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Old 05-09-2006, 01:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Simple solutions........

Not sure where this should go, so mods please move if need be......

Suppose for a moment GM decides to make only cars that run on a 70% alcohol/30%Gas mixture ethanol, they make a deal with BP that BP/AMOCO will have pumps that distribute that mixture.

BP starts buying up the corn, and the facilities to make the mixture, GM is the only company that has this product available. Plus, GM comes up with a product that you can add on to older cars that will allow the transfer.

My feeling is that GM would make a killing, BP would see profits soar, the price of oil would drop faster than the Cavs are against the Pistons and every car company out there along with the Big Oil companies would be clamoring to get in on the game fast.

GM in the meantime would be making more cars and hiring more people, their factories would start at capacity again and the money we need in this economy would start being pumped back into it.

The way I see it, if this were to happen, it would create the best possible and longest lasting economical effect to happen to this nation in almost 50 years.

So the question is why are our car companies waiting, I have a feeling a Japanese or German car company is getting ready to do just this.
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Old 05-09-2006, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hmmm...

By volume, gasoline is still one of the absolute cheapest liquids one can buy. In light of the fact that ethanol is a new technology with virtually no existing infrastructure, I would be surprised if it could be made widely available for the same price as gasoline.

Secondly, what is the incentive for consumers to buy these new GM vehicles? The thought of saving the environment (see sales trends in hybrids)? The thought of reducing our dependency on foreign oil (see sales trends in hybrids)? The thought of saving money (see above)?

Basically, I don't think said mixture would be available at a competitive price with pure gasoline, let alone at a savings. I also don't see anyone changing their buying habits for the purpose of securing an alternative fuel vehicle.

My $0.02...
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Old 05-09-2006, 08:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have heard it said, and I am not sure on the exact numbers, but they are close enough, that in Brazil, all the cars run on ethanol, and gas is far less than a dollar a gallon. Here in the US ethanol costs about $13 a gallon give or take (I know it was in the teens) The reason it is so cheap in Brazil, is because the gas is made from the waste products from sugar cane, which is easier to turn into a usable fuel. We only have corn, which is a more costly process. And I am figuring, to import sugar cane into the US, would not make the price go down any. The only way to help with gas prices in my mind, is to have cars with better gas milage. More bang for the buck you might say. Hydrogen fuel cells are not going to help. It takes massive amounts of energy to produce hydrogen in the first place. Electric cars are in theory, coal burning cars, because that is how you get your electricity more often than not.

To address your original comments, which I failed to do till now, maybe it would work, but as with all things, nothing simple is ever easy.
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Old 05-09-2006, 08:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The problem with ethanol as fuel is that there is not nearly enough arable land in our country to both heat homes and fuel cars. If we were going to use an alternative fuel, the only logical way to do it is if it'll replace both transportation fuel and home electrics/heating.

Ethanol is not the answer, so long as it comes from corn. We don't do it now simply because it is not cost-effective. Companies will opt to spend less money now and more later almost all the time. It's the idea that placing foundations now is not cost effective until we HAVE to do it.

Look into biodiesel, it's a MUCH better alternative fuel that is completely renewable and greenhouse neutral.
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Old 05-09-2006, 08:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PredeconInferno
Look into biodiesel, it's a MUCH better alternative fuel that is completely renewable and greenhouse neutral.
I know, at least where I live in the United States, we're already undergoing a huge push towards biodiesel. Several cars in my community (50k people here) run exclusively on biodiesel, as do all of our busses in the local transportation network. More and more public transport systems are adding biodiesel to the mix of their fuels as it allows them to avoid paying more for the cost of regular diesel (biodiesel is fairly cheap and easy to get around here). I think, simply for ease of use and cost-effectiveness, biodiesel is more likely to take the lead in alternative fuels than ethanol. Of course, there's no discounting the corn lobby...I mean, after all, look how much HCFS is in everything we eat.
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Old 05-10-2006, 06:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PredeconInferno
The problem with ethanol as fuel is that there is not nearly enough arable land in our country to both heat homes and fuel cars. If we were going to use an alternative fuel, the only logical way to do it is if it'll replace both transportation fuel and home electrics/heating.
What if we divert all of the corn production that presently goes into high fructose corn syrup into ethanol production? That would kill two birds with one stone.
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Old 05-10-2006, 06:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well GM might make a killing, and BP might make a killing, and the corn farmers in the midwest would almost certainly make a killing, but the price of gas would skyrocket.

That's because now you'd have regular, midgrade, premium, E85, and now we're adding E70. Some of the gas that used to be in the regular, midgrade, and premium pumps is now going to be diverted to the E70 pumps. You're cutting the supply of gas. You still have to maintain a large supply of actual gasoline because you're not going to get all the people with 3 or more year old cars to convert. And since we're not increasing the gas supply, but we are increasing demand on that gas into yet another boutique fuel, we're making the price of that gas raise.

That added to the fact that high-ethanol gas has to be stored in special tanks, pumped with special pumps, and all sorts of special infrastructure has to be added at the refinery. The cost to do that will NOT be absorbed by the fuel industry, but by the fuel industry's customers. AKA the price rises even more.

We've already seen this happen with E85 (which BTW GM already makes vehicles that run on it, so they're already set to make the killing you talked about, just with a higher concentration of ethanol) - ethanol is causing gas prices to rise, not decrease.

Last edited by shakran; 05-10-2006 at 06:37 AM..
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
That's because now you'd have regular, midgrade, premium, E85, and now we're adding E70. Some of the gas that used to be in the regular, midgrade, and premium pumps is now going to be diverted to the E70 pumps. You're cutting the supply of gas. You still have to maintain a large supply of actual gasoline because you're not going to get all the people with 3 or more year old cars to convert. And since we're not increasing the gas supply, but we are increasing demand on that gas into yet another boutique fuel, we're making the price of that gas raise.
I don't think your point really follows logically. Especially the part about cutitng gas supply. There are going to be a finite number of cars and a finite amount of fuel pumped into them regardless of whether every car in the country ran on 87 Octane Unleaded or whether there were 20 types of petro. How does this change the bottom line supply? If there are 1000 people driving cars that take unleaded, and you have 87, 89 and 91 octane, then 200 of those people start driving on E85, and then another 50 start driving on E70, that's actually an INCREASE in petro supply compared to consumption because the E70 and E85 fuels use less actual petro.
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Redlemon
What if we divert all of the corn production that presently goes into high fructose corn syrup into ethanol production? That would kill two birds with one stone.
Yes, pretty please!! This makes complete sense to me.
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xepherys
I don't think your point really follows logically. Especially the part about cutitng gas supply. There are going to be a finite number of cars and a finite amount of fuel pumped into them regardless of whether every car in the country ran on 87 Octane Unleaded or whether there were 20 types of petro. How does this change the bottom line supply? If there are 1000 people driving cars that take unleaded, and you have 87, 89 and 91 octane, then 200 of those people start driving on E85, and then another 50 start driving on E70, that's actually an INCREASE in petro supply compared to consumption because the E70 and E85 fuels use less actual petro.
There's also a finite amount of pumps and tanks that are available. It's not like shelf space at the market where one can easily introduce a new bag of potato chip. There are guidelines to tanks at filling stations.
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Old 05-10-2006, 10:12 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
There's also a finite amount of pumps and tanks that are available. It's not like shelf space at the market where one can easily introduce a new bag of potato chip. There are guidelines to tanks at filling stations.
Yes, but it fuel could easily be (and I believe already is) mixed at the pump. So you put in an extra tank for ethanol, takes about 2 months at a busy station, and now you blend the fuel as it's pumped. *shrug* It's not a terribly difficult problem to solve.
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Old 05-10-2006, 10:30 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by xepherys
Yes, but it fuel could easily be (and I believe already is) mixed at the pump. So you put in an extra tank for ethanol, takes about 2 months at a busy station, and now you blend the fuel as it's pumped. *shrug* It's not a terribly difficult problem to solve.
because you aren't the gas station owner. the owners already don't make that much after paying all the franchise costs and fees.

telling them they have to put in another tank will cut into their profits.
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Old 05-10-2006, 07:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It seems to me a reasonably well founded argument that it's too expensive to make ethanol from corn. But using other bio sources might be feasible, such as switch grass (as mentioned by our Pres in SOTU) which grows abundantly all over the U.S. and even though GW said it it seems well supported by other expert opinion, such as this NPR commentary: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=5183608

Also, if you look down that page, you'll see another opinion against jumping on the bio-fuels bandwagon.

I'm still on a fence about both issues since I haven't heard or read enough debate from varied sources, and when I feel bad about expensive gasoline, I calculate that a 12oz mug of nice cold beer at $1.50 (a pretty reasonable price) amounts to $16/gallon and I'm sure not giving up cold beer.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The conversion of corn into ethanol is not energy efficient. It takes more energy to produce it than the ethanol will provide. Brazil uses sugar cane which is energy efficient. At this point, ethanol production in the US is a bit of a scam. Remove the governmental subsidies and no one could afford it.

There are some threads on TFP that goes in to this much more in detail. Good reading, search for them.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by xepherys
Yes, but it fuel could easily be (and I believe already is) mixed at the pump. So you put in an extra tank for ethanol, takes about 2 months at a busy station, and now you blend the fuel as it's pumped. *shrug* It's not a terribly difficult problem to solve.
i don't believe ethanol is mixed at the pump. a pump simply pumps what is in the underground tank. to put pumps that "mix" gasoline with ethanol would be a whole different world of regulational nightmares....the station owners would be accountable for the mixture of fuel...as if they don't have enough things to deal with.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:21 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I love the idea of exploring alternative fuels. While ethanol, biodiesel, etc. are still not as efficient as fossil fuels, they will soon have to do. What we should do is explore the possibilities of the alternates now, before it's an emergency. Ethenol currently has a 1:5 ratio of how much energy is created for how much is used to creat it, butt that could chance if we can find more efficient ways to preocess the bio material. The same is true of biodiesel (I'm thinking of getting a diesel car for just this reason). Most diesel vehicles will run pretty well on biodiesel, vegtable oil, and other biofuels with little or no modification. I have an orange tree, grape vine, lemon tree, tamato bushes, and an olive tree in my back yard. I have to wonder if it's possible for me to use the oils from the fruits of these plants to drive to work. A friend of mine gets about 30 MPG using biodiesel in his 80's Mercedes.

If one of the petrol corporations were to seriously invest in alternative fuel technologies, they are guerenteed amazing profits in the next few years. Even beefore the peak of oil production, alternative fuels are only going to get more popular.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:34 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
I love the idea of exploring alternative fuels. While ethanol, biodiesel, etc. are still not as efficient as fossil fuels, they will soon have to do. What we should do is explore the possibilities of the alternates now, before it's an emergency. Ethenol currently has a 1:5 ratio of how much energy is created for how much is used to creat it, butt that could chance if we can find more efficient ways to preocess the bio material. The same is true of biodiesel (I'm thinking of getting a diesel car for just this reason). Most diesel vehicles will run pretty well on biodiesel, vegtable oil, and other biofuels with little or no modification. I have an orange tree, grape vine, lemon tree, tamato bushes, and an olive tree in my back yard. I have to wonder if it's possible for me to use the oils from the fruits of these plants to drive to work. A friend of mine gets about 30 MPG using biodiesel in his 80's Mercedes.
Actually, biodiesel yields a much better energy output than fossil fuels do. The main reson is because they get their energy from the sun rather than us having to drill and transport it.

You're right about the fact that it does work in current diesel engines, but not to the degree of how well they work. Biodiesel actually works BETTER than petrodiesel does. The main reason for this is it burns much cleaner than petrodiesel. Biodiesel is not plagued with long hydrocarbon chains like petrodiesel is which allows the fuel to burn faster and cleaner. The particulate matter from biodiesel is MUCH less than that for petrodiesel meaning it's much better for the environment. For example, there is no nitrogen in biodiesel so no NOx compounds will be emitted (they have a huge effect on global warming). As for engine modifications, I don't remember the exact date, but I believe that diesel engines post 1997 can use biodiesel without any modifications. Before this time, the fuel will effect gaskets and hoses in the engine making them expand and leak... it's a simple matter of changing materials and doesn't cost much. Engines running biodiesel have a tendancy to unclog from previos petrodiesel uses... meaning the engine life is usually lengthened.

Your plants that you've been growing could, potentially, be used for biodiesel. However, it's much easier, and more efficient, if you simply paid a local McDonald's for their waste vegitable oil. You can find a myriad of websites that outilne and explain cheap ways of making biodiesel. If you are serious about switching to biodiesel there are also small batch processors that can be bought (they make somewhere between 20 and 70 gallons and cost somewhere between a few hundred to 20k).

In summary... this shit is the bomb.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Oh, one other thing:

If you combined corn crops with soy crops, their yields, unfortunately are comperable. These two crops yield somewhere between 20 and 50 gallons of biodiesel per hectare... when doing the math there simply is not enough arable land in the US to suit our needs.

Recently, experiments have been done on algae that show these can produce up to 20,000 gallons of biodiesel per hectare... a staggering number. If we could use algea, it would take less than a tenth of a percent (I believe that is the number) of the US's land to replace gas in cars and to heat homes.

Even better, algae grow best in areas of high solar irradiation... meaning deserts... places of extremely low real estate value.

It's quite fascinating stuff, really.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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PredeconInferno...you remind me eerily of my boyfriend.

Are there two of you?!
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Two of me.... God I hope not.
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Old 05-11-2006, 04:39 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xepherys
I don't think your point really follows logically. Especially the part about cutitng gas supply. There are going to be a finite number of cars and a finite amount of fuel pumped into them regardless of whether every car in the country ran on 87 Octane Unleaded or whether there were 20 types of petro. How does this change the bottom line supply? If there are 1000 people driving cars that take unleaded, and you have 87, 89 and 91 octane, then 200 of those people start driving on E85, and then another 50 start driving on E70, that's actually an INCREASE in petro supply compared to consumption because the E70 and E85 fuels use less actual petro.

Yeah, I see where you're coming from, but in practice it just hasn't worked that way. E85's already here, and it certainly hasn't *lowered* gas prices. E10 is also very common, especially in the midwest, and that, too, hasn't done anything to lower prices. In fact, recent studies have shown that ethanol has raised gas prices because of the abovementioned infrastructure issues.

Here's the core problem: First off ethanol is expensive to make. If it weren't for government subsidies, such as the federal blend credit which takes off 50 cents in gas tax per gallon of ethanol, then ethanol and ethanol-blend gasolines would be MORE expensive than regular gas. We might lower the price of a barrel of oil due to slightly reduced demand, but we'd end up paying more anyway because of the higher cost of production for ethanol.

Second, let's say GM starts making these new E70 cars (dunno why they would since their flex-fuel vehicles already take E85 OR regular gas. That indicates they'd work on E70 as well). Not enough people will buy them to make a sizeable difference in the fuel supply - in other words, most cars on the road will still be gasoline-users. BUT we have to have the infrastructure in place to support the E70 cars anyway, so we have to divert gas, which could be fueling the regular cars, to instead sit largely unused in the E70 pumps.

This theory is verified by looking at the history of E85 pumps. When it first came out, lots of gas stations in the midwest installed E85 pumps. Now many of those stations have emptied the E85 and refilled the tanks with regular gas because the E85 just wasn't selling.

Now more, especially in Iowa, are reinstalling the E85 pumps, but that's largely because the state government is strongarming the fuel industry to do so so that all the new corn-ethanol plants they've been building all over the place have somewhere to ship their fuel. Great news for the farmers, who have yet another place to sell the corn they shouldn't be growing in the first place, but not such great news for the motoring public.
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:02 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I think you guys are approaching this in an odd way.

The goal should not be to lower fuel costs. The goal should be to become more fuel efficient so you need to use less of it.
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:24 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I think you guys are approaching this in an odd way.

The goal should not be to lower fuel costs. The goal should be to become more fuel efficient so you need to use less of it.
right the gas crisis of the 70's touted that we'd be depleting all the resources in 20 years, but that didn't take into account that gas mileage would quadruple.

Push for better CAFE standards, push for better fuel efficiency.
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
I think you guys are approaching this in an odd way.

The goal should not be to lower fuel costs. The goal should be to become more fuel efficient so you need to use less of it.

Ding! Charlatan wins it. If only those who NEEDED SUV's/trucks bought them, we'd be in much better shape.
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:33 AM   #25 (permalink)
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The sad thing is we do have better efficiency. We have just plowed that efficiency into bigger vehicles.

It isn't just cars that are doing this. Another example is house efficiency. We can make housing heating and cooling efficient. Windows have become vastly more efficient than they have been historically. But what do we do instead of realizing this efficiency? We make the windows bigger so they end up having the same efficiency as 20 years ago, just bigger.

We also have made our house much, much larger and therefore more expensive to heat and cool.

It is just back ass way of thinking. But of course, all of this bigger is better consumption reflects positively on our GDP (our measure of productivity) while we continue to pollute and consume limited resources...
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:39 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Charlatan
The sad thing is we do have better efficiency. We have just plowed that efficiency into bigger vehicles.

It isn't just cars that are doing this. Another example is house efficiency. We can make housing heating and cooling efficient. Windows have become vastly more efficient than they have been historically. But what do we do instead of realizing this efficiency? We make the windows bigger so they end up having the same efficiency as 20 years ago, just bigger.

We also have made our house much, much larger and therefore more expensive to heat and cool.

It is just back ass way of thinking. But of course, all of this bigger is better consumption reflects positively on our GDP (our measure of productivity) while we continue to pollute and consume limited resources...
actually the light truck CAFE standard which is where the SUV fits doesn't have increased efficiency in the same percentage as the cars. Light trucks have only had to increase in mileage 5MPG in the past 20 years.

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For what years and at what levels have the passenger car CAFE standards been set?
To meet the goal of doubling the 1974 passenger car fuel economy average by 1985 (to 27.5 mpg), Congress set fuel economy standards for some of the intervening years. Passenger car standards were established for MY 1978 (18 mpg); MY 1979 (19 mpg); MY 1980 (20 mpg); and for MY 1985 and thereafter (27.5 mpg). Congress left the level of 1981-84 standards to the Department to establish administratively. Subsequently, standards of 22, 24, 26, and 27 mpg were established. For the post-1985 period, Congress provided for the continued application of the 27.5 mpg standard for passenger cars, but gave the Department the authority to set higher or lower standards. From MY 1986 through 1989, the passenger car standards were lowered. Thereafter, in MY 1990, the passenger car standard was amended to 27.5 mpg, which it has remained at this level.



For what years and at what levels have the light truck CAFE standards been set?
Congress did not specify a target for the improvement of light truck fuel economy. Instead, it provided that light truck standards be set at the maximum feasible level for model year 1979 and each model year thereafter. Unlike for the passenger car fleet, there is no default standard established for light trucks. NHTSA must set the standard for each model future model year. Light truck fuel economy standards have been established by NHTSA for MY 1979 through MY 2007.

Light truck fuel economy requirements were first established for MY 1979 (17.2 mpg for 2-wheel drive models; 15.8 mpg for 4-wheel drive). Standards for MY 1979 light trucks were established for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,000 pounds or less. Standards for MY 1980 and beyond are for light trucks with a GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less. The light truck standard progressively increased from MY 1979 to 20.7 mpg and 19.1 mpg, respectively, by MY 1991. From MY 1982 through 1991, manufacturers were allowed to comply by either combining 2- and 4-wheel drive fleets or calculating their fuel economy separately. In MY 1992, the 2- and 4-wheel drive fleet distinction was eliminated, and fleets were required to meet a standard of 20.2 mpg. The standard progressively increased until 1996, when the Appropriations prohibition froze the requirement at 20.7 mpg. The freeze was lifted by Congress on December 18, 2001. On March 31, 2003, NHTSA issued new light truck standards, setting a standard of 21.0 mpg for MY 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007.
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:58 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
actually the light truck CAFE standard which is where the SUV fits doesn't have increased efficiency in the same percentage as the cars. Light trucks have only had to increase in mileage 5MPG in the past 20 years.

I think what he's saying is that engines are universally more efficient. While it used to take 10 cylinders and a 5, 6 , or even 7 liter engine to make 40 hp we can now make 240+ with a 2 liter 4 cylinder. But instead of applying those advances to making efficient cars, we've just taken the increased power we can make and put 'em in the same old bigassed engines so that we have even MORE absurdly powerful vehicles. The average person does NOT need a 5.7 liter hemi to move his Cherokee.
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