The anti-industry crowd accuses the automakers of dragging their feet and deliberately ignoring simple, low-cost technology that could dramatically improve fuel economy. The automakers plead that there is no such quick fix and that they cannot possibly achieve the targets in the time frame they're being given.
But what both sides are ignoring is the fact that the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy laws are not going to reduce oil consumption or CO2 emissions at all. Not by one drop of oil, nor by one gram of CO2.
The problem is that the total number of cars and trucks in the United States is growing at a rate never seen before in history. Today there are 250 million vehicles in the nation's fleet. And we're now adding about 6 million vehicles a year to that total. Think about it. If we maintain this rate of increase, in 10 years time we'll add 60 million more vehicle's to the nation's roads. That's more vehicles than there are in all of Germany today.
So even if we adopt the most stringent fuel economy laws being considered, we're still going to end up burning more oil, and putting out more CO2, than ever before. The sheer number of additional vehicles will easily swamp any improvements made in fuel economy.
You can argue that the situation would be worse without the new CAFE law, but please don't try to tell me that that it's going to get us to reduce our dependence on oil.
No, if we really want to address the problem we have to go after the fuels that we use. If the problem comes from importing oil from countries that don't like us, then we should not import from them. If the problem comes from burning fossil fuels, then we should not burn them.
This whole debate has focused on how many miles per gallon our cars get. That's the wrong approach. It does not solve the problem. All CAFE does is kill us slower. What we really need to focus on is getting the kind of fuels that will really solve the problem, not trying to force the auto industry to come out with cars that burn this poison more efficiently.
Airs every Sunday at 7:00AM on Speed and 10:30AM on Detroit Public Television
Synopsis of next week's show - "The Best In Trucks...so far"
Fresh from our look at the best cars from the first half of 2007 is this week's show spotlighting the top trucks released so far this year. From the "white hot" crossover segment to the latest SUVs to heavy duty trucks, consumers will have nearly twice the number of new trucks over cars to consider when they visit dealer lots the next few months.
John is joined once again by fellow NACTOY (North American Car and Truck of the Year) jurors Natalie Neff from AutoWeek and Gary Witzenburg from autoMedia.com to evaluate the 2008 crop so far. Some of the vehicles they look at include GM's trio of CUVs -- Acadia, Enclave & Outlook -- some of the new South Korean SUVs like the Kia Rondo and the Hyundai Veracruz along with some of the big boys of the truck world, Ford's Super Duty, GM's Silverado/Sierra HD & the new Toyota Tundra.
Last week's show - "The Best In Cars...so far"