Originally posted by: ChunkiMunki
I find it embarrassing the President of the US goes over to Saudi Arabia TWICE and begs for more oil production. Saudis say "No". Our response should have been massive alternative energy research and development., as well as a conservation program via bully pulpit. Since the '73 embargo the US response has been to complain and yell about high gas prices, yet continue to do nothing. To bad we went to war instead of subsidizing alternate energy.
Actually since 73 our fuel economy has double on average. And it looks like car makers are ramping up more fuel economy and that would have happened even without the new cafe standards. Consumers are demanding it.
I also find it embarrassing that congress blocks oil exploration, which makes us more dependent on oil from the the middle east. ANWR and offshore drilling is no magic bullet, but it is going to take a couple of decades to turn over our auto fleet for something more efficient.
1973 the avg car got about 13mpg, to the avg car gets about 23 and still trending upwards at a good clip. Also keep in mind that almost every car has gained a significant amount of weight of the same time period for creature comforts and safety.
Today in the automotive industry cars are replaced 4 speeds with 6 speed transmission. There is a move to electric power steering. V6s are getting the same power as a v8. A four banger is getting v6 output now. The prius has sold a million units without significant government subsidy. Hybrid sales now account for about 3% of new car sales and that is growing. I am going to guess that within 5 years most models will at least hybrid as an option.
I doubt that cars have gained much weight as alternative, lighter materals are being used in many components today. Sure, SUV's are heavy as hell, but I would venture to say that many cars are much lighter on a size wise equivalent basis. Aluminum block engines and plastics have replaced many heavier items on vehicles (including plastic gas tanks, plastic fuel lines, etc. which my company makes).
As for hybrids, I read an interesting article today in Design magazine about hydraulic hybrids. A Ford Taurus retrofitted with a hydraulic hybrid system achieved 85 mpg with 160HP engine and could spike HP up to 600HP on short term boost demand (from the hydraulic resevoir). Also, hydraulic hybrids acutally get much better fuel economy in the city than the highway and will cost about the same as todays cars (as well as weight) because they would replace the complex transmissions with hydraulic propulsion systems. Sould very promising from the read and has no complex electrical issues that a battery/gasoline hybrid system typically exhibits (not saying it's problem free however).
Somebody posted an article in here about 18 months ago that showed cars saw a pretty good increase in weight even from the early 1990's while maintaining the same MPG. if you compare a car from the 70s to today. I will be willing to bet the car today is heavier but also much much safer while providing higher mileage to boot.
I bet we could have 100 mpg cars if we had 1970's safety in mind.