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.)