Calling for higher fuel economy standards will be a hallmark of the 2008 presidential elections, mark our words. Politicians used to shy away from the issue, knowing that while the act of improving fuel economy might be popular with the people, automakers themselves would resist. Each democratic candidate is calling for increased federal fuel economy standards, but Hillary Clinton topped most today during a speech in Iowa when she called for national fleetwide average of 55 MPG by 2030.
To reach that lofty number, Clinton said she would make available $20 billion in low-interest loans to the automakers to retool old plants, as well as invest $2 billion in battery research, offer consumers up to $10,000 in tax credits for purchasing a plug-in hybrid and add 100,000 plug-in hybrids to the federal fleet by 2015. (NOTE: There likely won't be a mass-produced plug-in hybrid until after the next president's term is half over.)

Continue after the jump.

[Source: The Detroit News, photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty]

We hardly bat an eye at any of these proposals, especially ones coming from presidential hopefuls that want to one-up their opponents. One thing Sen. Clinton said in her speech, however, irked us, which was that she believes engine technology has stagnated to the point that Henry Ford would immediately recognize the engine in a car made today. Was she hoping Henry Ford would pop the hood of a Fusion to find a glowing, blue orb that magically produces power without emissions? Implying that the internal combustion engine is hardly different from the days of the Model T is truly a misinformed statement. Fuel injection, variable valve timing, direct injection and host of other technologies have managed to eek out more and more efficiency from the good ol' internal combustion engine, and we suspect (and hope) it will still be around in 2050 when we're all getting 50 miles per gallon.


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