Big Cars, Pitiful Mileage: How Forgetful We Are

| 11/11/2009 3:58:08 PM

I’ve been off TV for five or six months, working diligently day and night at my new educational center in east-central Missouri, The Evergreen Institute, where I teach classes on solar electricity, wind energy, green building, natural building and more. 

So, when I moved back to Colorado for the winter and had a few minutes of free time at night, I started to watch a little TV.

One of the first things I noticed was that the bulk of the car ads are extolling the virtues of big gas guzzlers, SUVs and big trucks. I’m hoping it is Detroit simply trying to dump their unsold gas guzzlers, but I fear it is their effort to persuade us — once again — that bigger is better.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that those ads featuring high mileage vehicles often “brag” about cars that get a whopping 24 to 30 miles per gallon.

I have two things to say about this situation. First, have we no memory at all? Have we all forgotten the economic kick in the pants that $4 per gallon gas delivered?

Let’s remember: As the global economy recovers, chances are gas consumption will rise, dramatically, backsliding us into the ugly, painful days of $4 a gallon gas. This, in turn, could stimulate another economic downturn.

Charles J_3
3/29/2010 11:08:54 PM

Pat according to one report Americans have only dropped their driving levels down to 2004 levels. Not 1984 but 2004 levels! In other words they aren't conserving jack, they are suckers for punishment. Also the dollar seems to be going up. Something tells me the Bush admin artificially wrangled the dollar lower inorder to stimulate the already aching economy in 2002. I can't understand it because personally I've been squeezing my driving down to filling up once a month. However, now that I think about it that's still way more driving around than I did in college. Less life perhaps = more driving. Patrick, the Prius is HUGE and perfect for families. 90% of the people we see on the road are driving alone. It's like a small minivan. People in mini vans look odd hauling all that car trailing around behind them as the little woman sits tucked up to the steering wheel. As busy as I am, I don't like my cars so big. Takes longer to get around. I test drove a Nissan Versa recently and told the salesman it was too cavernous for me, need something that has a lower ceiling and corners flat. I'm going to agree with the author on this one. My car gets about 36mpg in the summer and 32 in the winter. Not so great but better than most. I only wish it got 40mpg all the time unlike on long trips. In the early 90s there were plenty of cars available that got 40+ miles per gallon and they weren't hybrids. People are just gluttons for punishment (and gas).

Pat Miketinac
11/22/2009 10:54:01 PM

I think gas will go back above $4, but not so much due to any economic recovery, which could be a decade or more away. Rather, it will be due to a drop in the value of the dollar caused by fiat money creation by the Federal Reserve and massive government spending. Historically, most Americans only conserve if costs go up.

11/17/2009 10:28:29 AM

Let's face reality. Although cars getting 50+ mpg are a great idea, right now we only have the Prius that gets that kind of mileage (at least here in the US). And it is a small car that doesn't work very well as primary family car to haul an average American family around in every day. So reality today says that buying an SUV that gets 25-40 mpg is a huge improvement over the 10-15 mpg units that most people used to buy. And most of the people still shopping for a SUV today usually need an SUV (unlike 10 years ago). So, until product is actually available to buy with the mileage you want there is no reason to be all offended that you see car ads selling SUVs with much higher fuel efficiency that just a few years ago. This should be seen as a positive first step towards getting people used to the idea that efficiency can be had in a vehicle that the average American would find acceptable.

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