Crunch Time

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Uncle admits that his current fuel economy fatwas have added $1,800 (laughable; it’s much, much more) to the price tag of every new car – a sum that renders the savings achieved at the pump an irrelevance.CAFE lead

The current MPG mandatory minimum is 35.5 MPG (average) vs. 27.5 (what it was back in 2010, before Uncle kicked it up).

Most new cars don’t average 35.5 MPG; a very few hit that mark (like the Prius hybrid) but most fall far short. But let’s – for the sake of discussion – say that Uncle’s fatwa achieved its stated goal of forcing the car companies to build cars that average 35.5 MPG.

That’s an 8 MPG improvement for $1,800.

Is it worth it?

Compare what it costs to feed a car that averages 27.5 MPG vs. one that averages 35.5 MPG and see for yourself.

Assume a full tank (15 gallons, for the sake of discussion). The 27.5 MPG car can travel 412.5 miles. The 35.5 MPG can go 532.5 miles. The difference is 120 miles.CAFE 2

If gas costs about $2.20 a gallon, the car that gets 35.5 MPG saved you about $7.25  (about 3.3 gallons’ worth of gas, which you’d otherwise have had to buy if you had been driving the 27.5 MPG car, to travel the additional 120 miles).

That’s a “savings” of about $30 a month – about $350 annually.

It will take you about five years to reach break even, the point at which the cost of Uncle’s fatwa has been amortized by money you didn’t have to spend on gas (but had to spend on the car).

Such a deal!

Keep in mind that – per above – only a handful of cars actually do average 35.5 MPG and only a tiny handful do better.

Most do worse – but all cost more.

I just finished test-driving and reviewing the latest VW Beetle (see here). It is one of the more fuel-efficient new gas-engined/non-hybrid cars available. It averages 28 MPG (25 city, 34 highway).dark road ahead

Do that math (a .5  MPG “gain” for $1,800).   

And now Uncle’s about to double down.

Sometime later this year, the decision will be made – by arbitrary regulatory fiat – to uptick the federal fuel economy fatwa to a loony 54.5 MPG.

No matter what it costs us.

Expect this to be a not-small sum.

If it took $1,800 per car to get from 27.5 MPG to 35.5 MPG (and keep in mind, most don’t make it to 35.5 MPG) imagine with it will cost to ascend to 54.5 MPG (which not one car currently available – not even the Prius – achieves).

The current (all-new/just redesigned) 2016 Prius averages a mere 52 MPG.

Its base price is $24,200. The inside dope is that Toyota “sells” each one at a loss – the profitable cars in its inventory picking up the difference. To sell these things at a profit, they’d probably need to be priced around $28k to start.

But let’s assume $24k – because it’ll give us some idea of what we’ll be paying for cars post the 54.5 MPG fatwa.wad o' bills

$24,200 is $6,900 more than the cost of an IC-engined 2016 Toyota Corolla – typical of current medium-small economy sedans and so comparable to the Prius in mission as well as size/space if not in price.

$6,900.

To average 52 MPG (not quite what Uncle will soon require) vs. 31 (what the Corolla averages).   

How long will it take to earn back the almost $7k it took to achieve that? Even given the 21 MPG advantage the Prius has, it’s going to be awhile.

Seven grand buys a lot of gas.

How much gas?

About 3,200 gallons (assuming $2.20 per). This is enough fuel to take the 31 MPG Corolla just under 100,000 miles.

That’s not a whole lotta savings going on… Prius-wise.Uncle pic

And it doesn’t factor in something you’ll never hear the mainstream automotive press mention: While an IC-engined car’s fuel economy should be stable over the course of its entire lifetime – which is a long time, these days – the fuel efficiency of a hybrid, which is dependent on the performance of its batteries, will decline over its lifetime. Batteries – even carefully managed – gradually lose their capacity to hold a charge as time goes by.  A 12-year-old hybrid with 100,000-plus miles will probably not deliver the mileage it did when it was new – without replacing its battery pack with a fresh one.

IC engines do wear – and become less efficient as they wear. But most any current-year (or recent vintage) IC-engined car will probably give you at least 150,000 miles of service without major expense and delivering the same mileage as it always did.

For $7k less, in the case of a car like the Corolla.

So – as OJ used to say – look out!

Your next new car is probably going to cost you more than $1,800 extra.

But hey – it gets great gas mileage!

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Another “dreaming” question: How do I get my family of 5 around in one 54.5-mpg car? The answer is, I don’t. The obvious ignorance of the government and politicians here leads to one conclusion: they don’t want you to own a gasoline car, or a big car, or a car, or eventually not even drive a car yourself. If cars, fuel, roads, insurance are made expensive enough, they won’t be viable options for more and more people. When you have this as a mindset, it becomes easier to understand what’s going on.

    • ABSOLUTELY CORRECT I M ON VERGE OF THAT NOW AS MY FIXED INCOME IS SHRINKING FROM INFLATION THAT THEY DENY AND INS THAT KEEPS CREEPINYG UP AND GAS THAT IS SOMETIMES CHEAP AS LAST FEB.IT WAS 1.40 A GALLON NOW ITS 2.40 A GALLON .AND THE STATES AND CITIES PUT MORE TAXON IT WHEN IT FELL IN PRICE SO THAT OFFSET THE OIL REDUCTION.AND MY 2014 CRUZE WITH 14,000MILES GET 32MPG NOT THE 38 STATEDON THE STICKER AND I JUST FINISHED A ROADTRIP.IN TOWN I GET 16MPG .

  2. I think the motivation here is to have us continually buying new crap by outlawing the old crap. Gubment always wants consumption due to the taxes they get for every transaction. Ebay and Craigslist has lowered some of these ill-gotten gains to the gubments.
    Car makers are doing this business of stopping the engine at red-lights then re-starting the engine when stepping on the gas. I think I have a much better way to increase gas mileage – increase it by as much as 5% highway and 15% in the city. This could probably only be used on automatic transmissions. The idea is to have the car shift into neutral when you lift your foot off the gas pedal, then shift back into gear when placing foot back on the gas. I already do this manually with my 2013 Ford Focus 2.0 SE hatchback and get 35.5 mpg average. Of course you have to not believe you’re in a huge hurry as EVERYONE seems to think they are, at least in a big hurry to get full stopped at the next red-light.

    • “Gubment always wants consumption due to the taxes they get for every transaction.”
      It’s not just that. Most of them – heck, most of the population – believes the ‘Keynesian’ nonsense that prosperity is brought on by consumer spending. Even Keynes didn’t really believe that. He said gunvermin should spend more during bad times, then pay it back when things got better. That never happened. It’s just spend, and then spend some more.
      Truth (in case you didn’t realize it) is that it is production that creates wealth and therefore increases prosperity. Consumption does just what it’s name implies – consumes wealth.

  3. My 99 VW TDI New Beetle will have to last a while since importing VW diesels here just got killed. I regularly get 50mpg on my commute. I am coming up on 300,000 miles with mostly regular maintenance. I did have to replace the fuel pump this year but my mechanic thinks I’ll be able to likely make another 100,000 miles before rebuild.

    • It will have to last forever because once it’s gone, it’s gone. That car like a Honda CRX is illegal for a mass manufacturer to sell today. VW’s cheating was all about still making a car close to that, the car its customers wanted. If VW makes any diesel powered cars in the future the customer will be government regulators.

  4. If they really wanted to ring out some extra mileage they would simply take the ethanol out of our gasoline and let us – the unwashed masses – buy real gas again.

    The alcohol actually reduces the fuel efficiency by as much as 3.3%.

    That’s more than they gain with their latest hybrid features boondoggles and those features all come at a huge expense of energy to manufacture them.

    The corn lobby that the ethanol is produced from is strong though and our government parasites are all in their pocket.

    Besides, that would be a sensible approach. Can’t have that…

    • “The corn lobby that the ethanol is produced from is strong”
      Not only that, enough people have drunk the Climate Change koolaid that they think they are helping Mother Gaia by insisting on gasohol.
      Never mind that producing it is a net energy loss.

  5. I’ve pretty much stopped reading articles like this (I just read this, ’cause it’s comforting to hear preaching to the Libertarian choir)- but really, it’s gotten to the point now in the US -nay, the entire Western world, where the details/specifics don’t even matter anymore. Once we realize that the allegiance of our overlords is no longer to we-the-people; their own country; humankind; or the foundations upon which civilization is built -but rather, that they are overtly destroying all of the above, what difference do the little details make?

    They’re destroying everything good which competition and the free-market had created.

    They’re destroying everything good that the industrial revolution/technology has created, and instead are using those things to mire us in overly complex, non-durable devices which economically enslave us (by costing more to produce, and requiring more frequent and more expensive service to maintain and repair), and which spy on us.

    They’ve already destroyed the mindset and enlightened principles of personal freedom and autonomy…..

  6. So, they should PAY me $1800 a year to ride my 2015 Vstrom 650 to work. I get 72mpg at 55mph – and 62 at 65mph. avg 56mpg when twisting that throttle like a mad man 🙂

  7. European VWs average more than 50 miles per gallon, a lot more. The following is one of the most educational five-minute videos I’ve ever seen when it comes to the subject of gas mileage in the U.S. I’ve been wanting to post it here for a long time (Eric is one of my favorite writers), but… [excuses, excuses, excuses]. The American in this video and three others took a 2,100-mile trip through Europe in a rented VW Passat or Golf. They were amazed at the mileage they got. After they returned to the U.S., this guy contacted his local VW dealer and was told he couldn’t get that car in the U.S. He did further research and made further inquiries and learned some very interesting (infuriating) facts. He is a very well spoken individual. This video should have had a lot more views by now that it does (darn, this site won’t let me use HTML to format the link):

    https://youtu.be/NsZWOjk9hzQ

  8. Eric,

    I think you left a key component of this mileage uptick out. Safety! To meet this mileage requirement the cars will have to be lighter, but that means less safe. So the NHTSA is gonna have to figure out how a lighter car can be a safer car. More fix-a-flat cans and no more spare tires I guess.

    Oh wait. Not their problem. They just mandate stupid crap.

    • In my day Uncle shut down the import of small gas sippers because they weren’t “crash worthy”. This meddling in the market will come back to bite the Big Three. We will start making our own cars – welding two bicycles together + a 40 hp brigs and stratton. lol.

  9. “a sum that renders the savings achieved at the pump an irrelevance”
    It is an irrelevance to them. It’s not about ‘saving,’ unless you mean the environment.
    These idiots are killing the free market goose that is about out of golden eggs anyway under present conditions. Trouble is, we’ll all starve, not just them.
    Thatcher was far from perfect, but at least she realized you could only take so much of ‘OPM’ (other people’s money).

  10. I already have a real car that manages near 50mpg: the VW Passat TDI, a car (if not a company) that Uncle has managed to kill in America.

  11. Sometime later this year, the decision will be made – by arbitrary regulatory fiat – to uptick the federal fuel economy fatwa to a loony 54.5 MPG.

    Coming up next: Congress outlaws hurricanes and tornadoes. That 54.5 MPG mandate can’t hold, I believe, as people will be unwilling to put up with the cars that will be produced to meet the mandate.

    Eric, when I try to post a comment while connected as usual via VPN to Germany (to make it microscopically harder for government thugs to record my surfing choices), I get a message: “ERROR: Comments have been temporarily disabled to prevent spam. Please try again later.” Is this absolutely necessary?.

    • Hi JDL,

      have no clue… am not a tech guy and don’t have one anymore… wsh dd!(PS stupd keyboard is going to make me stroke… several etters no lonegr wor…

      • It’s T’s and U’s for me via kittens who pulled the keys off. This Dell has the thinnest, sorriest little covers that are barely there and such tiny pins they latch on they don’t ever seem to be correct again. People cuss HP but at least they had decent keyboards. I’m tempted to buy Das Keyboard but they don’t have wifi for a laptop.

    • Jdl said:

      ” I believe, as people will be unwilling to put up with the cars that will be produced to meet the mandate.”.

      Nah! Just look at what people put up with in the 80’s. A few commercial;s and magazine articles pimping the new crap, and they couldn’t get rid of their plush V-8’s fast enough for 1800 lb 60-horsepower unibody shoeboxes.

      Seems to be a trend in car sales: Fill the world with big luxurious cars/high-performance cars; then get everyone to discard them for econoboxes. Once everyone has an econombox, pimp the luxury/hi-po cars again, and so on.

      It keeps people always buying the newest crap.

      I remember when you couldn’t give away an 8cyl. car, or a pick-up/4×4. I quickly learned, that for flipping, only to get li’l 4cyl Nissans and Toyotas (Basically, any car I’d never be caught dead in!). Then the tide started turning again, and suddenly, the little tinny hi-mileage 4cyl.s were out….

      It seems most people want whatever they are told to want.

      • “It seems most people want whatever they are told to want.”
        Of course, because to actually decide what you want would require thought. In the GICs, kids are taught not to think.

      • People are mostly herd animals who don’t think. GICs have only made this worse…
        It’s “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Only now, people want to keep up with the Kardassians – and on a beer budget, they’ll drink champagne, and scream how things should be free.

        For all the issues of the 80s, at least we KNEW “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” was a SHOW, and a show about SUPER-WEALTHY, figure the 0.01% or so. Trump, Warren Buffet (Except he lives a frugal life, I understand), modern Bill Gates, that sort.
        Now, we see people on “Big Brother” and such, living a life paid for to create the TV show, and perceive that the “actors” (to adulterate the term, but clarify what I mean) have built this life themselves.

        Can’t live Kardassian on Joe 6-pack’s budget, so there’s something wrong with the pay scale…
        Things that make you go, “Drink….”

          • So true, in a day when even winos and bums, ooopps! I mean “The homeless and under-privileged” have iPhones……

            Yep. The Gov-vermin Indoctrination Centers have not only eliminated thinking, but they have fostered herd-think, and redefined the popular vocabulary with euphemisms.

            Winos are now “The homeless”
            Bums and now “the underprivileged”
            Loose women who have illegitimate kids are now “single mothers”
            Whiners are now “victims”.
            Citizens who don’t have all of their papers in order are now “criminals”
            Roadblocks are now “safety checkpoints”.
            Being responsible is now “greed”
            And being totally irresponsible is now being “needy” or “poor”.

  12. Time to address and get rid of the real problem. Time to get rid of Uncle or at least clip his wings back to stumps. We have way too much govt in this country consuming way too much tax money from it’s impoverished citizens and any time you see legislation like this, well there’s the proof. The neocons are either fighting & killing brown skinned people by the thousands in the middle east and when there’s a lull there they seem to enjoy attacking their own citizens through phony trade deals, too high taxes, gun grabs, new citizen dumps and idiotic legislation like their anti-car lunacy on display here. So why do we put up with this again??

    • Hey Silver:

      I agree with your sentiment, but let me remind you that some of us tried to stop this crap from “Uncle” 150 years ago. About 300,000 of folks from my country were killed in the process. We do not “Put Up” with anything from this fascism, it is rammed down our throats by force.

      I believe it is far too late to reverse the current downward trajectory of our country. We have passed the point of no return. The only thing left is getting uglier.

      Is the Dallas event enough of an indication ?

      BREXIT is one path, but even that will be obstructed by the same people that dreamed up the gas mileage fatwa and the VW diesel stick up.

      Absolutely power corrupts absolutely. We are there !

      2005 VW Passat TDI
      1988 Citroen 2CV6

        • Eric,

          I am sure some sob will use the TX event as pretext to grab more power and freedom from the public.

          On the airwaves over here (NJ) the “hero” worship is sickening. Looking for any excuse to exonerate the “heroes” in the videos. And some people wonder how “hero” abuse can occur without any fear of official repercussion.

          • Agreed Mith… this whole thing could very easily get out of hand, very quickly.

            Dear Leader Obama could issue a new “gun control” fatwa, for one. Congress could pass a law “in defense of Heroes”… which will escalate things… which will trigger another incident like the one in Texas … and before you know it… we will be living in an outright police state in which any failure to show the proper deference to Heroes will result in immediate and severe consequences….

            • Eric – “which will trigger another incident like the one in Texas … and before you know it… we will be living in an outright police state”

              Unfortunately, until this happens, the masses will not wake from their ‘American Dream’. Even more unfortunate, having been almost entirely domesticated, if they do start to wake they will have no interest or ability to resist. These same folks will then try to ingratiate themselves to the masters by snitching on their neighbours and selling their souls. It is human nature and has been seen repeatedly through history in totalitarian societies.

              Personally, I don’t see the current power structure and the massive corruption of the idea of democracy changing short of a complete disintegration of the state and a rebuild on the ashes.

              May you live in interesting times……… Really should be revised to ‘you MAY live through interesting times”. Many won’t.

              • “These same folks will then try to ingratiate themselves to the masters by snitching on their neighbours and selling their souls.”
                ‘If you see something, say something!’

    • “Time to get rid of Uncle”? What do we need him for? The least populous state, Wyoming, has about 1/2 as many people as the original 13 had combined. And they are surrounded by mountains and other relatively ‘small’ states. Risk of invasion? Don’t make me laugh. Back during WW II, the Japanese generals told their emperor that it was insane to try to invade the US.
      Much of what ‘they’ claim is done by the individual states is done only because Uncle bribes them to – with their own money. After stealing it he sends part of it back, making sure that a good portion sticks to his own fingers.
      If there is to be ANY gunvermin, the more local the better. There your vote has a chance of counting.

    • Silverado,
      Most “Americans” have been “civilized” so much they are domesticated.

      We can point to several things, from incremental growth of the state (making a “new normal for each generation), to wymmyns “rights,” to female-dominated (and thus female-centric) schooling and society.

      That is why “we” (the majority, which does NOT include me, and likely no one on here) put up with it.
      And as others noted, we DON’T put up with it – we are shackled into this system by being born, and then indoctrinated by our “well meaning” (Stupid, old-normal, and basically unaware) parents, and schools are run by women and despise male thinking and activity – and teach a gynocentric world view. (Think of what Chivalry is, and how it’s applied today: Womyn get all the goodies, all sorts of perks; when’s the last time you heard a woman tell another woman to treat her man with respect…? Even on TV? In a movie?)

      This is actually how society falls. Woman is ascendant, in the world men created, to cowtow to her ephemeral wants; man is in turn corrupted (taking life easy.) Rome, Greece, Byzantines, China, all the same – remove the need to be manly, remove the lifestyle of facing problems and fixing them (real problems; planning a dinner party doesn’t count. Nor does filing the correct TPS reports. Nor does a software release, when most of the job is outsourced. Management has issues, but solving those issues isn’t the same as leading in battle. And peacetime military doesn’t count, either, though our “eternal war” cycle is underway. “Heartbreak Hill” is more what we need, not video game war theater. And not bean counters running the show. People who fight and risk and die, so they know the costs.)

      Rome is the best example of this. Sad thing is, we’ve seen the results… And don’t follow up on it. Schools exist to make learning boring and difficult. And are tailored to the lowest (IQ) common denominator. “TIMMEH!” from South Park passes with a college degree… (Seriously, it’s happening in real life. Stopping cheating children is now racist…. District is 89% black, 11% Hispanic, and cheating should be OK according to school principal, I think it was.)

      Can’t have a society like that.

      BTW – anyone stop to think if maybe BLM and ISIS are connected….? BLM gives cover to ISIS, after all. Enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?

      • connected as in having a common parentage like christians in action, perhaps? With conspiracy by the feral bureau of incineration?

        Nah, that’s silly conspiracy theory! Shows disrespect for our heroes!

    • We put up with it because there is nothing we can do about it. As evidenced by these primaries – the people don’t pick the candidates. The elites in the parties do.

  13. Hi Eric,

    Slight correction but wouldn’t the 27.5 MPG car need 4.36 additional gallons to travel the 120 miles? (120/27.5 = 4.36 gallons) or ((532.5/27.5)-(532.5/35.5)=4.36 gallons)

  14. It’s all so stupid. I had a Honda CRX HF back in the ’80s that got better than 50mpg on the highway (sometimes way better). Manual transmission, tiny motor, no AC, airbags, ABS, or back seat. It weighed about 1700 pounds. A 2016 Civic weighs close to 3,000 pounds and gets less than 40.

    Bureaucrats believe in magic, apparently.

    • A friend had one for a company car. Since it was his dime in the tank he’d drive it 55 and do a bit of what almost amounts to hyper-miling and got 58 with it. But spending 12-16 hrs a day and sometimes more in it made him finally hate it for the shitty ride, the noise and lack of power to pass. 4 friends from college had basically that same job for 40 years or more and all started with Honda’s and ended with such as Lexus and Q-45’s and the like. Just so much of that drone and sorry seats and noise and no power a guy can take before he says to hell with fuel mileage. They all worked in Tx. and the a/c left a lot to be desired too. It was 105 here yesterday and has been even hotter recently for the last month. Just checked at 10:14 and it’s 91 with the same forecast of 101 for today….which is always a lowball figure.

      • It was 80 here at 8:30am just outside Mordor on the Potomac. 94 when I left work yesterday. And humid enough that they predict ‘possibility’ of showers.

      • Haha! Yeah, the young me was fine with the compromises. No ac would be a deal breaker today, even here in the Northland. I will say this about GM, they know how to do ac right. My old Tahoe gets so cold you could hang meat in it…

        That’s the point, though, isn’t it? It used to be up the consumer to crunch the numbers and figure out what compromises they were willing to accept. It actually worked pretty damn well for awhile.

        • I could live without AC… if the car had a good vent system (wing vents and so on) and I didn’t have to deal with traffic.

          • It’s now noon and 97 degrees. It will peak somewhere probably above 105 and remain above a hundred to nearly dark and stay above 90 till 4 or 5 am. It might cool off to 82 if there is some front blowing in or wind off some rain clouds.

            Step Child has vent windows and it’s glad to supply you that triple digit air for however long a day lasts. I might leave at 5:30 am, a normal time and it might be 9 pm before I get home. That truck’s been a huge heat sink for at least 10 hours at that point. When you stop to unload or load, it’s the bake part of shake and bake.

            No doubt you could do it for a day but day after day for months? It’s no wonder car companies use Tx. for a/c testing since like this year. we’ve been getting a rain every few days and the country is standing in water so the humidity is up. I’m already ready for winter.

            • I live in DFWville for 9 years. When I moved to MD in August 1988, every night on the news they would say “This is the (X) consecutive day over 90, the longest heat wave since 1980.” And I would say, “I remember that. We had 65 consecutive days over 100. Then the 66th day it was only 99. Then we had 34 more days over 100.” Then folks here would say, “but that’s a dry heat.” And I said “No, not in DFW.”
              I kind of got used to it being anywhere from 90 to 110 when I got off work in the afternoon. I never got used to it being 80-85 when I got up in the morning. That’s not dry. There are parts of Texas that are dry. Not East TX.

              • We had two days in a row of 118 one year and set statewide highs. When it gets to 114 in Lubbock for two days it’s dang sure hot in Tx. No way to figure if that or the 17 below one winter was worse. House wasn’t warm no matter what. Broke tank water for weeks with a pickaxe. A winter in 83 and one in 88 we had snows so deep only tractors got around. Used over twice as much propane winter before last as last winter.

                We’ve had climate change ever since I can remember and will long after I’m gone. Next, they’ll be charging us a “sun” tax and demand we create more shade. Of course we’ll be in another bad drought when that happens and just got out of a 20 year drought.

                • ” No way to figure if that or the 17 below one winter was worse.” I figure I can always put on more clothes, but there’s a limit to what I can take off.

                  • No structures here or heating or cooling systems are designed for that type of heat or cold. Few people were warm in that winter and nobody was cool in those summer temps. A very good a/c system will only lower the temp by 25 degrees and most of us did a bit less than that. The winter of 83-84 was ten below for a month, killed out trees and shrubs 100+ years old and killed practically everything not able to get some shelter. Lakes froze solid over warm water fish. I fed a ton of milo to 5 covey of quail but the numbers in each covey plummeted rapidly.

                    In my life I’d never seen temps that low or that high and neither had anyone else since records kept had never shown those types of extremes. Of course back then the gloom and doomers had been on a new ice age kick since the late 60’s and felt good that winter of 83 but didn’t crow so much about the summer of 90 when we set all time highs all over the state and several other states. Some people just can’t get over not controlling mother nature and not being able to use their hype to control others with their “work”.

                    It’s like 90% of “scientists” are simply clovers residing in ivy towers.

          • Good luck with finding many places without traffic. It blows my mind how much (congested) traffic there is on a rural interstate (I-65) in Indiana every time I drive it. The clovers make it even worse.

    • They believe they can conjure whatever they want by the power of government. Or perhaps they just don’t want people driving.

      I’d really like to see an early 80s economy car chassis with a modern fuel sipping drive line. I think the result would be astounding mpg wise.

      • Hi Brent,

        “…an early 80s economy car chassis with a modern fuel sipping drive line. I think the result would be astounding mpg wise.”

        This is the kind of project I’d love to be able to do.

        If this site had the backing Jalopnik has…

        • That would be interesting to see for sure. My dad had one of those truly horrid Renault Alliances back in the 80’s. But it was light, especially when compared with what he is driving now, a Fiat 500. The Fiat is shorter, has no real trunk or backseat but weights over 500 pounds more. The Alliance actually had a decent sized trunk, and the backseat was somewhat usable, and he got 40+mpg with the engine it had, well when it was running. I imagine it could easy do 60 mpg if the Fiat’s engine and trans were in the Alliance. Or better yet, ditch 500lbs from the Fiat which has much better fit and finish.

        • Why not meld this idea with the “kit car” questions posted elsewhere?
          Might be expensive at first, but if it takes off – like Elio hopefully will – could be a whole new world. (and hopefully quite profitable.)

          Mechanics are more useful than engineers a lot of times, because they DO – instead of theorizing, and making the system as small and cheap as possible. E.G., cast iron instead of aluminum. Or a solid frame, instead of bolting or spot-welding things together. Engineers are being corrupted by business, see “overengineering.” (No. Such. F*#$ING. THING!)

          But in the vein of MG’s, a car which is virtually plug and play, stamped out one at a time? Like a snap-tite model, you can assemble it in the afternoon in your back yard, no cranes or hoists needed? E.G., the engine slides onto rails (part of the frame) using the wheels to move it around; that entire assembly was done starting with the wheels and axe, and then all the other pieces were “plugged in” on that “dolly.”

          I think it could be done, but I’m a “monday morning quarterback” here. Maybe some of you who really know more could chime in, fisk it?

          • Oh, a few concept plans:
            – base around a Valkyrie or Goldwing H6, normal aspirated engine
            – Bump the trans up a few; 6+ gears on a manual.
            – Solid frame; Steel preferred.
            – Most of the body should be fiberglass or plastic
            – Metal frame bumpers come back (prevents the frame from turning into spears in a collision)

            A c@p-up might be possible by buying parts for the Slingshot (Polaris) and some others (which I don’t know by name). Thinking of a rear-wheel-drive system, too, same as them. Three wheels, integrated pieces which can fit together for assembly, such as a transmission in a rear swing arm, maybe? And build the engine on top, or with a drive differential so it’s mounted closer to center of gravity?
            Probably a lot to plan, but seems like it should be able to use the Elio and Kit Car dodge, and then it’s matter of making it user-friendly assembly, with the largest parts no more than, say, 50#, and everything just fits together.
            Collision is the problem I can’t think through. I’d like to design it so the passengers are pushed up and out in even of impact, while retaining a “roll cage” similar to some amusement park rides. Like the core of the SmartCar, say, only it “ejects” as frame members crumble, and the passengers get a bouncy cut safe ride (maybe something like the “Demolition Man” foam spray, too, to prevent major injuries? Beats air bags, and fewer risks for occupants, I’d think. Lots of forces to analyze, though, which is where an engineer would be useful. Ask a biomedical engineer to examine the human body’s planes of motions and risks, and maybe there’s a better system waiting to be found.)

            Any thoughts? Shortfalls? (Besides actual logistics, I’m asking more design flaws.)

          • ” A new civic is bigger than a 90’s accord.”
            And a new WRX or Insight is at least as big as an 80s Accord.

      • “perhaps they just don’t want people driving.”
        I’m beginning to think that is the case. Call me a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ but hey, if it looks like a duck ….

      • It would be an easily do-able project, and would do wonders for promoting ingenuity over engineering. The problem is that this sort of thing is easily swept under the rug, if not outright suppressed by the MSM.

        My Model A utilizing a 1949 flathead V8, with 2 similar vintage Holley 94’s and a lumpy Isky cam with a 3 speed box out of a 40 sedan will get just over 22 mpg on the highway on pump gasohol. It goes up to 24 on Sunoco 110.

        My buddy is building a “pro touring” 39 coupe with a crate 302 topped with Edelbrock EFI running through a T5 sourced from a Mustang and some fairly tall gears. In early tests he’s tapped on 30 mpg’s door.

        If Uncle would just put a sock in it and leave it up to the hot rodders and mechanics, we could probably have 50+ mpg cars that are actually fun and people would actually WANT to buy. Ever since I bought my new F150, I’ve envisioned another project of installing a 2.7 EcoBoost into a first-gen Thunderbird.

        • Hi El Guapo,

          Amen.

          My ’76 Trans Am – with a carbureted 7.4 liter V8 – gets better mileage than several brand-new SUVs and luxury sedans with direct-injected/variable valve timing/cylinder deactivation-equipped V8 I’ve test driven recently.

          Seriously.

          How is possible? (As the Russians would say?)

          My car weighs about 400 pounds less, for starters. And I am betting my car’s 15×7 wheels have less rolling resistance than the current idiotic 19 and 20 inch “rims” do.

          I have no doubt that I could get a car like mine to deliver 30-plus MPG with a small V8 and TBI and say 2.41 rear gears.

        • If I had the space I would find myself a rust free base 1979 Mustang. The early four eyed cars didn’t weigh much. Out would go the 2.3L limey four and in would go the current Mustang 2.3L ecoboost. It should end up a 300hp car with mpg in the high 30s to low 40s.

          Other possible chassis: XR4Ti, Pinto, or Mustang ii. The first Tbird turbo coupes are another option.

    • At current prices of gas, it would take roughly 250,000 to 300,000 miles of driving to get to break even on a $7,000 upcharge to go from 30 to 50 MPGs.

      It doesn’t make any economic sense. At all. It’s the sort of braindead law passed by people who are bad at math, or just don’t care how much something costs because they want it so badly – or both.

      • Bureaucrats get and keep their jobs and get promoted by what is essentially a reach-around group who is afraid not to give a reach-around and be denied the same. Some idea takes traction, generally for the reason some higher one decides they like the way the idea feels, never mind the reasoning. Once they send a memo or two then the reach-arounds for that begins and it rapidly runs its course on down through the ranks. Logic? Don’t make me laugh.

  15. Can’t get a carbon tax through Congress? Fine, we’ll just put a de facto carbon tax in place by changing the “efficiency” standards.

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