Back in 2012, I wrote and article about how absurd Obama’s 54.5 mpg CAFE regulations were. You can see that article, which is still relevant, here. One of the things I mentioned in that article was how Jimmy Carter did a similar thing back in the 70’s but thankfully was repealed by the Regan administration. History seems to repeating itself because news came today that the Trump EPA is rolling back the totally insane Obama era plan.
While many concerned with the environment were heart broken with the news, I think the big picture is being missed. If you follow automotive developments, you might have seen the breathtaking advances recently in internal combustion engine technology. Nissan has developed a variable displacement turbo engine and Mazda is about to release their Skyactiv-X, which is a supercharged and compression-ignition capable. Both of these engine are amazing achievements and really stretch how many miles come out of a gallon of gas.
The problem is the cost of these amazing engines. Companies are investing millions into meeting the CAFE requirements which of course, will be passed on to the buyer. So whats the problem with this? The little guy. While middle class and the wealthy might not be very effected, those who are just scraping by are going to get hit with this the hardest.
So you might ask, “they will just have to get used cars”. Well, this is another problem. Today’s cars tend to last a very long time, and with the cars being more expensive, there is going to be less incentive to change cars as often. This means that when the cars are finally on the used market, they are going to be pretty used up. Furthermore, the complexity of these new engines is not going to lend themselves to easy repairs which is just going to make owning these cars past their prime an even more expensive endeavor.
Another response might be “IC engines are at the end of their life and full-electric is going to take over anyway”. While the zeitgeist would have us believe this, the reality doesn’t seem to be in support. Think of the the full-electric cars that are currently on the market then think of the ones that would be practical for you. Can you afford that car? The only car that comes to my mind with the distances I drive would be a Tesla Model S or X, and I would really be pushing the range limits of the car. I also cant afford those. While more companies are pursuing fully electric, I still believe that its not going to be the solution for the masses for the reasons I outlined in my previous article.
I want to protect the environment the best I can, but I’m also thinking of the impact of forcing extremely strict environmental regulations. I have some friends that are very well off and they have very left wing political views. I was surprised with their complete disregard for the impact on working-class families. I read a quote today from Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defence Fund where he said “No one in America is eager to buy a car that gets worse gas mileage”, I believe his comment highlights whats wrong with those supporting such strict measures; why does he think he can speak and force his view through lobbying on everyone? Is this moral? Not only this, he’s clearly not thinking of those scraping to get by.
What are we to do?