New Government Regs To Impact Pickups

Hybrid Silverado rear 10 II

By Larry Edsall

Let’s say it’s autumn 2024, and you’re hungry for a new pickup truck. So you decide to stop at Uncle Sam’s Roadside Cafe to check out the menu and see what’s available.

Now, you love your good ol’ long-bed, crew-cab 4x4 Tonka-like truck with its big, snorting V-8 engine and its pull-the-world-along trailer hitch. But it’s finally as worn out as that old pair of work boots you leave out on the porch because your wife says they stink up the house if you bring them inside.

Or maybe your truck is still in good running order, but you’re the guy who’s lived on a meat and potatoes diet all his life but has been told by his wife and doctor that it’s time to learn to like tofu and yogurt, and that cargo rating and towing capacity aren’t as important as fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

And while we’re looking at the numbers -- be they blood pressure readings or gas mileage figures -- Uncle Sam has pretty much mandated that each automaker’s corporate average fuel economy needs to be at 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year, and you don’t have much choice but to open the CAFE menu and see if there’s anything you’re willing to swallow.

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What's the Impact on us?

Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? And yet, right there on the menu, you’ll find an array of full-size pickup truck choices that not only meet fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations, but they still can carry a bed full of rocks or tow your boat, camper or toy hauler. How can this be possible?

There are several reasons, including the fact that automotive engineers have a history of meeting whatever sort of standards that governments around the world have thrust upon them. And not only have they met those standards, but while they’re at it they have also found ways to keep cars and trucks fun and fully functional.

Consider that way back in, say, the first decade of the 21st century, Detroit produced factory hot-rodded Camaros and Mustangs and Challengers that were clean and green and yet more powerful and faster and far better-handling and much safer than anything from the revered muscle car era.

Not only that, but 13 major automakers -- companies that account for 90 percent of the American new-vehicle fleet -- have endorsed the latest federal regulations, and that pretty much indicates that they’re confident they will be able to comply.

Don't be frightened

And here’s another reason: Don’t let that 54.5 mpg CAFE figure frighten you. Somewhere in the 1,300 pages of new regulations from the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a chart that includes targets for things such as fuel economy and emissions for specific types of vehicles. Take into account projected sales figures and market mix, and you’ll hit the 54.5-mpg figure. But the recipe also contains specific ingredients (i.e., mileage targets). For example, the figure for compact cars such as the Honda Fit is 61.1 mpg. It’s 48.0 mpg for full-size sedans such as the Chrysler 300, and 47.5 mpg for what the government calls a “small SUV” (think Ford Escape).

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What’s the number for full-size pickup trucks? Under “Table 2: Model Year 2025 CO2 and Fuel Economy Targets for Representative MY 2012 Vehicles,” an extended-cab Chevrolet Silverado with a 6.5-foot bed is used as an example, and the table suggests that the 2025 version of that same truck should average 33.0 mpg while emitting no more than 252 grams of carbon dioxide per mile traveled.

By the way, that CO2 figure is hugely important. For one thing, the 10-page executive summary of the 1,230 pages of proposed regulations is entitled “EPA and NHTSA Set Standards to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Improve Fuel Economy for Model Years 2017-2025 Cars and Light Trucks.” Note that “greenhouse gases” is mentioned first.

Page 8 of that summary notes that there are “incentives for advanced technologies including hybridization for full-size pickup trucks.” Although the final language has yet to be established, the text below that heading says the EPA is working on incentives for an automaker that applies “advanced technologies” such as hybrid powertrains or alternative fueling to a certain percentage of its pickup trucks. That percentage appears to start at around 10 to 20 percent for the 2017 model year and increase in the following years.

Supply and demand

There also are incentives for enhancing the efficiency of air-conditioning systems, which the government sees as a big producer of greenhouse gases. More efficient air conditioning means fewer emissions and even better fuel economy because such systems will use less energy to operate. Clean up your act, and you might be able to fudge on your mpg number.

If you’re wondering why all this is happening in the first place, the summary of the new regulations notes that “light-duty vehicles are ... responsible for nearly 60 percent of U.S. transportation-related petroleum use and GHG emissions.” The target for these new regulations is to double fuel efficiency and halve the amount of oil we import from OPEC countries. 

Using less fuel lowers demand, the feds note, and the summary anticipates that reduced demand will reduce pump prices by around $1 per gallon. The summary suggests that the equipment changes needed to meet the new regulations will add some $1,800 to the average vehicle price, but the resulting fuel savings over the life of such vehicles will be $6,000 or more. And those figures don’t include the health-care cost savings from inhaling cleaner air.

Although engineering and installing the needed equipment are doable, the big issue, according to a spokesman for the automakers, is persuading the car- and truck-buying public to spend that extra $1,800 (or whatever the actual figure may be a dozen years from now).

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“It’s important to remember that CAFE doesn’t measure what we built as much as what we sell,” says Wade Newton, director of communications for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association that includes a dozen foreign and domestic automakers. “There is no one standing at a factory to say you turn out this many vehicles and here’s the mileage. It’s what consumers purchase [that determines CAFE compliance].”

Guiding the Marketplace

What the automakers fear, he said, is that they’ll build CAFE-compliant vehicles but that, unlike in the baseball movie, the consumers will not come, that those vehicles will sit on dealers’ lots.

“New technology costs more than the technology it replaces,” Newton says. “It’s always a challenge for automakers to add new technology in a way so it doesn’t put the price of the product beyond the consumers’ reach.”

And it does no good, he adds, for such vehicles to be parked in showrooms instead “of being out in the traffic flow giving us the benefit of the technology.

“Consumers often will stay in their old vehicle that doesn’t have safety or other technologies that new vehicles have,” he says.

Meeting CAFE or other such regulations, Newton says, is “more a marketing challenge than an engineering challenge,” but the engineering challenge remains daunting. “Every automaker has expressed what a hard job it’s going to be to meet the new fuel economy standards,” Newton says, adding that while working toward the 2025 model-year targets, the automakers want the feds to include a midterm review of targets in the final regulations. That review, he says, should include factors beyond the automakers’ control, including consumer trends and even weather emergencies that can spike the price of fuel or increase the demand for pickup trucks needed to rebuild stricken areas.

Automakers are adept at looking six, seven or eight years down the road, Newton says, but the new regulations are forcing them to anticipate targets twice as far in the future.

And don’t’ forget that even in 2025, people will still need things such as towing capacity and four-wheel drive.

Hybrid Ford F-150 II

There is hope

Remember that 33.0 mpg figure? For the 2012 model year, Ford launched an F-150 with a 365-horsepower, turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine that has a maximum tow rating of 11,300 pounds and rated at 16 mpg in the city and at 22 mpg on the highway.

Then, for the 2013 model year, Chrysler’s Ram 1500 comes with a normally aspirated 300-plus-hp V-6 linked to an eight-speed transmission, good for 25 mpg on the highway and 17 or 18 mpg in the city (depending on whether it’s the special HFE model with start/stop engine technology) and enough grunt to pull 6,500 pounds behind its trailer hitch.

Such leapfrogging only will accelerate. And there are new fuels -- remember the emphasis is on greenhouse gases -- to add to the mix, such as diesels, propane, compressed natural gas, even hybrids. Think electric motors with their instant and maximized torque to get you rolling before your V-8 or turbocharged bio-diesel V-6 takes over and pulls that load down the road. No doubt we'll be seeing some interesting technology in the next five years, but how much it will change our pickup trucks over the next 20 remains to be seen. 

 

Comments

@mhowarth - Your post is welcome among the the green house gas effluvium that often permeates these kind of threads.
The testing regiments usually produce higher MPG numbers than what usually find their way onto the window sticker.
We North Americans have become so hung up on HP wars and tow/haul wars that we do not realize that we don't need most of the power or size or capacity of the trucks we have. Big Al from Oz and his "hot rod" V8 pickup comment is extremely approapriate to the discussion.
Alternative technologies will surface.
I disagree with government bribes to big business to build battery/hybrids or regulations that steer the direction to what government thinks we should have. I'd rather have a 30 mpg Amarok costing me 45- 50 K then a battery hybrid Chevy costing me the same amount of cash.
Government forcing increased mpg rules can be seen as a good thing, but human nature being what it is - if I can go further on a tank of gas, I will still burn up that tank of gas. I'll just drive more. If I go through 100 litres every 2 weeks with my F150, I will still go 100 litres every 2 weeks in a hybrid or diesel. I'll just drive more because my cost will be the same. (Assuming prices are stable).
I'll cut back only if I can't afford the fuel.

@DrLou - are you serious?
Saving fuel for domestic use by increasing mpg standards isn't going to improve national security. Driving fuel prices up to where most people can't afford fuel will do more for that end goal. The USA could save fuel by keeping its military at home. Novel concept?, don't you think?
The war in the middle east has little to do with oil. Is there any oil in Afghanistan?
It actually makes more sense from a national security perspective to stop all domestic drilling and to cap all of the USA's current wells and import 100% of it.
Why?
When everyone starts to run of out of oil at least there will be domestic supplies to fuel the military. That approach from a military persective is much more sound than using all of that fuel in our 400 hp pickups.
"Switching to electricity and US natural gas"
We do not have the infrastructure to generate that much electricity?
Are you prepaired to have a nuclear reactor in your neighbourhood?
Where else does electricity come from?
Research that one and we'll talk further.
Natural gas is abundant but will run out too.

I do agree that we need to change our lifestyles.

That will happen only when we can't afford our current lifestyle.

Heres what scaring is the 'cost of all this high tech"...consumers dont gain athing when the upfront cost is twice the fuel savings..not to mention not everyone can afford a new truck...then when someone whats a good used onel..it will be hard to find becuase of all this hi tech equipment and realibily will take a hit.....

@V-8
Two things.
1.Since when is US/Canada part of OPEC? What is wrong with OPEC. The US minipulated for many years the cost of commodities. The US is losing its influence globally from an econonic perspective. You just don't have that pull anymore.

2. How much will it cost per barrel to retrieve your oil? If it was viable cost or technologically wise it would have been tapped by now.

Don't talk BS if you don't understand what is going on. Research what is going on and you will see things through a differerent lens.

I'll vote for Romney if he promises to either make GM pay back all of the money they swindled out of the American taxpayer Immediately or make them sell off Opel to China, sell Buick off to China and close Buick-GMC to raise the money. If he does that, he's my guy.

This is really stupid. It doesn't matter what the regs are today; this is all politics, and we'll have a new group of people in DC who will change it all anyway. Plus, the public has shown time and again that they vote with their pocketbook - when a vehicle is too expensive or not appealing they shun it. A truck will have to stay a truck as we know it, or no one is going to buy it.

@Jeff S
I haven't been ignoring you I've been having a meaningful discussion with DenverMike :) I think DenverMike can't see the forest becasue there are to many trees :)

It would make sense to co-operate as a bloc, but you have vested interested all vying for power.

My belief is by judging the state of the NA auto manufacturing sector the US model is inferior to what direction the rest of the world is heading in. The current gasoline engines for your pickups are not a very significant improvement, a lot of the claimed improvements is all marketing hype.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee we have is available with the Pentastar, 5.7 Hemi and the Euro VM V6 diesel. The Pentastar is producing nothing special as the Japanese and Euro V6's are getting the same level or better in economy and power.

The 5.7 V8 is rated at 14.5 liters per 100km (16mpg). The diesel with better acceleration than the Pentastar and more torque than the 5.7 Hemi is using 8.7 litres per 100km (27mpg). Our lowest grade of unleaded is 91 octane. The Pentastar is using over 11 litres per 100km.

As DenverMike pointed out the NA auto sector's survival is reliant on high polluting fuel guzzling vehicles (full size pickups), that are doomed within a decade. So expect more bailouts.

The Japanese have traditionally been severe with their emission controls and different to the Eurozone and US. But I do think the US is going to shoot itself in the foot with the direction its heading in.

Ford and Mazda are pushing ahead with gasoline technology because they think the initial purchase price of a vehicle is going to give them sales results.

BMW is tinkering in this area as well. But BMW have made an agreement with Toyota on exchanging diesel technology for hybrid technology recently. Hopefully the new Hilux will recieve a BMW inspired diesel. I also have a soft spot for BMW as they engineer fantastic vehicles.

What I find amazing is we have pickups that are almost achieving your 2025 targets.

I think the US would have been better influencing change of habit rather than their current path of regulating and enforcing change.

That is to increase taxation on fuel. People have to realise that the cost of travelling wouldn't increase as they would purchase more economical vehicle.

This would have solved 2 significant issues confronting the US at the moment. Reduction in the reliance on imported energy and increasing the tax take to pay back the trillions you owe others.

Our US fellow contributors on this site must realise how bad the US is at the moment economically.

A lot of contributors also can't see how selfish they are considering they are going to end up being more of a liability to the US by consuming a lot of energy. But as I have seen, some think its their "God given right" to have that attitude.

But, when is a said and done Australia with 22millon people is the 7th largest consumer of oil in the world, but by 2017 we will have a massive change in vehicle engines when we hit Euro VI emission standards.

My BT50 will not have the 3.2 diesel. I think the 2.2 will replace it. By then the 2.2 will be producing what my 3.2 is currently producing.

@Big Al from Oz--Well said I agree with you. The longer I live the more I realize that you have to pick and choose your battles. We in NA can drill till our hearts content but the price of oil will still go up. The refining part of the process at one time was not profitable. The big oil companies that produced their oil need refineries to get their product out to their company owned stations. The whole system from oil production down to the retail end was completely controlled by the big oil. Now refineries can be owned by big oil or be separately owned and every part of the process is judged on its profitablity. No oil company is willing to take a loss on the refining end to market their products. I use to work in the oil business in the late 70s to mid 80s from the oil drilling (production) to the refining end.

Big Al it is also more expensive to produce oil now than what it use to be. Most of the large oil finds are in the deep ocean, Artic, and very mountainous areas. It takes longer to drill and the costs are extremely high. The days of easy cheap oil went the way of nickle pop and ten cent cigars. Not to sound too green but we have to conserve more just to have enough for future generations and because we are not planning for long term alternatives. Energy policy should not just included 10 and 20 years but should also plan for the next 50 to 100 years. Long range planning does not fit in with short term corporate profits but in the long run we will pay the piper.

I do agree with Lou that the customer will vote with their pocketbooks as to which products will succeed. You could produce the best car or truck but if it is priced too high or includes too new and unproven technology then most customers are going to choose another alternative. We are not going to see higher fuel taxes, but that would be a better way of getting consumers to change their vehicle preferences. That is politically unpopular.

As for some of these new technologies we have to try them out to see how they work. Some will be better than others and some will work for some people and not for others. On big 18 wheelers they could develop a system similiar to locomotives which have electric power generated by a diesel motor. I realize that locomotives are significantly larger but since they have had this technology around for a long time it seems like someone could make a smaller more efficient system for large trucks. Granted when you are climbing steep terain you would probably be running straight diesel but for level terrain you would have considerable fuel savings. You are correct about diesel there are more options.

As for the sky is falling we will survive this as we have survived any crisis and after having lived through 2 oil embargos I am willing to give up some things. I love big V-8 motors and their reliablity and performance but I decided over 10 years ago that I could live without them. I could transition to something even smaller and more efficient if I had to as long as I have a reliable and affordable option. I see this more as an opportunity and I also see that there will be compromises such as some of the deadlines pushed a few more years into the future and vehicle makers giving some push back and offering other alternatives. After the US government spending billions of dollars in government loans to GM and Chrysler to preserve jobs the government wants the industry to succeed. The repercussions of too severe a standards would be more damaging to the economy than the failure of GM and Chrysler alone.

Yes these guys will not be able to buy their large V-8 300 to 400hp trucks but they will not necessarily be forced to drive mini trucks. Something like you have in Australia is more than adequate for most of them (I would even be willing to go to that size of truck though I prefer even smaller). That is one reason I have been more adament about smaller trucks is that I see the future and I am adapting now. I see energy prices long term going up for most of the reasons that I stated above and that is regardless if we produce more oil or import more oil. There is a World full of developing nations such as China and India wanting the same things we have and are willing to pay more to get those things such as oil and other natural resources. Those things will happen regardless of which political party is in power. I will try to look for alternatives before I fill my life full of doom and gloom.

@ Jeff and Big Al

I suspect that the US will work towards some common emissions goals with Europe and other markets to try and help curb excessive engineering costs (Euro 6 and T2B5 are going to be virtually identical in the next year or so wen Euro 6 is rolled out). This will help keep the costs down on advanced technology but it WILL be more expensive to purchase vehicles in the future. In the end I think the costs will be a moot point with rising fuel costs, assuming that a consumer owns their vehicle for at least 3 years.

The US will more than likely have to raise fuel taxes even a nominal amount just to support needed road repairs. This is not dissimilar from the AMT taxes that Congress has to amend each year since they refuse to be smart and tie the dollar amounts to an inflation index. If we had done that with fuel to ensure that the tax amount as a percentage of total costs stayed constant or god forbid increase a smidgen for future roads the tax would likely be $0.30-0.40 a gallon more than it is. That would get us just to even with the last increase.

These funds are specifically set aside for maintenance and new construction and not for the general fund to cover other deficits. I highly suspect that within 24 months we will have a modest increase approved to cover at least a modest amount of the current needs. It will probably come in stages like $0.025 per gallon every 3-4 months for 18 months to a total of $0.15.

I know people in this country balk at any taxes and claim that this would "break the bank" for a lot of consumers but if an extra $10 a month in fuel costs will be a budget buster for you then you have far worse problems than worrying about a minor fuel tax.

With the QE 3 and general trends towards more Asian and even African peoples having the ability to afford driving fuel costs will necessarily go up for all consumers around the world and the US will likely be knocking on the door of $5 a gallon gas by 2014. At that point $0.15 is trivial but spending $1800 to gain 30% better fuel economy will make a $hit ton of economic sense for any given individual consumer.

For everyone else please keep in mind that these dreaded CAFE increases were also started by Bush 43 just like TARP and the auto bailouts. (I had to add fuel to the fire :) so sue me)

@mhowarth --I agree vehicles and fuel costs will go up. It is much better just to adapt to it than fret over it. I keep my vehicles at least 10 years so whatever I pay for a vehicle I get my money out of it. You are correct as well about the fuel excise tax. I would just as soon raise it to a buck a gallon because it would be easier to adjust to a fuel tax increase and have the consumer adjust their driving habits and vehicle preference but that will not happen because that is an unpopular message particularily in an election year. At some point they will have to raise fuel taxes (last increase in 1993) because of the condition of our roads and bridges. There needs to be uniform emission and fuel economy standards for the major countries which would make it more cost effective in developing future cars and trucks and keep the prices of new vehicles from becoming prohibitive. Uniform standards are what is needed.

I just love the people that want a North America only policy for oil and expect the oil companies to sell their products at a cheaper price. You are dreaming and living in a fantasy world. the Koch brothers do not care if you freeze they want the dollars.
I remember when Ronald Reagan you remember him he tripled the deficit, set standards and every one thought he was out of his mind which we found out later he was.
George he set standards, he doubled the deficit. when he came in, there was a surplus. top 2% made a 350% increase, the bottom 90% made 1.8% increase.

I don't want a fuel efficient hybrid truck. I don't care if it can get 50 mpg and is as quiet as a hum. Has anyone ever looked into these battery operated vehicles and the nightmare it is to repair if anything ever goes wrong with the batteries that operate them? Do an online search and you'll see how complex it is. A problem can end up costing you almost what the vehicle is worth. Those batteries aren't cheap (around $4,000 for just one)and the government doesn't want you to know that there have been countless reports of them going out or burning out in just a few short years under normal wear. So yeah like savings on gas is worth that?? Give me a truck that sounds like a truck, that growls like a truck, that I can handle repairs on my own with normal tools and not have to take it to an engineer to find out about what is going on.

@Red
Motor vehicle are becoming more reliant on electronic interfacing of mechanical components to achieve the best performance results, just like aircraft have been since the 70s onwards. You can't escape this from occurring.

As for hybrid vehicles, irrespective of what is being stated hybrids and EVs can't be taken too seriously unless they are used in very small vehicles used for inner city work.

The Chev Volt is being subsidised at $50 000 for each vehicle sold at the moment and are costing the company $90 000 to build each vehicle. Even if they can sell huge numbers they will still be extremely expensive to produce. Even 20 years down the track hybrids will be alot more expensive than just having an internal combustion engine vehicle. Look at the additional electrical gear.

Replacing steel with aluminium will increase the cost of a vehicle prohibitively as well. At the moment some pickups are being built with thinner high carbon steel body panels and pickup backs to reduce weight.

Reduction in the size of a pickup and diesel engines will get you 32mpg at the moment, look at the VW Amarok. Even the new T6 Ranger 2wd will achieve very similar results.

GM has dropped the hybrid pickup and I read today the Peugot has dropped its hybrid program. So it appears some auto manufacturers can't afford to produce competitive vehicles.

Maybe we'll end up going back to coal steam engines.

Hybrid systems are not for everyone. In colder climates they will not be very effective. A hybrid system that is used on locomotives might work on large semis but not on your day to day pickup. Al might be right that a diesel and turbo charge the diesel would be a better option. I am not an engineer but there is only so much you can get out of the internal combustion engine and then you have to lighten the vehicle and its components and make the vehicle more aerodynamic. I don't think there is just one thing I think you have to look at it as a total. This is where Al is correct that global products will be much more cost effective.

Guys the Volt doesn't cost anywhere near $90k to produce. Reuters even backtracked that article saying that the math was off. No dout GM is eating some costs on each Volt but Bob Lutz has stated that this figure is around $2k at the most.

I own a hybrid vehicle and they have shown to be extremely reliable since the technology is largely all solid state with only one moving part in the whole system and that is the output shaft of the electric motor.

For the battery concerns that $4k figure might have been accurate a decade ago but is WAY off today. I have gotten a quote for $800 for my battery and $1200 for the battery and install. While this isn't dirt cheap by any means the battery is warrantied for a minimum of 8 years and 100k miles which is federal standard and in California it is 10 years and 150k miles. Most are lasting well into the 300k mile range with the majority of faliures occuring becuase of damage from a wreck, extreme abuse or manufacturing defect (which they will cover under the warranty)

I don't even have a belt on my car's gas motor to replace and oil changes every 10k miles. It is very cost efficient to run and with the mileage we are getting (48.5 mpg lifetime) it should cover the increase costs over a more comparable mid-size hatchback in about 3 to 4 years at the most (we are already 3 years and 2 months into ownership)

Although diesel has some known advantages they don't makea ton of sense in the US where the cost is $2-8k more (I know the big 6.7 L diesels in the 3/4 and 1 ton trucks skew this high) and the cost of fuel is at least 15% more. (it is currently $0.70 a gallon more here in Idaho) They require more expensive oil changes and now have to run urea as well. They are going to be less cost effective in the long run, especially with the price and complexities of hybrids falling (not to mention that hybrids get brownie points on the CAFE scale)

@mhowarth --What type of hybrid do you have. Thanks for the information about the batteries, I thought they were closer to 4K but if $800 that makes it a more viable alternative. Do you mean a 2k loss per Volt. If that is the case and they were able to get the price down to 30k or less depending on the battery costing less then that would be more affordable. I am sure this technology will get better and cheaper. The Prius has been on the market for 14 years which is plenty of time to iron the bugs out and Consumer Reports has Prius on their recomment list. Thanks for the info.

@ Jeff

I too own a Prius (a 2010 model {i.e. new Gen 3} that I bought for my wife in 09). I asked about the batteries and replacement costs well before I purchased and I did my own research online. (Priuschat.com has more info than anything Toyota will provide and the Toyota engineers regularly check in with the group

There have been a crap ton of false rumors that have circulated for years like the Hummer being more environmentally friendly and that garbage. Most are running well beyond a regular ICE motor due to less strain on the ICE since it is off around 20% of the time and not having to provide the sole power.

The starter is actually the smaller of the two generators so it is insanely oversized with no reports for them being burnt out (this is a common misconception that the starter will burn out because of all the start-stop cycles but this has been addressed in all but the GM mild hybrids of yore).

All manner of maintenance items are reduced as well. Since the initial 25-35% of the braking power comes from the regeneration cycles you can stop in most circumstances on regen alone if you look ahead slightly. The average age of brake pads is 120-140k miles and the rotors are about double that. Little things but they sure add up.

My wife is an insurance agent and one of her longtime customers recently traded his 2004 Prius for a 2011 model. He works for a major healthcare/hospital group with a regional presence and has to drive about 150-200 miles a day for work and visits elderly parents in a neighboring state at least once a month. He had 419,000 miles on his car before he started having some clunking noises and some oddball suspension bumps and crashes. He had never done any work on the car beyond fluid changes and tires (he did go through one set of brake pads). He probably could have gotten something fixed but just traded it in instead for the newer model. He got around $0.65 per mile to use his own car and cover food (10 cents more than Uncle Sam lets you deduct to cover food). He received about $28 grand a year to drive his own car. His most certainly paid for itself in a 12 month time frame from his employer and I mean the entire car was paid for in 12 months.

@ Jeff

My apologies. I made a couple of calls and a couple additional online searches and the going rate at the dealer is $2300 for a generation 2 prius battery and $2500-2600 for the gen 3 (includes all new cables, brackets, etc).

I have a friend at the dealer I bought from so the $1200 I was quoted was likely just the dealer cost assuming the typical 100% markup is true. I am sure I could get it for near that $1200 price and probably pay another shop (a customer of mine has an automotive electrical repair business) $100-150 to put it in but my case is apparently atypical.

I figured I better correct my statement before I was thrown under the bus by some other commenter. Still that is no more than a rebuilt transmission or other major repair for a regular car after the 200k mile mark (timing belt/chain replacement and head gaskets for instance would be about the same total cost)

@Big Al
Amen on increasing fuel taxes. Anyone who has taken the most basic of economics classes knows that if the goal is to reduce the use of something (fuel in this case), the most efficient means to reach that goal is to increase the price through taxation. Regulating the products offered instead of addressing demand is completely idiotic.

@mhowarth --That is still not bad. Still cheaper than a new one or getting someone's problems. I have spent over a grand on my 99 S-10 having a rusted body panel replaced, the black boarder around the grill repainted, total detail job inside and out, turn signal relay replaced, fuel purge valve replaced, and some other work but at 97k miles it looks and runs like new and at 20 to 27mpgs it was a good investment.

I think since this new fuel standards are going to start in 2015 and go through 2025 it is better just to accept these standards and adapt to them. In the next few years I will be buying a new midsize crossover for my wife and I am waiting for a e-assist or ecoboost or hybrid 4 cylinder with a premium trim package. The current crop get 17mpgs to 21mpgs and I am waiting for at least in the mid 20s to 30s. Fuel prices will continue to go up so I would just as soon replace what I have with something more efficient.

@Luke in Colorado--I would rather pay more fuel tax but the political will is not there for higher taxes. I would rather wait and see what happens. Who knows they might come up with cars and trucks that meet these standards and if they need more time the government might give them so more time. I remain optimistic.

@mhowarth --My nephew has a Prius to commute back and forth from work in DC. He likes his a lot. My veterinarian has one too and he just traded his old one for a new one. From what you stated they would save you in maintenance as well and 419,000 miles out of one has more than paid for itself. I would be interested in one myself but I don't know if I could convince my wife to get a Prius V. I would buy her one if she would agree. Well I still have time to work on her.

@Jeff
You're right, there is no political will to increase fuel taxes, not even to increase them to keep pace with inflation. It frustrates me, but like you said, best to just accept it and move on. I don't really have any concerns that vehicles can be engineered to meet the coming standards, but what will they be like and what will they cost? Those are the "million dollar" questions.

You can always check out the new Ford C-max. More power, marginally more space and a better ride quality/handling for about the cost midpoint is right between the regular Prius and the Prius V.

I am personally looking at those, the new Fusion and the Leaf or Focus EV for my personal car (trucks are more 3rd vehicle for hobbies than daily needs).

@Luke in CO--That is the big question "What is all this going to cost?" Big Al is correct that we need to go to more global vehicles and we need to have global agreement on emissions and fuel economy standards. Also using existing technologies along with lighter materials and more aerodynamics. mhowarth is correct as well, for cars some of the existing hybrids will do, but half ton pickups are more of a challenge. I remain optimistic and I don't want to fret over the future.

@ mhowarth -I currently have two trucks-one is the 99 S-10 extend cab 2 wheel drive 5 speed with 2.2 4 cylinder motor that I have owned since new and a 2008 Isuzu I-370 crewcab 4 x 4 that I bought new 4 years ago. The S-10 I use to haul things in and to drive to the bus stop (97k miles). The Isuzu I use to travel in the winter in my job and have kept the miles low 22k (I will keep the Isuzu for at least another 10 years and it will be my retirement vehicle). My wife has a 2000 Ford Taurus with 71k miles loaded with the 24 valve V-6 (she has been retired for a number of years and does not drive as much). I am not a serious truck owner meaning I like the utlility of a truck but I do not go off roading or tow trailers. Both my trucks are compact and midsize because I just don't need a full size truck. Eventually I might not even own a truck but for now I like the utility of a truck and I use my truck bed.

I have reached the point in life that I am less interested in a big powerful vehicle and more interested in efficiency, reliablity, and safety. I don't want something too small but I don't need too big. To me bigger is not better.

@Jeff S
I agree with Big Al that globalization across all fronts is needed to address these coming issues, but I'm not holding my breath. Nationalism is in vogue right now, and very few nations seem willing to sacrifice any sovereignty (real or imagined) to achieve gains for the mutual benefit of all.

@Jeff S and Luke in Co
This is what worries me.

In Australia, US and Canada our cities sprawl over miles because we all live in detached housing on large blocks. We are reliant on cheap fuel to get us to work, shops, take kids to soccer etc.

European cities because they developed earlier than ours don't have the exact urban sprawl problem. Most of their cities have better mass transit systems.

People in our countries have to realise when the $hit hits the fan and fuel prices skyrocket they will not be able to afford to drive to work.

Its all good now, but only just, in our lifetime we will see this occur (I'm 52).

I own a couple of houses in outer urban areas. And this does worry me, I figure within 20-30 years this will occur, that is people can't afford to travel.

We saw what can happen to oil prices as in 2008. This will happen again. If someone you in 2002 that oil will be sitting on $100 per barrel within a decade you would have been laugh at.

Oil will be over $200 per barrel within another decade or over $7.00 a gallon for gas in the US. With your flat economy wages aren't going to move very much. The average household income currently in the US is at 1995 levels after peaking in the early 2000s.

I don't see hybrids as viable, there isn't enough material to build accumulators. The only viable fuels I see are coal and LNG. What's left of oil and the by products from gas will be used in the chemical industry and lubricants. The easiest technology is the adaptation of what exist right now.

The grandchildren of the future will see a siesmic shift far greater than our grandparents encountered.

What are trucks gonna be relegated to the 1 percenters or construction workers who write them off?! Krikey by the time they put all this bs into a truck a truck will be over 100 grand.No one will be able to afford 1 damn liberals,thanks for nothing aholes!



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