Auto fuel efficiency is going up and high-MPG auto sales are surging today, but a handful of persistent myths continue to cloud the understanding of some policymakers and members of the public, according to Go60MPG, a joint effort of Environment America, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Safe Climate Campaign, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Ahead of the New York International Auto Show being held April 22-May 1 in New York City and the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) 2011 Conference being held April 19-21 in Washington, D.C., Go60MPG is releasing the following list of five myths and facts:
1. MYTH: Americans don’t want high MPG cars … and aren’t buying them.
FACT: High MPG car sales are rising sharply. The market has spoken!! Without question the free market has spoken! It wants high MPG cars. March sales figures point to surging demand. That’s for hybrids and other cars with fuel efficiency. Michigan-based auto market expert Alan Baum’s analysis shows sales of hybrids and clean diesels. They rose 46 percent. That’s from March 2010-March 2011. Look, almost three times as fast as the overall market. The Baum data also show small cars and hybrids are the most in demand in the used car market. That’s with the increase in the value of the Toyota Prius hybrids exceeding all other vehicles. (http://baum-assoc.com/Documents/commentary%20on%20vehicle%20sales%20data%20apr11.pdf)
With gasoline prices hovering at $4 gallon, the hybrid market could be reaching a tipping point. (http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rhwang/2011_year_of_the_hybrid_last_w.html) As USA Today reported in an article last week titled “Prius sales top 1M as pump prices spur interest in hybrids“. It read the following comments.
The first quarter this year, about 275,000 hybrids of all kinds sold in the U.S. Further, 141,000 of those were Priuses. That’s from Kevin Riddell. Kevin is auto analyst at consultant J.D. Power and Associates. His data show hybrids and a handful of pure electric cars were 2.4 percent of sales last year. In addition, he forecasts they’ll make up 4.5 percent in 2012. Further, a fast pace driven by new models from Toyota and others in the interim. That’s a strong showing! Heck, considering hybrids priced higher than similar gasoline cars.” (http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2011-04-06-prius-tops-one-million-in-sales.htm)
- MYTH: Detroit can’t make money selling high MPG cars.
FACT: High fuel efficiency/ MPG standards can be profitable for Detroit. That’ll also help boost U.S. MPG technology innovation. That’s in a March 2011 Citi report released by Ceres and the Investor Network on Climate Risk. It shows that stronger fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards are important. They will boost variable profits and sales in 2020. That’s so big for the auto industry worldwide! As well, the Detroit 3 seeing the biggest financial benefits. The Detroit 3’s variable profit gains would be big. Can you say garnering more than half of all increased profits. Walter McManus, an economist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and Director of the Automotive Analysis Group, said the statement below saying research shows 42 MPG equals “variable profit by $9.1 billion . Most of the added profit, $5.1 billon, could go to the Detroit 3.” (http://www.ceres.org/Page.aspx?pid=1355)
3. MYTH: Automakers oppose high MPG cars and will impede any progress along those lines.
FACT: Automakers understand that fuel efficiency. They get it is now driving auto consumer purchases. First off, When asked to rate the importance of product attributes to consumer buys decisions over the next five years, auto executives cite “fuel efficiency” the most often (91 percent) in the 2011 annual global automotive survey conducted by KPMG LLP survey. That’s followed by safety innovation (82 percent). In addition did Then comes vehicle styling (77 percent), and environmental friendliness (75 percent). For the 12th annual survey, KPMG interviewed 200 global executives, representing vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, from October through November 2010. (http://www.kpmg.com/KZ/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesAndPublications/Press-Releases/Pages/KPMG-International-presented-the-results-of-12th-annual-auto-survey.aspx)
Automakers not only have made changes, but now admit that higher MPG standards is helping their competitiveness in a world of high gasoline prices, according to Automotive News: “Many automakers believe that the work they’ve done since the last big price surge, and anticipating higher government fuel efficiency standards, leaves them better prepared this time, with stables of more competitive small cars and crossovers.” (http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110314/RETAIL07/303149972/1135.)
4. MYTH: High MPG/low pollution car technology isn’t ready for prime time.
FACT: High-MPG technology is already here – like turbochargers, direct injection, dual-clutch transmissions, lighter materials, and stop-start technology – and it is getting better every day. Dan Meszler of Meszler Engineering Services, who has analyzed transportation energy and air quality issues since 1982, said: ‘“… technology exists to discuss a number of continuing inefficiencies associated with internal combustion engines. Between now and 2020 much of this technology expecting to mature, so that a 2020 CAFE need of 42 miles per gallon should produce consumer savings starting at gas prices of $2.00 per gallon. Since current and expected future gasoline prices far exceed that price, these technologies driven fuel savings are extremely cost-effective and show that a 42 mile per gallon CAFE program will not only reduce petroleum imports, but save consumers money.” Suppliers of these technologies – from turbochargers to direct injection, dual-clutch transmissions and more. (http://www.ceres.org/Page.aspx?pid=1355)
Steven Plotkin, a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory, said many of the technologies for lowering CO2 emissions are already available from the same manufacturers that had once declared them to be impossible. Turbocharged four-cylinder engines, such as, are able to replace six-cylinder power plants; with no decline in performance and with reduced emissions. Lithium ion cathode technology licensed from Argonne , used to improve the performance and increase the safety of the batteries being manufactured by South Korea’s LG Chem for the Chevrolet Volt. (http://blogs.physicstoday.org/politics/2011/01/cutting-co2-transportation-emi.html).
As well, Turbochargers are rapidly emerging. They are the choice for automakers. When car companies need moderately priced, off-the-shelf technology. So hence they meet corporate average fuel economy targets on the cheap. By 2015, as many as 25 percent of all light vehicles sold in the United States , turbocharged. That’s up from 8 percent this year, predicts J.D. Power and Associates. Turbochargers “..used by nearly all major carmakers,” says Mike Omotoso, J.D. Power’s senior manager of global power trains. “The technology has been around for a long time, and it’s relatively cheap compared with hybrids” and electric vehicles. (http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20021364-48.html)
- MYTH: High MPG car prices are too expensive for most consumers.
Finally!! FACT: Higher MPG standards and related incentives will make fuel-efficient cars even more affordable. Furthermore, New standards being considered by the Obama Administration would decrease fuel consumption for new vehicles up to 6 percent per year from 2017 through 2025, which would boost average fuel efficiency up to about 60 MPG (about 48 MPG on road). Also, This would be at a cost of about $3200 per vehicle, this would be paid for in about four years through fuel savings. In conclusion, These clean car standards would save owners $7,500 over the life of the vehicle at a gas price of $3.50 per gallon, even after paying for the additional cost of the cleaner vehicle. Most importantly,That’s the equivalent of a gasoline price cut of more than a $1 per gallon compared to a vehicle with today’s fuel efficiency. (http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/protection-against-rising-gas-prices-ucs-1.pdf)
Automakers have claimed costs would be higher: “Automakers argue those estimates are “unrealistic” and point to a Center for Automotive Research analysis that says hiking fuel efficiency to 60.1 mpg could boost vehicle prices 22 percent, cut sales 25 percent and trim up to 220,000 auto sector jobs.”( http://detnews.com/article/20110412/AUTO01/104120407/1148/rss25) Unfortunately for the automakers, that Michigan-based CAR report has already been discredited by the International Center for Clean Technologies (ICCT). In a stinging critique, the ICCT points out many flaws in the study which the consultants have yet to respond to. (http://www.theicct.org/2011/03/car-2025-forecast-analysis/