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Gas, and fuel-efficient cars, is this true?

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#1 of 150 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk



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Posted May 09 2004 - 11:35 AM

My friend's mother works for the department of energy. She was saying that they could develop a sport utility that gets around 50 MPG without sacrificing overall performance. She also said they would not do that though because it would make every single car out there obsolete and would ruin the economy as a whole. That it would have to be phased in over many years. Is this true? Maybe I did not listen in Econ enough in college, but why would the introduction of such a valuable product ruin the economy. Are oil companies that in control of the American economy? My gas prices are around $1.75, and I've never seen it this high. The prices are ridiculous now. If they can make that kind of fuel-efficient cars, why in the hell wouldn't they do it? And what is going to be done about current gas prices?

#2 of 150 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted May 09 2004 - 12:52 PM

Sounds like a FOAF (friend of a friend) Urban legend. check snopes for the 200mpg car.
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#3 of 150 OFFLINE   Brad Porter

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Posted May 09 2004 - 12:57 PM

It sounds vaguely like the 200 MPG carburetor urban legend (Snopes phact.org), although she only talks it up to 50 MPG.

Edit: I see Garrett leaped in front of me with this nugget of wisdom.

The only obvious negative economic impact would be to the petroleum industry, since the demand for their product would be cut by about 20-30% (given the same number of miles driven). There would probably be a slight increase in miles driven given the reduced cost.

The impact to the overall economy would likely be quite positive, given the reduction in transportation costs. These sneaky auto companies would do quite well selling new cars and conversion kits to every family in the country (or the world).

So consider this, if this technology is readily available and the only real consequence is a large negative impact to the American economy, why aren't Peugeot, Volvo, Mitsubishi, etc. producing these super-SUVs? Or does the Illuminati control them too? Posted Image

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#4 of 150 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted May 09 2004 - 01:45 PM

Highly doubtful. When you combine weight, aerodynamics, and thermal efficiencies of internal combustion engines, it pretty much just isn't possible. Yet. I've seen a university experiment, where they squeezed 39mpg out of a Ford Explorer, but the average driver wouldn't like how they did it. It was hybrid-tech, had a small 4cyl turbo-diesel, stick shift, and had to be driven at WOT near redline in 2nd gear to pull a 4000lb trailer up a hill. Just about no one would be willing to drive a car like this.
First thing you can do about high gas prices- drive less. I'd bet at least 20% of the miles you put on your car are complete fluff. Start analyzing the way you drive, and eliminate the wasted trips. And, they do make cars that get 50mpg. Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Honda Insight to name three. Todd
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#5 of 150 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted May 09 2004 - 02:08 PM

It is true that in about 8 - 20 years it should be economically and technologically feasible to produce a hydrogen powered car. These kinds of cars utilize *no* fossil fuel whatsoever, and the residue that they leave is plain water.
Click here for a farly recent story regarding what is sure to become the true "car of the future".

And here's a story about "The Big Three" finally committing some real resources to hydrogen powered cars:


#6 of 150 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted May 09 2004 - 02:25 PM

If you were really concerned about getting 50 miles to the gallon, you wouldn't be looking at SUV's Posted Image

Hybrid cars and motorcylces regularly get 50mpg if you insit on being "green" right now.
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#7 of 150 OFFLINE   Khoa Tran

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Posted May 09 2004 - 02:35 PM

always has been possible....recently though


#8 of 150 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted May 09 2004 - 03:40 PM

in all fairness, 200 mpg isnt out of the question. actually 235 mpg, but who's counting? Posted Image

i know it isnt a production car, but it is impressive anyway.

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#9 of 150 OFFLINE   Aaron Schmitt

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Posted May 09 2004 - 04:40 PM

Does the new Ford Escape Hybrid coming out this summer count? Granted, it's not going to get 50mpg, but it is an SUV that will get somewhere between 30-40mpg depending on configuration. Lexus will also be introducing a Hybrid SUV this year, with Toyota bringing theirs to market in 2005. Aaron
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#10 of 150 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted May 09 2004 - 04:57 PM

Aside from what the others have said, look at it this way. Do corporate executives look at the short term or long term? With gas prices the way they are now, if the auto manufacturers could put out a fuel effecient SUV right now you can bet they would. They wouldn't care one bit about the supposed long term effects on the economy if it would increase their stock options in the short term. Why do you think so much outsourcing is going on? Many of these projects are doomed to fail or already have because you just can't take ongoing software projects and hand them to developers in another country and not expect a long term drop in productivity. But in the short term it looks good on the balance sheet, so the execs do it anyways. OK, so I got off topic there for a bit. But it's true, all the auto manufacturers would be racing to put out the cars now. Plus it would benefit the economy for a bit, perhaps long enough for the oil companies to shift their focus elsewhere. Think about it, if all the sudden fuel-efficient SUVs came out, tons of people would be buying new cars, and the used car market would bottom out. So the auto manufacturers and dealers would be rolling in the dough. Auto manufacturing would increase, as would development of conversions for older cars, although I imagine the auto manufacturers would try to stop that as much as possible. One thing I've heard about hyrdrogen really bothers me. Some plans call for getting the hyrdrogen from fossil fuels, so it just moves the dependence on fossil fuels and the polution further up the chain, but doesn't eliminate it.

#11 of 150 OFFLINE   Erik.Ha


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Posted May 09 2004 - 05:46 PM

One of the major factors in gas mileage for any vehicle is overall weight. The trade-off is, the lighter the vehicle reletive to its size, the less crashworthy it is. This is the law of unintended consequences at work. YES people want fuel efficient vehicles but when you poll them, the overwhelming concern they have when it comes to vehicle purchase is "safety". Fuel efficiancy ranks way below both safety and practicality. To make a standard power SUV more fuel efficient, theres really only one way to do it... Make it lighter... Lighter material...Less material... Generally, that equals LESS SAFE. Although SUVs have a higher risk of "rollovers" the extra size and weight make them much more safe than small cars in non-rollover (the vast majority) collisions. This is not new territory. For generations, cars got bigger and bigger and bigger. Gas prices were low, and engineers learned that the bigger the cars were, the more protection they afforded their occupents... Then the gas shortage of the 70s hit... Prices skyrocketed. People demanded more fuel efficient cars, and the "econo-car" japanese vehicles which got great gas mileage became very popular. They were also much less crashworthy than their big cousins... The gas shortage resolved itself, gas prices fell, and the 80's saw the rebirth of "safety first mentality" with big european sedans setting the trend which has continued through today with the SUV and "The Bigger the Better" mentality. Even at $2.50 a gallon, people still buy safety and convenience over good mileage. Im not sure Hydrogen fuel cells will eleviate this problem. There is NO WAY to make hydrogen AS safe as gasoline in the refueling process or post-crash scenario. Anybody who has seen the stuff handled in bulk knows the safety precautions that have to be taken to prevent SERIOUS catastrophe. Dad is not going to want to put on his asbestos suit to top off the tank on the way to work. As flamable and dangerous as gasoline is, it doesnt hold a candle (no pun intended) to Hydrogen. The day little jenny, little johnny, and their dog spot burst into flames like the hindenburg and get blown into low earth orbit because mom messed up while trying to refuel the family's brand new, graoundbreaking, environmentaly friendly minivan, is the day the 5 oclock news during sweeps week starts running "The Hydrogen Bomb in your trunk... Is Your Car a Crematorium on Wheels?" and Ralph Nader writes "Unsafe at Any Speed 2- the hydrodeathcar" and the hydrogen fuel cell becomes UNSELLABLE at any price....
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#12 of 150 OFFLINE   Joe Szott

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Posted May 10 2004 - 05:11 AM

You could squeeze 30-40 MPG out of the current crop of SUV and truck type vehicles, it really wouldn't be that hard technically. BUT ... it wouldn't be cheap and that's why car companies aren't interested. Would you buy an Explorer that gets 35 MPG and has slightly less power over one that gets 22 MPG if it cost $13,000 more across the board? No, therefore they don't exist Posted Image

The way car companies change is when people stop buying the big SUVs and buy the station wagons or the minivans with V6s instead of V8s. When they see enough of that happening (like after the oil crisis in the 70s), suddenly they all start making these nice efficient cars and lighter duty trucks because that's where the money has gone.

Hybrids are a grat idea, but until they either come down to ~$4-5K over the regular model or people decide to buy them anyway, the car makers aren't going to change their focus.

#13 of 150 OFFLINE   Joe Szott

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Posted May 10 2004 - 05:15 AM

One more tidbit:
Sure there is. Even today they are discussing using some sort of solid hydrogen material that the engine itself converts to gas just before it uses it. So you would pull up to a pump and maybe swap out an empty solid hydrogen container for a full one at the pump (ala propane tank style.) You get in a wreck and the solid material is too dense to ignite, it either just sits in the tank or spills out on the road, no fire, no explosion. Not saying this is what they'll do, but pointing out that nothing's impossible (including safe hydrogen fuel.)

#14 of 150 OFFLINE   Danny Tse

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Posted May 10 2004 - 05:33 AM

Isn't Lexus bringing to market this year a RX-series SUV with 270 horsepower and still gets 30 mpg?
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#15 of 150 OFFLINE   Drew Bethel

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Posted May 10 2004 - 05:49 AM

Ford Escape Hybrid Sets SUV Mileage Record in 37-Hour Non-Stop Driving Test on a Tank of Gas

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#16 of 150 OFFLINE   GordonL


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Posted May 10 2004 - 05:50 AM

Taking it a step further, the ultimate solution would be to develop a device that extracts hydrogen out of water on demand. You fill your car with water, which is cheap and available just about everywhere, and there's no danger of explosions in a collision. Such a device could be made if the Gov't put enough pressure/incentive on the industry to come up with such a device. Problem is, the oil lobbiest are too powerful and gas is still relatively cheap so we probably won't see such a device anytime soon.

#17 of 150 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted May 10 2004 - 06:02 AM

i'm no expert, but i think a device that does such a task would be so expensive that it would be much more cost effective to buy gasoline. i would imagine that it would be highly innefficient at extracting the hydrogen from water anyway. it would be the ultimate solution though, but i doubt we will ever see such a device for various reasons. CJ
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#18 of 150 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted May 10 2004 - 06:04 AM

I could be wrong but I don't think an efficent method for seperating hydrogen from oxygen has been invented. Not even the oil industry could keep that technology from getting out, it wouldn't take long for the person that comes up with it to become the world's richest person.

#19 of 150 OFFLINE   David Brown Eyes

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Posted May 10 2004 - 06:21 AM

The current hybrids seem interesting but if I did purchase one who would be able to work on the beast. Dealerships are just to damn expensive in regards to repairs.

#20 of 150 OFFLINE   Mike Wladyka

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Posted May 10 2004 - 06:41 AM

i think you are right, i don't think there is any efficient method Hydrolysis: uses electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. i think that some purposed hydrogen refueling stations would use this to separate water, with the electricity being generated by wind or water i read a paper last year sometime, in which some grad students where able to get Hydrogen out of grain alcohol. that sounds promising as well. IMO, the ultimate solution would be solar power...but today's crystals are too inefficient.
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