reply to post by john doh
Mr John Doh, I like your definition that MPG is a recycling issue! That is of course, the bottom line as we like to put it. Perhaps you don’t
recall, but the recent history of the auto industry illustrates what could be done if we had national leadership that wanted to go in that direction.
By the late 1950s, long before we knew or cared what the words “environment,” “global warming” or “climate change” really meant, the
American automobile had came to symbolize both personal success and our love of personal mobility.
Until the 1950s, most American car makes were powered by 6 cylinder 3.5 to 4 liter flat head engines (side valves) of 6 or 6.5 to 1 compression
ratios. Ford's V8s and Chevy's OHV excepted. Gasoline was 60-70 octane and that was reached by adding hefty doses of LEAD. When Phillips Petroleum
began to use the nome de plume, “Phillips 66,” that was its octane rating they were boasting!
Then we indulged the horsepower race. It got so bad most auto writers said horsepower ratings came out of the advertising department and not out the
engineering department. Slowly we paid attention to a few imports from Germany that used the DIN horsepower rating method versus our own SAE method
by then considered unreliable. 70 horsepower in Germany was as “strong” as 100 horsepower in America.
By the 1970s, with the completion of 90% of our interstate highway system, Cadillac proudly came out with its largest ever engine first used in the El
Dorado models but later installed across the board. A cast iron V8 behemoth of 500 cubic inch displacement - 8.2 liters in Euro speak. Neither Ford
nor Chrysler ever matched it. It is still “King of the Hill” so to speak. Our most excessive excess. Ford came in second with its 460 cubic inches
or 7.5 liters. Chrysler trailed with its own 440 cubic inches or 7.2 liters. All the other GM car lines topped out with 455 (Chevy 454) cubic inches.
Compression ratios were pushing 11 to 1 and a few touched 12. 100+ octane gasoline was offered by Amoco - the marketing brand owned by Standard Oil
of Indiana. Those were the halcyon days of big engines, big cars, big roads and cheap gasoline! God Bless America! Land of the Free and Home of the
A new word - acronym - made up of “smoke” and “fog.” By the 1970s it had become a real health and safety issue in too many
American cities. We had “smog alerts” and “smog days” when driving was restricted. We had a hint of what was to come when the Federal
government required catalytic converters, exhaust gas returns - EGR - and positive crankcase ventilation - PCV - on our cars so that noxious fumes
formerly vented into the atmosphere were now returned to the engine for more complete burring before going out the exhaust pipe where the catalytic
converters cut the CO output significantly. But we were still ignoring CO2.
A sea change. The Yom Kippur War.
The early 1970s. Egypt invaded its own Sinai Peninsula captured earlier by Israel in 1967. For the first
time, Israel’s much vaunted intel service, the Mossad, had failed to warn Israeli leaders of Egyptian intentions. It was 2 weeks before Israel
could respond militarily. Finally Israel began to turn back the Egyptian Army and the Arab states in the Middle East invented OPEC
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Who says wars do not have long term consequences?
In order to put pressure on the US, then as now Israel’s chief supporter, OPEC declared an oil exporting embargo. It was in 1973 running over into
1974 when Americans for the only time after World War Two, we lined up for gasoline. We did not like it then and we would not like it now. You can
put it down the memory of those gasoline shortages (and out of sight prices) were most likely the cause behind Jimmy Carter's upsetting of Gerald
Ford for the 1976 presidency. Or at least equal in effect to Ford's controversial pardon of President Nixon.
It had been in the 1960s when the United States, once a major oil exporting country, saw its domestic demand exceed it own production
capacity. We had become a NET oil importer. The Peak Oil theory in real life. For example, in 2007, we use about 20 mbd. Million barrels per day.
Domestically we produce less than 7 mbd so that we must import 13+ mbd.
Realizing how vulnerable America was to foreign oil producers, Congress tried to provide us with some protection by instituting the CAFÉ
Corporate Average Fuel Economy. In the 1970s car buyers were willing to accept 8-12 mpg on their 5,000 pounds Buick Roadmaster Limited sedans. A 455
cubic inch - 7.4 liters - engine of 375 hp, gave 0-60 times in the higher single digits, 8 or 9 seconds. Top speed was not the objective, but the cars
would often run 120-130 mph. BUT car tires were made for 90 mph.
At first the CAFÉ was set at 22 mpg and car manufacturers were allowed 6 years to reach that modest goal. Some people had always bought cars for
economy but the accessory loaded, glitzy models were where the big profits were to be made. There was never any concerted effort by car companies to
sell more economical cars. Volkswagen excepted.
During the 1980s, American cars were DOWNSIZED and almost all the mid-line models came with a 4 cylinder option. 2.1 to 2.4 liters. But who wants to
buy an expensive fully loaded 4 door sedan powered by an engine barely capable of 0-60 in the high teens and topping out at about 80 mph? Assuming a
favorable wind. Even if it does get 23-25 mpg?
As the memory of the embargo faded, and gas prices fell so did the desire to have a car
featuring good gas mileage, especially it meant buying a smaller car.
The mid 1980s showed what we can do, what we could do again if we either wanted to or had governmental programs and leaders who encouraged such
pro-green decisions by car buyers. But we have neither. In fact, the 1990s witnessed the most outrageous expansion of big size, big engine, and fast
cars - 0 to 60 under 10 seconds de rigueur - and top speed around 130 mph - ever in the history of man, for sure since the invention of the 2 horse
The CAFÉ ought to be raised at once to 30 mpg, and made applicable across the corporate line. It should then be raised in predetermined steps until
it is at 50 mpg. When that happens you will know your government is serious about green house gasses. Global warming. Climate change. Environmental
conservation. Before then however, it is all “smoke and mirrors.” Enjoy!
[edit on 9/7/2007 by donwhite]