The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 March 2005

Squeeze that fuel

Gas stations with prices under $2 a gallon for the low-suds stuff are few and far between at the moment, and while I have yet to hit that particular threshold myself — I filled up Saturday for $1.979 at a station that has since raised its price two cents — it's just a matter of time, and not much time at that.

Which is the sort of thing that draws attention to a group like 40mpg.org, which is dedicated to "[making] 40 miles per gallon the standard for all automobiles in the United States." All new automobiles, of course; there's no way to retrofit your old clunker for this kind of fuel efficiency no matter what you saw in that infomercial.

The benefits, say the organization, are "obvious":

[W]e reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil, making us more secure; we lower the carbon emissions into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming; and we put America's technology community to work on these important problems, creating jobs, ensuring that the U.S. leads in the development and sale of new technologies.

Apart from my skepticism about global warming — geez, it's cold outside — these would seem to be reasonably sensible goals. That last item, though, implies that "America's technology community" is dragging its high-tech heels, and the list of available vehicles that actually get 40 mpg, lacking a single US nameplate, hammers the point home. Not that anyone will willingly buckle himself into a rolling penalty box like the Honda Insight.

Weight is an enemy of fuel efficiency, and the tendency today is to create ever-more-massive trundlers. I wouldn't mind seeing that trend stopped in its lumbering tracks. But with almost all minivans and most trucks — sixty percent of the American auto market — weighing in at over two tons, getting 40, even 30, mpg is going to be an uphill battle. And I still persist in thinking that it might be easier just to boost the gas tax to horrendous levels.

(Disclosure: My modest little sedan weighs 2960 lb empty and averaged 27.2 mpg on its last 87-octane tankful.)

Posted at 11:14 AM to Family Joules


I agree that the price of fuel should reflect the true cost of obtaining it and also supporting the applicable transportation infrastructure it drives. The problem is: History has proven that we can't trust the bureaucracy to appropriately use such taxes for those purposes.

I just finished a diatribe myself pointing to the never ending push by the energy industry, and their lackeys, to mislead and manipulate the system for their own greed. When that portion of the problem is solved, the rest of the equation will be easier to balance.

Posted by: MikeH at 11:44 AM on 22 March 2005

Supposedly, truck/suv sales lost 2% of thier market share last quarter... so maybe the Land Sharking Behemoth fad is finally waning.

Posted by: aldahlia at 5:07 PM on 22 March 2005

I can believe it: a lot of SUVs are now being sent out the door with fat price incentives, meaning they're not selling as well as the manufacturers would have liked. Not everyone can shrug off a $60 fillup.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:14 PM on 22 March 2005

As long as we are dictating what other people should do, maybe we should just make everybody walk. That will solve some other weight problems too.

Posted by: Ravenwood at 12:22 PM on 23 March 2005

Not until we get the monorail!

Posted by: CGHill at 12:24 PM on 23 March 2005