Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Electrifying Future

A very good case against government involvement in business can be made by looking at the CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) legislation and what it did to the American auto industry. In a nutshell the Congress critters established arbitrary fuel MPG standards for the auto-makers. Over time, the standard got higher and higher. This reflected the unrealistic belief that technology is not limited and therefore we will always be able to achieve better and better mileage out of our vehicles.

But, in a brief nod to those who live outside the Beltway traffic jams, they acknowledged that a lot of America is wide open spaces and not at all like either the east coast urban mess or the dense cities of Europe. We like trucks and vans and SUVs along with the occasional irrational muscle car or status-sedan which is bigger, faster and more luxurious than mere transportation. So, you build what the market wants, but you’ve got to also build a lot of itsy-bitsy cracker-boxes that get great mileage. Sell them at a loss or we’ll make you stop building profitable vehicles that the public wants.

Well, the vampires are back and this time they’re GREEN too! Check this review of the once dramatic and now pathetic Detroit Auto Show:

Like CAFE Only Stronger

Oh yeah! With oil below $40 a barrel and the potential to revitalize the car industry in America, the emphasis is on more vehicles that nobody is going to want. Would you spend $40K for a vehicle that plugs in and sucks your electric bill into the stratosphere as you sleep or would you rather buy a new Ford F-150 pick-em-up? Get this; it will go 40 miles before it needs recharging for eight hours. Yep, travel for half an hour then rest for eight.

Let’s be honest. It does have a little lawn-mower engine to power the onboard generator to charge the batteries, so you can get the thing home from the mall after shopping without an electric socket nearby. Read about your future here:

Plug It In, Plug It In

Doesn’t sound too bad does it? But, that’s marketing hype. Here’s an in-depth look:

More Than You Want to Know About It

Did you get the part about batteries from Asia and the cars assembled in Europe? That should really pump up the UAW in Detroit.

And will somebody tell me how all of that electrical consumption is going to work this summer in Dallas when the power grid is running at 120% of capacity already trying to keep up with air conditioning demands?

Oh yeah, it just keeps getting better. With a government like this one, who needs enemies?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Post (and link) raises interesting questions.

Personally, I like high MPG cars because 1) I like to go for 1000+ mile road trips regularly, 2) I like to pinch a penny, and 3) I am a high-tech enthusiast. I am interested in very-high MPG cars the same way some guys like SUVs or sports cars. I'm still not giving up hope for alternatives or high MPG petrol-burning cars, especially if they can be built here and bolster our economy. I discussed my interests at the Honda dealer with a salesman. Several years ago Honda stopped producing the Civic HX which got 44 MPG on the highway. I used to have one, liked it, and expressed my disappointment that Honda had discontinued this special model. The salesman informed me that there were relatively few consumers with my interest in bringing back the HX.

BTW, off topic but interesting: