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EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

From NYTimes.com

DETROIT, July 27 - With Congress poised for a final vote on the energy bill, the Environmental Protection Agency made an 11th-hour decision Tuesday to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy.

Bigger, Faster and Less Economical

Text of Embargoed E.P.A. Report (July 28, 2005) But a copy of the report, embargoed for publication Wednesday, was sent to The New York Times by a member of the E.P.A. communications staff just minutes before the decision was made to delay it until next week. The contents of the report show that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's.

Releasing the report this week would have been inopportune for the Bush administration, its critics said, because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation six years in the making. The bill, as it stands, largely ignores auto mileage regulations.

The executive summary of the copy of the report obtained by The Times acknowledges that "fuel economy is directly related to energy security," because consumer cars and trucks account for about 40 percent of the nation's oil consumption. But trends highlighted in the report show that carmakers are not making progress in improving fuel economy, and environmentalists say the energy bill will do little to prod them.

"Something's fishy when the Bush administration delays a report showing no improvement in fuel economy until after passage of their energy bill, which fails to improve fuel economy," said Daniel Becker, the Sierra Club's top global warming strategist. "It's disturbing that despite high gas prices, an oil war and growing concern about global warming pollution, most automakers are failing to improve fuel economy."

Eryn Witcher, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said the timing of the release of the report had nothing to do with the energy bill deliberations.

"We are committed to sharing our scientific studies with the public in the most comprehensive and understandable format possible," she said. "Issue experts are reviewing the fuel economy data and we look forward to providing a summary of the information next week."

Some of what the report says reaffirms what has long been known. Leaps in engine technology over the last couple of decades have been mostly used to make cars faster, not more fuel-efficient, and the rise of sport utility vehicles and S.U.V.-like pickup trucks has actually sapped efficiency. The average 2004 model car or truck got 20.8 miles per gallon, about 6 percent less than the 22.1 m.p.g. of the average new vehicle sold in the late 1980's, according to the report.

At the same time, while General Motors and the Ford Motor Company are the most common targets of environmental groups, the E.P.A. report shows that several foreign automakers have had the sharpest declines in recent fuel economy performance as they move aggressively into the truck market.

The average 2004 model sold by Nissan, Hyundai and Volkswagen was at least a half-mile a gallon less fuel-efficient than in the previous model year, a sharp drop.

"It's appalling that Nissan, V.W. and Hyundai are accelerating in reverse," Mr. Becker said.

Kyle Bazemore, a Nissan spokesman, said the company's new large pickup truck, the Titan, and new large S.U.V.'s, like the Armada, clearly affected its overall results.

"In '03, we didn't have the Titan and Armada," he said. "We've entered into new markets, but we feel we are doing it responsibly."

John Krafcik, vice president of product development and corporate strategy at Hyundai, pointed out that his company sells relatively few S.U.V.'s but has recently increased its offerings. "Car by car, we're improving fuel economy on every model in our range," he said. "That's a more appropriate way to look at it."

David Friedman, a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group, disagreed.

"The 8.5 million barrels a day that American cars and trucks use have to do with the vehicles on the road, not the model-by-model comparisons," he said. "What matters to our oil consumption is the fuel economy of the fleet on the road."

Of the eight major automakers examined in the report, only G.M., Toyota and Honda showed increases in fuel efficiency in the 2004 model year, the most recent year for which hard sales data is available. Ford had the lowest mileage of the group. Honda, which does not sell the heaviest kinds of trucks, had the best overall mileage.

Some foreign companies do not even trouble themselves to follow fuel economy regulations. BMW, in fact, has paid more than $70 million in fines since the 2000 model year for noncompliance. The company has argued that American fuel regulations, which are taken as an average over a company's entire fleet, put luxury makers at a disadvantage.

"We sell the ultimate driving machine and people expect us to offer them the kind of BMW vehicles they really want to drive," said Dave Buchko, a spokesman.

Backers of the energy bill have said it will broadly change the nation's energy policy.

Representative Joe L. Barton, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said this week that "it is a darn good bill, and it is going to help this country, and the sooner we get it done, the better."

Environmentalists disagree.

"It effectively does nothing to cut our dependence on oil," Mr. Friedman said.

While the proposed bill, as it stands, does offer limited tax credits for hybrid electric cars and advanced diesels, environmental groups object to extending mileage credits for vehicles that can be filled up with an ethanol blend instead of gasoline; many consumers who purchase such vehicles are not even aware of the feature.

The E.P.A. report illustrates what has happened as the industry has poured resources into S.U.V.'s, minivans and family-oriented pickup trucks, vehicle types with less stringent fuel economy requirements than cars. The average new vehicle weight has risen to about 4,000 pounds today, from about 3,200 in the early 1980's. At the same time, the horsepower of an average engine has roughly doubled over two decades, trimming four seconds from the time it takes for the average vehicle to accelerate from zero to 60.
 

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Don't Call Me Gaga!
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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

This shouldn't be a surprise.... the engines are more efficient, but the added luxury, safety, and size will take their toll.

Physics dictates that it'll take X amount of fuel to move vehicle of Y size. Can't unlock the two.

You want leather, sunroof, piles of legroom, DVD, climate control, and 84 airbags? Sure, but you gotta get that stuff moving!
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

You want leather, sunroof, piles of legroom, DVD, climate control, and 84 airbags?
No, no I don't. I want a $6k car that's simple, reliable, and gets 50+mpg. Without all the regulations and luxury, it would be possible. In other words, I want somebody to make a modern day VW bug. I don't care about safety. If they let motorcycles on the roads, why do they need to regulate vehicle safety?
 

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Don't Call Me Gaga!
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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

I think we're in the minority on that.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

I don't care about safety. If they let motorcycles on the roads, why do they need to regulate vehicle safety?
Because, somewhere out there, this chick is in her car:

 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

I don't care about safety. If they let motorcycles on the roads, why do they need to regulate vehicle safety?
Because, somewhere out there, this chick is in her car:

Point taken....especially as I remember driving past yet another fatal accident this morning on our wonderful "Safety Corridor" here in South Central PA.

Between the poor road designs and poor drivers education....well that's for another thread.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

...and this article is just looking at EPA mileage estimates. It doesn't take into account that speed limits are higher on many interstates now and that people spend more time in stop and go traffic than they used to. I think the "actual" fuel economy of the typical driver is even worse than the article states.

Also, it doesn't take into account the relative proportions of vehicles/trucks on the road. A large percentage of the vehicles on the road get the worst fuel economy.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

sweet, i want something that forces manufacturers to make tiny cars like in the 80's. maybe this will do it lol.

seriously, i hate how big the cars are today. i would LOVE it if the Jetta was the size of the Mk.1 or 2, and the 3-series was the size of the 3-series from the 80's, etc etc... i know that is totally unreasonable today but i like my cars small and light.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

my favorite part:

"Something's fishy when the Bush administration delays a report showing no improvement in fuel economy until after passage of their energy bill, which fails to improve fuel economy," said Daniel Becker, the Sierra Club's top global warming strategist. "It's disturbing that despite high gas prices, an oil war and growing concern about global warming pollution, most automakers are failing to improve fuel economy."
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

No, no...This is the best part.


Leaps in engine technology over the last couple of decades have been mostly used to make cars faster
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

No, no...This is the best part.


Leaps in engine technology over the last couple of decades have been mostly used to make cars faster
Name me any vehicle from, say, 1984, priced under $20,000, that could do 0-60 in under 6 seconds.

Cars were dog slow back then! And really tiny, unless you drove a boat like a Cutlass Supreme or a Crown Vic.

Today's Focus would've been shopped against a host of mid-size sedans, and it would've beat them all in room, power, and fuel mileage.

I can't blame the automakers; they're giving us what the masses want. Unfortunately, what we want is not healthy for the planet.
 

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Don't Call Me Gaga!
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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

I can't blame the automakers; they're giving us what the masses want. Unfortunately, what we want is not healthy for the planet.
Bingo. That's how I feel about it.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

sweet, i want something that forces manufacturers to make tiny cars like in the 80's. maybe this will do it lol.

seriously, i hate how big the cars are today. i would LOVE it if the Jetta was the size of the Mk.1 or 2, and the 3-series was the size of the 3-series from the 80's, etc etc... i know that is totally unreasonable today but i like my cars small and light.
You know whats funny, even in my MINI which is one of the smallest modern cars out there i still tower over 92 civic hatchbacks, CRX's, and many other cars from the late 80's. The other day i was sitting next to a slightly lowered last gen prelude and the top of its roof was right at the bottom of my passenger mirror!
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

I can't blame the automakers; they're giving us what the masses want. Unfortunately, what we want is not healthy for the planet.
Or ourselves.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

Government regulation cuts both ways. Not only do they require many more safety devices that have added mass, but they have blocked features such as outside mirror replacements. Replacing mirrors with low profile cameras, could put a dent in drag. 15 MPH bumpers, can someone tell me what the point is?

CAFE is at a stand still while the politicians figure out how raise it without hurting Detroit. Consumers have little incintive to buy based on fuel efficiency, even with rising gas prices. Oh, and deisels? Are we ever going to get a better grade of fuel or are we forced to watch Europe with envy.

Read the sig, that about sums it up.
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

All that wants the CRX to return in it's original form, just comesticly upgraded, say I.

I
 

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Re: EPA: Cars less efficient than they were in 80\'s

This shouldn't be a surprise.... the engines are more efficient, but the added luxury, safety, and size will take their toll.

Physics dictates that it'll take X amount of fuel to move vehicle of Y size. Can't unlock the two.

You want leather, sunroof, piles of legroom, DVD, climate control, and 84 airbags? Sure, but you gotta get that stuff moving!
Priceless!
 
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