Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

The Seattle Times reports today that the federal government is proposing fleet average fuel economy of 62 miles per gallon by 2025. This is greater than the performance of a Toyota hybrid (about 45 mpg), or a Honda Civic with a stick shift, which gets anywhere from 32 to 39 mpg depending on the gasoline blend, driving habits, and the season.

The article also reveals that the standard will be higher for heavier vehicles, and quotes speculation that technology improvements in the next 15 years will get us there. Even more impressive is that the governors of several states, including Washington, support the change. Having our governor, an attorney who I am sure knows a great deal about cars, engineering and physics, favoring this imposition on the American public is heart warming.

Here are the likely effects:

  • All vehicles will become more costly, because the lighter materials needed to build new cars are more costly than steel.
  • The ratio of plug-in electric vehicles as compared to gasoline based vehicles must increase to roughly 50% of the American vehicle fleet.
  • Pick-up trucks and vans that are gas fired will be very expensive. You will pay for this when you hire contractors through higher overhead, even if you do not own one.
  • The richer you are the less the effect. You will be able to have a larger vehicle with lower fuel economy. The corollary is that lower income folks will drive old clunkers that consume lots of expensive fuel.
  • Gasoline fired vehicles will be more costly than plug-in electrics, but plug-in electrics will be more costly than they are now.
  • The roads will be more jammed with more vehicles than they are now. But don’t worry because you won’t be burning fuel while you are parked on the local interstate highway. Also, those governors who signed letters of support for the rule change will be retired when the rule goes into effect.
  • Like conservation efforts that have been made since the oil embargo of 1973, the U.S. reliance on oil and oil imports will not decrease under this kind of rule.

The local papers ought to actually reveal what a rule like this will do. Then people can understand the consequences and not draw the unlikely conclusion that technology will cause a vehicle like they have parked in their driveway today to perform about three times better in 2025. I could support policies that encourage the purchase of plug-in hybrids and their use in inner cities. I can even support closing urban cores to gas powered vehicles. There are reasons to do so. I do not support trying to achieve the same ends with the proposed subterfuge.

Also, it is time to defeat the Democratic legislative majorities, not because the Republicans have great ideas. We need to slow the rate of change and pass fewer laws until a political party emerges that actually can lead in these challenging times.

1 Comment to “Proposed Federal Standard of 62 MPG for 2025?”

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