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Old 08-10-2007, 06:34 PM   #1
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all gassed up and ready to go

I found this snippet on a VW tdi site:

Quote:
If reduction in fuel consumption is the goal, it would be better to replace 10mpg cars with 20mpg cars, than to replace 50 mpg cars with 100mpg cars. 5 times better.
Counter-intuitive? Hereís the arithmetic. The 10mpg car uses 10 gallons to go 100 miles. The 20 mpg car uses 5: a saving of 5 gallons. The 50 mpg car uses only 2 gallons for 100 miles, so replacing it with a 100mpg car only saves one gallon.
The fuel consumption problem is not that the current hybrid cars only get 50 mpg. Thatís not where the fuel is going. Look around you on the freeway, and count the 10-15mpg cars. Thatís where the fuel is going. If we can replace a 10mpg car with an electric car, at roughly 100mpg well-wheels equivalent, we save 9 times as much fuel per mile than if we replace the 50mpg hybrid commuter car.

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Old 08-10-2007, 09:30 PM   #2
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Absolutely. That's why I don't get too excited about the Prius Hybrids (but it is good technology). For the most part, the people buying them already had a good mpg vehicle, and combine trips, etc. Not much real world savings.

So a few % of people go from 28 mpg cars to 40 mpg cars (or whatever) - not much effect. Better to have a small % improvement in a larger percentage of cars, esp low mpg ones.

Here's another counter-intuitive one for you.

I know someone that was 'bragging' that they traded in their gas hog for a Prius. OK, sounds good, but....

who bought the Gas Hog? Turns out this old Gas Hog owner does not drive very many miles per year. So what if the new Gas Hog owner drives 3x the miles that the original owner did?

Yeah, I know, the new Gas Hogger would have just bought a Gas Hog from someone else, but it makes you think.

This subject was covered on Science Friday also. Some group was doing something to promote 100mpg vehicles. The question was, why stop at 100mpg, shoot for 200mpg. They explained the above, that it is very little added benefit. And if a 200mpg car was less attractive to buyers and/or more expensive than a 100mpg car, fewer of them would be sold and there would be less total benefit.

Gotta look at the big picture, and always, be careful what you wish for.

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Old 08-10-2007, 10:45 PM   #3
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I'm expecting a lot of interest in pure electric cars soon. If the Tesla Motors car gets out on schedule and works well, that's going to generate a lot of interest.


There are a few others that are just about ready for prime time. I hope that we don't waste too much time/effort on the hydrogen cars.

Unfortunately the first electric cars won't replace the 10 MPG heavy metal clunkers, the soccer mom SUVs or the macho trucks.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:49 AM   #4
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ERD50...

Not as much of a problem as you make it out.... yes, the gas hog is still on the road, but that is one gas hog... the guy who bought the new car COULD have bought another gas hog and then there would be TWO gas hogs on the road....

So, you make all the new cars less gas hoggie.. and over time, those old gas hogs will find their way to the dump (btw, where does 10 million old cars go each year) Ten years from now, the average per car will have gone up a lot...
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:12 AM   #5
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ERD50...

So, you make all the new cars less gas hoggie.. and over time, those old gas hogs will find their way to the dump (btw, where does 10 million old cars go each year)
True, in the long run, and on average there is a benefit. I just kind of get a kick out of how this one person thought his specific situation was such a 'green' thing to do. Maybe - maybe not.

Assuming one believes that some energy conservation is a good thing (I do), it's a shame that the feds had not been tightening CAFE standards all along ( or better yet, raising gas taxes). As you point out, it takes time for the new cars to replace old, so we are even further behind than it appears.

Although, rather than piecemeal, round-a-bout approaches like CAFE standards and rebates on hybrids and such, I much prefer (as I've stated before) to just raise taxes on gasoline. That is the most direct way to modify behaviors to conserve gas. A higher gas tax would impact supply/demand in such a way that the market will provide solutions. Remember Smith's 'invisible hand of commerce' - that's what I'm talking about.

Consumers would find (and companies would provide) a myriad of ways to conserve if prices were higher. Combine trips, car-pool, consider the commute to work on that next move, accept the job offer closer to home, use public trans more, buy higher mpg car, etc, etc, etc, - even things we can't think of right now.

I think that letting the market respond to higher gas prices is so much better than Congress deciding which solutions are best (hybrids and CAFE, for example). Esp, when we have no control over how many miles that hybrid, or low (or High mpg) car will be driven - it is just stupid policy.

wiki points out the faults of the cafe solution.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also, it looks like the standard has not been upgraded since about 1991 - even though Mr 'I-Hate-the-I.C.E and we need to save the world for our grandchildren' was in office for eight of those years. All talk...


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Old 08-11-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
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ERD50. Boy did you nail it!

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Old 08-11-2007, 01:13 PM   #7
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Maybe the "gment" can just buy all of the 20 mpg (or less) vehicles and melt them down, thereby taking them off the road, for new 40 mpg vehicles. Oh, do we (meaning USA) even melt down old metal anymore and seems USA manufacturers are having a hard time making a 40 mpg vehicle (I don't remember ever reading about one), and, most important, what does that new "gment" program cost? Substitute "tax payers" for "gment" as that is the real payer. And if the gasoline costs double in the meantime where is the country re: energy independence? There has to be a solution but I am too dumb to see one.
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:53 PM   #8
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Maybe the "gment" can just buy all of the 20 mpg (or less) vehicles and melt them down, thereby taking them off the road, for new 40 mpg vehicles. Oh, do we (meaning USA) even melt down old metal anymore and seems USA manufacturers are having a hard time making a 40 mpg vehicle (I don't remember ever reading about one), and, most important, what does that new "gment" program cost? Substitute "tax payers" for "gment" as that is the real payer. And if the gasoline costs double in the meantime where is the country re: energy independence? There has to be a solution but I am too dumb to see one.
CA is already doing this for older cars with allowable emissions that are higher than those of newer cars. I think that the state will pay $600 per car.

My understanding is that it is a pretty efficient program from the point of view of emission reduction/$ spent. For example I think that you can reduce pollutants a lot more by spending a $ retiring old polluting cars than you can by spending a $ on reducing emissions from an oil refinery.

Something similar may also be true for reducing energy use on a national wide basis. It may be more cost efficient for society to spend money getting old inefficient cars of the road than spending money to improve energy efficiency in some other areas.

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Old 08-11-2007, 06:20 PM   #9
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Here is my question - it has to do with the oil needed to build a new fuel effecinet car and buying a used.
At what point does it become better to buy a new Prius instead of buying a used car. The oil needed to produce the used car has been expend so it should not be considered. Assume the used car gets 15mpg.

So the formula is: something like:
(Oil needed to produce Prius expressed in gallons of gasoline) + (gallons of gas used of life expentancy) Divided by (Gallons of gasoline used over lifetime of used car remaining) = time until breakeven??

Don't go by my math. My question is we are all talking about new cars. What about used cars?

Anyone ever done the math?
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

I think that letting the market respond to higher gas prices is so much better than Congress deciding which solutions are best (hybrids and CAFE, for example). Esp, when we have no control over how many miles that hybrid, or low (or High mpg) car will be driven - it is just stupid policy.

-ERD50
I think your logic might be a bit fuzzy here. On the first new hybrid car, or even the first few, you're correct about not knowing the mileage folks may or may not drive with it. You can only project or guess. But after a few of them get on the highways, the individual mileage driven will probably average out to somewhere around 12000-15000/yr--the same average as all other cars on the road. Introducing an unknown variable (how many miles an individual may drive his or her car) as important that gradually disappears as the number of vehicles increases eliminates the importance of that variable quickly. As someone else said, each new higher mileage car probably replaces a lower mileage one sooner or later. That can't be a bad thing. And if the older cars get melted into rebar for new highway infrastructure projects, all the better.

I mostly agree with your first sentence though, but with one big and obvious qualification. Like you, I'd like to see much of the efficiency work in making high mileage cars done by private industry for their own benefit and the benefit of buyers of those cars--and subsequently for the benefit of society as a whole. This would be the simple, straightforward choice. But both of us know that sometimes 'private enterprise' veers off in the wrong direction (just like government some times does too). By example, private enterprise has kinda gone nuts in making many poorly thought out home loans over the past few years. This, it appears now, may very well affect many innocent parties and may even--some day--affect other innocent bystanders like pension holders and those invested in the US stock market. I.E. some insider business folks got very greedy and self involved and put some unnecessary hurtin on the economy. In other words, the dang business community aint much better than the government at times if left to their own devices. Both screw up pretty regularly lately. And only good folks--pressing for more civilized behaviors--can sustain and create good things. Business behavior isn't intrinsically good; it needs to be guided. And it doesn't so much matter what the system is; it does matter much more who is in the system and running it for a good greater than their own self interest. I'm pretty sure about this one.

So much for politics and hijacked threads.
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Old 08-11-2007, 07:06 PM   #11
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CA is already doing this for older cars with allowable emissions that are higher than those of newer cars. I think that the state will pay $600 per car.
MB
So, are people buying $200 cars in Arizona, registering them in CA, and then selling them to the State for $600? Seems you could make some money even after the registration costs.
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:33 PM   #12
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I think your logic might be a bit fuzzy here. On the first new hybrid car, or even the first few, you're correct about not knowing the mileage folks may or may not drive with it. You can only project or guess. But after a few of them get on the highways, the individual mileage driven will probably average out to somewhere around 12000-15000/yr--the same average as all other cars on the road.
I agree. It will average out over the long haul. But I think the present ideas of offering incentives for hybrid purchase are misguided. I doubt that any significant number of high-miles/low-MPG drivers are switching. It is mostly people that drove high MPG cars to begin with. I think the money (our money) could be better utilized. It will take a long time, if ever, for those incentives to move the average Joe to switch over. The current methods are bringing progress very, very slowly.


Quote:
But both of us know that sometimes 'private enterprise' veers off in the wrong direction (just like government some times does too).
Yes, sometimes (short term) profit motive can lead business to making bad decisions (for society, and the business). Like you say, that is part of human nature, so we see it in business AND government. I'm more surprised when I see business just make plain bad decisions. Seems the profit motives should keep them on track, but sometimes they do veer off. Esp surprising when you see what business can accomplish sometimes. Multi Giga-byte thumb drives; reliable, fast, no battery, no fuss/muss and just $20? Just a dream not long ago.

If there was a true demand for high MPG cars by the public (like a constant >$5 gas price would create), not just 'gee, it would be nice if we didn't use so much oil', I think you would see businesses falling over themselves to meet that demand.

Not that they wouldn't stumble on occasion


But I still would place my bets on private enterprise in most cases. Sometimes regulatory oversight is needed.

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Old 08-12-2007, 01:08 PM   #13
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ERD50:

I think we agree on most of this stuff, as you said before. I too dislike incentives for purchasing Priuses and such. All it does is distort things and accomplishes little. Better to raise the gas tax enough to cover all some of the infrastructure costs that have been avoided for lo these many years.

And that's the crux of the problem as I see it. The only politicians that have been elected over the past decades are those who avoid the truth and get elected on half truths. That's what folks seem to want to hear--or . . . um . . . not hear. They don't want to listen to folks that drone on about long term costs for health care or social security or even about the bridge that needs some work. They want a quick and immediate tax cut fix or a touch of pork that they can feel in their pockets in a few months or sooner. So that's what it takes to get elected: highlighting the sort-term quick fixes and ignoring as much as possible long term obligations and repairs. Guess what the politicians start spouting, especially when they factor in their own self interest? Our Congress person from Minnesota is the one who just recommended the 5 cent increase in the gas tax. Our President just poo-pooed it. Short term thinking? Rule by the creation and management of short term crises (fear)?

To me, integrating the short term with the long term is the correct and conservative thing to do in almost all cases. An increased national gas tax--well developed and well spent--would be a PAYGO system, which I particularly like for just about all spending, especially gov't. (We would not have had a war if it was PAYGO; but if we did, I suspect a lot more folks would have been paying attention to the debate about it and less inclined to walk away from it today--if they had a vested or monetary interest in it.)

One might say that business oftentimes goes wrong for the very same underlying reasons as gov't. The CEOs of companies start thinking that just getting the stock price up enough so that a haul can be made on their options is a worthy goal for them and their immediate underlings. But that doesn't work out for long term shareholders (unless they too have insider info). So the CEOs sever off or veer from the long term in their quest for the immediate buck and self interest. Similar to many politicians, no?

That to me seems to be a strong factor in what I see as degenerating political and business systems over the past twenty-thirty years or so (and hopefully at the bottom right now). After WWII we built up an economic powerhouse in this country and, to my mind, our thinking as a country has sort of gradually decayed into self interest and short term thinking. (Look at the difficulty we have working across the aisle.) In fact, some of us worship at the feet Adam Smith. But we forget that even he thought government was very important as a way to prod business back on track, back to the integrating course of merging short term goals with long term ones, of finding a middle way inclusive of both sides. We may forget a crucial part of what he said.

I think an increase in fuel costs, a fuel tax, that closely reflects the true cost of operating our transportation system would have a profound and good effect on car mileage. All naturally and without gov't interference by an . . . um . . . smart gov't. (Is that an oxymoron?)

Have I missed any hot buttons? Oou-Oou: I stop and see a friend on my way to the grocery store about once a week. He is a devout Christian. We argue all the time. Two days ago we were arguing about taxes, attempting to find a middle ground that would allow us to agree. But for some reason we haven't as yet. Anyway, I left him with the following idea: What type tax system would God want? Or how would Jesus tax? The more I think about it, the more amusing it feels, given today's society and how we fight about things. Thanks. Have fun.
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Old 08-12-2007, 01:20 PM   #14
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greg, good observations in post #13.

I think the whole short term vs long term thinking comes down to something simple: education.

Schools focus on teaching 'stuff' - facts, figures, etc, but I don't think they invest enough time teaching critical thinking and analysis. That is what it really takes to understand the risk/reward of long/short term solutions.

If the general public was better at critical thinking and at analyzing information, I think they would push our govt into better policies.

One area I might disagree on - I'm not sure that it was any better X years ago. Maybe a slightly different set of problems, but overall I'm not convinced those were the 'good old days'.

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Old 08-12-2007, 05:51 PM   #15
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greg, good observations in post #13.

I think the whole short term vs long term thinking comes down to something simple: education.

Schools focus on teaching 'stuff' - facts, figures, etc, but I don't think they invest enough time teaching critical thinking and analysis. That is what it really takes to understand the risk/reward of long/short term solutions.

If the general public was better at critical thinking and at analyzing information, I think they would push our govt into better policies.

One area I might disagree on - I'm not sure that it was any better X years ago. Maybe a slightly different set of problems, but overall I'm not convinced those were the 'good old days'.

-ERD50

Here is the problem with you wanting long term thinking.... very few people are in power 'long term' anymore... I lost count in the number of managers that I have had in my life at about 30.... they 'move on'...

And the same at the top of the companies... they 'move on'... so they have to make a splash right away and get their bonus and cash out.. making a decision that will pay off in, oh, let's say 5 years will mean someone else gets the bonus and you get booted out...

From what it looks like in my mega corp (and I am in a BIG one).... very few decision are made that are over two years... they do not invest if there is not a payback in two years even if it is the 'right' decision... sad but true... and we are not different than any other company out there...
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:07 PM   #16
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Here is the problem with you wanting long term thinking.... very few people are in power 'long term' anymore...
All very true, but if the guy at the top is really in it for the long term, it doesn't matter so much if the people beneath him/her are or not. If the top dog sets the incentives for short-mid term goals based on long term needs, it can work. Even if an upper manager leaves after 5 years, if the work they did and were rewarded for helped to meet long term goals of the company, it will work out.

Of course, if the top dog is only in it for the short term, or is only responding to short term thinking shareholders, you get exactly what you are observing.

And maybe that gets back to my original education and critical thinking ideas. Maybe shareholders would be thinking more long term if they had better analysis skills? Maybe not.

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Old 08-13-2007, 10:02 AM   #17
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I would much rather see increased fuel tax than some govt legislation that makes all cars of a certain age/mpg bad or illegal.

The are a LOT of old cars out there that get poor mileage, my Chevelle being one of them, that get driven very very little. I'm happy to pay the "tax" of having to feed it, but I don't need a law telling me it's illegal to own it.

Good intentions need the correct process to bring out the intended consequences.
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:10 PM   #18
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Here's how the Brits are solving this problem... Seems fair to me.

London rolls out $50-a-day SUV tax
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...,5531900.story
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:29 PM   #19
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I would much rather see increased fuel tax than some govt legislation that makes all cars of a certain age/mpg bad or illegal.

The are a LOT of old cars out there that get poor mileage, my Chevelle being one of them, that get driven very very little. I'm happy to pay the "tax" of having to feed it, but I don't need a law telling me it's illegal to own it.

Good intentions need the correct process to bring out the intended consequences.
So, we should tax you on the extra gas you use AND the extra pollution that comes out the tailpipe
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Old 08-16-2007, 10:17 AM   #20
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So, we should tax you on the extra gas you use AND the extra pollution that comes out the tailpipe

Huh?

If I'm paying more tax for the fuel I'm burning, then it's a use tax, and I'm ok with that. I just don't want someone telling me I can't have the vehicle, because it's old, which doesn't necessarily mean it's a gross polluter that needs to be crushed and made into a new one.
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