published Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Cars, mileage, emissions, cost

We Americans live on our “wheels.” We love our cars, need them to go to work, for business, errands, travel and pleasure. And much of our American economy is based on our auto industry and its related businesses.

So who wouldn’t love to have our cars get better gasoline mileage — and at the same time reduce obnoxious emissions from our engines?

That’s what President Barack Obama is hoping for in his sweeping new demands on car manufacturers — even as they already are staggering under current economic problems. Ultimately, of course, the costs will be borne by millions of American motorists.

What will be the costs?

President Obama wants new cars to get 35.5 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2016. To reach that standard, it is guesstimated that the cost would be about $1,300 per car!

Mileage standards already demanded by law are expected to add $600 to the cost of a car. And the new standards the president calls for are guesstimated to add $700 more. With car prices already high, what will be the economic effect on our nation, not just motorists, of adding $1,300 to a car price tag as General Motors and Chrysler are about to go broke and Ford is in trouble, too?

Well, the president’s proposal is claimed to have a “sweetener” of hoped-for “savings.” But that’s guesswork. “If” 60-month car loans are considered and “if” gasoline prices follow government guesstimates, proponents of the new standards claim the added cost would be “recovered.” Do you want to bet on that?

The U.S. Transportation Department reported last year that requiring the auto industry to attain a 31.6 miles per gallon standard by 2015 would cost nearly $47 billion. With the new standard set at 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, there obviously would be added costs. How much? No one really knows. But what is known is that the American people, in one way or another, will have to pay the large added costs.

It is claimed that the suggested benefits would outweigh the costs. But what will the effect be on an economy that is already in serious recession, when car manufacturers are in trouble, when auto workers are being laid off and when most Americans are having to watch their dollars more closely.

The new car standards obviously will have major effects on us all.

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nucanuck said...

President Obama is focusing on reducing America's dependence on oil.To be successful,three principle things will have to happen.First,the price of oil will have to be high enough,consistantly,to allow alternative sources of energy to continue to be developed.Second,we have to have highly efficient transportation products developed as quickly as possible.And,third,we have to radically change our lifestyles by living and consuming differently.

We can complain about costs,as the NFP editor is doing above,but we are out of options.The time to address the problem was thirty years ago,now we are in emergency mode.We consume 26 barrels of oil per person,per year in the US,and in a relatively short number of years that number will likely DROP to 16 or below.That represents huge,almost unimaginable,changes in everything we do.Even if we pull together on energy policy,life will still get pretty difficult.If we don't,well,start studying Arabic and Mandarin.

May 20, 2009 at 1:34 a.m.
EaTn said...

nucanuck- your summary is very good and to the point. Big oil will try to derail the mileage plan by manipulating the price of gasoline while some politicians will cry "government interference". We have been suckers for this before so hopefully we will keep our eye on energy independence from all fossil fuels.

May 20, 2009 at 7:28 a.m.
rolando said...

We need no plan on reducing our dependence on foreign oil -- yes, foreign oil...that is the issue. All we have to do is drill for our oil on our property using our oil companies employing our [legal] workers. At that point, OPEC, Mexico, Venesuella and the other hold-up artists can kiss off.

Dear Leader has effectively nationalized our banking and auto manufacturing companies and is in the process of eliminating our power generation system, why not take over what some call "big oil"? Could it be because our oil industry is mostly foreign-owned or easily transferred?

My, my, he dasn't dare Tee those folks off, does he?

Dear Leader would have us bow down to foreign kings -- as he did recently -- and beg them for oil.

We wield a big stick yet...our consumerism if nothing else. It is well past time to use it but there is still time left.

May 20, 2009 at 3:38 p.m.
nucanuck said...


That the US could supply itself with oil if only we could drill is just plain not true.It's a dream,a myth, a fantasy,that we all wish were true,but it's not.Yes,there is a lot of oil shale,but it takes more energy to extract the oil than the energy received.Our other resources,if drilled,would barely keep up with the depletion rates in our older wells.Some is in very expensive places to access.

We also need to leave some resourses in the ground for long term use in the myriad products that are petroleum based.We have no right to plunder the earth's resourses just because we can.Like everything else in life ,we need to seek a balance.

If you haven't read up on peak oil,I highly recommend it.It's not a political issue,it's a resourse management issue that transcends politics.It's effects are already being felt,and they are only going to increase.

May 20, 2009 at 7:31 p.m.
cave_demon said...

Anyone that thinks the US can drill for enough oil to meet our demands without relying on foreign oil doesn't know a thing about geology/petrology. Part of the problem is that we burn oil for energy here. What a sham. We have an embarrassment of wealth in terms of solar and geothermal energy potential without even having to use wind turbines and certainly not nuclear. McCain was talking about nuclear energy while he reprsents a state that could singlehandedly supply the energy needs of the entire US with solar power. And to the author of the article- you worry about $1,300 more per car? How much more did you pay in gas prices over Bush's 8-year reign of terror? A lot more than $1,300 for sure.

May 20, 2009 at 8:48 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Well, I guess I'll just have to buy up a half of a lifetime's supply of used Turbo Scoobies and put them in storage till I need 'em. We are not going to run out of oil for them anytime soon, and the manufacturing is the real energy buster.

cave_demon, Direct Solar, ha! I like it when my power works at night, and on cloudy days, and after a snowstorm, and in the rain, and... well maybe you get the point.(probably not) When someone comes up with a plan that works reliably and is as cheap or cheaper than fossil fuels(like, oh maybe nuclear), sign me up, till then shove it. P.S. You do know that fossil fuels are condensed solar power, and that the CO2 released came from the atmosphere when the plants were condensing the solar energy, right?

"How much more did you pay in gas prices over Bush's 8-year reign of terror?" Oh, man you're killin me. You know this new generation of cars will still use gas, right? Is mighty Obamalamadingdong going to magically make gas free?

May 20, 2009 at 10:54 p.m.
Oz said...

$1,300 more for a car. How much is Cap and Trade going to add to our Electric Bill? Will it double or triple it? If corporate America has to pay for Cap and Trade, that means the consumer will pay for it in the end. How much is that going to cost us. More jobs will be leaving the country. Just wait, $5 a gallon for gas will look like a bargain before Obama's reign of terror is over.

May 20, 2009 at 11:10 p.m.
cave_demon said...

Hey scotty, ever heard of the word STORAGE? Apparently not. But then again, after reading your posts, you obviously have very little knowledge of anything, so I am not surprised at all at your ridiculous rants. You don't need to have sunlight at any given moment to have solar power. Solar power is completely viable even in places that have lots of cloudiness as well as in high latitudes. And it can also be sent to other places by these magical new inventions called power lines. And you obviously know aboslutely nothing about geology. At the current rate of consumption, and with the population increases in places like China and India, along with their associated extra use of oil, the world's oil will be dried up, completely used up, this century. If we drill into anwr or attempt to extract oil from shale in places like Wyoming, we might add 1-2 years to the total amount of worldwide oil available. The only reason solar power is expensive right now is that big oil and the nuclear industry are fighting it tooth and nail. You know how DVD players were like $500 10 years ago, and now they're like $50? Things get cheaper as time goes on and they're more widely adopted. It's pretty patheitc that I have to even explain basic concepts like this, but then again, that's what makes Tennessee Tennessee. Ignorance.

May 21, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...

cave_demon, It really is sad that you are so mistaken on so many things. I think maybe you are having a scaling problem.

Where and how are you going to store the massive amounts of electricity needed to run this country when the sun does not shine? Batteries? Not a chance. Pumped hydro storage? Good luck getting that by the greens. Do you have any idea of the footprint required by enough photovoltaics to replace our current electrical power usage? Do you think the greens will let us cover that much ground? Look at what is happening in Cali. right now. Do you think the greens are going to let us string new power lines all over the place? If we were to quit using oil right now, all that energy would have to come from somewhere else, this would be on top of replacing the coal plants POTUS has said he was going to bankrupt. Do you have a real grasp on the amount of energy we derive from fossil fuels? POTUS doesn't, I can assure you. What would be the footprint for photovoltaics to cover all that?

If these green fantasies of solar and wind power were viable they wouldn't need .gov subsidies to make them work. The oil and nuke industries are not in it for the oil and the nukes, they're in it for the money. Ask T. Boone Pickens, his big windpower deal only works with .gov subsidies.

The only oil shortage in this country is a .gov mandated one. You need to learn a little about oil and gas exploration. When oil company geologists say they expect x amount of yield from such and such field, those are extremely conservative estimates. They are conservative because if the yields are less they can loss their job or go to jail for fraud. Unlike green projections which have no repercussions for bad extrapolations, company geologists answer to managers and the managers answer to the SEC. The oil reserve projections are way low, and they do not include undiscovered formations. There are pumps sitting idle all over Tex., Ok., and La, because the price is not high enough to cover the pumping costs. When the price rises, productions rises as well. This is why the boom/bust cycles happen.

We need to look at all sides of these things. Big oil=evil, big green=good, is not all there is to it. We live in the greatest nation to ever exist on this planet. Our country is full of intelligent, inventive, risk takers who are willing to work hard to keep this country on the top. Unfortunately we are being held hostage by shallow thinkers enthralled by Malthusian fantasies.

It's pretty pathetic that I have to show you how to spell "patheitc". (I kid) If you hate Tenn. then leave, if you want. Or stay, we need productive people here and the cost of living/taxes are low. ;)

May 21, 2009 at 2:51 a.m.
Gump said...

"P.S. You do know that fossil fuels are condensed solar power, and that the CO2 released came from the atmosphere when the plants were condensing the solar energy, right?"

That's true. In fact, this is probably the reason dry land is so inhabitable. Early on in the planet's history, all these plants started to pop up, sucking up all that CO2 and replacing it with nice, breathable oxygen. It's the reason we're all here. And now we're apparently putting it all back.

Also, are these alternative technologies comparatively rare because they really don't work? Or is it because the existing oil and coal lobbies are able to throw more weight around in Washington, allowing them to get policy working to their benefit as other energy sources fend for themselves?

Oh, and rolando, everyone knows the proper way to treat a Saudi king is by holding his hand, giving him a kiss, and taking him on a walk through your Crawford ranch.

May 21, 2009 at 7:52 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Gump says, "And now we're apparently putting it all back."

Not a chance in the world, an awful whole lot of that carbon is sequestered in Calcium Carbonates. We will never release more than a very small fraction.

"Or is it because the existing oil and coal lobbies are able to throw more weight around in Washington, allowing them to get policy working to their benefit as other energy sources fend for themselves?"

Do you live under a rock? The greens are in the drivers seat.

"Oh, and rolando, everyone knows the proper way to treat a Saudi king is by holding his hand, giving him a kiss, and taking him on a walk through your Crawford ranch.

This is traditional custom on the Arabian Peninsula. It is a sign of equality and mutual respect. Bowing is sign of subservience. BDS much?

May 21, 2009 at 8:50 a.m.
Peter_Mould said...

Yes these demands will definitely send ripples across the whole industry and even big players like BMW will definitely be affected. It remains to be seen what sort of effects will be borne by the consumers, and it doesn’t look pretty.

February 9, 2012 at 3:46 a.m.
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