We cry over spilled oil, yet subsidize the production of ultra-polluting cars

May 5, 2010

CTSv
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, coupled to the recent rebound in auto sales, remind us of something that even Republican oilman George W. Bush often said: the United States uses too much petroleum. Why then is the federal government forcing taxpayers to subsidize the manufacture of a 556-horsepower luxury car that gets 14 miles per gallon?

The public owns about 60 percent of General Motors, with around $52 billion forcibly extracted from taxpayers’ pockets to subsidize the company. General Motors builds the Cadillac CTS-V, a rich person’s plaything that retails for $62,020, does zero-to-60 in a racetrack-caliber 4.3 seconds – that is faster than a Corvette of the 1960s muscle-car era — has an outrageous 556-horsepower motor and posts a miserable 14 MPG. (Mileage references in this column will be the EPA “combined” figure that blends city and highway driving.) To boot, the CTS-V emits 13.3 tons per year of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. That’s far more than a typical car.

At the very time we are reminded of the fragility and environmental consequences of U.S. petroleum consumption, at the very time President Barack Obama and many in Congress want regulation of greenhouse gases, federally subsidized General Motors is using taxpayer funds to build an extremely wasteful, ultra-polluting car. The gas mileage of the CTS-V is so awful, it would have qualified – right off the assembly line – for destruction as a clunker under last summer’s “cash for clunkers” program. Manufactured and then immediately junked: the ultimate government program. Except these Cadillacs aren’t going to the shredder, they are on the street wasting gasoline and pumping out greenhouse gases, courtesy the taxpayer.

This Cadillac is offensive at many levels: wasted gasoline, wasted tax funds, greenhouse-gas output, extremely high horsepower. The very rapid acceleration generated by that horsepower has no bearing on everyday driving conditions: rather, is useful solely for road-rage behavior such as drag-racing from stoplights and cutting others off. And can anyone explain why typical Americans are being taxed to subsidize rich twits who want “heated bucket leather seating surfaces with suede microfiber inserts and 10-way power adjuster/recliner with two-way lumbar?” Bear in mind as well that horsepower is the enabler of road rage. Being behind the wheel has become stressful in part because so many cars are now overpowered; the slightest blip of the throttle allows aggressive driving. Reduce the horsepower, and road-rage behavior should diminish.

The Caddy in question is hardly the only low-mileage, high-polluting car that taxpayers now subsidize. GM’s taxpayer-subsidized Denali mega-SUV, seemingly as massive as the mountain for which it is appropriately named, gets just 15 MPG and emits 12.4 tons of greenhouse gases annually. The taxpayer-subsidized Dodge Ram 1500 gets 15 MPG and emits 12.4 tons of global warming pollutants each year. The taxpayer-subsidized Chrysler SRT-8, with an offensive 425 horsepower, gets just 19 MPG. The taxpayer-subsidized Chevy Camaro, praised for being zoomy-looking, with its big-block engine option whimpers in at 19 MPG and 9.8 tons of carbon dioxide annually – and the Camaro is a coupe with full-sized seating for only two adults. (Check the mileage and air emissions of any car here.) The taxpayer-subsidized Buick Lucerne, a nondescript family car, with the big-engine option gets just 18 MPG while emitting 10.4 tons of greenhouse gases annually. Come on kids, let’s jump in the family car and waste petroleum at taxpayer expense while we drive to the protest against those bad, bad oil companies responsible for the spill! You could even seek vengeance by jumping into an absurdly named Dodge Avenger – but the revenge would be on your own wallet, since the Avenger is subsidized by your taxes and its big-engine option posts a dismal 20 MPG.

Though Ford Motors has taken no federal subsidies – good for Ford! – it too is guilty of mileage and greenhouse-gas sins. Ford’s revamped Taurus, the company’s signature family car, gets just 21 MPG and emits 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Due out soon is a 412-horsepower Ford Mustang that will be lucky to get 22 MPG when scored by the EPA. Meanwhile the country’s two best-selling cars, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, get just 23 MPG with their big-engine options.

YES, THE GOVERNMENT CAN TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN DRIVE

Federal fuel economy standards are about to begin rising, a one-third increase by 2016. That is a long-overdue improvement – most standards haven’t risen in 20 years – and should reduce oil waste and greenhouse gases. (The alleged current “27.5 MPG” new-car fuel average that politicians talk about is a fiction designed to make oil waste seem less extreme, and the new standards are expressed in Orwellian language, too; see below.) But even if the problem will decline in future years, why are gasoline-squandering, high-polluting cars and SUVs legal for sale today – to say nothing of federally subsidized?

Don’t respond by saying that overpowered cars and wasteful SUVs are justified because “no one can tell me what I can drive.” On a private track, that’s true. As regards public roads, courts consistently rule that vehicle engineering may be regulated for public purposes such as safety and pollution control. Government most emphatically can tell you what you can drive. It’s just that as regards oil waste and greenhouse gases, government often doesn’t.

What is especially maddening about the situation is that contemporary cars have not, as commonly assumed, become less efficient. Actually, “drivetrain” engineering has taken major strides in recent decades – but too much of the gains have gone into increased horsepower and acceleration.

Here are the trend lines.  From 1975 to 2007, average auto horsepower rose from 137 to 223, a 63 percent increase; real-world fuel economy rose from 13.1 MPG to 20.2 MPG, a 54 percent improvement; acceleration quickened from an average of 14.1 seconds zero-to-60 to 9.6 seconds, or 32 percent faster. For a generation, the trend has been for American vehicles to have more horsepower and accelerate more rapidly. Fuel economy has improved too – but could have improved much more if the engineering gains hadn’t been devoted to speed and horsepower. As cars become more muscular and quicker blasting away from stoplights, fuel economy fails to improve while carbon emissions rise.

Automakers have taken to saying that incredible steps – exotic materials, super-advanced designs – will be needed to meet the coming federal mileage mandate of one-third improvement. Woe is us, Detroit executives say about improving MPG: what they’ve been saying since the  1970s. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted a Big Three executive declaring, “there are no silver bullets” for better MPG. But there are – just reduce horsepower!

Today’s cars could have less horsepower, and thus higher MPG and lower greenhouse emissions, yet still be more powerful than cars of a generation ago. They just can’t have unlimited amounts of horsepower, installed as if there were no consequences. There are, in oil demand and greenhouse gases accumulation.

Ford is about to release a 2011 Mustang that has a 305-horsepower engine and gets 31 MPG in highway driving; the company says the car will be the first “300+/30+” vehicle ever manufactured, powerful yet reasonable in highway fuel use. (The combined MPG rating, which takes into account stop-and-go driving, the company is not talking about.)

Congratulations to Ford engineers: but the same technology used for that 302-horsepower engine might have been used for a 250-horsepower car that uses less gasoline and is socially responsible.

There are cars made by General Motors and Chrysler, with taxpayer subsidies, that offer good mileage and high quality – the 26-MPG GMC Terrain SUV is a terrific example of size and comfort plus a reasonable fuel number. But too much horsepower and too much oil waste continue to characterize new car offerings, and now, often at taxpayer expense.

We’re being taxed to subsidize the manufacture of wasteful high-polluting cars, and soon may be taxed again to correct the greenhouse gases these cars emit.

WHAT’S FISHY ABOUT GOVERNMENT MPG RATINGS?

Officially, since the mid-1990s, new cars sold in the United States averaged 27.5 MPG, and since 2006, officially, new pickups sold in the United States average 22.2 MPG. Good luck actually finding any cars with at least 27.5 MPG in their combined ranking – there are only a handful, though supposedly that’s the average for all models. Pickup trucks? The Ford F-150 series, the top-selling pickup, gets 11 MPG to 17 MPG, depending on power-train options, though supposedly 22.2 is the national average.

What’s going on here is that EPA ratings and the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard employ complex formulas for various categories of vehicles and their share of the fleet mix. De jure, the formulas exist to reward automakers with credits for high-mileage cars; de facto, the formulas are gimmicked to cause fuel economy to seem higher than it actually is, giving politicians and auto CEOs a fictitious number to talk about as if it were real. The real-world mileage average for new cars sold in the United States was in 2009 was around 21 MPG . But on Capitol Hill, politicians grandly speak of the “27.5 MPG” average, which makes U.S. oil addiction seem less bad.

New federal mileage regulations announced recently by Barack Obama will revise the CAFE formulas while raising the official new-car average to 35.3 MPG by 2016. That number too will be fictitious, to generate the appearance of super-extraordinary progress. Analysts at Edmunds, the car-buying service, estimate that a 35 MPG official standard will equate to an actual new-car average of about 26 MPG.

A real-world new-car average of 26 MPG will represent a tremendous achievement, cutting new-car oil use by about a third, and also cutting new-car greenhouse gases emissions by a third. (With current technology, carbon dioxide emission is proportional to fuel consumption.) Thus the new Obama mileage standard is an important step forward. But since switching a fictional “27.5 MPG” standard to a realistic 26 MPG standard would not win any political points, the deceptive way of stating that standard has been maintained. In 2016, politicians will boast about new American cars getting “35.3 miles per gallon.” If the actual average is 26 MPG, we can all be happy.

Regulatory postscript: because Microsoft Word automatically changes “cafe” to “café,” it is common even in leading newspapers to encounter references to the “CAFÉ standard.” Perhaps a regulatory mandate for glasses of wine per table?

Oil postscript: Here is an overlooked aspect of the federal government’s dramatic response to the Gulf of Mexico petroleum spill.

37 comments

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wasted horsepower? So, I guess if you use an electric razor instead of a throw away, that you are using “excess power”? But then again, arent we contributing to the landfill problem by using a disposable? Hmmm Maybe we should be a citizen of the earth and let our beard grow!

No, the problem with the author is that he doesn’t understand that what one man’s excess is, is another man’s just deserts.
What is “socially responsible” is the subject of a midwest conservative like me, late night joke fodder! We don’t expect lazy overweight socially responsible authors to tell us what to eat OR what car to drive. If he want to ride a bicycle to work that’s his perogative. I’m sure it will be made in China, and thus be responsible for putting an American bicycle manufacturer out of work! Take this load of BS somewhere else.

Posted by RogerUSA | Report as abusive

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Arthur Koch, Jerome Russell. Jerome Russell said: We cry over spilled oil, yet subsidize the production of ultra-polluting cars http://bit.ly/9qoKhh #ford #mustang [...]

Mr EasterBrook you have just laid an easter egg !!! One that is of a rose colour and not so fresh. The facts may be correct but your pointless load of self sighted baloney is a waste of bytes and bits.

This rant of green house gases and mpg’s and midlevel sedan’s are lost on a left winged slant that today’s media is full of. Look around, the people of this great country have had enough of the whoa is me but can i get some for nothing attitude.
The end of all ends is simply this, if they build it the people will choose for themsleves. We have dropped comsumption of oil, the green house gases have been reduced, and the global warming farce has fell flat on its face. So find another venue that has actually some base in reality and let those of us who take personal responsibilty for our acts and can think for ourselves decide what is the truth. PS. we will buy the right car for our needs,and if gasoline goes back to over 3 dollars a gallon like it headed for the financial pinch will have every one scrambling for small high mile cars just as it did a couple of summers ago. If you really wanted to make a difference you would be writing about the futures and mark to market issues which truly are reaping or(raping) the consumer for unneeded pricing of comodities that we all use.

Posted by ochoo | Report as abusive

I think this is quite a thought-provoking article, one that nicely exposes the hypocrisy of driving our Denali down to the protest against big oil.

The way to decrease our oil consumption for vehicle use, which is without question a good idea, is to raise gasoline taxes to the point where gasoline is at least $5.00/gallon. THEN we’ll see what kinds of cars people demand.

Posted by JackMack | Report as abusive

Sounds like angry car dealers are posting now. The article is correct. If the tax payer is going to subsidize production, and at the same time wants to curb green house gasses, get higher fuel economy, and prohibit off shore drilling in light of this spill, then why don’t car makers make cars that go along those same lines?

The money to keep them in business has come from our own pockets. So in essence we are paying them to make the stuff they sell to us. There’s a suckers deal if I ever saw one. If energy conservation is such a big deal now then why are we still making cars with such crappy millage? And with so many people out of work because of this whole book cooking mess, why aren’t more affordable quality cars being offered?

This is exactly why foreign car makers have been eating our lunch. They know what people want to drive and they provide it. Why buy American if American cars are crap? But the big boys never learn. So I’m glad there will be no more tax payer funded bail outs. GM, Chrysler and the rest will now have to stay in business the old fashioned way. So you angry posters keep defending the car companies. If they fail again then they deserve it.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

Interesting article.

^To the “joke fodder”: I don’t think the author was suggesting not making luxury cars, or cars that get lower gas mileage. The point he made to me was that a tax payer subsidized, government owned company is producing a product which is damaging. Not just to the environment, but to the government’s own goals, and inevitably, the tax payer. The author also tried to point out that government standards for measuring MPG are flawed. That’s all, and that’s it!

I applaud your effort at offering a different opinion, but please make critical comments analytical. Your use of a base analogy was not only distasteful, but it made you sound like an ass.

Posted by Roinator | Report as abusive

cool car ,dumb misleading story.General motors is dead people.I will never believe or trust this company again.The car industry is going through pains and it will get ugly. I love my beater reliable honda built in the usa. My 1990 buick regal was canadian.flag waving is pointless.buy american literaly means bye american jobs.

Posted by deerecub1977 | Report as abusive

Just garbage. There is no subsidy for these cars and trucks, they are very profitable for the companies that produce them. Once you go down this line of thinking we can list all sorts of activities that should be banned. Road races? How about flying all over the country for sporting events? Do you know some people prefer to heat their houses instead of wearing sweaters? Do I understand that some people use boats for recreation that actually have motors? What does anyone need a motor boat for, did they never hear of oars? Power lawn mowers have contributed to our epidemic of fat people. Private airplanes use more fuel than public transportation, so why are they allowed?

Posted by AmericaninCan1 | Report as abusive

I forgot – just think of how much could be saved if a national speed limit of 45 mph were adopted, and how much could be raised for governments in speeding ticket revenue.

Posted by AmericaninCan1 | Report as abusive

Get over it Mr. Easterbrook, automakers should and will build what sells. Not building what the consumer wants is what got most of these automakers in trouble in the first place. Not just horsepower but a well built reliable product.

Posted by Oilminer | Report as abusive

We cry over spilled oil because it’s polluting the water and shores. Because it’s a lot of money down the drain. Ultra polluting cars? The Cadillac? Too much horsepower the author says.

Well, that depends on miles driven by the car of lots of horsepower. I might be driving a Civic but I might be driving 80 miles each way to work while the Cadillac owners drive it only on the weekends to the golf club. So, there are many factors to making a car an ULTRA POLLUTING vehicle.

Greg himself is a polluter. He is overweight and consumes too much food. His car has to use more gas to move his two person body size. The airlines charge us more money to make up for his cost of gas. And then there is the medical expenses for when he is older and even more out of shape. Judge yourself before you judge others. And you get paid for written such thoughtless articles?

Posted by icemanchi | Report as abusive

A fair criticism but truly, that is an awesome car for the price. Pushing the technology envelope on a small-volume high end car creates profits that can be used to subsidize the high mileage commuter car design improvements. Apply a gas guzzler tax if you wish but I would not want to see GM discontinue every profitable car that they sell even as much as I too am disgusted by the Escalades, Denalis and Hummers.

I cannot imagine that we would be too interested in purchasing a car designed by congress for the masses. Other governments have tried it (Yugo, Lada, …) and failed unless you consider Hitler’s VW bug to be a success worth emulating.

Posted by Timber | Report as abusive

If i’m not mistaken, doesn’t our commander in chief drive in a Caddilac?

This is the most absurd commentary I’ve ever read. As mentioned in a previous post, the technology (safety, fuel efficiency, etc.) developed for and purchased by the “rich twits” ultimately filters down to the average consumer as it’s made more afforable.

The author of this article is a “twit…”

Posted by lmertz | Report as abusive

Well done GM for producing such a wonderful Supercar (CTS-V).

It still does more miles to the gallon compared to cars with the same (or less) performance from Germany or Italy.

Posted by ulebae | Report as abusive

This is exactly why the government should not be investing in nor saving these companies. Now that we’re invested we should be looking for GM to maximize profits not satisfy the author or anyone elses social views. Sorry to inform the author that the number one sellin vehicle in America last month was once again, the Ford F-150 followed by the Chevy Silverado. Light Truck sales were 475K while cars were 505K. Small cars amounted to 167K. The facts do not support the case that GM went bankrupt because it wasn’t building cars Americans want (Small econo gas sipping put put cars). Many Americans love big cars, big trucks, powerful cars and luxury cars. We are invested in a corporation, against our will, the least it can do is try to make money. GM loses money on virtually every small car sale it makes. The only way it almost breaks even is by selling hugely profitable big SUV’s and luxury cars. If GM sold only cars Americans want (as defined by liberal politicians and climate nuts, it would be bankrupt).

The author should go on to suggest that GM produce only small little cars, all the same size, all the same color. Each American is issued one and all other cars are banned. That is the only way he’ll get his way. Because Americans don’t want what he wants them to want.

Posted by JMC1234 | Report as abusive

Liberty means being able to drive what you want; buy what you want; eat what you want; vote for whom you want; etc. As soon as you here someone speak of “macro” solutions to “pressing global problems”, you can just hear your liberty being frittered away. Do keep this in mind as you read about great solutions to “global” problems. The USA is about liberty, not about mass homogenity for the “global good”. Oh, and who was appointed arbiter of the “global good”, anyway?

Tell it to the Europeans, Gregg, tell it to the Europeans.

And if you still feel compelled to publish such silliness, why not hammer AMG Mercedes, or M-Sport BMWs, or Ferraris, Lambos, powerful Audis, or Porsche Turbos–all wasteful, powerful, gas sucking (toy) cars of European origin. Quit picking on GM, friend.

Posted by bobw1 | Report as abusive

Corrections: I apologize for typing “here” instead of “hear” and for mispelling “homogeneity”. Carry on.

Posted by bobw1 | Report as abusive

Corrections: I am lost without spellcheck–”misspelling.”

Posted by bobw1 | Report as abusive

@ulebae: “Well done GM for producing such a wonderful Supercar (CTS-V). It still does more miles to the gallon compared to cars with the same (or less) performance from Germany or Italy.”

You’re talking particularly about supercars, aren’t you, like Lambor Ghinis and Ferraris.

If you look at real-world average fuel consumptions, European and Japanese vehicle designs are about two generations ahead of American designs.
I’m based in the United Kingdom and I wouldn’t even LOOK at buying a new family car that doesn’t do less than 60 miles to the gallon. US gallons are 5/6% the size of UK gallons… So I guess that means I’m looking for 50+ mpg – over DOUBLE the real-world US average.
Check this out…
http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/microsite/ecof lex/corsa/corsa.html#

From GM (Vauxhall) in the United Kingdom. Yes, GENERAL MOTORS is manufacturing family cars IN EUROPE that claim COMBINED (average) fuel consumption of OVER 60 MILES PER US GALLON. Why can’t they do the same in the United States?

I say your congressmen are all toothless wimps. TELL GM to import the European designs to the USA, and you could DOUBLE the fuel economy of new vehicles in two or three years.

Posted by compsci | Report as abusive

As a young adult (a few decades ago) I bought and read magazines like “Road and Track” and “Car and Driver”, and tinkered with my cars to try to make them run a little better and look and sound more “cool”. This was at the end of the first heyday of “muscle cars”, though, and my labors were on the likes of a Datsun 510, attempting to coax a few more than the standard 96 horsepower from its tiny engine and take corners a little faster without getting all squirrelly. Now those same magazines are pure automotive pornography, filled with features extolling the virtues of the CTS-V and its ilk. A car like that serves either as another toy for the very rich, or as a mid-life ego crutch for some insecure 50-year-old with thinning hair and a thickening middle, who’s willing to abandon his kids’ college fund and mortgage the roof over his head to pretend he’s still a stud on the way to his boring job.

Illicit drug dealers are at least more honest about what they’re peddling, and they aren’t begging for help from Uncle Sam.

Posted by Art_In_Seattle | Report as abusive

Compsci should know about toothless. He is from the island where good teeth are quite rare and where honesty is relative to your goal, historically speaking.

The author obviously doesn’t run his own business. This is a good thing for his family.

If you look at the top selling cars in America you would be hesitant to build what the author wants.

Raise gas taxes? Hmm? Are you trying to make America Europe?

Your families are here because they did not like what was offered them in their homeland. Choice. Opportunity.

The closer we stick to the founders vision the better off this country will be. They seem to have been more intelligent then the majority we have in congress today, president et al.

Anyone that thinks the government can run a business successfully is completely lost in regards to the realities of life.

You want to straighten out our government?

Double the penalties for politicians that break the law. They have broken the public’s trust. For some, it is worse then murder.

This article belongs in a country where communists or fascists are making a push for power. I believe the citizens of this country are wise enough not to allow this to happen. They may have put an unqualified President into office but they aren’t complete idiots.

The author is not informed enough about cars which is shown by the terminology he uses and probably should write about uses for hemp.

He did do a good job of informing people that another government number is ficticious. What a surprise! The government deceives the masses! Breaking news at 10!

Life, Liberty, and Justice. Remember those?

Posted by UglyTruth | Report as abusive

The Cartel that has drained America’s wallets and wreaked the most havoc on the U.S. economy is not OPEC. It is none other than our very own Federal Reserve. The Fed is a private organization comprised of a handful of wealthy people that back large financial institutions that manipulate the money. Remember kids, the definition of a recession is, “When all the money goes back to its rightful owners.” Money doesn’t simply vanish, money is a zero-sum game, so as you get poorer someone else is getting richer. The Fed’s policies determine who that “someone” is and it ain’t you and me. All this flotsam over a silly gas guzzler is more in a long line of flotsam designed to take your eye off the ball.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

I think that this article is trying to point out the conflict between consumer behavior and public policy. As consumers, we want MORE. Bigger, faster, more luxury…call it human nature. Public policy seeks to provide for the greater good: safer, less polluting, providing better jobs. In the example of the bailout of GM, the public good was preventing an instantaneous corporate meltdown and loss of BOTH jobs and shareholder value, not environmental protection. GM is now trying to recover by creating cars consumers want, even if they consume vast amounts of resources, and prove that they can be profitable and pay back the taxpayers who saved them. This program would be stymied if the taxpayer (via our elected government) also mandated that GM makes cars that consumers don’t want. We would provide a bailout to a company that we would then force to fail.
Bailing out GM has nothing to do with a public policy to stop environmental degredation…that requires a change in consumer habits, either by penalty (raise the price of gasoline to penalize polluters) or a change in consumer sentiment (people actually listen to environmental warnings and change their behavior). From the voices of several of the responses, it appears that the self-less consumer isn’t happening, so maybe penalties (or benefits for using less polluting transportation) needs to be implemented to support those public goals. The linkage between the GM bailout and pollution is tenuous at best.

Posted by Mike_s1 | Report as abusive

It’s only fair that taxpayers should fund automobiles that drive the environment into the ground. Taxpayers are the ones who funded the financial vehicles that drove the economy into the ground on behalf of those most likely to buy those ostentatiously wasteful automobiles.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive

Interesting Article. Now tell me why a company is putting in a 35 MW biomass generating plant that burns wood with all sorts of carbon dioxide emissions and NO emissions and calls it carbon neutral. I agree that we are moving toward energy independence, but we still want our toys for a little while. It is just good that the cars you mention have small production numbers. And my 10 year old Corvette normally gets 24-26 miles per gallon on the road and has all kinds of performance.

Posted by fred5407 | Report as abusive

Gregg, you shouldn’t talk about things you know absolutely nothing about. I can’t imagine why you hate cars so much, but you are certainly misinformed. Let’s be frank. How many people will actually buy that Cadillac? You also fail to mention that the taxpayer bailout is helping create the Chevy Volt, or did you not want to mention that because it may have made you look bad? And let’s be honest. We didn’t bailout GM and Chrysler for environmental reasons, we bailed them out for economic reasons. If they determine that the public wants these kinds of cars, they are going to build them. It’s a little thing we call business. All the car companies have great fuel-saving technology but no one is buying it. Take a look at the reasons and then come up with a well thought out article.

Posted by agej | Report as abusive

While “new”, the Cadillac in question was probably in production before GM was bailed out. Not putting it for sale is unthinkable.

But comparing the relative environmental effects from buring 20 gallons of gas a week instead of 40 isn’t in the same ballpark as the oil spill in the gulf. The impact from the gulf is unexpected and immediate. Global warming has been talked about for almost 40 years and is a gradual shift over centuries.

This is like comparing the cost of leaving a light on to running the AC with the door open.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

MPG is a meaningless metric because I can have the same impact with a Prius as with a Cadillac by simply driving the Prius more. Efficiency gets negated by using it more. Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is a metric that is as important as mpg. Using something LESS is always better. The problem in the US is that there are no transportation alternatives besides the car in most places, so you are stuck with it and might as well make it enjoyable. But you will not find me in a Cadillac. A Ford Mustang convertible would be nicer for my 5 mile commute.

Posted by Bert2 | Report as abusive

I bought my SUV a few years ago when not many were so concerned about the climate change, or at least I wasn’t aware at that time. I paid $50,000. So if the government is going to give me my money back I would be more than happy to buy a new green car, otherwise I am not going to spend another $35,000 for it.

Posted by alinsaviuc | Report as abusive

I am a very proud owner of a 2001 Pontiac TransAm that employs a 5.7L V8 LS1 engine putting out 305 horsepower. I would not give it up for anything. Well no let me not lie. I would only if I could get a 2001-02 TransAm with the WS6 package. Six speed manual transmission with ram-air boosting horsepower to 315. Sleek and sexy. :) As such, I know it is not my place to complain about fuel costs. It is my choice to own the car so I don’t complain.

@AmericaninCan1, you don’t live in NY I wager. Where I live on Long Island we (myself included)average at least 10mph above the posted speed limit on any road. Law enforcement is powerless to have any serious enforcement of it due simply to the sheer volume of traffic. In my 15 years of driving I have recieved only one speeding ticket.

I am not saying it is a good thing at all, just to point out that simply posting a speed limit does not mean it will be followed or that law enforcement will be able to do much to deter those who break it.

One last thought… only $62K for the CTS-V with 556 ponies under the hood? That is quite a bargain!

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

In response to “Mike_S1″….I beg to differ. GM (and the rest of the industry) aren’t “trying to recover by creating cars consumers want”….they’re creating cars THEY can make the greatest profit on per unit sold, and brainwashing…er, I mean marketing to create a demand for them.

I think most of us know, in our heart of hearts, that the Age of the Automobile is nearly over. This may be the last year that the price of gas sees the south side of three bucks a gallon in the US, and governments are struggling to find enough revenue to maintain the roads and other infrastructure that each-in-his-own-steel-box transportation requires, much less build more. Let’s see how much most people will be able to afford to drive if they have to pay the entire, real cost of doing so out of pocket. The auto industry knows this, so they and their more immature customers are indulging in one final hurrah of petroleum-powered excess before the hammer falls.

Posted by Art_In_Seattle | Report as abusive

This article is ridiculous. GM has been doing amazing things lately. They have the most fuel efficient cars in the world and soon the Chevy Volt will set the bar for plug in hybrids. If anything they are the greenest car company in the world now. All you did was focus in on one very specific car that no one buys. So what if they make this one car? It’s for a specific market of people who want it and will go to any car company to get it. So it’s good that GM is making it to make money for the tax payers. They are more than making up for it with their other fuel efficient cars. Are you really going to write this whole article and ignore the fact that every single GM ad now is about how fuel efficient their cars are? It’s like they woke up at GM and put all their smart engineers on making their cars fuel efficient and they have almost gone over board. This is such a cynical article just looking for something to bitch about and I hate cynical people. Give GM some credit for the fuel efficient cars they have made and don’t just focus on one tiny irrelevant bad car.

Posted by Rukaribe | Report as abusive

I think I understand what the author mean with this story. The problem here is that this situation in the Golf of Mexico is that pollution its wasted and has a huge environmental impact on Our Planet. Wasted in the sense of no energetic benefit is taken from that. In the case of our automotives the pollution that they make, we all convert that energy into mobility and consequently in pollution. The automotive industry is part of a huge economic cycle, which could influence Goverments taxes reveneus, and employments per example. I think thats why they are subsidized. The solution to the automotive issue here is in theory simple. Don t let people built where they want (away from city centres) and don t allow them to use freely they private car to move inside the city centre. There are political measures which used together could contributed to fight sucessfully this increasely big problem that we all face in the World. The question here is the personal benefit or the sociaty benefit! Which should be first? In my opinion the sociaty! As it was allways tought to me “My freedom ends in the begining of others” and “freedom comes with grater responsability”.

Posted by MarcoEuropean | Report as abusive

Having lived in Europe for the last 26 years, where the gasoline already costs around five dollars a gallon and most of the large highways are toll highways, I can’t help but be impressed with the total obliviousness of some of your readers not to mention the arrogance with which they defend their “right” to consume the majority of the world’s resources and their “right” to basically ruin the planet..

Posted by 4gatti | Report as abusive

Since apparently European drivers are so environmentally conscious and efficient, and American drivers/consumers so greedy and environmentally destructive, how do you explain that some of the fastest cars in the world can be driven in Europe, but not US. Or, for that matter, that the US has stricter emissions guidelines than Europe. And finally, that many European highways have almost no speed limit. Hmmm, sounds like Europe should tend to its own yard before it comments on ours.

Posted by LucidOne | Report as abusive

[...] the hoopla about “Drill, Baby, Drill”, ignores crucial facts. First, expanded offshore drilling in the Atlantic and the Gulf would [...]

They should make the BP CEO get out there on the water to clean up his mess

http://storyburn.com

Posted by STORYBURNcom2 | Report as abusive

We cry over spilled oil, yet subsidize the production of ultra-polluting cars
Interesting, Mr. Easterbrook is letting the cat out of the bag.
Very little effort seems to be made by either the Federal Authorities or the US Domestic auto manufactures to reduce the fuel consumption of the automobile.
The reserves of hydrocarbon fuels are limited, yet sales of gas guzzlers’ and profit are paramount and every effort is made to ensure status quo.
i.e., public transport is virtually non-existent and urban sprawl is a must, thermally efficient buildings are in real terms virtually non-existent.
Yet we are continuously assured, all is well and we have many committees working to resolve these issues.
Maybe, those in office need to sober up and escape from the dogmas of all will be well if we just have faith and carryon in the same old way. !

Posted by The1eyedman | Report as abusive

[...] the hoopla about “Drill, Baby, Drill”, ignores crucial facts. First, expanded offshore drilling in the Atlantic and the Gulf would [...]

yes, yes, yes just continue to cry over the spoiled oil at the same time use ultra polluted cars and use other ships which have the same potential to blow up like this ones… go on destroy the environment

Posted by Officespace | Report as abusive