I’m an automotive realist–former automotive enthusiast. Fuel prices continue to climb. There’s little the average consumer can do about it. The most important thing, is to be informed, and make wise car buying decisions. Federally mandated mileage standards help–although it seems we can’t make up our minds how far we want to go. We’ve gone from crises to crises, and yet, there are no long-term solutions. The latest shortages, in the northeast, due to Hurricane Sandy.
It goes back to President Nixon‘s fifty-five miles per hour national speed limit, which conserved fuel, but did nothing to make cars more efficient. We smugly drive our hybrids, content, that somehow we are saving the planet from destruction. Meanwhile, I wonder what will happen when these vehicles go to salvage. Are lithium-ion battery packs recyclable? Achieving forty and fifty miles per gallon in highway driving is now reality. That’s a step in the right direction. Will that be good enough in the future? There are electric cars–like the Nissan Leaf. Are these the best, environmentally responsible, choices?
Taken from the current issue of “Car & Driver” magazine, a four-year wish list: Pick a fuel-economy standard and stick with it. Allow carmakers the time to reconcile the two. That whole “54.5 by 2025, but we’ll take another look at it in 2018” thing? Not helping. It’s just creating more 5,000 pound, $60,000 hybrids.
Admit that nearly half the energy powering EV’s comes from coal.
Consider lowering the tax on diesel: With their abundant low-down torque and state-spanning range, diesel-engineered vehicles suit how we Americans drive. Because of diesel’s more efficient combustion and a 15-percent energy-density advantage over gasoline, diesel-powered cars go 30 percent farther on a gallon and emit roughly 25 percent less CO2. Evaluate lowering the federal excise tax on the stuff from 24.4 cents per gallon to 18.4 per gallon, which is the same amount levied on gasoline.
Why is diesel fuel taxed at a higher rate, in this country, than gasoline? In Europe, diesel is priced about the same as gasoline. Diesel automobiles offer superior mileage and aren’t considered a viable option in this country. The US market share is a mere three percent. In Europe, where fuel prices are traditionally higher, diesel automobiles account for about sixty percent of the market.
Diesels, the redheaded stepchildren of the automotive world. …Dirty, smelly, noisy, slow-moving. Not worth the additional investment? Modern clean diesels are a far cry from your father’s Oldsmobile. Maybe some have bad memories of unreliable GM diesel V6’s and V8’s in the eighties. American tourists are pleasantly surprised by their rented European diesel versions of Ford Fiestas and Ford Transit Connects. Ford and General Motors offer diesel cars in Europe that aren’t available here. It’s a marketing decision. Auto manufacturers still aren’t convinced the American public is ready to embrace diesel technology.
But, this isn’t Europe, this is America, land of the “Red, White, and Blue.” We should be thankful for “lower” fuel prices. What about freedom of choice? Our choices are limited to offerings from Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Comparing, gas vs. diesel, there’s more cost difference at the luxury end of the market. Volkswagen offerings are more comparably priced–for example, the Jetta. In my opinion, modern diesel automobiles yield mileage figures comparable to and beyond hybrids. High fuel prices drag down our economic recovery. Why not follow the lead of European counterparts in fuel conservation? Allow motorists more choices. It couldn’t hurt, and could only help.