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August 25, 2005

SUVs: Time To Increase Fuel Efficiency Standards?

Professor No-Traffic has a good link-rich and email-enhanced discussion of SUV's.

As a Republican, I'm against the well-nigh Inquisitorial hatred the left has for SUV's. On the other hand... they have become popular partly due to a strange government-regulation regime that incentivizes the production of very large, very low gas-mileage vehicles. Which is hardly the direction we would like to go in.

Not saying we need more government regulation, but we may wish to examine whether the current regulation regime is rational in the least.

It's hard to enforce higher fuel efficiency standards for SUV's, with the big three American auto-makers still struggling in an extraodinarily competitive environment, and with the SUV one of their few success stories in the past ten years.

Still-- do SUV's need to be so large, heavy, and fuel-inefficient? If they had 10% less of the size and weight, they'd still be pretty damn big and roomy -- and still very safe, still being the behemoths of the road (excluding actual trucks and semi-trailers) -- and would, presumably, get 10% additional (or a little better) fuel economy.

With so many of these suckers on the road, 10% additional mpg would make a nontrivial difference in the demand for petroleum. Not enough to bring oil prices down to historic norms, but enough to back them off of historic highs.

My interest in this is about 5% about the environment (an overblown issue, I think) and 95% about the economy and national-security jeopardy we find ourselves in when we continue using so much more petroleum, bought from largely hostile states.

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posted by Ace at 11:05 AM

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