• Jan 29, 2008
Margo Oge, EPA director-office of transportation and air quality, has made a plea to the auto industry to end the current horsepower wars that have produced such vehicles as the 620-hp Corvette ZR1. Instead, she hopes the industry, specifically domestic automakers, will start a new war, a green war, to create the "most affordable and desirable, low carbon-vehicle each year." Such a challenge, she claims, could help spark economic growth and see the transportation sector "reclaim the mantle of the country's economic growth over the next decade."
Her arguments, which can be read in more detail at Ward's Auto, are well reasoned, and while automakers can hardly deny their part in an arms race for more horsepower, many are also on the front lines of a battle to make green vehicles that are more desirable than their competitors. One need only look at the squabbling that goes back and forth between GM and Toyota over which is better, a series hybrid like the Volt or a parallel hybrid like the Prius. The latter two automakers, being the largest full-line automakers in the world, are forced to deal with the dissonance of producing desirable, high-horsepower sports cars and full-size trucks while at the same time being on the cutting edge of new green technology. It's not hypocrisy, it's the reality of offering many different types of vehicles to the widest range of customers.

And despite Oge's plea, automakers are keenly aware of what needs to be done in order to meet new, stricter CAFE standards by 2020. GM has already cancelled plans for a new V8 and Ford has practically committed itself to replacing eight-cylinder engines with more efficient turbocharged, direct-inject V6 powerplants. The rub is that any progress made by an automaker to make its vehicles more green cannot happen at the expense of performance, reliability and comfort. We want our new cars to be as good as they were last year in every way, with better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. It's a tall order, but don't worry Margo. Both federal regulations and consumer pressure guarantee they're working hard on it.

[Source: Ward's Auto]


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  • 72 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow, so let me see if I get this correct.
      Somone from the federal government who has probably never opened the hood of her car, is lecturing the auto industry on how they should build and market their product? Maybe we can get some bureaucrat to give advice to brain surgeons or road builders too while they're at it, because eveyone knows that government knows best right?
      Why don't we let the market work? Let the public decide which vehicles they want. If I want a gas hogging SUV, let me buy one, don't I have the freedom to do that?
      If I want a fuel sipping Prius, let me have it, it's my money that I worked hard to get, I want the freedom to choose what I want. Don't tell me that I don't know what's good for me. I don't want Washington regulators sitting from their ivory towers dictating their pearles of wisdom to me, the American citizen.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Why not go the whole route and demand that Government, which funds the building and maintenance of the road net get out of the vehicle regulation business all together by abolishing speed limits, or all traffic lwas for that matter?

        After all, it's those bureaucrats who decide where and when new roads get built, old ones have their capacities expanded, what the speed limits and traffic regs will be don't really know anything right? I mean why demand the right to drive what you want when the government limits how you can drive it?

        Or go even further. Let's cut taxes, get the government out of the road business completely and let the market decide where we have roads. The owners of those roads will then determine who can drive what on them and how fast they can go. The market will have complete say.

        If you don't favor either of those positions you're caught in a contradiction, since it means you like government intervention in the market when it does something you like, (building and maintaining what are arguably the best roads in the world) but think it's infringing on your rights when it does something you don't want it to do like influencing what you drive on those very same roads.
      • 7 Years Ago
      NO.

      The EPA doesn't care about the environment. They make no attempts at all to minimize green house emissions. Sure they pretend to do the right thing by putting a gas guzzler tax on the few cars sold that get poor fuel economy. BUT they ignore the 8 million vehicles sold each year with poor fuel economy.

      This is why the average fuel economy has only gone up .4 of an mpg from 2000. From 19.8 MPG in 2000 to 20.2 MPG in 2007. The several thousand 620 horsepower Corvette ZR1s with poor fuel economy that Chevy sells are nothing compared to millions of vehicles that Chevy will sell with worse fuel economy during the same time.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Decreasing the sales of huge-ass Trucks and SUVs by 1% will do more than getting rid of every car over 500hp. Someone needs to review their sales numbers...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Forcing every family to live in 2 bedroom apartments instead of McMansions will do much more than forcing folks to drive a certain vehicle.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Eliminate the CAFE light truck exemption. That would do wonders for fuel economy and vehicle weight.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I believe $3.00 a gallon gasoline has more than done that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Fire the woman before this administration ends. Eliminate the EPA now.

      Sorry to say it won't happen.

      Maximum Bob Lutz for EPA director!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Margo Oge, EPA director-office of transportation and air quality, has made a plea to the auto industry to end the current horsepower wars that have produced such vehicles as the 620-hp Corvette ZR1. Instead, she hopes the industry, specifically domestic automakers, will start a new war, a green war, to create the "most affordable and desirable, low carbon-vehicle each year."



      yea, cause u know, Thats a lot of fun. Much more fun than a 10 second 1/4 mile.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No, not now, this is only just heating up. This time the HP war has gone global. The thing the idiots in Washington and the "green" people fail to realise, is that this technology eventually trickles down and make for safer, more efficient cars.

      Hey jackasses, back off. ZR-1s though capable of being a daily commuter, will never be used as such.
        • 7 Years Ago
        For the US market, Toyota gave lexus variable valve timing before toyota.
        For the 2000 model year the corolla/echo received variable intake valve timing, while Lexus had it in the 1998 LS/GS/SC400 & GS/SC300.

        Honda first put VTEC into the integra before the NSX. The NSX concept car only had a 250hp 3.0 V6. VTEC boosted that to 270hp.

        • 7 Years Ago
        So, trickle down is why GM kept making stellar cars like the Cavalier, huh?

        Bull. Trickle down works on occasion, and only if it's cost-effective to do so. The big leaps happen when a company gets gutsy and throws dollars at a low-margin loss-leader and forces it's competitors hand, not when something useful eventually becomes cheap enough.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Audi has had twin turbos for years. The old 2.7 turbo used in the S4 and A6 was a twin turbo unit.

        Audi makes several turbo diesel units.

        Additionally, the old RS6 was twin turbo. And the new RS6 will be twin turbo.

        DSG was first used in racing cars. It is only in lower end cars currently because of 2 things: consumer versions can't do 4wd and can't handle the HP of higher end cars.

        The same thing applies to CVT. Besides, CVT has been around for years. And it will always be a low end transmission for various reasons.

        Technology does filter down. Typically first from racing programs. Which is why you see great new engineering tech from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan etc. Companies that don't race (which includes any company involved with NASCAR since it uses 1950's tech), usually only come out with lifestyle improvements, like SYNC. When was the last time an American company came out with an impressive engine? Something like the 40-valve twin turbo 4.2 from Audi or the 2.0t or the Nissan 350z engine or the bluetecs from Mercedes? The Northstar is over 10 years old.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mr. Oak: If I remember correctly, the first production cars with airbags (though it was LIMITED production, mind you) were Caprices in the early '70s.

        psarhjinian: While I think you're right overall that lots of innovations have come to market in "normal" cars, I think the first production use of DSG was in the TT, no?
        • 7 Years Ago
        That those technologies showed up for sale in low end cars first doesn't mean they were developed downmarket.

        Putting a new transmission behind a low powered engine first is a natural development step.

        And putting the new and untried in a low end model first so if it doesn't work you lose a repeat Corolla sale instead of a $50k Lexus is just smart business.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Airbags, Anti-lock brakes etc. All trickled down technology from the top 1% cars in cardom.

        You are either stupid or dishonest if you are going to cite cars from that era to make your case.
        • 7 Years Ago
        When was the last time an American company came out with an impressive engine? Something like the 40-valve twin turbo 4.2 from Audi or the 2.0t or the Nissan 350z engine or the bluetecs from Mercedes? The Northstar is over 10 years old.
        ------------------------------

        You cats kill me. What is more important to you? An excessively complicated, overly engineered, expensive to maintain, problemtic engine. Or a simple, reliable, virtually bulletproof engine?

        I am awed by the fact that GM was able to successfully marry modern technology to that workhorse of an engine and keep it viable and current.

        I will take GM's LS9 over any flavor of the month V10 from Audi or BMW.

        In two years those engines will be history, and the LS9 will be further enhanced.

        P.S. Notice that Porsche didn't dump their flat six, they just continue to improve and enhance it.

        Sure they added a couple more valves per cylinder, and went from air-cooled to water-cooled, but the basic architecture is the same.

        In the last 20 years Audi has gone through:

        I4
        I4 Turbo
        I5
        I5 turbo
        V6
        V6 Biturbo
        V8
        V8 Biturbo
        V10
        W8
        W12

        Corvette still has the smallblock v8, and it still kicks their butt.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Maybe the government should just sit out on these kind of issues. They can't even defend the citizens properly. Sheesh.

      And these 'horsepower wars' have gained profit for the automakers, so why complain??? No one seriously cars about the enviorment anymore, unless you drive a Prius.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Agreed, especially to the folks that don't really them. Have no problem with these vehicles if there is a legitimate need.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's the japanese automakers who have been pushing the HP war forever now, especially Nissan. 260+ DOHC v6s have been available forever and a day now from them, GM and ford are just catching up now. V6 maximas, altimas, accords, camrys have been faster and pushing higher HP ratings since the mid 90's. They give the public what they want, high HP muscle midsize v6 sedans.
        • 7 Years Ago
        So, what about those supercharged Grand Prixs and Regals that GM fans were flagwaving about when Nissan debuted the 240hp second-gen Altima.

        No, this is industry-wide and you can't lay the blame at any one manufacturer's feet. About the only manufacturer who isn't involved in the mainstream-car horsepower wars is Kia, and to a lesser degree, Ford/Mazda.

        On that note, it's telling that, despite how well Consumer Reports rates the Optima/Magentis and Fusion, the mainstream press has always panned on them because of their comparative lack of power. Neither car is slow, per se, but they're not the tire-shredders that their better-selling competition is, despite being, holistically, better cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      People can still have fun with slow cars, I know I have. Sometimes having a slow car can even be more fun than having a fast car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Margo Oge, EPA director-office of transportation and air quality, has made a plea to the auto industry to end the current horsepower wars as she drives around in her Nissan Armada
      • 7 Years Ago
      What we don't need is a HP cap on anything. What we do need, or better yet, what a good idea is to have a fuel efficiency standard. In no time some mnanufacturer or tuner will figure out how to improve engine and drivetrain efficiency while maintaining or increasing HP. Why this isn't the way we're being steered is like the biggest anomaly ever.
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