We came across a six-week old opinion piece from Rhea Suh in Detroit Free Press. Here is how she starts out:
We all want to buy less gasoline for our daily commute, grocery run or trip to the beach. We want to promote innovation, create jobs and leave our children a livable world.
Well, let’s start with the first sentence. We suppose theoretically it might be true. We would like to buy less gas. Even more, we would like to pay less for gas. But our actions are exactly the opposite. MPG goes down as MPG go above 50:
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.
You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.
We tried an experiment this weekend. On a trip with 220 miles of highway driving we set the cruise control at the speed limit, 70 MPH. Excluding commercial vehicles, RV, and folks towing stuff (not many of any of those) we passed seven vehicles. We couldn’t count all the cars that passed us but it was several hundred. We got the nice improvement on MPG that each one of those vehicles passed up.
Then there are the vehicles that we are driving. It is obvious on the highway that there are lots of big ones. This list for 2016 shows the top three sellers as pick-up trucks. So folks are driving big vehicles fast. Their actions show that they don’t care much about the amount of gas they use.
Then there is the second sentence about promoting innovation, jobs, and a livable world. That doesn’t seem universal given the actions of the previous administration but Rhea puts it as a difference of opinion when she reports:
On Tuesday, Pruitt announced plans to weaken the successful clean car and fuel economy standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Transportation Department put in place in 2012. [Emphasis added]
We have no doubt that Pruit’s actions will promote innovation, jobs, and a livable planet but Rhea thinks we can regulate the economy to success. Here is a fun irony from her:
And, building on the success of its all-electric Chevy Bolt, General Motors is planning to add 20 new electric models by 2023.
Sidebar: We got confused between a Volt and a Bolt. We actually saw one of the former on our trip. We are yet to make the acquaintance of the latter. End Sidebar.
Success? Well we can’t find Bolt sales but HybridCars tells us
The first-generation extended-range electric Volt was launched late 2010 for model year 2011 and sold just 7,671 units during a protracted rollout. Its peak sales in 2012 amounted to 23,461 units. In 2013, sales were flat with 23,094 units; in 2014 they dropped to 18,805 units, and in 2015 as word of the pending second-generation Volt spread, sales were just 15,393.
The only success of the Volt is in garnering subsidies. This estimate of over $250,000 per car might be high but electric vehicles are highly subsidized. We are delighted that the current administration has cut back on the foolish regulations of the previous administration that would reduce innovation, jobs, and safety. We often disagree with The Donald but here he is on the correct side and perhaps too reticent. A more interesting question is: why does the federal government have any interest in the average MPG of any auto maker? Let’s go the common sense route and continue to reduce regulations.