The Californication of the car industry is about to accelerate – once the former head of California’s notoriously anti-car Air Resources Board, Steven Cliff becomes the new head of the federal “safety” apparat, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Which somehow is involved in dictating how much gas mileage your next new vehicle must deliver – at your expense, of course.
NHTSA has “proposed” increasing the mandatory minimums that every company making cars (and trucks) must achieve by 8 percent – by 2026. For those not hip to what it costs to achieve such a gain, it may be helpful to review what has been necessary to achieve compliance with the current mandatory minimum “corporate average” of 36 miles per gallon . . .
The replacement of port fuel injection in favor of direct injection, an extremely high-pressure form of fuel injection that operates at several thousand pounds of pressure vs. the 30-40 pounds typical of port fuel injection systems and which requires wholesale re-engineering of the engine as well as the fuel system. An additional hole must be bored into each cylinder – for the injector – and a separate fuel-injection circuit added to prevent carbon fouling of the intake valves, which in a PFI system are automatically kept clean by the solvent action of gasoline washing them down. DI also involves multiple fuel pumps to achieve the necessary pressure step-up from tank to injector.
The retirement of most naturally aspirated six cylinder engines in favor of heavily turbocharged four cylinder engines. Many vehicles in the $30k or so price bracket – including family sedans like the Honda Accord and Mazda6, the VW Passat, etc. – used to offer six cylinder engines and most luxury-badged vehicles in the $50k or so price bracket such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series sedans came standard with one. As of 2022, none of the vehicles in the latter class come standard with them – and only a few in the former class (such as the Toyota Camry) still offer one.
The 2.0 liter turbocharged four is becoming the Universal Engine – irrespective of make or model.
Or even price.
These turbocharged fours usually make as much power as the sixes they’ve supplanted – and advertise higher gas mileage – but at a cost. The car companies aren’t giving away turbochargers (or the peripherals, such as intercoolers and all the necessary additional plumbing and electronics). They are folding the costs of these into the price you pay – so the government can say it has saved you money (on gas).
You are also more likely to pay – for repairs – when the turbo(s) fail or the engine does, due to increased pressure on its internals, such as bearing surfaces, applied by the boost.
CVTs – which vary ranges rather than shift gears – generally help a given vehicle wrangle an extra 2-3 MPG (vs. a conventional automatic) on federal fuel economy test loops and for that reason are being resorted to as another engineering expedient by car companies under pressure to “comply” with the current CAFE standards. But CVTs have a built-in weakness that makes them more failure prone (and sooner) than conventional automatics that have planetary gearsets and friction clutches. CVTS have a metal belt that is stretched by varying-diameter pulleys; over time, metal fatigue weakens this belt and when it breaks, the result is a catastrophic failure of the transmission, which must be replaced because it cannot be repaired.
CVTs also have operating characteristics many people understandably dislike, including the feeling that the transmission is failing when it is working normally. When you floor the accelerator in most CVT-equipped vehicles, the engine revs to near redline and stays revved, accompanied by lots of engine noise. The transmission feels as though it is slipping because it isn’t shifting. Most buyers would probably not opt for a CVT if they could choose a conventional automatic. But the government doesn’t want them to have the choice.
The government has also taken away the choice to spend less on a manual transmission, which costs less than an automatic but doesn’t do as well on the government’s fuel efficiency test loop. Hence the near-extinction of the manual transmission.
Almost all 2022 model year cars have ASS – automated start/stop “technology.” This “technology” involves involuntarily shutting off the engine whenever the car isn’t moving – the idea being that an engine that’s not running isn’t burning. It “saves” about 1 mile-per-gallon. At the cost of endless annoyance and more frequent starter battery replacement costs.
What will another 8 percent cost?
Whatever it is, apparently we can afford it.
Certainly, a guy like Steven Cliff will have no difficulty affording it as he is paid – by us – a salary equivalent to several times the average American family income. He will take (tax feeders do not earn anything) in a great deal more than the average $120k taken by the average NHTSA tax feeder.
Cliff says we’ll be “saving” more than just gas money as result of increasing the cost of cars to comply with gas mileage fatwas hurled by the Federal apparat:
“Climate pollution (will be reduced) by approximately the same amount as if we took more than 5 million of today’s vehicles off the road.”
This, of course, is a lie – as can be safely said of everything coming out of the porthole of a tax-feeder.
It assumes, first of all, that people will buy these “efficient” vehicles – which, increasingly, people cannot afford to. And which many do not want to, as they dislike the “technology” and are wary about the long-term durability. Evidence in support of this contention can be adduced in the fact that people are holding onto their older vehicles – the average age of which is now a record 12 years old.
If anything, the fatwas are worsening both gas mileage and “emissions” – if you believe in that bogey man – by discouraging the purchase of new cars.
The fatwas are also pushing the manufacture of more electric cars, which are even less affordable. The average cost differential between an electric vehicle and a non-electric equivalent is about $15k – which is a helluva lot to spend in order to “save” on gas costs. Especially when you factor in the average $6k cost of a new battery for the EV.
These EVs, by the way, end up “emitting” more of the gas that the apparat is so ostensibly “concerned” about reducing – just not a the tailpipe. An honest accounting of the total “emissions” produced and emitted would take into account the entire process of making an EV and its 1,000-plus pounds of battery pack. Plus the output associated with powering it up, over and over and over again.
But it’s not.
If it seems puzzling – if it seems counterproductive – it’s only because you’re assuming the purpose is as stated, to “save on gas.” And to reduce the “emissions” of gasses.
In fact, these are just the pretexts, used to gull the gullible – of a piece with the wearing of “masks” to”stop the spread” and the demands about the Stabs.
They want you to be unable to afford a car, period – and to be in thrall to their control. Once you understand that, you understand it all.
. . .
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