CAFE & Conservation

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I've mulled over various ideas, these last 30-some years, about car stuff, oil and oil politics and all that. I'm an old hot-rodder and racer and damned good mechanic, by avocation. Spent a lot of years as a poor-boy sort, rebuilding a lot of very tired used cars for personal use and then profitable resale.

    So: We want less gasoline usage. The issue isn't really "Build something better!" so much as have folks use less gasoline for the driving they do. IMO, anyhow. Any real disagreement, there?

    I don't see why the car companies need to do anything different as to WHAT is built, so much as the desired change in mix of production to more econoboxes and fewer gas hogs. Any real disagreement, there?

    So, rambling along on the how-to. I imagine a lot of my ideas would be just a wee trifle controversial. :)

    One thing would be that a personal-use vehicle over 3,500 pounds would have a whopping tax. Obvious/honest commercial use, no--but I wouldn't object to the worker driving it home at night. Tax amount? I dunno. $5,000? $10,000?

    Jack up the license plate fees in the same manner.

    Change the law about company cars and tax writeoffs. At present, it's a class-envy thing, favoring the use of one-ton Suburbans and dually pickemups of GVWs of 6,500 pounds or more--but God forbid that your company could write off all of a Lexus.

    Do Madison Avenue techniques in ads indicating that hog-drivers are unpatriotic. They're commonly unwashed and slap their kids around. Unwholesome folks to have in your neighborhood. Ads? Hey, encourage the writers for TV shows to slip in a scene or two...

    Raise the federal gas tax so it's in line with the inflation of the last thirty years. 18 cents a gallon is a joke. That would not only allow highway maintenance and repairs, it would enable more small-sized buses in cities. (And somebody get those city-bus administrators to use fewer monster buses!) An empty small bus uses less fuel than an empty big bus.

    Serious tax writeoffs for all-electric commuter cars. When I lived in town in Austin, Texas, the battery-charge time for something the size of a Geo Metro would have met my in-town needs quite nicely. Same sort of treatment for the fuel-cell folks and the hybrids.

    Figure out tax law incentives for companies to work out ways for more of their employees to work at home, communicating via email. Less commuting, less HVAC loads in office buildings. I say this because I spent a goodly number of years driving to an office building, doing eight hours of "gnome in the closet" designing engineering projects and then driving home. We didn't have anything like today's computer systems, back then.

    Anyhow, just some ideas. I'm not madly in love with them in "exactly as they are" fashion, but I do think there's some merit in the concepts...

    'Rat
     
  2. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #2
    Speaking purely of Canada, I'd also like to see a greater amount of tax money going towards public transit. I'd also like to see fewer hand-outs and bail-outs to industries that are significant contributers.

    I pay $110 a month to be frequently late and take an hour to complete what would otherwise be a 20 minute commute. And I live downtown.
     
  3. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #3
    Nope. Conservation should be the cornerstone of every energy policy out of Washington from this point forward. There seems to be shortsighted focus on things like generation and deregulation and technological changes that cannot and are not covering the spread when it comes to keeping up with energy needs. What's rarely talked about in Washington is forcing the demand side of energy instead of the supply side. A hangover from the '80s, perhaps.

    The government can't always force the market to change, but this is one area where their input is proven to heavily influence the system. The steps to lead us where we need to be can be gradual and small enough that people and our economy will adapt very well.

    The problem right now is that we've been standing still on the same conservation steps we took in the '70s.
     
  4. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    After the rise in natural gas prices in 1971-ish and the oil embargo of '73, it became chic to conserve. There was a "I can spend less than you!" atmosphere. That's why I brought out the MadAve technique idea.

    And, as ever, demand varies with costs--but it's not just the fuel cost that's important.

    Smaller cars require smaller tires and less energy to build, among other factors. Less steel, less plastic, smaller batteries, smaller engine-oil capacity.

    'Rat
     
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #5
    Agreed. Government is usually talking about the supply side, and conservationist/environmentalists are usually talking about the demand side. However, in order to fix it, you have to look at both sides of the equation.
     
  6. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #6
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #7
    'Rat, dunno if you're run across this guy's story yet or not, but as a gearhead kind of guy I'm sure you'll appreciate what he's doing.

    He's put the lie to the American automaker's line that they can't build fuel-efficient cars that American egos can fit in.
     
  8. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

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    #8
    Funny, that's the same thing I was thinking of. I think that guy has the right idea to not only work on fuel efficiency but get rid of petroleum-based fuels altogether. How great would it be to say to South America and the Middle East, "thanks, but we don't need your oil anymore."
     
  9. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #9
    Diesel and diesel hybrids. Exactly what I've been writing auto manufacturers about with little to no positive response.

    The only project the guy was working on that I have trouble seeing implemented is the turbine that he thinks will be turned on and off like a gas engine. They don't operate that way.
     
  10. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #10
    He seems to think it will work. Not being high-level mechanics ourselves, we'll have to wait and see. I guess time will tell. Right?
     
  11. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #11
    The problem is with the start cycle of the turbine itself. The shaft does through a harmonic period spooling up during the start cycle that creates a lot of vibration and stress on the bearings. Also, the energy and stresses involved in getting a turbine up and operating at 60K rpm are a lot more than for a conventional engine. Turbines are great for extended runs once they're started, but cranking them up and down for a minute or so to charge a battery isn't their strength.

    If he could figure out a way to use enough of a turbine to keep it going trickle charging the batteries without downing it, he might have something.
     
  12. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #12
    Here's an interesting analysis that I read yesterday. Mr. Easterbrook has long been arguing the points that he brings up here, but doesn't go as far into the general conservation question as he normally does.

    NB: the quoted section is in the middle of the article. Yes, the article is posted on the ESPN site. Yes, the article is primarily devoted to sports. That doesn't make his writing any less serious or on point - it just means that the guy can write solid analysis about several subjects.

     
  13. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #13
    That's what happens when you let industry insiders write - or buy off the people writing - the legislation designed to regulate their industry.
     
  14. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    I don't know if it is the industry or just the laziness of our legislators. Either way, the legislation is pointless. If we had been enforcing current legislation, we would be much better off. At the very least, as we see the free market beginning to support alternatives to traditional vehicles, I hope the government can just stay out of the way of new developments. What I fear the most is some legislators deciding that they know better than the market and trying to force their idea of good over what the market seems to want. For example, the benefits of E85 are starting to show their costs are too high, but government support for it will likely promote continuation down this losing path.
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    It's both. Legislators are all to eager to be lazy when campaign contributions flow, and industry has plenty of incentive to avoid any legislation that might cut into the bottom line.
    It would be better to write compulsory legislation that includes all vehicles.

    I think we should hope that our government does more than stay out of the way. They should actively promote the promising technologies, and shelve bad ideas like ethanol. It's a national security issue.

    But of course, that would take legislative courage, and would require that campaign contributions not be "tied" to legislative actions.
     
  16. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #16
    Well, yeah, why would they?

    I just think it's funny that you espouse the virtues of unregulated free market, but grouse when it affects you personally.
     
  17. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #17
    But, I don't see Swarmy or 'Rat grousing about the free market's effect on them personally. Both seem to be concerned with the state of the industry as a distinct and distant third party.

    Additionally, in a freer market, I think a lot of the suggestions brought up by 'Rat in the OP would have happened already. The problem is that the government is involved poorly. It's like having Homer Simpson help you build a soapbox racer. His involvement just leads to a broken down car. But, if in a moment of inspiration, he did just enough to help (or just stayed away) and supported the you when you had a winning idea, you might just make your goals.

    Man, that should make the Top 10 Worst Analogies of All Time.
     
  18. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #18
    The whole point of a free market is for a company to respond to customer needs and then profit by providing a product that meets those needs.

    It's not like I'm asking them to do something they haven't already designed and built. They just won't sell them in the US either because they think that customers won't buy them or that they don't make enough to cover both the US and European market.

    It's not that they don't agree with me on the advantages of diesel powered vehicles. They claim there's no market here for them. I disagree.
     
  19. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #19
    raising gas tax can ben quite an effective way to drop the user demand for bigger engines which i think is part of the problem in the US ... if the most popular cars are family cars with v6 then you simply have a problem...
    around here v6 is looked at being a luxury item

    our old mercedes c180 from 93 has only a 4 inline engine and it's perfectly fine with it's 122hp and can drive more than 200km/h on the german autobahn loaded with 4 passengers and luggage
    sure racing up a mountain isn't there performance wise but if it's way enough for the alps (no matter which mountain pass you are stuck behind a dutchman, who has no clue about driving up and down a mountain, anyway...)

    and if you want to do some pulling get a turbo diesel with 150hp with the extra torque and be done with it
     
  20. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #20
    At least in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area an issue I see is that the inner city mass transit is set up decently, but in the suburban areas people have to drive to park and rides. These park and ride locations have very limited bus service that will only go between the park and ride and downtown. These lots are also usually very small only allowing a few to really use the service.

    Allowing for more public transit to allow people to not only be able to park their cars, but go other places other then downtown. A lot of people do not work in downtown areas and having transit for these people would really help. Also having more localized bus service is the suburban areas is needed. Let someone walk out of their house down a block or two then get on a bus. Having to get into your car to get on a bus is kind of silly IMO.

    One other thing that really make me scratch my head is that the bus that usually just goes to one of those park and rides pick up from the college I go to in the morning and only drops off at night. totally back wards. For my morning classes I can not get to school, but home, then for my evening classes I can get to school but not home. It's even backwards considering the normal rush hour travelers.

    The US is to dependent on cars and it will make everyone of us go broke as we get all up in arms about gas prices, then just go and buy it. Later we feel really good when the price drops to $2.89.
     
  21. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #21
    You can't honestly believe that. There are very few regulations regarding that at the moment. Congress is currently pushing for higher restrictions, but they're being fought to delay them as many years as possible, resulting in what you have now. Other countries have better regulation, less "free" of a market, and get better than we do. But people here would rather buy big cars, then complain about gas prices, and expect the industry to self regulate, as it drags it's heels as much as it possibly can, because it can.

    It's like in areas that regulate fast food. In some places, they have more restrictions on fats and salt, and the restaurants comply. In other places with little or no regulation, they don't have to, and choose not to. Not saying I want over regulation, but people have laws, so should corporations, who we've seen time and time again will put profit over public good (exploding Pintos anyone?).

    Or be as profitable as possible, no matter what.

    Other countries have regulations and guidelines. They sell what sells and what makes them money. You can ask for it all you want, if they don't have to, and don't want to, they won't.
     
  22. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    "But people here would rather buy big cars, then complain about gas prices, and expect the industry to self regulate, as it drags it's heels as much as it possibly can, because it can."

    The key is that people want the big cars or the high horsepower. Pick a car company, any car company, and you'll find plenty of existing economy cars available. GM advertises that it has, what, some forty models which exceed 30mpg on the highway?

    Nobody forces you to buy a one-ton 4WD Suburban for $45K. Nobody forces you to buy a 42mpg Ford Escort, either. But they're both available from a dealer's lot near you.

    Congress is stuck with dealing with "average" fuel economy so they don't have to institute a "need" requirement to justify buying some sort of gas hog.
     

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