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Fuel Efficiency Thoughts

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In the Ethanol Subsidies thread, Norman Albers got me thinking when he said:


Good discussions, folks. After shopping online for Honda Insights I actually pulled up next to one at the grocery market and had a great talk with its owner. He said he sometimes gets more than 70 mpg. I am looking!


That's what I like to hear. My Big Green Truck was rated for 8 MPG city and 15 hgwy when it was new. It gets about 12 MPG city and 20 hgwy now (smaller motor, different cam, some fussing with carb jets, bigger exhaust, and a performance rebuild kit for the distributor). That's still with a carb and no computers.


If a half-assed backyard mechanic like me can manage that kind of gain, what the hell is wrong with the car companies?


They've managed about the same increase in mileage for trucks that size (of course the price has gone from 6K to 30K), but they have weight reductions, computers, and fuel injection. I don't have a single piece of technology on my truck that wasn't available in 1980, when it was brand new, and it hasn't gotten any lighter.


Er...because I often get jumped on for owning such a huge vehicle, I should likely mention that I only drive it when I need to...to the point where I keep the battery in the garage. I built it from scrap when I started contracting because I needed something that would haul a lot of weight on a regular basis. I keep it around because I need something that hauls a lot of weight every month or so now.


I've recently inherited a regular 1986 half ton that, if I can get it through a safety for a reasonable cost, should allow me to leave the Big Green Truck in the driveway even more.


I mention these trucks because, if we'd relax some laws a bit and tighten some others a bit, we could encourage people to use these kinds of vehicles only when necessary. My governments, all three levels, are very worried about a few rust spots and, if you can believe it, whether the gear shift indicator tells me what gear I'm in. They don't seem to care about the huge puff of blue smoke that comes out of the smaller truck though (I have a spare engine I plan on rebuilding if I get it through the safety, but there's no law about that).


We, of course, drive a relatively fuel efficient little Oldsmobile most of the time and are currently looking at something newer and better for when the big cheques roll in. I'm a freelancer, so my cash flow is kind of like trying to time your partner's orgasm with the exact second they peak on acid...it always feels good, but you have little control over the situation, and sometimes they start screaming about spiders.


Anyway, I mention all of this because I think we need to find a way to encourage using inefficient vehicles only when we need them, and to punish people (and manufacturers who encourage them) who use such vehicles to commute etc.


I also think we need to kick the big three, at least the bastards running them, around a fair bit. Like I said, I've matched their mileage improvements without using their allegedly new technologies. They've been lying to us at best, robbing us at worst. When their bad habits cause sales to drop, they resort to blackmail.


They have entire engineering divisions full of trained professionals. I have a few wrenches, an unheated garage, and some rumours I heard at the bar.

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You're not the only one thinking along these lines, apparently. I linked an article below that talks about changing habits of American commuters. Mass transit in my city is up a whopping 30%, and toll booth revenue has dropped 6%, corresponding to lighter traffic patterns at rush hour (a very nice side-benefit for light drivers like me!).


February was the fourth straight month that consumption fell in the US, and there hasn't been a streak like that since 1979. This year we're expected to see the first annual drop since 1991.


Used car lots are seeing a big influx of SUVs. I don't have a link on this in front of me, but I saw a story the other day saying that most popular SUV models are down 20-40%, while fuel-efficient models are up a similar amount.



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I also think that a sustainable future is no longer a technical challenge, but rather a matter is mentality and some old fashioned initiative.


(It's still a challenge to achieve a sustainable future, but we have all the technology we need, we just need to implement it on a global scale)...


And is North Americans would please be so kind as to stop wasting energy on the scale they're doing at the moment, we might have a few more years to implement all the things we need.


So, I really hope that the dollar plummets into oblivion, which would cause fuel prices to go up a lot, especially when Arabs start selling oil in euros... (and perhaps American fuel might approach the European prices... North americans should realize that we pay well over 1.50 euro/liter... that's well over 8 dollars / gallon... North American prices are not even close to that, despite that dollar).


It's funny that Americans are having "fuel efficiency thoughts" in 2008, while I think that in Europe the fuel efficiency of a car is one of its main selling points already for over a decade.

(edit: I must admit that SUV's are also still too popular here... on average our cars are still a whole lot smaller, and we use a lot less energy).

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I hope the US dollar quits it's plummet pretty damned fast. Half of my clients pay in US funds. When I started freelancing that was like a 20 cent on the dollar bonus, now it's like a boot in the head every time I go to the bank.


We do need a change in the mentality though. It's impossible for me to use public transit on any kind of regular basis...the service just isn't there.


If we had light rail, I'd use it fairly extensively. If we had decent bus service, I'd use that too. Instead we have very little, very poor service so ridership is low. The city uses the low ridership as an excuse not to improve service.

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Around my area, Amtrak already built a bullet train between Boston and New York City, and between New York and Washington. Never rode on it yet, but the rest of my family has at one time though. The bullet train doesn't go as fast as it's Japanese or it's European counterparts though, about 150 mph.


It's called Acela Express in case you are wondering. You can read more about it right here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acela_Express




Other then that, every other mass transit system is generally poor. I have to walk 2 blocks from my college to use a bus, for example.

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Poor mass transit? In the People's Republic of Canada? I'm shocked!


Well, those that want Canada to be a separate state that sets it's own course keep pushing for mass transit. Those that want us to become a satellite of George Bush's Amerika keep telling us to buy huge SUVs on credit.

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Mass transit in America, at least around here, isn't all that great either.

You have lived until you've crammed yourself into a NYC subway during rush hour.

The good part, is that you don't have to worry about pick-pocketers because there's no possible way for anyone to move any part of their body.

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Well somebody's got to buy the leftovers. And if we dump them on Mexico we get accused of racism, so that leaves you guys. And it's way too expensive to ship them to France. Sorry.


Leftovers? Hell, we build a lot of them right here. Our autoworkers are taking a thumping right now because we build so many of the trucks and a lot of the retro muscle cars. I feel bad for the autoworkers, but the idiots they work for should have seen this coming. If the North American auto industry would have put their minds to it, they'd be cheering for high gas prices. Instead they sold us pick-up trucks and brought back muscle cars that were almost free when I sixteen because gas had hit almost 40 cents a litre. It's a buck thirty a litre now, and Canada is buildin the new Dodge Charger. I'm sure the Duke Boys are laughing at us down there in Hazzard County...with good reason.


Oh my... One planet folks. One.


What about the multiple universe theory? ;)


Speaking of one world though, Mrs. Rev is kind of hot for those Kias. I know nothing about them other than the pictures she showed me were pretty and it looks like the car would hold both of us and the dogs. Are they any good? Can I fix them with a smoke in my mouth and a beer in one hand? Do I need to fix them? I had a Toyota truck once and it never needed anything until it's 20th birthday, when spontaneously self-destructed under the weight of a yard of gravel. Plus she seems to be talking about a new car, which I understand come with warranties. Usually I buy cars in back alleys and "As Is" are generally the biggest words on the bill of sale.

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  • 2 weeks later...



A fleet average for normal American drivers is project to come in at about 150 mpg of liquid fuel (plus the 85 cents it takes to charge it for the first 40 miles).


With a heavy push towards the new nanotech line of batteries, the initial charge range could top out at 400 miles.

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