Auto Manifesto

November 11, 2009

Higher Fuel Taxes

Auto execs pushed for higher fuel taxes (and with good reason) at Reutuers Auto Summit in Detroit. Mike Jackson (AutoNation), Tim Leuliette (Dura Automotive) and Jerry York are on record as suggesting that a steady increase in the fuel taxes would reduce U.S. fuel consumption and provide the stability needed by the industry to plan for the longer term.

I totally agree.

[Source: Automotive News - requires subscription]

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Standardizing EV Components

Denso is pushing for it. When systems and components are more standardized for EVs the costs associated with developing vehicles will fall, allowing more models from both established manufacturers and new players to enter the market. Consequently, we'll see huge growth in the number and types of vehicles available.

[Source: AutoBlogGreen]

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Road Train Project

Project Sartre is another step toward driverless cars. This stuff can't come soon enough to help improve road safety and get bad drivers off the road.

[Source: AutoBlogGreen]

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Stating The Obvious

Actually, it's important that this angle is examined more carefully. Judging by the number of prototypes unveiled that look like a Pontiac Aztek on a bad day, it's quite obvious that it has never occurred to many startups and EV-wannabes that design is make-or-break.

This is true of all cars but especially so with EVs because of the current (no pun intended) sacrifices that buyers have to make compared with gas-powered cars due to technical limitations. Design is critical.

The early adopters are going to be people who are passionate about cars and electric power. Tesla nailed the style side of it compared with all other EV entries to-date - and it's still anybody's guess if they'll succeed in the long-term (I hope they do).

There's no place in the world for ugly electric cars.

[Source: AutoBlogGreen]


November 4, 2009

No Volt, No Pass?

GM needs the Volt for CAFE purposes. Supposedly the Chevy Volt will receive an EPA rating of 230 MPG. This is all based on funny math and creative accounting. But if we take it at face value and apply it toward GM's CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) average something dramatic happens.

Assuming total GM production of 3 million vehicles and that its existing CAFE average is 27.5 mpg, look at the tables below and see how various Volt production volumes can impact GM's overall average. If GM could produce 100,000 Chevy Volts that are rated at 230 MPG the rest of the 2.9 million vehicles would only need to average 29 MPG to meet CAFE of 35.5 MPG. Between engine downsizing, lighter vehicles, lower drag designs and increasing consumer preference for more efficient vehicles it should be an attainable target.

Contrast that with the second table and you can see that even if GM starts producing an efficient small car that gets 50 MPG and sells in really large numbers that it still wouldn't take the average anywhere near 35.5 MPG required in 2016. In fact the other 2.5 million vehicles GM would produce would need to average nearly 33 MPG.

Despite the fact that the 230 MPG figure would be a total fabrication, I predict this will become a political exercise that promotes CAFE and perhaps a cap-and-trade program as the keys to solving our transportation greenhouse gas problems, which would be a shame because the technology is absolutely vital to the eventual transition to electric vehicles. It should be appreciated for what it is. Let's hope it doesn't fall victim to a political hijacking.

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