Killer cars: How mpg rules make cars less safe and less green


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  • tetrahedron Eustis, FL
    Feb. 2, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    In 1977, engineers at Shell wrote an interesting book titled 'Fuel Economy of the Gasoline Engine', published by John Wiley & Sons, New York. Most interesting of all is the information on page 221, stating that they had succeeded in achieving a fuel economy of 377 mpg in 1973, using a 1959 Opel.

    Perhaps it is time to revisit this lost knowledge.

    I'm sure that if we did, it would be possible to incorporate it into a car that is fairly resilient in the event of an accident.

  • BU52 Provo, ut
    Feb. 1, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    These "laws" about gas mileage remind me of Camelot, where it was decreed that it only snowed at night time, and the sun shone everyday. Good luck in enforcing legislation that goes against the laws of nature...or nature's God.

  • gau-8 Centerville, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 3:20 p.m.

    What the problem is we have a writer that has quoted a bunch of Lawyers that "know" something about cars. I believe the EPA's date is way too far off. There is absolutely no reason we can't meet the goal in 5 years. Cars won't have to be made of Carbon Fiber or other exotic materials and the vehicles will still meet the current safety standards and we can still have 8-12 passenger vehicles.

    First step is to use diesel engines (these engines are already in production for Europe) As an example the Porsche Cayenne with a diesel engine will get 33 mpg might not seem like much but this car weights over 6500 lbs (as much as a full size 3/4 truck)

    Second step is to make the cars lighter - solution aluminium (side affect - AL can safely absorb more energy than steel, hence a safer car)

    Third step is to decrease drag ie rolling resistance and aero.

    Sure there are other things that can be done, but these can be done in 5yrs or less.

    What we don't need is a bunch of naysayers, misleading the public. We have the best Engineers the Planet has ever seen!

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 31, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    this car looks like it's already been in a head on accident!!

  • vern001 Castle Rock, CO
    Jan. 31, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    For all those of you who are opposed to the new CAFE standards, hope you like the Utah air! Breathe in deeply! That's the smell of all those SUVs getting 12 mpg.

  • Capsaicin Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2013 3:52 a.m.

    We should go back to horse and buggy. A horse doesn't require all those pesky hydrocarbons.

  • chinookdoctor PASADENA, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 5:41 p.m.

    How interesting, now I've been in two nearly fatal car crashes in LA in my Toyota Prius. In both cases, I did not cause the accident and was hit by much larger, bigger, less fuel efficient SUVs. In both cases, my car saved my life. The whole front end was smashed in each collision and in the second accident, the heavier, less fuel efficient older model (read 1980s) SUV not only was totaled as well, it rolled and the driver was injured. Me? Well, I barely felt the impact and my airbags didn't even have to deploy. My car is fuel efficient, safe, elegant and fits the bill to bring us into the energy efficient future. Why are so many DN subscribers backwards politically, religiously, socially and apparently know nothing about science or what's going on in the lives of their neighbors. Maybe a Smart Car is not the icon of safety in a crash with a large SUV, but the majority of these fuel efficient cars are, just look at their crash ratings. I think that might be too hard though if all you can see is how much you hate liberals and Obama.

  • mattmo Gallatin, MO
    Jan. 30, 2013 5:18 p.m.

    I drove a Buick Le Sabre it got 28 mpg I buy Kia Spectra 5 it gets any where between 25mpg to 32mpg not ever consistent. So I figure I probably average 28mpg and give up a lot of room and the Buick is a heavy car. I don't see how we can't get better gas mileage in our big vehicles. Shoot we can even try putting little wind vanes all over our cars to generate electricity to power our cars at high speed. What ever happened to Brown gas? We have the technology why not use it? I really don't think we want to or those with all the money want us to think there is no way it will happen. Secret combinations I tell you, secret combinations the down fall of our Society as we know it.

  • Wyominguy Buffalo, WY
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    There is always a PRICE....
    Example...One Asian vehicle manufacturer has recently eliminated the spare tire to save weight thus get better mileage. You now get "run flat" tires on some models; these tires allow aprox 50 miles of use when flat and then must be replaced at a cost of close to $500.00 EACH!

    Example...Several Asian vehicle manufacturers REQUIRE high dollar motor oils such as 5w40 or 0w20, these oils double the cost of an oil change and do help attain a MARGINAL increase in mileage; however the savings DO NOT pay for the added cost of the oil.

    Example...One American manufacturer produces a vehicle that has a plastic underliner to provide better air flow thus better mileage...but when its damaged it DIMINISHES fuel mileage.

    They have become Desperate and your safety is in FACT in question

  • county mom Monroe, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    To those of you who believe the EPA and all of its regulations are for the "good" of the people why don't you look into all they are really doing?
    They are testing and continue to test what they are calling carsinagens and deadly pathogens on people. Inspite of court rulings to stop.
    They are lying about all their junk science and using it to increase regulations.
    Look into what they have actually been doing with your tax dollars.

    Why would any smart person get into one of these little "cars" and expect they can zig in and out of traffic without getting themselves killed?
    They do not consider that large cars, SUVs and semitractor trailers can not see them. If you are driving one of these you are taking a big risk with your life everytime you get in your gocart!
    Don't be self righteous about them either, the semis are paying for the lion share of your roads!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    Your know, it is easy to identify when someone has been doing their job way too long and their ideas become myopic. There are just so many problems with the arguments presented that it is hard to know where to start. The example of the steam engine and the rebound effect.... what the heck was the option.... stay with old inefficient technologies so that we don't have industrial progress? What is the parallel the author is proposing? We keep combustion engines inefficient so that we don't increase the amount we drive?

    The whole notion that we can't engineer better cars without compromising safety is crazy. My wife drives a diesel BMW SUV that averages in the mid to high 20s for mpg... and still does 0-60 in six seconds. It also happens to weigh 2 tons. To get that same performance in a gas engine you drop into the mid teens for MPG. I recently talked to a coworker who is driving a diesel Passatt to work - and is getting mid to upper 40s for his commute. Another drives a new ford Fusion hybrid.... mid 50 mpg as we'll. This is not eco-ness gone amuck.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    There will always be a demand for vehicles big enough to accomidate 4 or more adults in relative comfort. Theh auto industry is just responding to consumer demands. Not everyone wants to drive a cramped subcompact, no matter how fuel efficient. Andy Jaggy I question your facts. 10 mpg is pretty lame for today. My ranger 4x4 with the big V/6 gets near 20 on the hwy. I do feel the auto industry is over regulated. I am for all for safety,who isn't. Over 50 mpg for a light truck or suv, not realistic.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:21 p.m.

    Follow the money trail. With the Bush administration, it was big oil. With Obama, it's green energy. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss....

  • Wallbanger Spanish Fork, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    If you drive one of those Mr. Bean cars, watch out for me when I'm on my mountain bike. If we collide, you may be seriously injured or killed.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:54 p.m.

    How is this somehow the presidents' fault?

    BO PUSHED for the pie-in-the-sky CAFE ratings above 50, that's how.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    We need a "new technology" to end this gas mileage debate which forces automobile companies to make smaller and smaller dangerous vehicles.

    A better solution would be for the government to award 10 billion dollars to the first company that mass produces an electric car that can reach speeds of 75 mph, drives 400 miles and doesn't need to be recharged by the grid. An inexpensive car whose base model, sells for $25,000 or less. One that uses something along the lines of a Hydrogen Fuel cell. In exchange for the money, the resulting technology would be shared with the world.

    10 billion dollars would be a pittance in comparison to the rewards that our economy and the environment would reap.

    After all, within reasonable limits, who cares what size your vehicle is if you're not using gas to power it?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    "Industry will adapt and thrive just like it has before."

    Well, heck, then, let's raise the CAFE standards to 100 mpg. Industry will always be able to adapt and thrive, no matter what we throw at them.

  • JP Chandler, AZ
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    Why are we so concerned about energy efficiency? It's not like we're ever going to run out of fossil fuels, and if we do we can just wait a few million years and the earth will make some more for us. Nothing to worry about, right?

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:40 p.m.

    I did some research and found that the Ford F-250 Lariat is one of the worst mpg vehicles on the road. Getting an average of 10mpg. I am going to go buy one and drive it as a sign that I don't subscribe to those dang liberals and their left wing environmental agenda. After purchasing I will drive it to Chick-Fil-A to show my support for traditional marriage.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:14 p.m.

    I love how increased mpg is suddenly a liberal agenda. Some people need to come back to reality from their completely polarized world. Who doesn't want their cars to get better gas mileage? The new standard for 2025 seems a bit high and optimistic to me, but I agree with the general idea. Industry will adapt and thrive just like it has before.

    Also people aren't suddenly going to start driving twice as much just because their car get's twice the fuel efficiency. We all drive pretty much the same amount no matter what the cost of gasoline is. It varies a bit according to gas prices, but I would be surprised if it was more than 15%.

    I also agree with the above poster, maybe the problem is too many big cars, not too many small ones. That said the smart car as pictured in the article is a joke. Very unsafe and it doesn't even get that good of gas mileage for it's size.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Jan. 30, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    Did any of the negative posters even read this article? This was one person's conjecture on what might happen, something they are worried about. They even said it's hard to tell what will happen. One thing is for sure: No one is going to have to give up their SUV or truck for these small cars. But, hey, if we can get some whacks in there about Obama, even if they are frivilous, then let's do it. It's always funny when people have such knee-jerk reactions to an article written by pure conjecture!

  • Anti Government Alpine, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    Does this really surprise anyone?

    The environmental wingnuts even quietly admit the fact that it is environment first and people second.

    There are a myriad of other instances where the environmental lobby gets what they want at the peoples expense.

    Lefties sugarcoat all the realities behind their radical agenda so they can make it sellable to the generally uninformed public.

    Meanwhile we all pay for this radical agenda in one way or another.

  • JMHO Southern, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    It was earlier stated to "get real." What is real is when my wife an I take a trip we take our little car that gets 33 mpg. Since we take two people that is like a single passenger vehicle getting 66 mpg. When we take our family on a trip we take 5 people in a car that gets 22 mpg. That would be similar to a one passenger car getting 110 mpg. The real problem is that when the government gets involved, common sense gets thrown out the window on every issue. Look at how the current debates over health care, guns, the environment, etc. get tossed around by extreme views. Why can't we have some good common sense discussions?

    Jan. 30, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    My families safety is worth a lot more then a few dollars in gas savings. Build a full size Hybrid then may I'll think about it. Until that happens bigger is best. I see these small cars out on highways with semi's and construction vehicles....no thanks!

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    Jan. 30, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    Maybe we can do better with the right mix of vehicles for the right situations.
    Prior to airbags and catalytic converters there were vehicles that achieved good gas mileage.
    In 72 I had a Datsun 1200 (less than 75cu.in.) witha 4-speed manual and air conditioning.
    It seated 4 adults but not comfortably for more than two hours.
    I could drive 70mph and get 35mph if it was just the wife and I with a couple of suitcases.
    Something like that would be good today for basic transportation to and from work as well as short trips.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 1:25 p.m.

    "Obama has continually put a caveat on all his environmental policies that they are imperfect solutions."

    In math, another term for "imperfect solution" is "wrong answer."

    Liberal politicians seem to think that if you can make manufacturers improve fuel economy by 10 mpg, there's no reason you can't raise the ante another 10 mpg a decade later. While there's usually always room for some improvement, when you first address a problem, at some point, you run into diminishing returns. We picked most of the low-hanging fruit in the efficiency field years ago, and got some decent mileage out of more efficient engines, lighter, higher-tech (and more expensive) materials, and so forth.

    But at this point, we're running up against the basic laws of chemistry and Newtonian physics.

  • thatthatguy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    I'll try to respond, point by point.

    a) Safety is an issue. Getting hit by a big vehicle is bad. Maybe the problem is too many big cars, rather than too many little ones? It's a pointless debate, like arguing about whether we'd be safer if everyone had guns or if no one had guns. Pointless

    b) The Jevons study from 1865? That argument might hold if the limiting factor for people getting cars was the price of fuel. American drivers are rather price insensitive. We don't drive much less when the price of fuel goes up, nor much more when the price of fuel goes down. We aren't going to see twice as many cars on the road simply because average fuel efficiency doubles.

    c) Lithium batteries are expensive, and dirty to make. Absolutely. They are also a relatively young technology, and will inevitably get better. It's still easier to control point-source pollution like a mine or factory than it is to control pollution from a million cars.

    d) You can't fit two kids and a dog in a tiny car? Sedans and vans will still exist. Get real.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    How is this somehow the presidents' fault? Economy standards are becoming more stringent and manufacturers are following suit, not just because they have to but because it's what people want. If you think driving a big old tank of a car is more green and want to thumb your nose at the president, nobody is stopping you. In fact, I have a mid 70's grand marquis for sale if you want. But here's the deal. President Obama won the election. It's over and done. Do you really still need to be mad about it?

  • Star Bright Salt Lake City, Ut
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    Does it take a PHd to understand that if you get hit in one of 0bama's sweet little cars, you will die? They are so cute, who couldn't like them? But put them on the road right now in the snow and you don't have a chance and especially with a semi and you can hope your death benefits are not all taken by obama!
    Anyone with 1/4 brain knew what wld happen. This push, push by 0 has made his bundlers and friends wealthy and everyone else poorer by half. Please, if you don't believe me see all the green companies who have gone into bankruptcy and his friends are put in front of the tax payers.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Pushing standards of fuel efficiency will probably have some negative effects, but doing nothing will... do nothing. Obama has continually put a caveat on all his environmental policies that they are imperfect solutions. I think he takes the attitude that if he's going in the right direction, somewhere down the road they can go further in the right direction.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    Just one more example of how liberal ideas seldom deliver the panoply of benefits promised, but instead drive up costs, create myriad new problems, and destroy the proven benefits of freedom and the free market economy.

    But, anyone who survives a wreck in one of these rolling death traps DOES have the advantage of Obamacare to look forward to.