Not Simply Nocturnal Emissions

Posted on May 20 2009 - 6:00am by Harrison
Small cars are deadly cars.
Small sars are dangerous cars.

President Obama’s Cap-and-Trade might not be selling on Capitol Hill (hint: because it’ll cost consumers a ton of money) but he is trying to do what the European Union is working on – setting CO2 emissions for cars.  Again, another “feel good” bill that sounds so fantastic but, like most Liberal schemes, doesn’t hold up to reality.

The proposal is to cut by 30% the amount of CO2 that comes from vehicles’ tailpipes by 2012.  This is estimated to raise the cost of vehicles by an average of $1,300.00 per car:

New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel efficient by the end of the program, according to officials familiar with the administration’s discussions. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.

Administration officials said consumers were going to pay an extra $700 for mileage standards that had already been approved. The comprehensive Obama plan would add another $600 to the price of a vehicle, a senior administration official said.

The extra miles would come at roughly a 5 percent increase each year. By the time the plan takes full effect, at the end of 2016, new vehicles would cost an extra $1,300.

Sounds great, right?  Wrong.  Internal combustion engines are already amazingly clean:

Making cars cleaner will be fantastically expensive because the easy gains have already been made. The average car produces a lot less carbon dioxide that it did in the mid-1990s, but not much less than in the middle part of this decade. Last year, Germany’s environment agency estimated that a 20-per-cent reduction in emissions would cost about €1,000 ($1,540) per vehicle. But a 40-per-cent reduction would add €5,000, taking cars to a price that would kill the auto makers overnight unless they find ways to save fortunes on overall development costs.

We need to reduce 0.117% to 0.116%!
We need to reduce 0.117% to 0.116%!

Also, out of all of the CO2 in the atmosphere, a whopping 0.117% comes from man-made activities!  And Obama wants to reduce automobile CO2 emissions by 30%!  Like this will really do anything at all except make cars more expensive and force people into buying smaller cars, which are not as safe as larger vehicles:

As a group, occupants of small cars are more likely to die in crashes than those in bigger, heavier vehicles are, according to data from the government, the insurance industry and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Lund was on an NAS panel that examined potential safety impacts and other consequences of stricter fuel-economy regulations. The panel’s report, published in 2002, noted that there are safe, cost-effective ways to boost mileage, but cutting the size and weight of vehicles is not one of them. Years of statistics show that small cars “are involved in more collisions than larger vehicles,” and “Small vehicles have higher fatality rates than larger ones,” the NAS report said.

Cars are heavier now than they were 20 years ago for a variety of reasons and SUVs are not the main cause.  Think about the average car circa 1980.  Air conditioning was uncommon as were power windows or locks.  Safety equiptment like ABS and traction control didn’t really exist nor did airbags,  Xenon headlights, or power seats.  All of these things add weight onto vehicles, not to mention stricter crash test standards which add steel reinforcing to vehicles’ frames, doors, and roofs.  According to a 2004 article by the New York Times, the average vehicle weighed just over 4,000 pounds, something cars haven’t seen since the 1970s when they were slow, lumbering beasts.

If people want more fuel efficient vehicles then they will buy them!  When the price of gas spiked in 2008 small car sales increased, too.  Not everybody wants to drive a car that gets 40 mpg because it will be small and, according to statistics, will be more likely to kill their owner in an accident.  Some people have kids and need a bigger car or they simply like sitting up high and choose an SUV.  Whatever the reasons, one of the benefits of a capitalist society is that people can choose how they want to spend their money.  The fact that some people choose poorly is irrelevant because we don’t tell poor people not to have more children which will make them poorer or punish people for not going to college even though they will earn less money in the workplace or outlaw states from selling lottery tickets which cost the poor a greater percentage of their income than other groups.  You have over 6.5 billion people on earth all making decisions daily and you can’t force them to make wise decisions.

Consumers can balance their need to fuel efficiency with their needs already.
Consumers can balance fuel efficiency with their needs already.

The European Union has already fought this battle.  Germany, home to companies like Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz opposed the strict CO2 emissions.  After much wrangling the CO2 emissions will become law but in a very watered down way so as to be meaningless:

Germany, home to a cadre of automakers for which CO2 parsimony is not a prime consideration, has held out from the carbon dioxide taxation scheme, until now. The leading government coalition has finally agreed on a plan to tax CO2 output.

The only problem is that it doesn’t really change much of the scheme already in place, and it’s hit-and-miss.

As it stands, the yearly tax will be calculated based on engine size and emissions, and smaller-engined, cleaner vehicles will pay less tax. An Opel Agila owner with a 1.2-liter engine and 120 gm/km would save €75, nearly a 40% discount from the current system. The owner of a V12 Audi Q7 wouldn’t pay any more under the new regulations; however, someone buying a Mercedes GLK — with a 3.5-liter V6, the biggest option available — would pay 4.7% more.

As the facts have shown, reducing CO2 emissions on vehicles wouldn’t accomplish anything due to the fact that all human activity contributes only 0.117% of all CO2 on Earth so, once again, Liberals have proposed a bogus bill that does nothing except raise the cost to consumers.

And the last argument… raising fuel economy standards will decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil is bogus, too.  If extra supply is freed up by “saving” gas due to more efficient cars then this “excess” will simply be sold in other countries thereby keeping the price of oil the same.  Or, ironically, if consumers are forced into buying more fuel efficient cars then they will drive more because they are getting better gas mileage.  You can’t legislate human nature.

Reducing our need for foreign oil can be solved very simply… drill for more oil!  And if consumers want more fuel efficient cars they can choose to buy them right now (though sales of hybrids are down)!

Having been in the automotive industry for over six years I can tell you that I have seen plenty of people make plenty of bad choices in terms of the vehicles they buy, how they pay for them, and what they do with them but it’s not my job to tell people what I think they should do.  I have also seen automobile companies sell compact cars to get the government off their back but lose money on every small car they sell because there is no profit in them but they can then earn credits to sell larger vehicles to earn a profit.  It is a stupid system!

Whenever a government messes with the normal supply and demand curve it screws it up and the results are unintended consequences.  But that’s law by Liberals so how could we expect anything different?

And Al Gore will continue to burn tons of energy and pay his carbon offset fees to assuage his Liberal guilt.  The rest of us will be stuck with more expensive cars, automobile manufacturers will incur more costs and layoff workers, gas prices will not be altered, and we will be forced into smaller, more deadly cars.

That’s what I call “change.”

3 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Harrison May 20, 2009 at 9:31 AM -

    I think you chose a good car and it’s good you saw through the hype about hybrids to choose a diesel.

    As to safety, in a collision the larger the vehicle the safer the vehicle however there are other factors to consider such as how the vehicle handles, etc… SUVs are safe if driven properly but many people drive them like cars and, in their hands, they will not be as safe. Still, for me, I would not choose a smaller car simply due to the whole mass times acceleration thing but that is just me. I would not go any smaller than a Jetta.

  2. Harrison May 20, 2009 at 9:39 AM -

    At least as to cars you and I agree!