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Raising The Bar

Last year, the government revised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations for the first time since 1975. The revised CAFE regulations state that the fleets of automakers must average 35.5 mpg by the model year 2016 or they will face a substantial fine. I think it’s great that the government is pushing for more fuel efficient cars but what I don’t think they realize is that the best selling cars in America are actually pickup trucks. Those big, noisy, gas guzzlers are loved by Americans, and that love isn’t suddenly going to disappear. I also don’t see the low mpg rating on these trucks disappearing by 2016 so that would mean that Ford and Chevy would have to counterbalance this by making extremely high mpg cars. This leads me into what I want to discuss, which is the fact that these automakers can make dull high mpg cars, that they know won’t sell, in order to counterbalance the low mpg of their top selling sports cars and trucks.
Although it may not seem like it, automakers tend to make the majority of their profits off of their trucks and high performance cars. Most people might believe that cheap cars that sell in high volumes are the main money makers for auto companies. Although they make profit off the cheap cars, it’s the expensive, top of the line cars that automakers make the most profit on. I think that companies like Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini that only sell expensive, luxury or high performance cars will have to make the most adjustments to their fleet by 2016. However, for companies like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi that sell both reasonably priced cars and high priced cars, the introduction of a new model with an extremely high mpg rating may be a very reasonable solution. This could counterbalance the low mpg rating of the AMG line for Mercedes Benz, the M line for BMW, the S class for Audi, as well as the trucks and SUV’s produced by these companies.
If one takes a look at any current automobile magazine they will see that many concept cars of the future are much smaller than those being produced now. The Audi A1 and Mercedes Benz A class are two examples of this. Both cars are much smaller than any other car the company has out on the road and have much higher mpg ratings. I believe these small concept cars are pretty cool and innovative, but won’t really catch on in America. We’re not like the Europeans who must drive small cars because the price of gas is so damn high. If the price of gas were seven or eight dollars a gallon, I think electric and small cars would be forced into the American lifestyle.
To be honest, I think that these automakers could care less about the environment and that they’re all about selling cars that make them the most profit. Researching eco-friendly technology like fully electric cars and high mpg rating cars costs a lot of money. In fact GM and Nissan have admitted that they lose money on every Volt and Leaf that they sell. I believe that the real reason why automakers are creating electric, hybrid, and high mpg rating cars is because it’s a means to an end. They have to meet the 35.5 average mpg rating, so if they have a car that can give 60-70 mpg and another that can only give 15-20 mpg then they will be able to meet the regulation. They can make cars like the Audi A1 and Mercedes Benz A class, knowing no one will buy them and that they will be complete busts but will help them reach that 35.5 average mpg rating.
If you pay attention to the types of engines in high performance cars, you’ll notice that the V8 is on its way out. The V8 engine requires a lot of gas to run and in order to bump up the mpg rating of high performance cars, some companies like BMW have been swapping V8 engines with turbocharged V6’s which offer close to or even better power. However, some people, like me don’t entertain the idea of putting smaller engines in place of V8’s, especially when it’s part of a cars tradition. Cars such as the Mustang GT have the V8 engine written into its DNA, so by swapping it with a V6, you totally ruin the essence of the car. Thankfully there are no plans to swap the engines of the Mustang GT…yet. All and all, I think that the regulations the government has put on the automakers to produce higher mpg rating cars is a good first step towards a cleaner, more energy efficient world. However, I believe it will be quite some time before Americans make the full switch from low mpg rating cars to high mpg rating or fully electric cars.

Sources:
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/10q2/how_automakers_will_meet_2016_cafe_standards-feature
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/4235773
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/fuel-economy/new-2016-cafe-standards
http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110310/CARNEWS/110319989
http://gm-volt.com/2010/05/16/nissan-admits-it-will-lose-money-on-the-leaf-at-first-too/

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~ by billyfrawley on October 4, 2011.

One Response to “Raising The Bar”

  1. Extended Peer Critique

    This blog is centered around cars, and from that central theme branches ideas about life, the economy, environment, and even propaganda. I found this blog informative in a way that was not too out of reach for someone with little to no knowledge about cars, but believe that those who do work with cars would find it enjoyable as well. There is a noticeable conflict throughout this blog between American muscle cars and foreign luxury cars, as well as that between electric versus gas powered vehicles. It is clear in several areas of the blog that the author has very strong feelings concerning what he is writing about, which I believe to have a greater affect on the reader as opposed to him simply reporting information.
    Looking at the first post “Live Life As You See Fit”, I was originally confused with why such different ideas were focused on in the post, with seemingly no transition between the two. After reading it again, I found the correlation between the topics being that money will not make you happy, just as buying a car with an impressive label is not necessarily the best on the market. The quality of something is more important than how it is seen to be. The second post, “American Muscle”, is very patriotic, and I found it humorous. The author is a clear advocate of American muscle cars, and uses sensory imagery to depict a funny scenario of a “boring” luxury car being overtaken by a muscle car “that packs a serious punch”. “Electric Cars”, the third post, touches on the environment by examining electric cars in regards to their value and their benefits. The author highlights GM’s first modern day mass produced electric car and the theory of its recall being due to oil companies paying off General Motors to eliminate competition that could potentially harm their business. The author reflects on the idea that some would rather make money now than to look out for the planet in the long term. The fourth post, “Raising the Bar”, was informative without being dull, and looks into the Corporate Average Fuel Economy. There is a personal conflict within this post. The author seems torn between agreeing with more environmentally efficient vehicles, and being concerned with preserving the authenticity and integrity, or even the soul, of the original muscle cars, such as the Mustang GT.
    Throughout the blog, the author is upfront with what he is trying to say, and is very conversational, which makes his audience comfortable. He is opinionated, but not without supporting his views. I think that this was well written in that the Mr. Frawley was enlightening his readers without being condescending or showing off his knowledge. My favorite post was “American Muscle” because the author seemed to show his personality all throughout the post, as opposed to just at the end. My suggestion would be for him to infuse more of his feelings into all of his posts, because the definite humor of that post made it extremely entertaining and interesting.

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