have to be secured with epoxy glue," McAlinden maintains.

Unless automakers once again manage to write massive loopholes into the proposed CAFE regime, the upshot will be similar to the fiasco created by the light bulb mandate that Congress recently tried unsuccessfully to repeal. The mandate required light bulbs to consume 25-30 percent less energy by 2012. But this effectively outlawed cheap incandescent bulbs while artificially boosting more expensive and annoying fluorescents, triggering a consumer revolt.

Likewise, the Obama CAFE standards will drive out pickups and other large vehicles, American automakers' biggest profit makers, and usher in hybrids—their biggest money losers. That's because pickups that are CAFE-compliant will be have to be constructed from aluminum or some equally light material, something that will bump their cost upwards of $80,000 per vehicle while rendering them useless for towing.

Meanwhile, even the Environmental Protection Agency admits that the market share made up by hybrids and electric plug-ins will have to touch 49 percent if the industry is to come anywhere near compliance. Given that these vehicles now occupy only 3 percent of the market despite hefty subsidies, it is a foregone conclusion that expanding their presence will mean massively expanding subsidies to them.

Taxpayers are going to be on the hook for more than just hybrids, however. Indeed, average vehicle prices will shoot through the roof, pricing many car buyers out of the market, shrinking the industry and jeopardizing millions of jobs. But if Washington could not resist showering taxpayer dollars on General Motors and Chrysler to prevent job losses now, it is unimaginable that it will sit back when the entire industry confronts a carmageddon. Indeed, the $100 billion that taxpayers have spent on the current bailout will look like chump change compared to what's to come. This is making even the UAW nervous, causing it to join ranks with automakers to oppose the standards.

The administration's proposal in one fell swoop manages to screw over taxpayers, drivers, car buyers and autoworkers. The least it can do is give lawmakers a chance to thoroughly weigh the tradeoffs on the country's behalf. But the president is trying to impose the new standards through regulatory fiat without Congressional approval. No administration—blue or red—has ever done this before. This is tantamount to declaring war on autos without a formal declaration from Congress.

Someone needs to rein this president in.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and a columnist at The Daily, where this column originally appeared.

Editor's Note: When this column was written, the UAW was against the CAFE standards. Now its president, Bob King, is for them.

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  1. is that glen beck driving?

    1. Re: O2

      is that glen beck driving?

      Did you go to school to learn how to write a bit better, double-asshole?

      1. so yes, it is beck?

        1. Death Proof!! Tarantino, not quite classic yet, but could be.

          1. The movie is much better than the trailer.

  2. “Someone needs to rein this president in.”

    He needs to be put out to pasture.

    1. Were you raised on a farm???

      1. You don’t need to be a farm boy to recognize horse shit.

        1. That’s true.

    2. Pasture? How bout the glue factory?

  3. OH wow, OK man that makes a lot of sense dude. Wow.

  4. Wow, a brainless dick does a brainless dick thing….what’s next.


    1. plus seatbelts kill TEH PEOPLEZ !

      1. Re: Double-asshole,

        plus seatbelts kill TEH PEOPLEZ !

        No, small cars kill people.

        1. The best way to tell in a conversation about cars that a person knows nothing about them? If they think car size=car safety.

          1. so you ignore the study that says SUVs (larger) are 50% safer that smaller cars?

          2. Re: Imp of the Perverse,

            If they think car size=car safety.

            It’s not a thought, you imbecile.


            1. and that’s why I drive a Grand Marquis. And the legroom.

            2. A Miata has a better real world safety record than a Camero according to the IIHS.

              Insurance companies can be a great barometer of the real world “dangers” of things. Do they charge you a higher rate if you drive a small car? Do your health insurers charge more if you drive a small car? Life insurance? Statistically, I bet the bus is the safest way to travel. The danger of driving a small car is statistically insignificant compared to a larger car. And don’t say “tell that to the blah blah blah blah…”. Driving without SCUBA gear is a bad idea to the guy that drives off a bridge.

              1. A Miata has a better real world safety record than a Camero according to the IIHS.

                My friend Skeeter has a 1976 Camaro with a redone quadra-jet, bench seats, marginal shoulder belts and no ‘side-impact beams’ or airbags. And the cat/smog-pump is gone.

                But if it hits a Miata it does have a crumple zone: the Miata.

                1. “My friend Skeeter has a 1976 Camaro…”

                  Does this need comment? I don’t think so.

              2. They charge less for a small car because it cost less to repair, not because it’s safer. Damage to cars is far more frequent than injury or fatal accidents…

          3. I bet my Dodge Ram 2500 wins against your toyota prius (just guessing thats what you drive)

          4. Laws of physics.

            How does that work again?

        2. So, OM, is a 1980 Lincoln Town Car safer than a 2011 Ford Fiesta?

          1. So, is a 2011 Tahoe safer than a 2011 Fiesta or do you think the relevant discussion involves 30 year old cars?

            1. Latest Benz E-series weighs about as much as a phat old-roller Lincoln.

              Put the crash-dummies in that and the 2011 Fiesta, do a rolling head-on with sixty MPH closing speed, let her ‘rip. See how that works out.

              The crunch-crunch for the E-series stops at its motor and mounts then its a Fiesta so-to-speak for the remaining entropy.

        3. really? ive avoided many accidents in sports cars. my fav was a rebuilt 240z


      1. like pollution controls?

    3. Uhhh, no…the technology actually EXISTED for the industry to implement unleaded gas and safety glass. NO technology exists to reach these absurdist CAFE standards. YOu might as well demand the industry design cars that emit nothing but water vapor and gold doubloons.

      1. they ADDED the lead to the gasoline and it took generations to get it back out

  6. Y’all would do well to read this:


    And this is hardly an Obot site, most of the commentators are right wing and they opposed the auto bailout. Nevertheless, look at the chart if nothing else.

    I’d much prefer a gas tax to CAFE, it’s less complicated and lets people who can afford gas guzzlers choose them, but what are the chances of that ever getting through Congress? So CAFE it is.

    1. Bootlicker likes central planning.

      1. Tell us more about how unleaded gasoline will kill the industry by 1985.

        1. You seem to have confused me with a circa 1970 Automobile manufacturer.

          1. That’s easy to do when you’re just using an up-to-date version of the same talking points of auto doomsday.

            1. As a consumerI don’t want to buy an expensive shitty slow dangerous car.

              Fuck off troll. You’re dead to me.

              1. Cars are more powerful today than they’ve ever been. What would you have said if I told you in 1980 that bland family sedans would be have engines that make 250+ horsepower?

                1. Re: Imp of the Perverse,

                  Cars are more powerful today than they’ve ever been.

                  They’re also much more expensive to repair, and generally just much more expensive than ever.

                  1. They’re more reliable than they’ve ever been and unlike cars from 40 years ago they don’t fall apart into a bucket of rust by 80,000 miles.

                    1. Re: Imp of the Perverse,

                      They’re more reliable than they’ve ever been

                      NO car is more reliable than my trusty old VW Bug. They may be more comfortable, but I could make my Bug run in any condition, whereas I have to spend $412.50 just to give normal “maintenance” to my Nissan minivan.

                    2. None of which had anything whatsoever to do with government regulation.

                  2. I haven’t bought a car with LESS than 100k miles in the last 10 years. Reliability is huge compared to 30 years ago.

                2. My dad’s 1964 Impala with a 327 cu. in. V8 was 250 horsepower.

          2. And there’s been screaming about CAFE before and guess what? It turns out that yes, you really can design V6s with the power of the old small-block V8s that get 31 miles to the gallon on the highway.

            1. And technologically advanced V8s that get better fuel economy than less advanced V6s.

              1. Right. Direct injection, dual-clutch transmissions, twin-turbocharging, etc are the future of getting more fuel economy, much more so than hybrids and plug-ins (gimmicks for the next 30 years at least).

            2. small block? pussy.

    2. Re: Imp of the Perverse,

      I’d much prefer a gas tax to CAFE

      Like saying “I would rather be prison-raped by Bubba than by Tank.”

      Not much of a choice, Imp.

    3. The thing is that a gas tax just raises prices, whereas CAFE makes a demand that may or may not be possible to meet.

      There’s no Moore’s law for gas mileage, and if you don’t require that car companies don’t degrade other things (ie, safety) to improve efficiency, then that’s the path of least resistance.

      1. Other than more efficient conversion of fuel to energy there are 3 things that can get you to lower fuel consumption.

        Lower weight (reduces crash safety)
        Better aeodynamics (ugly cars)
        low rolling resistance tires (degraded handling and braking reducing safety)

        1. Lower weight (reduces crash safety)

          Lower weight does not necessarily (and not even usually) reduce crash safety, especially today.

          1. A 2011 Fiesta is a whole lot safer than a 1976 Chevette. A 2011 Suburban is safer than either. And a 1964 Freightliner is safer than the bunch.

          2. You got pwned above on the 1980 towncar comparison. Don’t think some of us don’t read the whole thread.

          3. Lower weight cars do pretty much do reduce crash safety. Take a physics class.

  7. “will, in fact, decimate the industry.”
    I think thats the goal once people can no longer afford cars they will have to ride Obama’s stupid trains and mass transit and the enviros will love it because that’s all they talk about is walkable communities with closed of streets for the pedestrians who are window shopping because they can’t afford to buy anything anymore because they can’t get to work.

    1. …and everybody in Minnesota gets scurvy because they have to buy local and there are no fruits or vegetables there in February…

    2. Owebama’s elephant in the room:
      “Not a single car – big or small, hybrid or non hybrid – currently delivers this kind of mileage (with the exception of electrics).
      (in your best Nazi accent): “you WILL drive electric cars, AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!”
      to the tune of “Love and Marriage”
      Central Planning
      Central Planning
      tax the productive
      and keep them straining.
      don’t you know, the others,
      see the Gub’mint as your mother!

  8. Obama’s bailout of GM, thereby ensuring shitty, ugly, unreliable cars for the near future, has done more to hurt the car industry than any regulations.

    1. No one is forced to buy GM…yet. Regulations are a barrier to entry into the market for new auto manufacturers, limit consumer choice and make cars much more expensive (and ugly).

    2. As much as I don’t like the auto bailouts, GM’s reliability/build quality, depending on brand, is average to good. The other two are subjective ratings, so that’s up to you.

  9. America will return to its Wild West glory days. At least when everyone is riding horses nobody will worry about oil prices any more.

    1. NO, no, no. The animal rights activists have determined that it’s arrogant and inhumane for people to ride horses. They’re working on legislation to make it illegal (after all, animals are people too).

      The ideal future will have us all on cute little bicycles. Not only is it GREEN, but it will help reduce the number of unsighly fatties the Left so loathes (think walmart and mcdonalds).

      Of course…I’m sure there are political activist groups forming that will explain that the use of bikes is somehow fascist, so in the end we’ll probably just end up walking to work every day.

  10. The 56-mpg-mandate will require a total, top-to-bottom overhaul of cars. Every part of a vehicle from its transmission to its engine would have to be replaced. “Even a vehicle’s screws and fasteners would have to be secured with epoxy glue,” McAlinden maintains.

    Not that I’m for Obama’s new CAFE mandate, but I don’t agree with the above statement. You take the Prius in its current form and replace the engine with a small turbo diesel direct-injection engine and you’ll have the 56+ mpg.

    1. Like a 21st century Trabant.

      1. But, just think of the advantages. If you get stuck in traffic you can just fold the thing up and carry it home.

    2. Small diesels are outlawed in the U.S. because they do not meet emissions requirements for vehicles under 8,000 lbs.

      The few that are made (Jetta TDI, Benz Blue-tec, etc.) are very expensive (and heavier) due to the fancy emissions controls. Meanwhile, school buses lumber by with no emissions controls at all.

      1. IIRC, jetta tdi’s mileage numbers actually decreased rather significantly after the introduction of new emissions standards in 2007.

        the hostility to diesel is starting to run afoul of hanlon’s razor.

      2. The Jetta TDI isn’t too expensive. I think the bigger problem is Americans think “diesel” and think a huge, lumber tractor trailer/school bus or the godawful 80s Oldsmobile Diesels and run screaming in the other direction.

        1. my old man had one of those Diesels – other than the fact that the engine blew up at 80k miles, 30mpg out a 4000lb car was impressive at the time. Of course it was the gutless wonder…

          1. Turbocharging has done wonderful things for the diesel engine.

      3. But IIRC the Cruze Diesel will come here in 2013 (why they don’t bring the hatch too I don’t understand).

        1. 5-door hatches don’t seem to sell well here…except for the Panamera.

          I really wish they had a 3-door hatch to bring. Or at least get a 3-door Sonic.

          They are bringing the Astra 3-door back as a Buick this time. Hopefully they’ll do a better job Americanizing the controls this time. Some of those buttons weren’t exactly intuitive.

    3. Yeah, but it will still be a Prius.

    4. That’s brilliant. We mandate that automakers meet an average fleet economy of 56mpg, and you suggest that if we improved the most fuel efficient car it could achieve 56mpg. Never mind the diesel issues, that suggestion completely fails to meet the mandate. You’d have to get the Prius up to ~75mpg, and the Toyota trucks and Sequoia need to get 35-40, and they need to sell as many Prii, as all trucks put together.

      1. So in 14 years we cannot make improvements of that scale? The Prius is still version 1.1 of hybrids! The best mpg I can find on a truck today is 24. BS! Honda sells mini trucks in Asia and Europe that get @50 mpg and they have been making them for close to 20 years! And a “breakthrough” in batteries will occur in 2014 when Texaco’s NiMH patents expire.

        1. Yes we can! Yes we can! Facts be damned, yes we can!

          I think your post is BS. There are NO trucks anywhere that get 50 mpg…unless you’re defining “truck” as a bicycle with a flat platform attached to the back (which I saw in large numbers in asia).

  11. I just don’t get it. Gas is pretty expensive. People want to not spend so much money on gas. Therefore, the market is likely to develop more efficient engines. Not to mention that there are also market-based advantages to going electric at some point, due to the energy flexibility that drivers would get, once the technology can meet consumer demands for range and convenience.

    1. If they let the market do it, they can’t take credit for it.

      1. The hell they can’t. They do it all the time.

      2. If they can’t compel us to comply with their preferred lifestyle (for people who _aren’t_ rich and/or powerful) they will tax ever increasing percentages of our income until we comply. Remember, the state is your _friend_

  12. [T]he Obama CAFE standards will drive out pickups and other large vehicles, American automakers’ biggest profit makers, and usher in hybrids?their biggest money losers.

    But we will be like Europe!

    That is, poor and quaint.

    1. “Quaint” requires that this is old timey poor. We’re not going to qualify.

      We’re just going to be plain ‘ole poor. But at least there will be a bunch of rusted out chevys to put up on blocks in the front yard.

  13. Ever time new CAFE standards are raised the following happens:

    1) Auto industry screams that it will lead to their downfall

    2) A certain segment of voters scream that this means they will be forced to drive 1995 Geo Metros

    3) A few years pass and it turns out engineers in the major automakers have made new engines with the same or better power with fuel economy that meets the new standards

    4) Rinse, repeat.

    1. Domestic automakers have been achieving compliance with CAFE by building their least fuel efficient vehicles as flex-fuel (which lets them pretend their vehicle is 74% times as efficient as it actually is for CAFE), and shift their production to vehicles that are legally considered trucks.

      European foreign automakers simply ignore CAFE and pay the fines.

      1. Under the new CAFE rules light trucks will have to meet the same standards as cars.

        1. Which kind of undercuts your own argument.

    2. Every time new CAFE standards are raised the following happens:

      (1) People who know absolutely nothing about either the manufacture of automobiles or basic physics claim that substantial increases in fuel economy are easily achievable if the car industry will just stop dragging its feet and start innovating.

      (2) The industry warns that no, really, those increases aren’t easily achievable, and will force them to shift to the manufacture of lighter vehicles that provide less protection to passengers in collisions.

      (3) The first group pooh-poohs the warnings.

      (4) The industry complies with the new standards by converting more of their fleets into rice-burning rollerskates.

      (5) Thousands more American automobile consumers die preventable deaths as a result.

      1. And the central planners declare victory. Hey 2000 less people on the earth create less carbon!!

  14. A 64% increase in fuel mileage? For a fleet? To a level that very, very few cars can meet today?

    I would bet that’s unprecedented in CAFE history. Which gives some credence to the squalling about what a bad idea this is.

    Not to mention, of course, that its none of the government’s fucking business.

    1. Environmentalists claim that 60mpg was perfectly doable, but the industry lobbyists watered the new standards down on this new CAFE deal.

      1. And we know how objective the environmental lobby is.

  15. Don’t they auto companies cook the MPG numbers on the sticker by gaming the tests? Won’t they just find a way to lie about it again? I’m sure they will.

  16. “Autopocalypse”? Why not call it “carmageddon”? Sounds catchier.

    1. Have to wait 90 days to use that one again.

    2. I like “autopocalypse”. It has good, ancient Greek roots (“auto” + “apocalypse”). “Carmageddon” is a mongrel word combining an Old Testament place name with the word “car”. Ugh!

      1. and conveniently carries the connotation of self-destruction

      2. Autodammerung.

      3. Autodammerung.

        1. Frashocareti. Ragno-Rod.

  17. If legislating engineering works so well why doesn’t congress just pass the “Energy Too Cheap To Meter Act”.

    1. Nixon already tried that by limiting how much gas stations could charge for gas. What did that do? it killed many independent gas stations and since the oil companies couldn’t charge more they limited the amount of gas they sent here hence a gas shortage created by governments attempt at control.

  18. Why does the auto industry refuse to adopt unicorn fart technology? Did big oil buy that patent just to keep it out of the market?

  19. The CAFE standards have not changed appreciably in 30 years. Why? Did we not know we had a brewing problem with oil dependence? Was it not technologically possible? Why did my 1983 Toyota Starlet get better mileage than any gas vehicle currently available? Reality is we are playing catch up after two generations of pushing responsibility down the road. Ditto with the lightbulbs. Your “death statistics” are suspect, as all manner of vehicle safety technologies increased dramatically even as weights dropped. If you choose to include those stats in your argument, please include stats for the number of deaths associated with obtaining and refining all the extra oil that heavier vehicles would require. The higher standards will indeed spur new technologies and, perhaps more importantly, new habits. Energy responsibility is long overdue in this country. I, for one, welcome it. (BTW, a “revolt” over light bulbs? More like a corporate sponsored hissy fit. I will gladly pay a little extra for modern technology and live with the lower electricity bills and not having to change the bulbs every f#%**@# three months!)

    1. Why did my 1983 Toyota Starlet get better mileage than any gas vehicle currently available?

      Because your 1983 Starlet would be totally illegal to make and sell today.

      1. Similar vehicles are made today and sold in other markets. If you imported one the US government would fine you, seize it and crush it.

          1. True – the longer Exxon is the POWER, the longer we will have to WAIT to get the cars they have in Asia and Europe

            1. So somehow Exxon has the power to force government to regulate efficient cars out of the US market, but lacks the power to force government to have favorable CAFE standards. mmm hmmm

              Where do you people come from?

              1. Well, Josh, I doubt that kind of work is done with a magic wand or a twitch of the nose. It is probably done with lobbyists, campaign contributions and relentless amendments. And, yes, they do have that kind of power – that comes with being the most profitable business in the history of the world.

      2. It would have airbags and a cat.

        There is no equivalent to the weight and efficiency of the early Tercels or Civics. The “story” is that there is no market for a 3 cylinder engine that goes 0-60 in 13 seconds. It may not be your cup of tea, but there is definitely a market.

        I suspect the reality is that the profit margin in a larger vehicle is much higher and the useful lifespan of the vehicle is probably shorter.

        1. Interesting. So why is Toyota farting around with the Prius, why don’t they just reintroduce the 1981 Tercel and save the planet that way?

          1. Lets see what they do with higher CAFE standards. That is the topic of the article, right?

        2. It’s been shown that the Hummer over it’s life span uses less energy than a prius how the Hummer is expected to last for 300,000 miles while the prius will maybe last 100,00 also all of the harm done creating the batteries far outweigh the pollution of the gas consumed by the Hummer.

          1. Haha, oh well, it’s been shown then hasn’t it.

    2. No we don’t have a problem with dependence on foreign oil. We have a problem with crooks who won’t let us use our own natural resources. By the way I am still waiting for someone to explain to me why it is better to use fossil fuels to generate electricity to power cars than it is to use fossil fuels in the cars. Ever heard of the Law of Conservation of Energy? Oh, I forgot. The Liberal Mob is incapable of rational thought.

  20. The CAFE standards have not changed appreciably in 30 years. Why?

    I would say that it might reflect a realization that they are a terrible idea that has cost thousands of lives, but then I realize its Congress we’re talking about here, so I have no idea.

    1. And I would say it might reflect the fact that for 20 of the last 28 years our Presidents have been more concerned with the short term welfare of the oil industry than the long term energy interests of the country.

      1. Considering that your food, clothes, transportation, medical care, the computer you are using, in fact, every darn thing you use in this life, probably used oil in some way shape or form, and at an affordable price, and the oil companies did it all on a very normal profit margin, maybe those presidents made the right decision.

        1. Are you saying I wouldn’t have this awesome rayon disco shirt if not for the Yukon XL?

        2. Heck, a below average profit margin.

      2. And I would say it might reflect the fact that for 20 of the last 28 years our Presidents have been more concerned with the short term welfare of the oil industry than the long term energy interests of the country.

        No, they’ve been smacked in the forehead by the 2×4 of reality that shows that the energy density that exists in a gallon of gas is really, really hard to duplicate with a Rainbow wind turbine or Unicorn magic.

        Even if we switch our “dependence on foreign oil”* with a dependence on foreign lithium, oil is going to be the major source of our energy needs for a long time to come.

        *Did you know the Saudi’s are dependent on foreign oil too?

        1. Save the oil for plastics – we will be glad we did. Don’t waste it on motivating small vehicles.

          1. You are certainly free to purhcase your new Nissan Leaf. Range: 73 miles.

            Time required to “fill the tank” at 110v: ~20 hours.

            At 220v: ~7 hours.

            1. I met a GA Power service tech in 1999 – he was driving an all electric pickup truck. He said they used 440 and 880 chargers and that they were, as expected, very fast. He pointed out that in many cases the 440 was right there on the pole, it just didn’t extend to the house. That was 12 years ago…

          2. If the U.S. greatly reduced its consumption of petroleum, it would only result in the global price plummeting, which would cause the rest of the word (especially the developing world) to increase its consumption of oil at the new, lower price.

  21. Why stop at 56.2 mpg? Why not mandate that all automakers develop warp drive? That’ll save the environment and make transportation more efficient.

    1. Or a car that runs on seawater and emits only seawater.

  22. Why not skip the gasoline, increase the fracking, and just do Liquid Natural Gas.

    Cleaner anyway.. and cheap and getting cheaper for fuel.

    1. Great idea!!!! Honda has been selling a CNG Civic for about 15 years. You can order one today at any dealership. I would own one today if it were legal to FILL IT UP!!! Just about every house in GA has a natural gas line coming into it but it is illegal to fill a car from your own gas line. And the only CNG filling stations where I live (Atlanta) are only for public transit vehicles or for the Gas Co.s own vehicles. How can that be? Who on Earth could benefit from such a set of rules?

      1. that must be the “freez market” behaving efficiently hamilton.

        1. Yeah, nothing says free market like government legislators outlawing competition. 😉

      2. I would own one today if it were legal to FILL IT UP!!!
        And the only CNG filling stations where I live (Atlanta) are only for public transit vehicles or for the Gas Co.s own vehicles. How can that be? Who on Earth could benefit from such a set of rules?

        Something something deregulation.

        1. something something biggest corporations cancel out real deregulation something

  23. Wow dude, never thought I’d see all these statist fart swallowers here at reason.

    Fuck you, car haters. I wish leaded gas was available. It’s good for old motorcycles. If you don’t want it, good, go buy your 15% cornsauce blend, I don’t give a shit. But I don’t want it and FUCK YOU for trying to force me to buy it. And if I want my car to have 900 horsepower and get 4 miles a gallon, thats none of your goddamn business either. Same if I want it to be a tube-frame 1200-lb rocket fueled with methanol. Just fuck off, you bunch of naderite ignoramous peons.

    1. v mpg = ^ kia. that is all

    2. Seems you clicked on the wrong web site, friend. This is REASON. I think you were looking for http://www.crankyinbredcracksmokinatl…

    3. Here’s someone of dire need of Viagra.

    4. See I’d go the other way. I want to drive a 150cc shifter kart to work. I can’t, because if I get in an accident I will likely die, just like if I had a motorcycle. I can have a motorcycle, but not a kart. Since some here can’t comprehend driving a kart on the highway, even a Honda CRX, can’t be sold new. It was legal to buy 20 years ago, but wouldn’t be today. So, from the side of greater efficiency, government won’t let me do that either.

      I agree completely with Zuo. Stay out of my decisions, unless absolutely necessary and easily, and completely justified.

  24. I hate CAFE as much as anyone (it makes it illegal for some manufacturers to specialize in big cars) but I think that they can reach 57mpg by 2025 easily. HCCI, hybrids, smaller lighter vehicles and IMO the big one electronics that can make small cars safe and make close drafting safe can overcome.

    1. Bingo on that last one. Freeways with “computer assist” lanes will decrease traffic, increase safety and improve actual gas mileage.

      1. And vastly increase the cost and carbon footprint of building them. Net gain = 0

        1. I’m talking about a restricted access lane like HOV – only computer assist cars allowed. Several cars now have “smart cruise” – add a component like the DASH navigator that provides data on broader traffic conditions and vehicles can travel faster, closer together and with greatly reduced stop/start. Google is also working on this. I imagine that insurance companies will offer hugh discounts for cars equipped with this very soon. See the highways depicted in the movie “Minority Report”.

  25. “This is tantamount to declaring war on autos without a formal declaration from Congress.”

    Our “jobs” president has already declared war on banks, insurance companies, oil & gas, coal, pharmaceuticals, just to name his most memorable jihads. So why not the auto industry, its workers, and customers?

    1. You forgot airplane manufacturers.
      They’re in the crosshairs too.

  26. One other thing is that a guy could choose a gas guzzler and a shorter commute.

    1. No, that is not an option. Government doesn’t care if you drive 15 miles a week or 1000, you must achieve the appropriate efficiency!!!!

  27. If people would only trust our government and allow them to get on with the business of designing our cars for us, we would all benefit beyond imagining. Here is proof positive of our government’s ability to re-shape us into better automotive consumers.

  28. Until Congress trades in their limos, Excursions and Vettes on Smart Cars, I don’t want to hear them preaching to me about fuel efficiency.

  29. 56 mpg CAFE standards are ridiculous. However there is no way that a 1974 Grand Marquis is safer than a 2011 Focus. No way. Not to mention how lousy the cars were back then, mechanically speaking.

  30. unleaded gas will put us out of business by 1985

    In old big-displacement motors of Detroit’s heyday, they were getting 10:1 from the factory on compression ratios…on leaded gas.

    Pressure and efficiency of combustion are tightly related (look at diesels). After unleaded gas and smog-pumps, you were looking at 400 cubic-inch behemoths getting 7.5:1 compression out of the factory, 150hp. Combined with the rest the ’70’s, that meant some sucky American cars.

    But look at the real all-star of the modern efficiency in motors: the computer (what else?). You can so perfectly time the firing and injection of the fuel (fuel injection itself is old-hat) you’re seeing modern gasoline engines with direct-injection diesel-style getting 11:1. Can you imagine what kind of power and mileage leaded gas would offer that kind of engine-technology? Is there a study on that? God-knows what tech is possible to sequester lead in-situ given such precision engine management of the chemical assay entering the exhaust manifold?

    And they’d be there with computers on-engines being so desirable and technically obvious whether the Govmint Made It So or not. It is actually an interesting question when you think about it.

  31. The title “The Coming Autopocalypse” and the last line “Someone needs to rein this president in.” takes away credibility of the author – i.e. makes the author sound like a dumb ass.

  32. Not a single car…. Except for European turbo diesels, the BMW alpina 1 gets about 50 not and a Jaguar x type twin turbo diesel that gets 56, however you wouldn’t find the JAG in the states and the BMW alpina isn’t exactly common either.

    1. I live in Europe and drive a 2002 BMW 320d, a 3 series with a 2 liter, 4 cylinder turbo diesel. Lately, I’m averaging 52.3mpg. FYI.

      1. British or American gallon?

        1. American gallon.

    2. It’s unfair to limit people’s choice of automobile arbitrarily. Someone who gets 45 mpg but drives twice as many miles per year as someone else who gets 22.5 mpg uses the same amount of gas and puts out the same carbon. Yet the government effectively wants to outlaw the 22.5 mpg car. “Cars don’t burn gas; driving does.”

  33. “every 100-pound weight reduction results in a 4.7 to 5.6 percent increase in the fatality rate. A 2002 National Academy of Sciences study concluded that CAFE’s downsizing effect contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths in a single representative year, and to 10 times that many serious injuries.”

    I’ve NEVER been comfortable with 4,000-pound vehicles “competing” for the same road space with 80,000 -pound vehicles. “Victims” simply have not shown respect for weight and stopping differences.

    1. It amazes me every time I see a tractor-trailer tail gating a motorcycle or Miata (or other light/agile vehicles). Does the driver not comprehend the physics at all? What happens if that tiny little vehicle has to stop quickly? The truck will simply squash it, cause it is physically impossible for it to stop anywhere near as quickly.

      We should simply not have to share road space with commercial vehicles on higher speed roads.

    2. In 1975, there were 25,715 car (not pickup or SUV) occupant fatalities. In 2009 there were 14,058 car (not pickup or SUV) occupant fatalities. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that there were more cars on the road in 2009 than 1975. I’m guessing somewhere between a whole bunch and a shitload more, in fact.

      SUVs account for a disproportionate number of single vehicle and rollover deaths. Why? Because they are less agile. For that reason, it is a short leap of logic to assume SUV’s probably cause (fail to avoid) more accidents and deaths than smaller vehicles.

      The IIHS has tons of interesting stats.

      1. You’re not taking into account the biggest factor in fatalities, the decline in drinking and driving deaths since the heydays of the 70’s. It’s a far greater impact than vehicle size.

  34. Just make the mpg requirement 10000 miles per gallon. Why stop there? Why let physics get in the way of a “good idea”?

  35. The Best Highway Safety Practices Institute ( has figured that traffic signals set to generate traffic fines (short yellow lights, lights set at 10 over the speed limit, etc) kill up to 8,000 people per year.

    Said Chad Dornsife of BHSPI:

    “Our position is the FHWA has obfuscated its oversight responsibilities and what you are doing is and has been in fact illegal.

    Unlawful traffic control devices and laws have become the new revenue source de jure for any entity that wants to balance its budgets based. Instead of focusing on safety we have turned every roadway in the nation into a local revenue entitlement program that relies on the FHWA not complying with Congress’ intent or the Constitution or by omission facilitating others to violate the rights of citizens.

    When it comes to automated enforce its insane, because by design due process is not the standards for the traffic control devices used in the scams, and there is no real defense, either – a USDOT promoted policy and practice to streamline the collection of fines by eliminating due process.

    The real tragedy, because property and money can be replaced, the FHWA’s diversion away from best practices is directly responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths each year and immeasurable mayhem.

    Invented value prosecutions at the other end of the spectrum, that have no factual foundation whosoever, are now being treated as felonies and some have gone to jail for deaths and injuries that were directly attributable to the lack FHWA oversight and the systemic poor engineering practices that have become the norm.”


    Not much government, at any level, won’t do to generate cash…even kill it’s citizens.

  36. It always amazes me how the Left loathes the blind belief of religious fundamentalists…they’re contempt for the fact that fundamentalsts refuse to use analysis and reason.

    But we have the same thing on the Left and a perfect example is how environmentaltism has morphed into a secular religion. The difference is that the religious types are pretty well marginalized, whereas the secular types have disproportionate power in the administration.

    This CAFE business is a perfect example of blind ideology pushing reason and science out of the way. The mandate WILL NOT be reached because the technology doesn’t exist, we’ll have all manner of dislocations and waste as the auto industry struggles with the govt bureuacrats, but none of this matters to the environmentalists because…well….it’s a matter of FAITH, not science.

  37. 50,000+ Americans have died for more Miles Per Gallon.

    The 1908 Model T Ford got 25 miles per gallon. Since then the internal combustion engine has changed very little and there is only ONE way to get more MPG – reduce the weight of the car.

    So what used to be steel is now aluminum, and what used to be aluminum is now plastic.

    Basically we are riding around in metal coffins waiting to be killed in a car crash that we would have survived 25 years ago.

    But wacko Liberals hate humans it seems and higher death rates are OK as long as they get higher MPG…..

    1. You are so correct. Unfortunately the Liberal Mob cannot understand simple physics since it is incapable of logical thought, so you may as well give your reasoned opinion to your dog.

  38. The book “Let’s Make A Deal: A Hail Mary Pass to Get America Off the Bench and Back in the Game” has a great rif on the appocalyps theme called “The Four Horsemen of the Coming American Apocalypse”

    From page 21…

    In biblical prophecy, the four horsemen?pestilence, war, fa-mine, and death?first herald, then carry out the destructive vision of the Apocalypse. The recent debt-fueled economic implosions in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Argentina and elsewhere show us that government inaction, incompetence, and maladministration in the face of serious structural problems can have apocalyptic consequences for their populations.

    Today, America is faced with four intractable, structural prob-lems that are unmistakable harbingers of a coming American economic apocalypse and, according to polls, are regarded by Americans as threatening to their well being and way of life.

    The book also has a solution: The LMAD plan. Healthcare-for-All? It’s in there. Balanced budget? It’s in there. Carbon tax? It’s in there. Rational taxation? Amnesty? Border Security? Limited government? Social Security and Medicare solvency? It’s all in there; it’s all paid for and it’s all optimized.




    Or just Google “LMADster”

  39. Safety issues aside, the electric cars have problems that do not really appear when there are so few of them. The recharging takes hours, and how many stations would we need if everyone was driving one? Imagine how many chargers each office, mall, etc. would need. And then there is the battery problem. These are not tiny car batteries, but huge batteries costing $5000 each. This is a huge replacement cost, and what are we going to do with the old ones?

    More to the point, why are we forcing these changes? If people were living with air they could neither see through or breathe (China) in a free society they would clamor for clean fuel. Which basically is what happened in the 60s, before the EPA. Fact is , oil is cheap, clean, and really a miracle fuel. All actions have reactions, and nothing is free, but we have already solved many of the issues with oil.
    So why does Obama demand this change? That is the real question.

    1. And another factor for we Floridians, hurricane evacuation. We frequently lose electricity at the outset of most storms, our power companies can barely keep up with the demands on a hot summer day, much less thousands of cars plugging in as well.Basically, without traffic (impossible during evacuation) you might make it 30 miles before you need an 8 hour recharge or get stuck on the side of the road and become airborne

  40. ture or not?

  41. Can everybody just say diesel already? Time to subsidize bio diesel companies and new techs to build lighter and stronger composite fibers to replace steel and aluminum.

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