Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Cars

In 2005, California passed a law requiring a reduction in vehicle emissions. In the next 10 years, automakers will need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks by 34%, 25% for larger vehicles. Automakers have been suing in order to block the legislation. California has responded by filing a countersuit that charges that cars’ emissions have cost the state millions of dollars. In the meantime, a number of other states have passed or are in the process of enacting the same standards as California.

Automakers claim that the new standards are impossibly high and that to meet them would be prohibitively expensive. Other critics chastise the “copycat” states and suggest that they’ll be sorry, because they’ll be stuck with whatever changes California makes in the future.

Now, I’ve long suspected that automakers could, without too much difficulty, increase vehicles’ fuel efficiency and reduce emissions significantly. Until this time, however, there has not been much incentive; I would even go so far as to say that there has been some disincentive from oil companies. So I certainly am not buying the argument that the new limits are impossible. And then Trillian sent me a link; some scientists got together and built a minivan, using off-the-shelf technology, that surpasses the requirements of California’s legislation. Without, they say, compromising safety and costing only a little more than current models. The press release points out that several of the components used are currently available in some models—combining them leads to even better efficiency.

Now even if their claims are a bit inflated, even if the costs would be slightly greater (but in mass production, I have to believe that could be brought down), this is something to start from. First step of research and development done, time for each automaker to figure out how to work it into their current lines.

Bonus link: In the market for a new car? Want to see how your current one stacks up? Check out this EPA site!

1 comment:

metro mama said...

The other part of this is people need to get out of their cars. Many families could get away with sharing a car and don't.