Thursday, March 27, 2008

Highest Mileage Cars : 80MPG+!!

You read that correctly - production cars that get 80+ MPG. Yes, EIGHTY MILES PER GALLON. They exist! But, it seems that we (here in the United States) keep having to hear from the major auto makers that "we just can't build cars that get more than 30MPG" and along that line of thinking).

Oh, did I mention these are MAINSTREAM BRAND-NAME automobiles from Volkswagen and Mini too? I so want one of these 80MPG Mini-Coopers... or, heck, I'll even settle for the 80MPG VW Polo!

Combined miles-per-gallon in excess of 70MPG! Oh how I want one!

Even with both of these vehicles being Diesel powered (vs. gasoline), and with Diesel currently being more expensive here in the United States than gas, with those numbers, who cares!? EIGHTY-EIGHT HIGHWAY MPG for the little VW! Wow!

Now, here's the catch: this is for the UK (United Kingdom) / European market. Sorry, you can't get one of these in the United States, for various reasons. First, they supposedly don't meet our emissions standards (though, you can sit on the highway and watch as many emission-EXEMPT semis, tractor-trailor rigs, buses, and other "exempt" vehicles spewing a choking black diesel smoke all the time, and THAT is "ok"?)

I was in the UK in the sumer of 2007, and I had a chance to drive a rental car that was made by a subdivision of GM - and it achieved 45MPG average, in a mid-size vehicle, and while burning gasoline. But yet, I have no chance of getting such a car here in the USA. This really, really miffs me when gas is in excess of $3.00/gallon, and $4.00 or $5.00 per gallon gasoline seems like it is just on the horizon... especially thanks to price-fixing essentially, where refiners have learned that by simply lowering their output, they can hit record per-gallon gas prices -- today's report showed how refinery utilization here was at something like 81% now... or, barely above post-Katrina (hurricane) levels. Supply/Demand curves mean nothing when nobody is willing to actually COMPETE!

We hear all the time how we "need more refineries", yet as consumers actually started using less fuel, and refiners saw margins falling, they simply cut capacity. And, at a mere 81% of capacity, we have a fair amount of "slack" in the system - should anyone decide to actually put it to use. I call this all price manipulation one way or the other. In a truly free market economy, with ample competition, SOMEBODY would sell fuel even at "thin margins" because they would have an opportunity to gain market share. Not here. Not now. There isn't enough competition left. I heard some bonehead on NBR (Nightly Business Report) talk about how if we had a recession, that prices would fall -- well, again that logic depends on supply-demand curves meaning something, and as demonstrated lately, even when demand falls, it just doesn't matter, since refiners simply adjust supply downward to keep prices up.

Fact is, the American consumer has little choice but to pay high prices for gasoline (and yes, I realize it is MUCH lower here than in Europe), while not getting the choice in high-mileage vehicles that Europe has. Auto companies claim they can't make them, or that nobody would buy them, etc. etc.... and, I really don't think oil companies want any downward spiral in consumption to ever have a chance to take hold. I'm also not kidding myself either: most people, even given the choice of a high-mileage tiny vehicle would still rather have the sportier, higher horsepower, fancier, ritzier, trendier, etc. etc. vehicle at their disposal, and would be willing to pay for the fuel it requires.

But, some of us would really really love to have a little commuter-car that gets 80MPG... or even 70MPG... or 60MPG... or 50MPG. And, you give me the option of something as stylish as a Mini-Cooper that gets 80+MPG highway (and 60MPG City), and I am in line IMMEDIATELY to buy one! It'd be a no-brainer from a gas-savings / payback standpoint. But, thanks to our government, various corporate interests, and all sorts of other junk, I will not get that opportunity, and instead will be forced to drive something much less efficient (perhaps that is a good thing, since lately I rarely drive anywhere!). But, I want the CHOICE to purchase a super-high-mileage car here if I want to.

Note: there are some nice electric vehicle options on the horizon, though I really doubt they'll ever materialize either, and if/when they do, I GUARANTEE electric rates will soar - and, most electricity will be from COAL or oil or natural-gas burning anyhow, thanks to lobbying efforts by those industries. If solar and wind-power generated electricity can be used to "fuel" these future electric vehicles, I'm all for it. Otherwise, forget it.

1 comment:

Lars Olson said...

I'd like to mathematically calculate or see someone calculate how much energy is in a gallon or litre of gasoline, to calculate the miles per gallon you could get if we lived in a perfect world (no friction).

I've seen some green fuel economy videos who mention some old carb technology was supposedly silenced by corporations (conspiracy theory) and they say you can get 1000mpg. However there is only so much energy available in one liter of gasoline. Is 150MPG possible if there was no friction? if so, then subtract a bit of friction from 150MPG, and you can never get 1000MPG. But if only 85MPG is possible in a frictionless environment then we have to subtract a few mpg from that and we get about 80MPG.

In other words, I need a maximum miles per gallon figure to work with in order to dispute any claims of getting 1000MPG. There are some people that say you could get 1000MPG, but these people need to be corrected by doing some simple math to see how much energy is available in one litre of gasoline. If the maximum is around 85-95MPG then the mini and vw are getting close to the absolute best technology there is. Or can they develop a car that gets 140MPG? depends on how much energy is available in one litre of gasoline, which remains constant. Someone needs to publish the maximum possible MPG by doing simple math...