Reader Question: Higher MPGs = Lower Emissions?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

David asks: If we took all the emission gear off our cars and just went for best MPG, could we get less emissions per mile driven? Would that not be better, cheaper, and more efficient?

My reply: You’re on the right track! If the curb weight of the average car could be reduced by 800-1,000 pounds, which could easily be done if cars did not have to “comply” with the current array of federal saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety standards (which have nothing to do with whether a car is “safe” to drive, by the way)  then it would be easy to either maintain current performance levels with much less power or simply have cars with less powerful engines – in both cases, the result being a massive decrease in the amount of gasoline burned, which would mean a dramatic decrease in gasses produced.

Consider: Back in the mid-late 1980s, there were many economy cars that achieved better than 40 MPG; very few cars can do the same today – in spite of the numerous technological advantages modern cars have, such as fuel injected/computer-controlled engines and transmissions with multiple overdrive gears.  The difference? Today’s economy cars are hogs – in terms of their weight – and so also their appetite for gas. They typically weigh 2,400 pounds.

If they weighed 1,800 pounds (or less) which they easily could, were it not for all the federal folderol, these cars – which currently approach 40 on the highway, maybe, would be capable of exceeding 50, if not tickling 60.

But saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety trumps “concern” over emissions. Which says something about the nature of the “concern.” By the way, where did the federal government get the authority to decree how resistant to impact forces in a crash a car must be? How is that any of the government’s proper business, in a free society? Shouldn’t free people have the right to choose to drive a car that might not be as able to survive a crash into an oak tree – a possibility, something that might happen – in exchange for the certainty of fantastic gas mileage and lower emissions?

Oh. Yes. I sometimes forget. We no longer live in a free country.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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