Priorities Must ChangeRegarding your editorial ( see WAW — May '07, p.3), I'm disappointed that you didn't cite actual engineers, instead relying on a top executive with certain specific interests in halting new fuel economy regulations.
There is nothing to suggest better gas mileage cannot be achieved over time without increases in expenses. Simply channel development away from horsepower and into fuel economy.
Over the past 15-20 years, horsepower of the average car or truck has grown substantially, while fuel economy has remained stagnant. Auto makers can hold power constant and devote development monies toward lightweight materials and engine technologies that actually advance our economy and security.
Bob Lutz is right. All the attention is on the big bad auto companies for building cars people like. But the infrastructure to support cars that are environmentally friendly is nowhere in sight.
Fuel-Economy Gains In QuestionYour April article “New EPA Ratings Hit Fuel Sippers Hardest” implies that the new rating system shifts the economic benefits away from more fuel-efficient cars ( see WAW — April '07, p.49). I don't think the numbers in your examples support this view.
Consider someone interested in either a Toyota Prius (55 mpg under the old system and 46 under the new [4.2/5.1 L/100 km) or a Chevy Tahoe (18 mpg under the old system and 16 under the new [13/14.6 L/100 km]).
If he drives 12,000 miles (19,311 km) a year and pays $2.75 per gallon, his expected fuel expenses would go from $600 to $717 with the Prius, an increase of $117. With the Tahoe, the change would be from $1,833 to $2,062, or $229. Under the new EPA system, the Prius saves $112 more per year as opposed to the old system.
As you claim, the percentage change is greater for the Prius than the Tahoe; however, the higher starting fuel cost of the Tahoe more than makes up for it. Think of it this way: Which would you rather have dropped on your foot, 100% of an ounce or 10% of a ton?
Climate Change Deserves Money, TooYes, the people who promised that Y2K would wreck our lives truly believed it. And then? Nothing — thanks in large part to the billions of dollars spent updating and upgrading computers. How bad would Y2K have been if we hadn't spent that money and effort to mitigate it?
Climate change is a very complex science, which I also do not claim to fully understand. But carbon dioxide is clearly a greenhouse gas, and atmospheric CO2 levels are rising sharply since the advent of human civilization.
Perhaps anthropogenic causes are not the primary driving force behind global warming, but they are clearly one of several causes and the only one that we can do anything to mitigate.
The people who promise us global warming will ruin the planet truly believe it. And then? How bad will global warming be if we spend little or no money and effort to mitigate it?
John McElroy's assertion that Y2K warnings were misplaced because in the end “nothing happened,” is based on faulty logic. It is exactly because companies around the world took the threat of Y2K seriously and mobilized into action that problems were averted.
As Mr. McElroy points out, billions were indeed spent ahead of Jan. 1, 2000, to audit software and processes and make the necessary modifications and upgrades. It is only due to these efforts that there were virtually no Y2K problems at the turn of the millennium.
In the same vein, it is only by increasing awareness and mobilizing resources that global warming can be countered. Environmental changes that are due to human activity can only be reversed through concerted action. The warnings are coming none too soon, and must be considered seriously.
This is not necessarily negative for the auto industry. In fact, if global warming concerns end up driving a major recapitalization of the installed vehicle base, this will kick off a long cycle of secular growth. And those manufacturers positioned with the right products and technologies will reap the benefits.
John McElroy responds: The facts are that outside the developed economies of the world, few countries made concerted efforts to protect themselves from Y2K. Indeed, the U.S. government advised citizens to avoid traveling to China, Russia and Italy at that time because they were so ill prepared for Y2K. Yet virtually none of them suffered ill effects from their lack of preparation.
Japanese Restrictions UnfairJohn McElroy attempts to play down the fact that the Japanese (both government and OEMs) make it very hard for the Big Three to sell cars there ( see WAW — March '07, p.15).
He states we don't make the right cars for their market, and our cars simply cannot compete. I assume he means due to poor quality.
The fact is, our cars are subjected to many tariffs and governmental restrictions that cause the price of our cars to be significantly more than Japan's domestic cars. It is my understanding that a Dodge Neon (when in production) would cost about $40,000 in Japan.
In a culture with a huge appetite for American products (i.e. Harley-Davidson motorcycles) and for that matter, anything American, I can't help but disagree with John's assessment.
If what John says is true and we wouldn't have a prayer of selling any of our cars in Japan, why do the Japanese put restrictions on our cars that force the cost to be significantly higher than their domestic cars?
Why not allow our cars the same free market trade opportunities we afford their imports and let us fail miserably?
Auburn Hills, MI
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