History Repeats

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Do you know why SUVs became so popular?Hummer H1 pic

It wasn’t because of their, er, sportiness. Or even their utility. It was because they provided a way to get the size (especially under the hood) that American buyers wanted but which the government was doing its damndest to deny them via fuel efficiency mandates.

The story goes like this:

In the mid-late 1970s, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE, in government-ese) standards began to bite down. Government bureaucrats and politicians, in their usual secular Puritan we-know-best way, decided – then decreed – that new cars – generally – weren’t “efficient” enough.

It wasn’t that there weren’t numerous high-mileage cars available on the market for people who valued fuel economy more than other attributes (size, power, etc.). Granted, they were mostly imports – models like the VW Beetle and Honda Civic, Datsun B210, etc. But the point stands: Fuel-efficient cars were available.CAFE 1

The problem – from the government’s viewpoint – was that not enough of them were being made.

Or, bought.

The bureaucrats and politicians felt that all cars should be more “efficient” and ordered it be so – regardless of market wants and needs. And regardless of the destruction and distortions this might impose on the car industry.

CAFE was enacted.

Henceforth, every car company would be required to achieve a certain “fleet average” miles-per-gallon, the number decreed by political-regulatory fiat. Compliance was determined by averaging the mileage of every car an automaker produced. The presence of even one “gas guzzler” in the mix lowered the automaker’s overall CAFE number and put the automaker in danger of being fined, the fines passed on to the buyer. Which made the “gas guzzler” models less attractive to buy.

Fewer and fewer such were sold.'71 Pontiac ad

Initially (in 1978) the CAFE mandatory minimum for passenger cars was 18 MPG – ascending as the years rolled on to 27.5 MPG by 1990. This put enormous pressure on the industry – especially the American car industry – to downsize the cars it sold.

To make them smaller and lighter, so they’d use less gas.

Almost overnight, the entire domestic car industry shifted from producing large numbers of big cars with big engines – what had for decades been the traditional American car – to lots of smaller cars with smaller engines. Rear-wheel-drive and V8 power became the exception rather than the rule. And the imports – the Japanese, in particular – gained a huge and artificial competitive advantage over American car companies, because the Japanese (at that time) didn’t build big cars with big engines. They specialized in small cars with small engines.

It was a boon – to them.citation ad

Meanwhile, American car companies struggled to recoup the huge losses incurred as a result of the forced/premature retirement of whole lines of cars. The quality of American-brand cars suffered as the Big Three rushed the new generation of government-compliant small cars into production to meet the Japanese threat.

It was a disaster on the order of Stalingrad – with the American car industry playing the role of the German Sixth Army.

But, there was a “loophole” (as it’s styled whenever someone finds a way to legally avoid some suffocating government edict).CAFE light truck image

While passenger cars were required to meet an ever-increasing mandatory minimum MPG average, there was a different CAFE standard for what the bureaucrats styled light trucks. A more “lenient” (god, there it is again) standard. All the way through the ’80s and into the ’90s, the CAFE standard for these light trucks (that is, 1500 series and smaller trucks) trailed about 7-8 MPG behind the CAFE standard for passenger cars. This amounted to tacit acceptance of the fact that for a truck to be a truck – that is, useful and capable for work – it would need to have a bigger engine, heavier frame, and so on.

Even the bureaucrats realized that expecting a truck to be as fuel-efficient as a car without becoming a car would be as preposterous as expecting an Emperor Penguin to become a barn swallow – and still be able to survive winter in Antarctica.'88 Bronco pic

Anyhow, this more lenient CAFE standard provided the loophole. One day, itt occurred to someone – a latter-day John DeLorean type, I suspect – that, hey, why don’t we just sell what we used to sell (i.e., big rear-drive sedans with big V8s and lots of room for people and stuff) except  we’ll call it an “SUV”? The pick-up truck’s bed was enclosed in sheetmetal, seats were added and – voila.

A star was born.

The “SUV.”

Americans were once again allowed to buy the kinds of vehicles they wanted – as opposed to the kind that government bureaucrats insisted they needed.CAFE 2 pic

From 1991 through 2010, the CAFE standard for passenger cars held steady at 27.5 MPG while the standard for light trucks stayed at 20.7 MPG until 2004, then rose slightly to 23.5 by 2010.

This period – early ’90s through the first half of the first decade of the 2000s – was the Golden Age of the SUV. Sales boomed. Even the Japanese – formerly the kings of Small Car Hill – had to rush big SUVs (with big V8s) into production, to meet the market demand for these vehicles.

Naturally, this expression of people’s free choice could not be tolerated.

And so, CAFE mandatory minimums for light trucks are to be upticked – first to 28.8 MPG (higher than the previous 27.5 MPG threshold for passenger cars) and from there to an average in the mid-high 30s by 2020.'15 F250 pic

This probably will not be possible to achieve without either radically downsizing (and de-powering) light trucks, or by equally radical engineering alternatives such as aluminum bodies and small displacement but heavily turbocharged “on demand” engines that don’t use as much fuel as big V8s when not tasked to do work such as towing (or, frankly, when run hard for the fun of it).

This is the real reason why the new Ford F-150 (reviewed in depth here) has an aluminum body – and tiny (for a truck) twin-turbo V6 engines.

Including a 2.7 liter V6 that’s not much larger than most current passenger car four cylinder engines.big trucks lined up pic

A V8 is still available – for the moment – because many buyers simply won’t buy a V6 truck, turbo’d or not. But it’s an afterthought, almost – and clearly on the endangered species list.

All to eke out an additional 2-3 MPG – the actual difference between the “EcoBoost” turbo V6 engines and currently available V8s. And not because truck buyers were clamoring for it – but because government has pushed Ford (and soon, everyone else selling trucks) into finding a way to achieve it.

Now here’s where it gets interesting – where history is likely to repeat.

The CAFE rigmarole does not apply to 2500 (and 3500) series trucks – which are far from being light trucks.

Another “loophole” has presented itself.

And it may well result in yet another grotesque distortion of the market.

Because CAFE pressures do not apply to not-light trucks, Ford does not sell its small turbo V6s in its 2500 and 3500 series F-trucks.

It sells two big V8s.

They “guzzle” gas, but they are capable of serious work – and that’s what truck buyers tend to favor, even if means higher gas bills.super SUV!

Can you see where things might be headed?

As light trucks become less and less appealing to the market, that is, to buyers – due to either the absence of V8s or the complexity/cost of the CAFE-friendly turbo’d V6s that will likely soon become commonplace – perhaps more and more 2500 and even 3500 series trucks (bigger, heavier, thirstier) will be sold.

Instead of being “niche” vehicles made for and purchased almost exclusively by roughnecks and contractors and other serious people – as light trucks once were bought before they morphed into “SUVs” – maybe they will become mass market vehicles. Maybe we will witness an even more bizarre mutation of the car market – courtesy of the government – than we witnessed during the SUV boom.

If so, it’ll be karmic good fun.

I’m kinda looking forward to it!

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  1. Another reason for increased suv sales: depreciation tax rules. Cars are depreciated over 4 or more years. Trucks over (if I remember correctly) 5500 pounds gvw give got full depreciation first year. And until fairly recently, SUVs over that gvw also were trucks as far as depreciation rules. Now there is a ” suv ” rule that mostly changes that. As a small business owner myself that buys fleet vehicles, it used to be advantageous to buy a lux suv instead of a lux car. Now it’s high end pickups instead. The Ford fleet sales guy I have dealt with for many years confirms this trend. I am going to order a ’16 King Ranch or Platinum F150.

  2. Hi Eric,
    Not sure, but weren’t many of the CAFE regulations, often hasty reactions to oil prices, and future predictions of where the price of crude will go. I’m thinking the 80’s “Gas Crisis”, the millennial “Peak Oil” stuff. Even tying the price of gas with the strength of the US$ (petro dollars/ world reserve currency) globally.
    I know, this is boorish, I don’t have a truck to holler about, but where does the “Minivan” fit in the paradigm?

    Thanks for the always insightful words and thoughts.

    • Hi Will,

      Yes, those were among the justifications given. The question, though, as I see it, is whether it’s the business of government to involve itself in such things at all.”Government,” after all, is just other people – with a legal monopoly on the use of force. They are not necessarily wiser or smarter than other people – just in a position to force other people to do as they say.

      And, they make mistakes. CAFE is an example.

      But the difference is they make mistakes for others, who have no choice but to accept the consequences. It’s no fun if you or I make a mistake, and there’s a negative consequence.

      But at least it was our mistake.

      I can live with the consequences of mistakes I’ve made as a result of free choices I made. But it’s galling to have to put up with negative consequences because some know-it-all (whom you don’t even know) made a mistake for you, because he decided to “help” you… like it or not!

      On minivans: They started out as exactly that. Mini vans. The first gen were based on the Chrysler K cars, were small, FWD and had four cylinder engines.

      They’ve grown huge and hungry since then!

  3. I wish the American automakers would bring back the basic “pickup truck”–not “extended cab”, but a good basic two or three-passenger “pickup truck”. The Dakota was larger than a “mini” pickup truck but just slightly smaller than a full-size vehicle. For many of us, it was just the right size…
    I guess that I will have to keep driving my 1997 standard-cab Dakota with 350,000 miles…still no major problems…good truck..

  4. I guess Holden is gone now,anyway all this stuff coming on line,has the oil guys worried,thats why regular gas is cheap now.Anyways,I hear that Toyota is scheduled to get their own version of the “Duramax”(I miss the old Zucchini Caprice and Buick roach master)these were comfortable,with pickup like qualities and were good dog mobiles)

    • I haven’t been able to substantiate the Toyota Dmax rumor anywhere. There is some merit to the 5.0 cummins in the Tundra, at least according to Toyota sources……pretty quiet though.

      I would love the Duramax in a Tundra. Great engine minus the UAW rattle box body…..a win win.

    • Kevin, even though a dog might never have seen one, those old station wagons and Wagoneers were dog magnets. You couldn’t open a door without them jumping in. I’ve seen them go through an open window. Hi! Anybody want to give me a ride? At that point you can only laugh. It’s often easier to just go for a brief ride, cut it off and open the door and let them get out as if it were their idea.

  5. Again – it will continue until there is significant pushback.
    This is the bully pushing you on the playground….
    Or, screaming in your ear, “I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!!”
    And, being the good little Betas we are taught to be, we just sit there and take it.
    Eventually,the bully gets tired of taunting – and hits you…
    And now you are a target for life.

    I know it, I lived it.

    Screw unto others as they would screw unto you (provided they’re already pushing.) Just know what’s being done, and then over-react. Atomic options work well, then the bully – AND his followers – know to leave you alone, or it’ll be VERY costly….

  6. That’s why I don’t understand the Japanese auto makers like Nissan. They are coming out with a new truck this fall, but only in a half ton. Why not badge it as a 3/4 ton and eliminate it from their CAFE rating?

    I wonder if that is what Toyota is going to do? It has been pretty silent on what will go on with the new Tundra. Lots of rumors, but nothing from Toyota themselves.

    I hate the damn UAW so bad, I don’t want to buy their trucks. I just keep my fingers crossed that Toyota comes through with 3/4 diesel.

    • Hi Ancap,

      My semi-educated guess on this is that they’re reluctant to commit the resources because they’ve not been very successful making inroads in the 1500 segment and the 2500/3500 segment would likely be an even harder nut to crack.

      • It’s too bad we can’t get some real truck manufacturer to make a real deal pick-em-up. I don’t know how good they were, but IH used to make both.

        • PtB just one example, rigid frames versus flexible(big rig) frames. And door shapes and door frames plus stuff like suspension that isn’t here nor there comparing one to the other. Nobody but big rig manufacturers would be interested in still having a good body and a cheaply rebuilt suspension@ 2M miles. And if they made a pickup you’d certainly not get it cheap.

          As an aside to this, the first big rig tractor I owned was a 9500 GMC. They were actually exceptional, having doors that held up, a really tight cab, the same suspension and frame most every other had as well as the same engines and transmissions. And stuff like a/c and heaters and the like were well above average as were air fans. Now, you might not think the fan for your heater and a/c is a big deal but wait till they make you wanta catch a ride home to not have them deafen you or simply tire your ears out or vibrate like crazy.

          They were a lot like Volvo in having very similar pedals to smaller trucks, something I’ve always liked. it’s just easier to use that clutch pedal that’s up and away, same for the rubber padded brake pedal opposed to those big flat big foot type actuators and a hang down fuel pedal, once again, almost identical to pickup pedals and much easier to use.

          In many ways I’d say the big truck manufacturers could learn more from pickup makers.

      • Sounds reasonable. But, it still doesn’t make any sense as to why they don’t throw an extra leaf under the Tundra and call it a 2500……..basically a ploy to stave off algorean uncle. It already has a 4.30 rear end. The big 3 dont use bigger than 4.11’s on 2500’s.

        • Ancap, the reason the big 3 don’t deploy deeper ratios is their engines don’t need it. if you were well versed in big rig, you’d understand every engine is fitted with a corresponding transmission.

          The specific engine in a big rig determines the specific transmission. Oh, Eaton may make them all…..with a Fuller tag on them too, but their ratios of gears will be different to tap the potential from each engine.

          An example is the old 9 speed Fuller. It has a low gear(1) then a First(2) and on through 4, a shift to a higher range and then 4 more. For almost every situation, it’s an 8 speed but because it’s mated up with more powerful engines, it works ok simply because that engine will pull that load from a lower rpm…..and that makes the speed in a certain gear increase in range so an engine that could possibly pull hard in high gear at 40 mph might could easily pull that big gear all the way to 90 mph or maybe more(depending on the cutoff engine speed).

          I’m much more of an 18 speed guy myself. I’m good at splitting gears……or not…..depending on the circumstance. I often drive a tractor, like today, that’s has enough power I can take off in a variety of gears depending on the load and the grade(big factor).

          My point is, everything in a big rig is special order to some degree. Those manufacturers wouldn’t even want to learn the pickup game.

          To be honest, there’s very little overlap. It’s not a matter of gear ratio but whether you want a rear-end for what weight range.

          There’s a good reason Japanese companies don’t want in on the big pickup game and that’s it’s been damn well covered by the big 3 for a long time. It’s not a matter of being as good as a Ford or a Chevy, it’s more like being better. Nobody can cuts the costs to a great degree on a big diesel pickup and still have it be their bread and butter, which it is.

          What can Toy and Nissan do to outclass the others? Do the exact same things workwise, save fuel(good luck) and have a significant cost advantage. I’m my view, that’s why they don’t and I don’t blame them. They got bigger fish to fry in the car and crossover market.

          • And I meant to say that adding a leaf is nothing. Adding a heavier rear-end(transmission, driveshafts, etc. plus CV joints) is what counts and that means, by industry standards, much stronger wheels demanding 8 lugs and that varies greatly from 3/4 T to 1 ton. I prefer the one ton simply because the gears are so much larger and the housing is much larger and so are the brakes. It’s easily done to put 200K miles on a one ton rear-end and not need brakes….yet. And yet the unsprung weight is not much greater than a 3/4T.

            • Bullshit Eight. The big 3 engines do need lower gears if they are pulling. When GM did the heavy half and light 3/4 tons in the mid to late 90’s, the heavy half and the light 3/4 had 3.73’s in them. Neither had 8 lugs, but rather 6 lugs. If you really pulled with a half ton Chevy, you could get the 4.10 rear end. The 2500 hd Chevy’s don’t come with less than 3.73’s. The previous generation Tundra’s had 3.90’s. Are you going to tell me that the 4.7 Tundra that comes with 4.10’s doesn’t need 4.30’s like the 5.7 litre? The 6.2 liter 1/2 Chevy doesn’t need 3.73’s or 4.10’s but the 3/4 does?

              Ever run a 5.3 litre Chevy with 3.55’s and 3.73’s? I have. My brother had one with the 3.55’s and his rear end went out. I’ve never had the rear end go out on a Chevy with 3.73’s or higher. 3.73’s are a great all around gear ratio.

              I’m also versed enough in big rigs to know that the engines and tranny’s are carefully paired. The same reasoning transfers to pickup trucks with an 8 speed transmission. A 3.55 with an 8 speed tranny will do better than a 3.55 with a six speed transmission. It doesn’t have much to do with the engines as you claim.

              I was a Chevy guy most of my life–just as you obviously are–but I’ve had two 2nd gen Tundra’s that have been superior in every way to any half or 3/4 ton Chevy I have ever owned. In 07 when they came out–virtually unchanged since then–they were superior in virtually every meaningful way to any other half ton on the market.

              FYI on the 3/4 and single rear wheel axle 1 ton Chevy’s, the only difference is the leaf’s. My brother’s brakes on his 07 2500 Dmax lasted much better than my dads 07 3500. They give me hell all the time for my “gentleman’s” truck while they drive their ’15 3500 Dmax’s. Both of theirs have been in the shop. Rattling doors on my dads. My brother’s temp gauge and compass is screwed all up after 8,000 miles. 120,000 miles on the 08 Tundra pulling the same skid steer and same mini-ex’s–while not as fast and squatting substantially more since it’s a half ton gasser–no trips to the shop for anything. Imagine if my Tundra were a 3/4 or 1 ton with a Hino diesel. It would be domination my friend.

              • A GM 3/4T rear-end might appear to be the same as the one ton but it isn’t. Yep, both have a 14 bolt cover and 8 lugs but there’s where the similarity stop. The one ton has a 10.5″ ring gear and when you look at them together, you can see the pot hangs lower. The 3/4 has a 9.5″ ring gear. That big rear-end is considered to be an industry standard and Dodge used the same one in their diesels but only in the one ton.

                I don’t think my imagination is great enough to see a Tundra with a Hino diesel in it big enough to compete with the Big 3. 390 HP and 765 lb. ft. of torque for a Duramax and only slightly less for a Dodge Cummins is no small feat to beat. Hino makes a 210HP diesel that would fit probably but its meant for a transmission with at least 8 speeds.

                BTW, GM never made a 6 lug 3/4 T pickup. They made a 6 lug heavy half and they were good pickups. I had a ’77 and it had more springs and a heavier transmission but it was in no way comparable to a 3/4T. I still have an ’82 3/4T 4WD Chevy that was a diesel to begin with and it came from the factory with a fuel saving car type rear end where the weight is held by the axle instead of a hub with a free floating axle that only powers the wheels. It lasted a whoppin 62,000 miles before giving it up. I replaced it with a ’76 crewcab one ton rear-end that was a good rear-end although no match for the one ton 10.5″ to come.

                If you’ll notice the guys who turn rear-ends into front steering axles on exotic custom 4X4’s use that 10.5″ rear end because it’s practically unbreakable.

                I have yet to have a GM with loose doors and wonder if that’s not a product of someone not paying attention and not shutting one fully on rough ground which will kill any door and anything.

                I have 0 experience with an 8 speed GM transmission but realize you need enough power to take full advantage of any transmission. A 3.55 in my diesel under loads it’s been under would surely have given up. That’s simply asking too much of a higher speed, lesser toothed, smaller ring and pinion than they’re meant for.

                As far as big rigs go, rear gears are one thing but the size of the rear-end is another. I’ve shelled out rear-ends on trucks that were originally designed for road use and I was using them as construction trucks with heavier loads and rougher going. Go to any big rig website and you’ll see they offer different load rating rears with identical ratios.

                • In the mid to late 90’s GM had heavy half’s that were badged 2500. My heavy half was badged 1500. Why? Maybe because of CAFE standards back then, I’m not sure.

                  I have zero experience with the the GM eight speed transmission personally, but I know it’s in the 6.2 litre in the half tons. Plenty of power. But the half tons have a 3.55 in them. The engine, tranny and rear end are built for gas mileage and speed. Not towing.

                  FYI Tundra’s come stock with a 10.5″ ring gear. The Duramax 2500’s and 3500’s come stock with an 11.5″ ring gear. The GM gas 2500’s come with a 10.5″.

                  • ancap, I never saw an 5 or 6 bolt wheel pickup badges 3/4T. There may have been a few but it would be news to me. I have no idea about the 8 speed tranny and doubt anyone else does yet.

                    I saw a CR report comparing the half tons and they used the largest engine, the deepest rear ratio and then used a 5.3L, 3.73 rear for the GM. When asked why, they said it was more indicative of what people bought to tow with.

                    Of course that’s bs since they have no more idea of who is going to tow or what weight trailer they’ll tow with any pickup including GM.

                    You’re right about the 11.5 on the one ton GM’s and I hadn’t even noticed it since I’m versed in pre-2001 vehicles, the start of that 11.5″ rear-end.

                    I dug around on Toyota forums and they have a problem with wrong labels from the factory that show axle ratios that are different on front and rear 4WD so that’s obviously wrong. People who repair them know but that doesn’t help the people with tags that differ on front and rear diff’s.

                    Now, I suppose, the 10.5″ is fairly much standard on 3/4T GM’s but from what I read, only some of the one tons have the 11.5″, probably(I’m guessing here)revolves around 4WD or diesel Vs. gas engines.

                    But no doubt about it, the newer pickups are much heavier in drivetrains than previously, as they always have progressively gotten bigger and heavier.

  7. I instruct college auto tech in northern California which is rice country, lots of farmers. When I mention the future CAFE standards, I punctuate the discussion with a question: Who would like to buy a 2016 Ford F250 V8. Well, of course all the guys, and half the gals raise their hands only to be disappointed by the comment that they can’t get one as the only 4 allowed in California have been sold to movie stars in So. Cal and they will only be able to purchase something along the way of a Subaru Brat to get their dirt bikes and 4-wheelers around. My students get a liberal arts education (in the old fashioned way). We talk tax policy, safety nazi’s, and the lie of FWD and AWD. You should see their faces when they’re told who really pays for warranty repairs.

  8. I have always been fond of station wagons. Big ones, like the Chevy Suburban, and small ones, like the old VW Type 3 Squareback. Both were the rectangular prism on wheels, very efficient packages. All those in between sizes were seldom the right size or swooping rooflines sacrificed interior volume. We’re thinking really hard about a Golf Sportwagen TDI, it’s been over 30 years since the tin worm devoured the Squareback.

    • Dear CC,

      Glad to hear that I’m not alone in my liking for traditional station wagons.

      I’m referring of course to those based on four sedan chassis with the same basic specs as the sedan models. Same low center of gravity as sedans intended for on road driving and cornering.

      Unless one really needs off road capability, I don’t see the point in paying for it. The most obvious example of course, is high CG 4x4s driven by trophy wives on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. As if they really need the off road capability to get to Gucci’s.

      The traditional station wagon configuration makes a lot of sense. The space above the trunk is wasted otherwise. Might as well enclose it and make use of it.

      The result can look very good too.

      For example, the Audi Allroad

      or the BMW 3 series Sports Wagon

      • bevin, for US consumption, I’d take a 1996 Roadmaster Limited Collectors Edition and be mighty happy. Self-leveling, Bose sound system, every whistle and bell GM had and very easy to work on with a bullet-proof Chevy TBI 350 very easily tuned for more power if you wanted it. An interstate eater. CJ would be in hog heaven with a back seat all his own.

        I don’t know if they came with that great GM stereo/CB but I’d hopefully be able to use that electric antenna with an 11 meter radio with FM and wifi phone capability. If I couldn’t, I’d just mount a 2000 watt base load antenna on the bumper so the whole world would know I was an old fart.

        • They chucked the TBI 350 in ’94 in favor of the LT-1 for ’94-’96 models, better performance, better economy, but probably not as reliable. I’ve got 200k on my ’96, with the just rebuilt (with juicier cam) motor and trans. All it’s missing are gears now.

  9. It’s articles like this that make Eric’s website so cool. Not only does he respond to comments made by us, he makes them into a whole article!

    So send him a few bucks if you got them, and this all can continue!

  10. Eric,

    That’s a very astute forecast predicting increased consumer demand for 2500-3500 Series Trucks.

    But “Viola” is a musical instrument similar to, but slightly larger than a violin. 😉

    I think the word you want is “Voila,” which is French for “here it is!” 🙂

  11. It’s kind of obvious what TPTB want. Rolling houses. We’re definitely heading in that direction. Everyone a van dweller, but the “van” needs to be able to haul >5000lbs.

    This is all about modifying a culture, to create a country where everyone’s a traveler, and no one has a political voice or a reputation to use to counter TPTB and their future agendas.

    A string of lost generations awaits us.

    • The don’t want us to drive at all. Agenda 21 is what the TPTB are following. What people are being guided towards through the schools, media, activist groups, etc. The few people who will be able to afford the behemoths may still drive, but the average person will be reduced to dense big city living and transit. I also expect the bicycle to be banned or become very restricted at some point. It offers far too much freedom to be tolerated long term. Bicycling politics isn’t being run by those who love bicycling it’s being run by those who hate automobiles and anything that isn’t centrally managed. Bicycling is being used to get where they want to go and it will be thrown under the bus the moment they get there.

      In the meantime there may be a momentary surge in behemoths on the road but that will only make the affordability of driving all that much more apparent. There won’t be any deep analysis of how things got to that point. There never is. People just feel in the moment. I try to educate people how our present condition stems from actions taken in 1910 or there abouts on most subjects* but they don’t care or listen. They just have to feel and act with no knowledge of how things got this way. Which of course means heading down the course laid out for us by the social engineers. They set it up so that in the moment what they want looks like the best option. Study the whole thing and it’s obvious what’s going on.

      *agenda 21 seems to come from the 1930s, maybe somewhat earlier since it was already a well formed vision for the future then, just without a strong implementation plan.

      • Yes, the progressives’ plan does date back to the 1930s, at least.

        You can see a version of Agenda 21 at work in the 1936 film “Things to Come” — see their grand vision for city life in the 21st century at about 1:09:36 into the movie:


        Wings over the world! (A euphemism for a world-wide “progressive” super-state run by the elites.)

      • Bicycling is an interesting thing.
        The HPVs of the mid-late 80s were VERY interesting looking – had shells, cargo capacity (not like a car, but some), and could easily hit 70 MPH….

        Somehow, they’ve been marginalized as well. I mean, I get the whole “not as useful as a car,” but it seems to me that there’s been an intentional plan to AVOID making such things as bike routes useful. It’s for recreational use only – it’s not meant to GO anywhere.

        This dovetails with what I’ve read here about people working with parking authorities (and, for that matter, ANY similar organization – it’s even a TV trope/cliche in union negotiations and such. We WANT the overtime, our budget depends on it – even though that means cutting people to meet the budget. So we’ll go on strike… )
        Parking authority tries to make it impossible to drive the car into the area, impossible to park, minimizing useful space inside the structure and driving costs up…
        They’ll ALSO demand the bike lanes (never used, or rarely at best), AND the “extra space” laws which now have drivers pulling into oncoming traffic to allow enough “space” around bicyclists…. And then, as a bicyclist, when you get to your destination? Can’t lock the bike up anywhere, anyway – EVERYTHING is illegal. Can’t lock it to a light post, a sign, a hydrant, a fence. no, the bike rack is the ONLY option – it’s 1.5 miles East. Get walking, “nigger!” (Prole, but nigger has the gut-punch needed. They’re interchangeable for this; we is all niggers now.)

        The view presented back in the 80s by Ranger Rick (propaganda arm of the World Wildlife Foundation, not that I knew it then) was that people would ride to work in their HPVs, regularly hitting the speeds we see on the highways, and we’d all be fitter, and still live in the suburbs…. And you might get pulled over for speeding in your BIKE (HPV).
        Most people would adopt these vehicles for regular use, the car would go extinct, basically.

        Let’s see, an HPV costs in the range of – guessing here – $3500 or so? I mean, it’s almost $2000 for a recumbent bike, no shell. And I’ve barely scratched the surface, only seen them in passing – because I’m more of a $100 type person, for a bicycle. Just no cost-benefit ratio, it’s for leisure – because I can’t ride it anywhere, REGARDLESS. Roads are unsafe; bike paths non-existent, basically. And can’t use public transportation unless you have a folding bike (And they don’t mean the Paratrooper, a $700 folder with actual; wheels, IF it’s on sale, At the right dealer; the next one up is over $1,000; and the good ones are still $1200 or so, for folding bikes that have a decent ride and can be used for more than JUST running from train station to home or work. Used, like ebay, isn’t much improvement, except for the cheap $200 used models that feel like they’ll fall apart….)

        Anyway, it is a problem, and we need to remedy it – and passive solutions won’t affect those who don’t answer to the law (or voters) anyway. As those who can be voted into office want to RULE, first and foremost, you KNOW they don’t have anyone else’s interests at heart. A “factory farm” of humans is easiest to rule; that’ll make us the Megacities of Judge Dredd, and the police are on-target to become Judges in that sense, very soon.

        And bikes will be outlawed as “unsafe” or taxed / insured the same as cars.
        Ain’t no accident.

        • Jean,

          That paratrooper is nice looking. A bit pricey at $~850 MSRP, but still nice. Useful if one lives in an urban environment.

          Some links on HPV for those that wish to look for some general information.

          Unfortunately, I think you are right about not being very convenient to use and/or park. If more people followed the law regarding bicycles (BrentP I am thinking of you) then it would be safer for bicycles to use the road with cars. Some of these bicycles can achieve speeds in excess of 30-40 mph, although it will require some level of fitness and good sense on the rider to make it work. People in vehicles would need to be more attentive of HPVs so they do not crash into them with tragic results.

          (Would not let me post links so I just post link to search result: hpv + bicycle)

  12. It’s nice to see that my CAFE theory of the SUV craze is catching on. I’ve been saying this for a very long time. The rise of the SUV goes along with CAFE. Other than a few niche buyers nobody cared about SUVs for five decades until CAFE killed off the big cars.

    Back in the 1970s the bureaucrats wanted CAFE to apply to pickups. The lower standard came about because of the farmers. I suppose the farm lobby played their role. Furthermore everyone likes to think the automakers created the SUV craze. They didn’t. They tried to sell people on the downsized FWD things they brought out as replacements in the early to mid 1980s to meet the 1985 CAFE step. That was the first mass CAFE die off of large RWD passenger cars and RWD cars in general. I remember by 1987/8 there were suddenly all these damn trucks on the road. The market was shifting. Then the automakers caught on and started dressing them and making them drive more like cars and it really caught fire because now people didn’t have to choose between capability with a hose out interior or incapable with a nice interior, they could have both.

  13. IIRC, that original CAFE standard had a light truck ‘loophole,’ but the Ford F-100 did not meet the standard. Hence the F-150.
    These gunvermin ‘statisticians’ can’t figure out that people are going to do what they have to do (buy bigger vehicles) in order to do what they want to do.
    It’s one more evidence that ‘anthropogenic climate change’ is a farce, or they would be more concerned with actual mileage and less concerned with “diminishing returns” pollution standards or with loading vehicles down with additional saaaaaaaafety equipment.

    • TC – you may not be so far off on the new era coming….

      As the Goobermint (on all levels) keeps digging a deeper hole financially speaking – it is current Home Owners who are going to get hit the hardest as taxes will keep getting raised on every little thing that should have been covered in the budget, but can’t due to the pursuit of Faeries and Unicorns.

      It may well be better to sell the house and be living in a paid for RV with less of a taxable footprint. Plus if you don’t like where you are at you can just pack it up and leave!

      • That is exactly what my current plans are GW! I am presently repairing a fixer-upper 30′ bumper pull travel trailer with the intent of making it my actual home. I will be able to pick the most ideal pasture land with a long term lease, and to move my home to that location where ever it is.

  14. I wondered where all the station wagons went!!!!

    I just realized that they didn’t do anything for cafe standards so basically we were forced into SUV’s. The majority of SUV drivers (and minivan drivers) would be much better served by a good wagon.

    Our old E320 4matic mercedes wagon (Used off ebay for new fiesta money at 65000 miles) was one of the best cars I ever owned until one of my kids totalled it.

    • With you there Sic. Here in Oz the 4×4 craze has been around since the early 80’s and parents tend to justify theirs by saying they need it to take the kids to school and back.

      I doubt that’s for safety, more the prestige of being seen in one. Although, after having spoken to a few they consider them safer in a side impact because of the high driving position. If only they knew the rollover rate.

      But that’s what happened to the station wagon. Although cheaper, nobody wanted to be seen in one and the higher driving position and prestige of an SUV or full-sized POS 4×4 was more appealing. Quite a few ads here were actually selling them in that way, such as the school mum pulling up in her “big rig” in front of the other mums in their smaller “rigs”, pushing the jealousy factor.

      Over here though we still have 2 major manufacturers that make station wagons, with one as an example:


      But all the major manufacturers are making station wagons again, including Jaguar. I guess the love affair with the clunky and overpriced 4×4 is over..?

      • Hi Rev, I sent my VP vacationer wagon to the wrecker after the motor went out at 411,000 km and 23 years on the same powertrain. It was a really great car, you could put a lot of stuff in it and it came with very god handling for its day. I now have a 2000 WH that has a great Bose sound system and will cruise all day at 150 kph….


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