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Old 01-25-2008, 01:59 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Lutz says U.S. has little incentive to buy fuel efficient cars

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Lutz says U.S. has little incentive to buy fuel efficient cars





Bob Lutz has always been a vocal opponent of the new CAFE standards, but his most adamant point to date is that, simply, Americans wont buy more fuel efficient cars unless gas rockets up to European price levels. That would mean eight dollars a gallon or so.


According to Lutz, what the new regulations will do is raise vehicle prices and lower new car sales. In regards to changing consumer attitude he says we refuse to let the price of fuel rise gradually in the United States and therefore we fail to induce change in consumer behavior, and adds If for the last 15 years wed had a slow but sure rise in federal fuel taxation of, say, 15 cents a gallon per year that would have gradually put the customer in the equation.


Due to the new technology and materials required to improve mileage he states that will cause more people to hang on to the vehicles they have longer, slowing down new sales growth, which is exactly counter to the intended effect, Lutz said.


Lutz feels that E85 ethanol is the real way toward lowering U.S. dependence on foreign fuel. Not only will E85 make for an easier transition for Americans, but its better for the environment, wont cost as much extra as diesel or other solutions, and there are already 6 million E85 capable cars currently on the road according to Lutz.


He adds the bigger problem is that ethanol is not as readily available. By 2020, if all the vehicles that the big three commit to make E85 capable run on E85, 29 billion gallons or 18% of the gasoline usage in 2020 can be reduced.


He is careful to mention that GMs commitment to electric cars with lithium ion batteries is still a good long-term solution, but that it would take much longer to put enough on the road to make as much of a difference.


So what do you guys think? Will CAFE fall flat, raising prices and failing to reduce our oil addiction? Can E85 become the most viable solution? Have at it in the comments section below.

Source: AutoWeek
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:06 PM   #2
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why do they even let this guy talk? srsly
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:13 PM   #3
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They should stop with the corn based ethanol and focus more on the sugar based ethanol.
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Old 01-25-2008, 03:01 PM   #4
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He is partially right, in fact mostly. Look how many people are buying trucks and suvs to just drive them around. I won't buy a very fuel efficient vehicle until gas is really expensive and even then, I may not buy something that tops 35 mpg. Most cars that get that good of gas milage are no fun, and most Americans demand fun cars over fuel efficient cars.

Plus, raising gas milage will more than likely have no effect on our oil consumption. That extra milage will be translated into more driving, and that is from most every study by economists that are not bought and paid for by the NHTSA.
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Old 01-25-2008, 03:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by squirrel2.0 View Post
why do they even let this guy talk? srsly
What do you want him to say? He's in the business of selling cars, they make a lot for E85...
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:12 PM   #6
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E85 is a joke, and he is only endorsing it because GM is one the countries largest manufacturers of the stuff. Plus, lets really think about it. Plus, the notion that fuel efficient cars are not fun is absurd. GTI's are fun, and they do very well. Mazda 3's are a blast to drive, and we almost achieved 40 mpg on the highway with ours.

It takes more than a ton of HP to be fun. Try to imagine a light tossable and agile car that gets great mileage and does not cost a fortune. It could be a wonderful thing. The days where cars weigh 4000 lbs I hope is soon to be over. The need for such mammoth cars is ridiculous.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverlegacy View Post
He is partially right, in fact mostly. Look how many people are buying trucks and suvs to just drive them around. I won't buy a very fuel efficient vehicle until gas is really expensive and even then, I may not buy something that tops 35 mpg. Most cars that get that good of gas milage are no fun, and most Americans demand fun cars over fuel efficient cars.
Ok, so you are saying unless the price of gas is uber expensive, it will not affect the driving behavior of Americans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverlegacy View Post
Plus, raising gas milage will more than likely have no effect on our oil consumption. That extra milage will be translated into more driving,
But now you are saying that if the mileage was better, Americans would just drive more. That is, they are driving less right now because of the gas price.

So let me sum up your argument.

Americans don't care about gas mileage, but they would drive more if the mileage was better.

Make sense much?

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and that is from most every study by economists that are not bought and paid for by the NHTSA.
Quote me one. PLEASE.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:55 PM   #8
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Well, he does have a point there. Higher fuel prices would be a far better way to cut fuel consumption than CAFE. Fleet averages don't make much sense, really, because whether a brand like Hummer is penalized depends primarily on who they happen to share a stock symbol with.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:56 PM   #9
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They should really just ditch the whole ethanol thing and funnel that money into developing better and cheaper batteries. Electric is the cleanest, best option, with the least impact on the environment. I am totally pumped about the idea of mass produced plug-ins. Charging your car in the garage each night instead of going to a gas station FTMFW....
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bal00 View Post
Well, he does have a point there. Higher fuel prices would be a far better way to cut fuel consumption than CAFE. Fleet averages don't make much sense, really, because whether a brand like Hummer is penalized depends primarily on who they happen to share a stock symbol with.
Exactly. Let's gradually raise gas taxes and put the proceeds into all different types of alternative fuels. E85 *could* be a good partial solution if made from cellulosic sources and garbage.
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by silverlegacy View Post
Most cars that get that good of gas milage are no fun, and most Americans demand fun cars over fuel efficient cars.
Is this why GM is getting their ass handed to them in the US market by honda and toyota?
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:47 PM   #12
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Toyota and some Honda sales are SUVs and trucks that would not meet new CAFE standards. I don't think the Japanese cars have much better fuel economy in comparable cars. Toyota and Honda just make better, more reliable cars right now.

Lutz is right that fuel economy demand will be driven by fuel prices no gov standards. He would also be an idiot to promote anything other than what GM already makes and solutions requiring the least change on their product line.

He's not worried about what best for America or the world, he only cares about selling GM vehicles and not getting fined to death because of CAFE.

GM is still the biggest seller with sales of 9.369 million
Toyota was at 9.366 million
Just barely, but clearly no "ass-handing"
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Old 01-25-2008, 06:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Len View Post
Ok, so you are saying unless the price of gas is uber expensive, it will not affect the driving behavior of Americans.



But now you are saying that if the mileage was better, Americans would just drive more. That is, they are driving less right now because of the gas price.

So let me sum up your argument.

Americans don't care about gas mileage, but they would drive more if the mileage was better.

Make sense much?



Quote me one. PLEASE.
Even without the study, historical data says that VMT is only going up. The trend since 1980 is almost dead linear increase of ~61 Billion Miles/Year (for the range I have data for). (1,500 Billion in 1980 to 2,989 Billion in 2005). Source is the Transportation Energy Data Book, and that's against a flat CAFE since 1990.

Search for the Rebound Effect - UC Irvine has done some work on this area, and has a few papers out.
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Old 01-25-2008, 06:27 PM   #14
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Is this why GM is getting their ass handed to them in the US market by honda and toyota?
Seriously. Lexus GS350. 303 hp 0 - 60 in 5.7 seconds, 28 mpg hwy. Chevy Impala. 303 hp, 0 - 60 5.7 seconds, 24 mpg hwy.

Hmmm.....And I would want the plasticy Chevy why?
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Old 01-25-2008, 06:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by SLegacy99 View Post
Seriously. Lexus GS350. 303 hp 0 - 60 in 5.7 seconds, 28 mpg hwy. Chevy Impala. 303 hp, 0 - 60 5.7 seconds, 24 mpg hwy.

Hmmm.....And I would want the plasticy Chevy why?
GS350 $44,150
Impala SS $28,735

I would buy neither and certainly think the Impala is awful, but that's hardly a fair comparison.

Camparable would be a Toyota Avalon for $27,075 and 0-60 in 6.2 seconds 19/28mpg.

Spec-wise cars are comparable.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:06 PM   #16
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my parents refuse to buy Toyota's and Honda's mainly because of the image that carries them. Toyota imo is completely overrated. They are riding on their built up reputation while their quality falls. Honda is a great company. they have continued to produce vehicles with "safe" looks, not completely boring, safety, and reliability. Toyota is the new GM, and they have a bunch of loyalists that would still buy them even if quality drops. However, Toyota is great at keeping quiet about recalls.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by taylormade View Post
Search for the Rebound Effect - UC Irvine has done some work on this area, and has a few papers out.
My alma mater!
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:35 PM   #18
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AMURRRICA WANTS MORE SUV'S DAMMIT!
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:48 PM   #19
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Lutz,

Do us Americans a favor and SHUT UP!!!! Focus your attention on bringing over better vehicles.

Thank you!
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:56 PM   #20
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Exactly. Let's gradually raise gas taxes and put the proceeds into all different types of alternative fuels. E85 *could* be a good partial solution if made from cellulosic sources and garbage.
Well, there's one big problem...it would be political suicide, even if it's the better solution.
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Old 01-25-2008, 08:07 PM   #21
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GM is still the biggest seller with sales of 9.369 million
Toyota was at 9.366 million
Just barely, but clearly no "ass-handing"
Apparently that GM number included approximately 500,000 sales by a chinese car company that GM has 34% stock in... i.e. those sales don't count toward GM's total as they don't own a majority of the brand. So, GM was at 8.8M. Toyota has yet to officially release their numbers from CY07.

~~Quentin
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Old 01-25-2008, 08:16 PM   #22
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Lutz's argument is fatally flawed. Let me try to sum up:

1. Fuel efficient vehicles cost more.
2. Expensive fuel would create demand for fuel efficient vehicles.
3. Then consumers will get to buy expensive cars AND expensive fuel!


And point 1 is a logical fallacy anyway. It's only true if you incrementally improve single components for single benefits in isolation from each other. If you design the car from the wheels back, in a small team, treating the entire vehicle as a cohesive system, you can get very large improvements in fuel economy with no performance penalty, at the same or even lower cost. Lotus Elise/Exige anyone? Supercar handling and accelleration, luxury sedan cost (they could have made it slightly bigger though...), economy car fuel consumption. And that was with 1996 technology, we can do much better now.
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Old 01-25-2008, 10:20 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Chromer View Post
Lutz's argument is fatally flawed. Let me try to sum up:

1. Fuel efficient vehicles cost more.
2. Expensive fuel would create demand for fuel efficient vehicles.
3. Then consumers will get to buy expensive cars AND expensive fuel!


And point 1 is a logical fallacy anyway. It's only true if you incrementally improve single components for single benefits in isolation from each other. If you design the car from the wheels back, in a small team, treating the entire vehicle as a cohesive system, you can get very large improvements in fuel economy with no performance penalty, at the same or even lower cost. Lotus Elise/Exige anyone? Supercar handling and accelleration, luxury sedan cost (they could have made it slightly bigger though...), economy car fuel consumption. And that was with 1996 technology, we can do much better now.
It's not that fuel efficient vehicles are expensive. Designing a vehicle more fuel efficient is very expensive. GM has not invested in this as much as other companies and relies heavily on profit from gas guzzling trucks and SUVs. The technology investment to meet new CAFE standards on those vehicles is not easy.

The Elise is hardly practical. Try making a Suburban with double the gas mileage and no loss in performance, safety and towing.
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Old 01-25-2008, 10:49 PM   #24
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The Elise is hardly practical. Try making a Suburban with double the gas mileage and no loss in performance, safety and towing.
The Elise is practical enough to use on a regular basis for going from point A to point B or getting groceries. Obviously if you're moving to a new place or buying a table from Ikea it won't cut it, so you'll have to borrow someone's car for that one, two, three or four times a year when you buy something bigger than a computer. But like I said, that doesn't happen all that frequently... not enough to justify buying something as huge as a Suburban, unless you have a big family or regularly transport things the size of big-screen TVs.

But obviously the Elise is an extreme example. Perhaps some better examples are cars like the VW GTI and Mini Cooper S... both are reasonably priced, agile, fun to drive, small enough to park anywhere but you can still throw a decent amount of stuff in them, assuming you don't have any rear passengers. Obviously they're not going to replace a pickup truck if you're moving, but they're totally usable. Or even something like the Scion xB, if you need more cargo area in exchange for performance. Yes, they're quirky, but they're decent with gas and can be quite practical for most regular purposes.
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Old 01-25-2008, 10:54 PM   #25
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The Elise is hardly practical. Try making a Suburban with double the gas mileage and no loss in performance, safety and towing.
I wasn't presenting it as practical daily vehicle, I was presenting it as an example of how a supercar can become efficient, without losing performance, and because of smart design end up being less expensive than the less efficient competitors.

Your Suburban challenge was basically designed and production costed at a 500 line-item level in 2001. Well, it was two size ranges smaller, but it'd do the same deltas in a bigger size. The design team came up with a carbon fiber CUV that did 0-60 in 8 seconds, got 112mpg and would climb a 45% grade hauling a half-ton. That would survive a 5mph collision with no discernible damage, would completely protect occupants in a standard 35mph frontal offset, and all at an additional cost of $2500. The $2500 wasn't because it was carbon fiber, that part was free at a 50,000 unit/year production level due to the much smaller & simpler factory required, but because it was hybrid. With a non-hybrid powertrain it would still get 64mpg.

Why wasn't it built? Well, right about then the internet bubble burst and venture funding went pffffft.

They've spent the intervening time perfecting their automated carbon fiber production system. It's very slick, and very cost effective, and from what I've been able to tell, all the major automakers have had them in for presentations.

Quick video on the "Hypercar" I mentioned above here:
http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/09...-amory-lovins/

Last edited by Chromer; 01-25-2008 at 10:59 PM.
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