CAFE confusion

17 01 2012

The public should thank those who participated in today’s hearing on a proposed corporate average fuel economy standard hike, as the event quickly devolved into another invaluable reminder of how detached our politicians are from reality.

Super-heavy-duty pickup of the future?

Statements in support of the raised CAFE standards (which would require a sky-high fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025) were muddled, incoherent, and frequently contradictory. And that was before John Dingell opened his mouth.

According to proponents:

– Consumers demand more fuel-efficient cars (never mind automotive sales figures); government can conjure these cars into existence through reality-defying regulations.

– Consumers are stupid (disregard the above statement); we must shepherd them towards fuel efficient cars and away from SUVs. They’ll thank us when they’re spending less at the pump. Until we raise gasoline taxes to cover lost revenue.

– Per UAW President Bob King, raising fuel economy standards will help the workers he represents by creating the “automotive jobs of the future.” Because limiting the buyers to smaller, more expensive, and less desirable vehicles will surely boost sales and keep assembly line folks working overtime.

– If buyers want anything larger than a compact, they’ll have to lay down serious money on a hybrid or electric vehicle–as those are the only production-ready technologies capable of moving fuel economy towards the new standard. Yet even with a slew of subsidies and tax credits, hybrids are a tiny portion of the vehicle market and electrics are languishing on lots.

If the CAFE mess seems familiar, it’s probably because this same combination of wishful thinking and political posturing is an integral part of other recent interventionist disasters–from green energy boondoggles to public transportation fiascos. In each case, politicians and their cronies make promises (like cheap, clean electricity) that would be tough to criticize–were they possible to achieve by fiat.

Of course, we all want things we can’t afford given current technology. But the free enterprise system has time and again excelled at making seemingly impossible future tech attainable. Compare that record to the bureaucrats who created the likes of Solyndra–and are now preparing to strangle automotive choice with absurd CAFE standards.

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One response

25 01 2012
Great rant De Lorenzo at Autoextremist « Graham Kozak’s Blog

[…] support of the CAFE standard increase. I also called out King’s bizarre reasoning in my bit on CAFE standards; it’s nice to know I’m at least on the same wavelength as pundits with far more […]

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