January 20, 2003
A bit more on SUVs
One more point that needs to be made about SUVs is that there's no technical reason why they don't have better fuel economy. MIT's Technology Review magazine did an article in November pn this topic. You can only get an excerpt here, but the bottom line is this:
It’s not that automotive technologies haven’t improved; it’s that the improvements have been geared toward delivering power, not efficiency. Since 1981 the auto industry has hiked horsepower 84 percent, allowing vehicles to accelerate faster even though they have gotten heavier, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
As noted in Gregg Easterbrook's article
, SUVs are exempt from a wide variety of regulations that smaller vehicles must adhere to. Until the industry is forced to do something about fuel economy for SUVs, they won't.
This is how the auto industry has always operated. They resisted seat belts and air bags because they claimed it would make cars too expensive for consumers. Of course, when they were finally forced to make these features standard, they changed their marketing to focus on safety and voila! Contrary to their dire predictions, people kept on buying new cars. Turned out, in fact, that they liked and even demanded those nifty new gadgets. If and when Detroit is forced to make SUVs more fuel efficient, I guarantee that one of the first residual effects will be TV ads that tout the new and improved MPG numbers.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 20, 2003 to Technology, science, and math
Um... Of course SUVs need more horsepower, Charles. If the don't have higher horsepower, they don't have sufficient accelleration in a wide variety of situations. I've driven a both 4-cylinder minivan and a V8 Ford Explorer XLT extensively, and trust me, there are situations where I've needed the accelleration the latter provides. This is something that SUVs especially need due to their inceased size.
Accordingly, what you are asking is for one of two things: 1) Horsepower to be reduced, meaning that SUVs will have worse accelleration and thus be worse and less safe vehicles all around, or 2) for SUV vehicle weight to be reduced, thereby increasing the risk to passengers of SUVs.
Neither of these are good situations. There is good reason for SUVs to have lower fuel economy requirements, although I would personally argue that CAFE should be eliminated entirely. It kills thousands of people annually, after all.
Even as a conservative liberatarian, I don't oppose CAFE on principal. As a generality, it is a reasonable approach to achieve more than one public policy goal.
I oppose specific requirements as to how to achieve the goals. What I especially oppose are special exemptions for vehicle types (trucks, minivans, etc.) since they are capricious and arbitrary: if you are going to have a law, apply it broadly rather than narrowly, else most tomes it really oughtn't be a law (law: a rule for everyone).
Of course, in the long run the truth is that petroleum is to valuable to burn (feedstock for the chemical industry) and we'll become a hydrogen economy, looking back on 1900-2050 quaintly for their dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
"Even as a conservative liberatarian, I don't oppose CAFE on principal. As a generality, it is a reasonable approach to achieve more than one public policy goal."
No offense, but that makes you a pretty weak libertarian. Also, I would argue that CAFE accomplishes practically nothing for any policy goal. Libertarian economists will tell you about the "rebound effect," yes?
"I oppose specific requirements as to how to achieve the goals. What I especially oppose are special exemptions for vehicle types (trucks, minivans, etc.) since they are capricious and arbitrary: if you are going to have a law, apply it broadly rather than narrowly, else most tomes it really oughtn't be a law (law: a rule for everyone)."
In disparaging the specific requirements you disparage consumer choice. You can't have diversity of automobiles when CAFE standards are applied equally to every class of cars. Otherwise you'd have underpowered trucks with tinfoil bodies and Buicks built like bricks with V8 engines. That's hideously unfair to consumers who want to buy trucks.
So please, don't call yourself a libertarian while espousing such ideas. Even the Democrats aren't proposing the removal of all variation from CAFE standards, and virtually all self-respecting libertarians and conservatives are for the removal or limitation of CAFE.
Oh, sure! You go try and sell "Fewer horsepower than last year!"
Of course, they'll figure out a way...they're Madison Avenue.