Forget About 100-mpg Cars
"Why is so little attention being paid to getting better fuel efficiency, right now?"
There are noble projects afoot in the field of fuel-efficient cars. One of the boldest, the automotive X Prize, recently made the cover of Wired: "1 Gallon of Gas, 100 Miles-$10 million: The Race to Build the Supergreen Car." Reading stories like these, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement.But if you really think about it, the 100-miles-per-gallon innovation isn't as immediately effective as making a simple switch from a Suburban to a Civic. Just do the math: If you raise a guzzler's fuel efficiency from 15 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon, you save almost four gallons per 100 miles. But boost a fairly efficient car from 35 mpg to 100 mpg, and you save less than two gallons in the same distance. More importantly, the technology for all cars to reach 35 mpg is already here. The same innovations that in the last 30 years have made family cars into muscle cars can be easily deployed to save gas rather than boost performance.So why is so little attention being paid to getting better fuel efficiency right now?Part of the problem is that America's big automakers are peddling a future-forward myopia that encourages feel-good complacency. Witness Chevy's commercial for the Volt, a concept car that isn't yet on the market: A pack of kids put their ears to the hood of a sexy silver car. A man standing nearby explains that the mysterious humming they hear is the car's "lithium-ion battery pack," which will allow the Volt to get 40 mpg.This is disturbing, and not just because the kids may have just piled out of a Chevy Suburban (14 mpg) off screen. Instead of a more fuel-efficient car right now, we get a "miracle," from the "future." In the meantime, why not just refuel the Suburban?
|So why is so little attention being paid to getting better fuel efficiency right now?|