No. 979
January 16, 2018
 

About The UjianNasional

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Ujian-nasional.info, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  ). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

Follow UjianNasional

The UjianNasional - Home


Tuesday
May192009

THE AUTOEXTREMIST

May 20, 2009


The darkness before the dawn.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 5/19, 6:30PM) Detroit. The new national emissions limits and fuel economy standards announced by the Obama administration Tuesday and endorsed by environmentalists as well as both domestic and import auto companies will alter the American motoring landscape permanently. The short story is that the deal accelerates the timetable for requiring automakers to meet a fleet-wide average of 35.5 miles per gallon by four years - to 2016 - which means passenger cars must average 39 mpg and light trucks 30 mpg by then.

To say this is a significant development is the understatement of the year, but was it a surprise? Hardly. The writing was on the wall the moment President Obama was sworn in. That the tail wagged the dog in this matter cannot be disputed either. It’s clear that the will of legislators with environmental agendas in several states - led by California - has prevailed over the rest of the country, and we now have mileage standards that were effectively dictated by a few.

Is it right, or fair? It simply doesn’t matter now. It is what it is.

That the environmental faction in California won this war is the reality that the global automobile industry will have to deal with in order to compete in the U.S. market. Will these standards be adopted globally? That remains to be seen, but with the importance of the U.S. market diminishing in the face of the looming Chinese market it certainly will not be an “automatic.” It would be wonderful if there was one global standard but that is so far beyond comprehension and requires so much rational thought that it isn’t even worth discussing at this point.

But the scope of the compromise reached is definitely worth talking about. This deal finally eliminates the threat of California and 13 other following states from setting their own emissions standards, which would have sent the industry into chaos and which was fought vehemently by both domestic and import manufacturers alike. (Yes, even Toyota was against the “patchwork quilt” of standards pushed by the saintly California-led Green Posse.)

The new regulations force the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work together to set the new tailpipe emissions limits and mileage standards for the first time - a provision that the automakers absolutely wanted and needed in order to make a deal - because it will take the states out of the emissions regulations business, at least until this deal runs out in 2016, which is why the auto company executives were visibly represented in Washington at the announcement.

(What happens after that is anyone’s guess. Chaos could resume and California-led environmentalists could demand that individual transportation options be eradicated altogether - finally becoming The Blissful State powered by a fleet of shiny, happy, flatulence-powered balsa wood smiley cars - or rational thought could reign and we might just continue moving forward on the same page and in a reasoned manner.)

But what does it mean, ultimately, for the cars and trucks we drive and the vehicle choices we will have?

First of all, the rationalizations given by the apologists in the Obama administration that the increase in costs of the extra emissions equipment will be offset by the mileage gains consumers will get is unmitigated bullshit. They insist that the $1300 additional dollars added to vehicle emissions equipment (including the $600 already required) will be a wash. This is based on a $3.50 per gallon gasoline price. Uh, sorry, but I’m not buying it. (They also insist that these new requirements will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and eliminate 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent to removing 177 million cars and trucks off the streets and byways of America, but that’s another column entirely.)

But the fact of the matter is that these new cars will be notably more expensive, no matter how this new technology is amortized, or how this administration’s minions spin it. Pickup trucks in particular – the vehicles still needed by the people who actually do real work in this country, by the way – will be hammered, price-wise. And the argument that over the six-year run-up to 2016 people will get used to it and it won’t be such a big deal by then? We’ll see about that.

Secondly, consumer choice will be curtailed. This is all part and parcel of the Green Posse’s “vision” for us going forward. After all, the idea that we live in a country that is all about the freedom of choice is anathema to these zealots and the sooner they can eliminate that evil train of thought the better we’ll all be. So get ready for fewer choices, and those in need of larger or specialized vehicles or vehicles that don’t fit inside the Green Window of Happiness will pay dearly for the privilege of driving what they want. That’s just the new way of doing things in the good old R.S.A. - the Regulatory States of America.

Finally, the idea that these regulations will reduce our dependence on foreign oil - a noble goal indeed, especially oil derived from hostile regions, which is just about everywhere oil is found these days - is somewhat true. But finagling CAFÉ standards is a dumb way of going about this, although it’s certainly in keeping with the seething cauldron of regulation that this country has become.

I would have preferred a national energy policy instead - something that the Obama administration was allegedly going to give hope to - but instead we continue with a CAFÉ program that has been woefully ineffective and ludicrous almost from its inception. And that was made painfully obsolete with the record high gas prices of a year ago. Those stiff gas prices back in the spring and early summer of 2008 did more to get this country’s mind “right” about the vehicles we drive and the choices we make than any CAFÉ standard during the entire existence of the CAFÉ program. And yet when gas prices dropped, people started drifting right back to driving larger vehicles again, to no one’s surprise.

But imagine if we had a national energy policy in effect that wouldn’t allow the price at the pump to fall below a certain level? This country’s fleet would be transformed in no time.

That bottom line in all of this discussion is this: Do we need to use less fuel whenever possible while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and do we – as a country – need to make smarter choices about our transportation needs?

Absolutely.

There are certainly different ways of achieving these noble intentions, but for now and the foreseeable future we’re doing it this way.

I think it’s very important to remember that a little perspective is a very good thing to have at this point in time. This era reminds me very much of the early 70s, when auto industry experts and auto enthusiasts alike believed that the looming switch to unleaded gasoline and the onset of even more stringent regulations would have an adverse, if not fatal effect on the entire industry.

And make no mistake, at the beginning of that time it was exceedingly grim for the industry with horsepower numbers “adjusted” downward and anemic engines becoming the norm (the 165HP Z28 Camaro seemed to encapsulate that era). As a matter of fact, some of the worst cars in history were built back then.

But then things progressed. The electronics revolution transformed what the industry was able to achieve with engines in terms of making them cleaner, more efficient and lo and behold even more powerful, and a great new era in automobile engineering began, culminating in today’s machines, which are arguably the finest cars and trucks ever built.

So is this the darkness before the dawn?

This administration is certainly hoping so, and I do too, frankly. But it’s not going to be smooth, and it’s not going to come easy. There will be no “finger-snap” engineering miracles or breakthroughs that appear overnight, either. This will require serious long-term investment, tireless work and a realistic set of expectations from all sides of the equation.

And it’s going to cost all of us who like to drive more. A lot more.

If you would like a sneak preview of what the mainstream American sedan of the year 2016 will look like, a machine that’s eminently capable, comfortable and remarkably efficient, a machine that is the embodiment of where these new regulations are taking us, and a machine that surprisingly enough isn’t Japanese, German, Korean or Chinese, but an American design from an American car company, take a good long look at the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

America, welcome to your driving future.

Thanks for listening.

 

See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and auto industry PR veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, May 21, at 7:00PM EDT at .

By the way, if you'd like to subscribe to the Autoline After Hours podcasts, click on the following links:

Subscribe via iTunes:


Subscribe via RSS:


фото штор в спальню