Back in the ’90s, a way was found around the gas mileage mandatory minimums (CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy regs) imposed by the federal government on new cars – which had the effect of making cars smaller and smaller-engined, a kind of shrinflation of transportation – by building SUVs instead.
These were a new category of vehicle not encompassed by the federal gas mileage mandatotry minimums, which were only applicable (at the time) to passenger cars. Light trucks – models like the Ford F-series and GM’s Silverado, etc – were not required to “comply” with these MPG minimums because (at the time) a degree of reason still held sway and it was understood that while cars were fundamentally about A to B transportation, trucks were fundamentally about work that needed to get done – and it is hard to do much work with a downsized, front-wheel-drive (and four cylinder-powered) “truck.”
They were allowed to remain proper-sized, rear-drive/4WD and could still be equipped with the V8 engines that had been largely disappeared (along with rear-drive and body-on-frame construction) from the passenger car market, courtesy of the MPG minimums.
An “SUV” was a truck with an enclosed and carpeted bed turned into additional passenger-carrying space. People bought these “SUVs” in droves – because they were fundamentally the same things as the passenger cars they were no longer able to buy – courtesy of the regulatory de facto ban on full-sized, rear-drive, V8-powered cars.
Under their hoods, first.
You may have noticed the recent and otherwise inexplicable winnowing of V8s in models that used to come standard with them, such as Ford’s Exedition and, most recently, the Toyota Sequoia – an SUV that is based on the Toyota Tundra pick-up, which also used to come standard with a V8 and no longer does.
And so, neither does the new Sequoia.
Soon, none will as it will soon be effectively imposssible to “comply” with the federal regulations without getting rid of engines altogether – in favor of EeeeeeeeVeeeeeees. This is why Ford is peddling an electric version of its F-150 truck and others like it are also emerging.
But something else is also emerging that gives the lie to the EeeeeeeVeeeee PR. Something that reflects reality, as in demand vs. supply – the former normally preceding the latter.
With EeeeeeeeeeVeeeeeees, this natural dynamic is unnaturally reversed.
That something is driving through a three-quarter-ton “loophole” fundamentally the same as the one that made it feasible to build the full-sized, full-framed, rear-drive and V8-powered vehicles people still wanted – by using half-ton light trucks as the foundation and christening the result an “SUV.”
This time, the way around the engine-downsizing – and the EeeeeeeeVeeeee’ing – is by focusing on heavy-duty trucks, as these remain exempt (for now) from the de facto regulatory bans that have effectively banned mass-market, full-sized passenger cars with V8 engines and are chewing away at light-duty trucks and the SUVs they are based upon.
Ford just announced it is adding two new engine options to the roster of availables for the F-250 and up. The new standard engine is a bigger 6.8 liter V8 that replaces the smaller 6.2 liter V8 that was previously standard. A 7.3 liter V8 remains optional, along with a higher-output version of the 6.7 liter PowerStroke diesel V8.
A complete reversal of the trend toward smaller – and less.
Contrast the Super Duty’s new engines with the engine – singular – that is the only engine you can get in the F-150 based Expedition. That engine being a 3.5 liter V6. (The same-sized engine that is now the only engine available in the Toyota Tundra and Sequoia.)
An Automotve News article about the announcement by Ford noted that the automaker’s Super Duty lineup of heavy trucks “generates more revenue” all by itself than Soutwest Airlines, the clothing retailer Nordstrom and the hotel chain, Marriot International.
As juxtaposed with the “investment” in EeeeeeeeVeeeees that generates no revenue at all, since all EeeeeeeVeeeees are sold at a loss. Since they cannot be sold in sufficient numbers at cost – plus profit – to make it worth making them. Tesla has been the loss leader in this respect. Its “earnings” are based on extortion – the selling of “carbon credits” – and upon stock valuation based on regulations that are designed to “corner the market” for EeeeeeeeeVeeeees via de facto (and outright bans) on alternatives to them.
As history repeats, we are apt to see an infusion of heavy duty pick-ups and maybe (hopefully) SUVs based upon them – just as last time, the market made an end-run around the regulations via “light trucks” and the SUVs that were based upon them. There is irony in this, as the whole putative point of the fed’s mandatory mileage minimums was to “nudge” people into smaller (and smaller-engined) vehicles. Instead, it “nudged” them into bigger, heavier and bigger-engined vehicles.
And it’s doing the same, again.
At least, for awhile.
. . .
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