Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pop Quiz:

Which is the most important factor in determining a vehicle's average fuel economy?

  1. Final drive ratio.
  2. Aerodynamics.
  3. Rolling resistance.
  4. The powerplant's thermal efficiency.
  5. Pixie droppings and unicorn farts.

Next week Barack is going to cut down on inefficiency in scientific research by declaring pi to be 3 instead of 3.141592653 et cetera, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of decimal places every year.


ExurbanKevin said...

I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid. I get 40 mpg with it.

That's the mid-range target for gas mileage six years from now.

I've seen the future, and it looks like a Chevy Vega.

og said...

I cannot get the most intelligent people I know to understand that there is a threshold of fuel economy which cannot be argued with a la the laws of thermodynamics. "Well, they'll just have to do better now" No, they won't. They can't.

Welcome to the world of the Pinto and the Vega and ultra-shitty subcompact crap, writ anew.

Anonymous said...

"Which is the most important factor in determining a vehicle's average fuel economy?"

None of the above.

The correct answer is:

The price of gas.

Alcibiades said...

I wonder if anyone's told him that fuel economy isn't the same as efficiency? Motorcycles consume relatively little fuel, but they typically carry only one person...

Rabbit said...

Mandating the automakers build Trabants and Ladas, albeit Trabants that reach such lofty mileage figures will result in more traffic fatalities per year. Search Gooble or YuToob (or whatever- I ain't helping them get wild hits) for Smart car vs. Toyota crash videos. Not survivable at 40mph.

One individual I know and trust as an industry analyst tells that automakers are already gearing up (again) to increase production of well-appointed 3/4 ton and larger trucks because they'll still be exempt from CAFE in the future. Moms are not going to drive Trabants if Junior's safety is an issue.

The GM plant here that builds Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons (they still make those?) and pickups is taking the shortest shutdown of any plant this spring. The only way I see the new Government Motors not building SUVs en masse is if they turn the inside into a delivery-truck bare example. In that case, the conversion van companies will be back in business.


theirritablearchitect said...

Let me rip out all of the unnecessary bullshit from most any modern car and I'll show you some significant gains in mileage.

I'd start with all of the ridiculous airbags, anti-lock brakes and side impact bracing and quickly move to the utterly useless sat-nav and entertainment systems that have infested the auto industry of recent years.

Mandates have driven the possibility of ever producing the 1985 Honda CRX, or something along that lineage, to zero.

I'd also give a few pointers to the faux green crowd driving their Priuses (Prii?...ah, who gives a fuck?) at 90mph on the interstate; they are indeed exceeding the design parameters of efficiency with the system, and if they'd pay attention, they are probably getting little better from it than the poseur in the other lane doing 70 in his Escalade.

Instead, the morons cheer about how Barry is 'fixing it with the stroke of a pen' nonsense.

The stooopid has attained viral proportions, and gone to phase 6.

rickn8or said...

You don't expect a little thing like the laws of physics to stop The Lightbringer now do you?

"So let it be written; so let it be done!"

I guess I'd better start pricing crate motors; looks like The Jimmy has to soldier on a little longer than planned...

TJP said...

So what happens if the auto industry doesn't comply? What is the fe'ral gov't going to do, wreck the auto industry so bad that dealerships have to close and tens of thousands of people lose their jobs?

Anonymous said...

This isn't about MPG, and it isn't about being green: it's about raising taxes. Take a look at http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/guzzler/.

Mercedes-Benz has an entire page on the list of cars that have the gas guzzler tax added to their purchase price. GM, assuming they stay in business, will continue to make 6L V-8 Vettes.

Your favorite car company doesn't have to meet the CAFE requirements -- you just have to pay the gas guzzler tax when they don't.

Smoking rubber, just like smoking cigs, is getting more expensive. Quit whining and deal with it.

Somerled said...

All this change--Obama waving his wand and "fixing" entire industries--is making me think our Prez is a Chinese plant.

Larry said...

"Next week Barack is going to cut down on inefficiency in scientific research by declaring pi to be 3 instead of 3.141592653 et cetera, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of decimal places every year."

So can we call him "Bloody Stupid" Johnson then?

Tam said...

"Quit whining and deal with it."

Pardon me, but you obviously know dick-all about the auto business.

The EPA gas-guzzler tax and Corporate Average Fuel Economy are two different things. You don't get to buy your way out of CAFE with fines.

Mercedes-Benz is not affected by CAFE, as they are not a domestic manufacturer.

crankylitprof said...

Trabants and Tatas for everyone! We can cure the overpopulation problem via traffic fatalities!

Hell, we can cure the shortage of donated organs and traffic jams at the same time!


Every single day, I think I've plumbed the depths of my disgust and absolute dislike for our new Unicorn Wrangler....and every single day, I wake up to discover new lows.

JimB said...

You make a good point Tam. I guess when GM , Ford and Chrysler finally figure that out they'll all reorganize off shore and build all their cars out of the US too. save them on taxes and regulations.

B.S. philosopher said...

Hey! It's 1972 all over again!

GM Ford and Chrysler all are building fast musclecars and the FedGov just snipped their cojones off.

Some lunatics in the East are threatening to cut off our supply of oil.

Israel faces an existential threat to it's existence from an insane country and the US is playing footsie.

What was it that Marx said?

"History repeats itself. First as a tragedy then as a farce."

Anonymous said...

"You make a good point Tam. I guess when GM , Ford and Chrysler finally figure that out they'll all reorganize off shore and build all their cars out of the US too. save them on taxes and regulations."

The Big 3 should have left the USA 20 years ago, but only after blowing up their factories.

Shootin' Buddy

Earl said...

This technical stuff is way above my level, but I was inflamed by the statement "The White House orders the Automobile Industry..." yeah, the KING was tossed out in the Eighteenth Century, and the Media has crowned another?

reflectoscope said...

Somerled - I agree, maybe he'd have the grace to go sit by the window and photosynthesize for a while rather than mess up the country more.

Cars have improved notably in some ways in the last thirty years, multi-point fuel injection and more transmission ratios being the high points. I'm glad I got my cars when I did; it sounds like the new ones are going to be less interesting indeed.


the pawnbroker said...

but...i'm afraid a salient point has been missed: as i said here


the bobo regime has positioned itself as ceo of these state-owned corporations; there will be no moving offshore, there will be no skirting of the edicts...there will only be...silence. the point of "bailing out" and assuming control of these companies is not to save them, but to bury them.

same thing with the financial system of course...the edict yesterday re credit cards is not to protect the people, but to drive credit issuers out of business thereby removing financial power from the people.

no money, no transportation, no guns, no choices; now the bobo's have got you where they want you. it's about control.

am i paranoid? uh, yeah.


wv: surea...yeah, it is surreal...

CGHill said...

"You don't get to buy your way out of CAFE with fines. Mercedes-Benz is not affected by CAFE, as they are not a domestic manufacturer."Actually, there are fines to be paid - $5.50 per vehicle per 0.1 mpg shortfall. About three-quarters of a billion so far.


Of course, we all know who really pays the fine: it ain't the guys who build the cars with the three-pointed stars.

Tam said...

Well, I stand humbled and apologize to Anon 1:36.

While he's still confusing the guzzler tax and CAFE, it's apparent that I didn't know dick-all about the subject myself.

Ken said...

Time to resume the quest for the cherry '71 Duster with the 225CID slant 6 and Torqueflite tranny (not that I like sludge pumps, but Torqueflites were built like Mosin-Nagants).

I had a decidedly uncherry one, back in the day, but I liked it because it had only four moving parts, and you could get by with three of 'em, in a pinch.

Tam said...

Considering the abuse I've heaped on a 727 with a four-barrel 340 and all the fine judgement of a 19 year old, I'm not sure it's even possible to hurt a TorqueFlite with only a slant six to work with.

Ken said...

I think you're right. The TorqueFlite will be all, "So you gonna drive me, or what?"

Borepatch said...

"Next week Barack is going to cut down on inefficiency in scientific research by declaring pi to be 3 instead of 3.141592653 et cetera, "

All all good liberal car wheels will promptly turn hexagonal, further "improving" mileage standards.

Or something.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...Smoking rubber, just like smoking cigs, is getting more expensive. Quit whining and deal with it."

So, you like the taste of those jackboots, you servile toady?

Andy said...

Oh, it can be done. Just embrace the diesel. Here's one example, but it is by far not the only.


B.S. philosopher said...

I've got a 15 year old Chevy truck with a small block V8 and a 700R4 transmission. It has 220,000 miles and doesn't use any oil. No knocks pings or thunks. The used parts situation is good. GM made umpty ump millions of them between 1988 and 2000. I'm betting that I can keep it running through the Barackalypse.

Assuming, of course, that they don't pass a law against people working on their own vehicles and prohibit the sale of auto parts to unlicensed mechanics that is...

The Raving Prophet said...

Articles I've read (Road & Track had a good one in their June issue) indicate that the automakers just want the .gov to pick a target and stick with it instead of moving the goalposts every time they turn around. I think they'll manage to hit the targets, but they'll have to rethink the way they build cars. Large V6 engines are out, smaller I-4s with turbos are in (and I don't expect them to last as long as a bigger engine that isn't working as hard). They'll finally pay attention to the weight of these cars- lightweight materials will become the order of the day (get ready for carbon fiber hoods and roof panels- get out your checkbook). Most new cars do need some kind of diet- a midsize car is now well over 3000 pounds, and even the econoboxes are getting close to that number. Get the econoboxes down to an even ton and you'll see much better mileage than they get now. They'll be noisier to ride in, but they'll be more frugal.

This crap has been coming for a long time- the automakers just ran out of clout to stop it.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"So can we call him "Bloody Stupid" Johnson then?"

Just remember - when you're checking the oil on your new Government Motors car, keep your hands well away from the glowing area. We're not really sure what happens there, but it's not pretty.

With apologies to Terry Pratchett. :)

Rick R. said...

Torqueflites and slant-6 (especially iron blocks) are unkillable.

The 318 V-8 is NEARLY as unkillable.

(Clocked at 136 mph with the AC on, the windows cracked open, and still running the factory original plugs on a 14-year old 1975 Dodge Dart SE, with 318 V-8 and a Toqueflite tranny. By the state trooper who was my Army Reserve company commander. . . )

B.S. philosopher said...

Get the econoboxes down to an even ton and you'll see much better mileage than they get now. They'll be noisier to ride in, but they'll be more frugal. This is where the problem with ignoring physics comes in. Cars have gotten bigger and heavier in the past 20 years to meet impact standards. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Fast, fuel efficient and safe.

Pick 2.

Rick R. said...

Don;t forget,

GM and Chrystler will soon be importing their cars from Communist China (US designed, ChiCom built, due to labor costs).

And people will still self-righeously buy them and feel good for "Buying American", while shunning those who buy Hondas and Toyaotas built in Kentucky by actual US workers.

And, hey, since the lead paint makes toys taste better -- I wonder what special features ChiCom POS GM cars will incorporate? Interiors soaked in organophosphate insecticides, for that really cutting edge "no sunglasses needed" feeling that accompanies the runny nose and tighness in the chest.

Dan said...

Hey, you know what? How about Obama lead by example and convert his motorcade to smartcars? In fact, how do you bulletproof a smartcar? I'd think you just throw a vest over it and duct tape a SAPI to the door. That's fuel efficiency!

While we're going about placing arbitrary standards on things, why don't we also set federal gun laws to oh, I don't know, Texas or New Hampshire standards? That would be good for American manufacturers.

Rabbit said...

I've decided to dust off and update the plans for grafting a series hybrid diesel/electric into the ol' Suburban. Handles like a locomotive; don' know why it can't be powered like one, too.


Ken said...

@Rabbit, you could just about put a pebble-bed reactor in a Suburban. Think big, man! ;-)

og said...

I made a slant 6 do things no 6 cylinder should be allowed to do. When you have an engine block that's so bulletproof it's- well- bulletproof, the next step is to increase the compression, slip a cam in and JAM A TURBO ON IT!!! YEAH!!!


Even soviet block kids hotrodded cars. It's universal. Make it verboten, and it becomes more popular.


Ken said...

I remember when you could get Offy intake manifolds and such for the slant 6....

T.Stahl said...

This is so funny. So ridiculously funny.

From a European point of view. :-)

Assrot said...

Actually pi can be determined from a perfectly round pie by determining the ratio of the circumference to the diameter pie.

Roughly pi =

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923 0781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460 9550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954 9303819644288109756659334461284756482337867831652712019091456485 6692346034861045432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817 4881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384 1469519415116094330572703657595919530921861173819326117931051185 4807446237996274956735188575272489122793818301194912983367336244 0656643086021394946395224737190702179860943702770539217176293176 7523846748184676694051320005681271452635608277857713427577896091 7363717872146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892354201 9956112129021960864034418159813629774771309960518707211349999998 3729780499510597317328160963185950244594553469083026425223082533 4468503526193118817101000313783875288658753320838142061717766914 7303598253490428755468731159562863882353787593751957781857780532 171226806613001927876611195909216420198

I guess my use of 1000 decimal places is not environmently friendly and probably will cause the price of Internet service to rise slightly in the near future.

It will be a cold day in hell before I drive a tiny, plastic car. Obama can use his little vehicles for suppositories as far as I'm concerned.

I've probably got less than 25 years left on this rock so I'm sure I can keep my old Silverado Extended Cab running that long.

I might need a C&R license for it when Obama tries to outlaw normal size vehicles made out of steel.


the pawnbroker said...

"Well, I stand humbled and apologize...it's apparent that I didn't know dick-all about the subject myself."

better bronze that, ya'll...the rarity not just of the apology itself but of the need for it is such that i do not recall a precedent in the months i have haunted this particular chunk of cyber realty.

it's a bright and noble one what hosts (hostesses?) us here. bravo, ms. k...


Ken said...

So the anthem of the revolution is gonna be..."Red Barchetta"?

WV: ovell. Oh, vell.

mts1 said...

Next, your Friendly Neighborhood Light Bringer will enact a law, all on his own, that makes the length of the hull no longer a factor in the maximum speed that a sailboat can reach.

Then he will make another renaming all fish to be called Sea Kittens.

T.Stahl said...

Y'all sound as if cars have to be as gas-guzzling as the ones you know and as if Obama's demands impossible things.

Ok, they are impossible for cars designed and developed in America. But American cars are ten to twenty years behind the curve, IMO.

My four-seater Audi A2 has a TGS of 112 mph and is giving me an average 67 mpg*. If that's possible for a VW Golf-sized car, the mileage Obama wants to prescribe is realistic.

*) that's real-life 67 mpg, in the NEw European Driving Cycle it's as high as 73.5 mpg.

Tam said...

No matter how many times I read the Constitution, I can't find the part where the average MPG of Ford's vehicles is any of the President's business.

The only person who knows how important gas mileage is is the person buying the gas.

For some people, it's the most important thing, for others, it's not important at all.

Marko wants room for 2 kiddie seats and a bunch of dogs. My neighbor needs to tow horse trailers. The only thing I want my car to haul is ass.

City runabouts get great mileage. And they suck on day-long interstate jaunts.

(...and don't get me started on idiots who buy hybrids like the Prius to commute 50 miles round-trip per day, all on the interstate. At 70 mph, those batteries are just so much cargo.)

T.Stahl said...

Tam, of course you're right.
The minimum mileage of cars is as much of their business as the maximum caliber of a handgun I want to own.

It's just that I was under the impression that you were against it because you deemed it impossible.

Like complaining about a 9mm limit on CC-handguns claiming they're insufficient instead of saying none of your freaking business.

T.Stahl said...

And of course you're right about the total nonsense of a Prius...

...IF you could buy a diesel instead.

Ken said...

A turbo diesel with manual trans that would get north of 30 mpg with respectable acceleration, agility, and ability to carry a moderate amount of stuff would be ideal.

I'm torn. I brought up the '71 Duster because I, who am no great shakes as a mechanic, can fix anything on it (if I can change a head gasket on one of those @!!$*& GM 60-degree 2.8 liter V6 abominations, a slant 6 ought to be child's play, not least because I can always climb into the engine compartment with it).

On the other hand, probably the best car I ever had overall for performance, MPG, fun-to-drive, and hauling-stuff ability was a '79 Accord LX hatchback with the 1.7-liter (same engine as the Prelude) and a 5-speed manual. In 1988 I drove from Barberton, OH to Pontiac, MI to cover the papal Mass at the Silverdome (long story) and averaged almost 40 mpg. Come to think of it, it weren't all that hard to work on either...anyone know where I can find a good one? :-)

Second best, believe it or not, was a 2000 Chevy Cavalier 2.2L 5-speed. The four-door sedan will hold a surprising amount of stuff with the rear seat folded down, and the only non-maintenance mechanical issues I had in 150,000 miles were the front wheel bearings and the idler pulley.

Anonymous said...

Tam is completely correct, CAFE is a joke. I would also love to hear her go off on someone complaining about gas prices when they go up again. The free market would and should handle it.

perlhaqr said...

Ken: I have an '04 VW Jetta TDI, manual transmission, that gets a real world 45 mpg on the interstate (and I don't baby it) and will carry... well, a moderate amount of stuff. I should have gone for the wagon version. It is also no slouch in the acceleration department. Just ask the SFPD officer who pulled me over last weekend...

Changing the head gasket on a slant 6 is harder than you'd think, because the head itself is OMFG heavy. In fact, it's just about 1.5 times heavier than an iron head for a 318. It helps if you take the hood off first. (This job, on a '71 Duster, is a job I've performed. :D)

A turbo Duster with MPFI and one of those A833OD units would probably get 35 mpg. Of course, fitting the system would be a major PITA.

Anonymous said...

If the one was more understanding of the problem, he would have ignored CAFE and just slapped a $5 per gallon tax on gasoline. He would next put $4 per gallon on diesel.

This would address his money short fall and force folks to buy more efficient cars/trucks.

Seems pretty simple to me.

T.Stahl said...

Uh, that would be the German solution.
Today diesel is 1.00€/L, gas 1.25€/L or the equivalent of $5.30 and $6.60 per gallon. Combine that with the fact that a diesel will always give you the better mileage and be surprised that only one fourth of all cars in Germany are - in fact - diesels.

T.Stahl said...

It's a bit late but I just remembered that one of the United States once upon a time indeed set pi de jure to 4.

Source: my old Guinness Book of Records

VW: "praing", the sound a gun makes when it shoots and looses a spring simultaneously, alternatively the sound of a Garand after the last shot