Automakers Pitch Their Bogus Line To DC Officials

Last Wednesday, we went to support the Clean Cars bill that is pending in Washington, DC (find a link here; it would make cars sold in DC meet the California emissions standards, which about 11 states also copy).

Most of the people there were supportive, but one attendant was from the AAM, or Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. They’re the industry group that represents the 6 biggest car companies, and they’re fighting cleaner cars and tighter regs at every turn. (They’re fighting California’s new emissions rules, and they just lost the Vermont case.) He was Greg Dana, their Vice President for Environmental Affairs.

Mr. Dana had his turn at the microphone, and made his case against tighter air regs. It came down to four points. Here are points #1, #2 and #3:

  • The automakers are doing everything they possibly can to make cars cleaner, and really shouldn’t be pressured right now.
  • California’s rules get so tight by 2016 that the auto industry is likely to completely collapse.  Consumers will stop driving rather than buy better cars.
  • They’re looking into making cars out of tin, with 3-cylinder engines, because nothing else could possibly work. They need a “breakthrough” technological advance, which they don’t foresee, if they hope to comply with the 2016 rules.

And here’s point #4, the one I thought most interesting:

  • Under California’s 2016 emissions standards, only 4 of the 494 new-car models on the market today (2007) would be allowed to be sold. They are:
    • Toyota Yaris
    • Toyota Prius
    • Toyota Camry Hybrid
    • Ford Escape Hybrid

I’d like to point out how plainly untrue points 1-3 are, using point 4 (i.e., AAM’s own assertion).

First, let’s take on the idea that big increases in fuel efficiency automatically means smaller, weaker cars. Just using point #4, that’s obviously not true. The only 4 cars that reach the 2016 standards include a mid-size sedan, a full-size sedan, and a mid-size SUV! The Yaris is small, sure, but the hybrid system allows full-sized cars and SUVs to meet standards 9 years ahead of time, and with no loss in vehicle size or weight. The Camry and the Escape carry several hundred pounds more weight than their non-hybrid options. Also, according to reviews from Edmunds and the NHTSA, the performance is about the same. (Here’s the Escape numbers — compare to the V6 SLT)

Now let’s talk about the supposed need for a “breakthrough” technology to comply with the 2016 rules. The very fact that (according to Mr. Dana himself) hybrid cars already on the road today are clean enough to meet those standards (did I mention 9 years ahead of the deadline?), proves that the industry is ahead of the game on technology, not behind the 8-ball. Plus, consider, this isn’t even developmental technology. It’s not even on-the-shelf technology. It’s on-the-road technology, and it has been for years.

(Here’s a link back to my own article on how just redesigning the transmission already gives a huge luxury sedan 30+ mpg on the highway. That car’s sales jumped 128% this year.)

Are auto companies doing everything they can? Well, Ford licensed the hybrids from Toyota, but who else has? Nobody. Are auto companies still boosting HP and features at the expense of mileage and CO2 emissions? Yes. Does that sound like anybody’s best effort?

Are higher fuel standards going to crush the profitability of the industry? Leaving aside the fact that they survived the jump from 13 mpg to 27.5 mpg just fine, just look at point #4. How are those cars selling? These aren’t oddball models; from electricdrive.org, it turns out the three 2007 hybrids on Mr. Dana’s list sold 172,000 units through August. Plus, like the Lexus mentioned above, their sales figures grew. Meanwhile, H2’s, Yukons, and a host of other large SUV’s all sold less than last year.

Buyers want better efficiency. The market will bear it fine, as it has before. The technology isn’t just on the shelf; it’s on the road now. When the industry reps say they can’t meet tougher regulations, they’re either blatantly lying, or so stupid they can’t see what’s in front of their faces.

Advertisements

3 Responses to Automakers Pitch Their Bogus Line To DC Officials

  1. tamino says:

    Outstanding post! Voters: are you listening?

  2. 44 mpg by 2010 says:

    Carbon “CAP & TRADE” sound impressive … but I my opinion “it” becomes an unmeasurable “commodity” that brokers take large (relative to value of commodity) commissions on. This is in the class of “baseball trading cards”!

    “TAXES” on fuels where there are no (or VERY LIMITED) alternative choices that allow reduction in consumption is not rational, say like automotives. This strategy is most damaging to those that have the least financial resources to deal with the either the purchase of a solution … OR … to buy the fuel AND pay the tax.

    Here is a strategy I have not seen or heard discussed for your consideration and discussion.

    EVERY CAR MANUFACTURER MARKETING over 15 models in a model year IN THE USA MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE (1) VERY HIGH mpg VEHICLE IN THEIR PRODUCT OFFERING SET. IF THEY HAVE, AS A CORPORATE ENTITY, MORE THAN 150 MODELS THERE WOULD BE TWO (2), one a “light” vehicle and the other a “heavy” vehicle in the 6,500 to 8,500 pound class (truck, van, or SUV).

    By January 1, 2011 EACH manufacturer with over 15 models must provide at least one (1) 40 mpg(US) combined average 4/5 passenger vehicle in the market. Failure to deliver will result in a $20 MILLION per day fine until such product is delivered to the market in production quantities.

    By January 1, 2016, EACH manufacturer with over 15 models must provide at least one (1) 55 mpg(US) combined average 4/5 passenger vehicle in the market. Failure to deliver will result in a $40 MILLION per day fine until such product is delivered to the market in production quantities.

    In the case of manufacturer with more than 150 models, in a given model year, MUST provide a version of their lowest mpg 2008 “heavy” machine that achieves at least 28 mpg combined average by January 1, 2011. Failure to deliver will result in a $20 MILLION per day fine until such product is delivered to the market in production quantities.

    Again, manufacturer with more than 150 models, in a given model year, MUST provide a vehicle from the low mpg “heavy” class that achieves at least 40 mpg combined average by January 1,2016. Failure to deliver will result in a $40 MILLION per day fine until such product is delivered to the market in production quantities.

    These “fines” will be allocated as follows: 75% for research and development of FUEL CONSERVING VEHICLES and 25% for research and development of renewable energy sources … WITH THE FOLLOWING STIPULATION: ALL INVENTIONS AND DISCOVERIES ARE TO BE PUBLIC DOMAIN … AND “FREE USE LICENSE” APPLY.

    In this environment there would be extended VALID DIFFERIENTIATED CHOICES … just maybe … the “market/consumer” might make the “right” decisions … at least they will have the opportunity.

    Well … it is a different approach … and it has NOTHING to do with CAFE … JUST AVAILABLE CHOICES !!

    Comments PLEASE …

  3. Thunderbird says:

    Hi 44mpg,

    I agree that simply pushing up prices on gas hurts drivers who can’t control their driving. a majority of driving is necessary — commuting, running errands, etc. in towns without public transit or where you can’t walk because of car-centered community planning.

    Regulating the industry and pushing it to produce efficient vehicles is one answer. It worked in the 70’s — we doubled mileage standards and the industry lived through it fine. Now, as the unions’ burden on the Big 3 is softening (see recent news), they can survive it again.

    CAFE standards could go away — a minimum MPG for every vehicle, rather than an average, would do more for us. Stop making H2’s. Make something else. Demand will shift; people looking for fun cars will buy other options. There’s lots of fun to have without burning a gallon every 10 miles.

    But just as important is city planning. More and more of these single-use developments, with 200 houses, no sidewalks, five miles away from basic shopping and 25 miles from work, will drive up our car-dependency and our energy needs. Instead, we need to zone for intelligent, mixed-use, high-density, pedestrian-first, transit-oriented development is just as big a part as better mileage. We gotta reduce the extent to which driving is required as part of life. It’s the unavoidable 40-mile commutes that hit the environment and the pocketbook, not so much the weekend trips.

    Thanks to you both for commenting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: