It didn’t work last time – but this time is different.
Last time, the method deployed to get rid of cars – or at least, cars for us – was emissions standards. The plan was to lay down requirements so severe that cars couldn’t be made to comply with them.
At first, the plan appeared to be working.
Muscle cars were the first to be gotten rid of. By 1975 – the first year for catalytic converters – there were no more muscle cars. Just a few cars that looked like muscle cars such as the gimping-along Pontiac Trans-Am, Chevy Camaro (no more Z28) and of course, the Corvette – which didn’t come with anything stronger than a 205 hp 5.7 liter V8.
Engines were strangled into compliance. Literally. Dual exhaust disappeared. Exhaust piping got smaller. Airflow to carburetors was restricted in the manner of putting a pillow over the face of a sleeping victim and holding him down with it until his sleep became permanent. Carburetors went from four to two barrels and were adjusted to suck as little fuel as possible.
They were slow – and balky. Hard to start – and sometimes hard to stop. Gas engines would diesel – or continue to run, in a kind of Parkinsonian Pantomime of internal combustion – even with the ignition off.
Small and underpowered – on the way to nonexistent. This seemed to be the way things were headed.
But a miracle happened.
The engineers did something no less remarkable than what the rocket men of the ‘60s did when they went from strapping a tiny satellite on the nose of an ICBM in the ’50s to putting men on the Moon in the ’60s.
They not only complied with every exhaust emission standard laid down, they more than doubled the power/performance of the engines that were available. In some cases, they tripled it. A new Corvette’s V8 makes 495 horsepower – while emitting a fraction of the emissions of a 1975 Corvette’s 205 horsepower V8.
In fact, the new Corvette – and new cars generally – emit no emissions at all. In terms of the way emissions used to be defined, that is. Incompletely burned hydrocarbons, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and such. The hydrocarbons are now burned with such efficiency that there are essentially no emissions as they were once defined.
Which put the kibosh on the quest to kill the car in the name of reducing emissions, that having been accomplished. The car recovered from the Clubber Lang-like rain of body blows even more impressively than Sylvester Stallone did in Rocky III.
That was a movie. This was reality. Double or triple the power, a fraction of the emissions!
And this is why carbon dioxide became an “emission.”
It wasn’t one – in terms of defining vehicle exhaust emissions – until about eight years ago. Which perhaps not coincidentally was right about the time it had become very clear that the stratagem of getting rid of cars by insisting they get rid of emissions – as they had been defined – wasn’t working.
Cars were prospering. They were better than they had ever been – and “compliant.”
That had to be stopped.
Which came along with a “crisis” – manufactured, this time. The last time – back in the late 1960s – there was a legitimate problem with vehicle exhaust emissions, which were contributing to smog. That problem having been solved, enter the “crisis” over the “climate” – which is the ecological equivalent of the War on Terror.
Which is to say, something vaguely defined that will never end.
But it will put an end to cars – for us, at any rate. Because there is no way to comply with carbon dioxide emissions standards without getting rid of cars. Or at least, engines.
Without which a car isn’t much good.
Carbon dioxide “emissions” standards are the reason why you now find four cylinder engines under the hoods of mid-sized luxury sedans like the BMW 5 Series – as well as under the hoods of full-size trucks like the Chevy Silverado 1500.
Six cylinder engines have all-but-disappeared from the under $30k family car segment.
Mercedes will reportedly kill off more than two-thirds of its AMG models – these being Mercedes’s high-performance models, which are the ones that “emit” the most carbon dioxide, because their engines make the most horsepower. The C63 AMG – and its puissant 4.0 liter V8 – is apparently the first casualty.
No more V8. Instead, a 2.0 liter four. Where’s the bottle? I need a drink.
Eventually, there will be no cylinders at all.
Motors – as in electric – are to take their place, but only for some. They being the few who can afford an electric car. The rest of us will not be able to afford to drive.
Which has been The Plan for a very long time, now on the cusp of being realized. The car is the enemy because it gives people mobility. The goal is to demobilize the masses. To limit their ability to move freely, which will limit where they can live as well as what they can do.
And that is why the car has got to go. Not because of “the environment.” But because of the freedom the thing enables.
. . .
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