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EPA/NHSTA Proposal Shows 62 mpg is the Clear Winner

Roland Hwang

Posted October 1, 2010 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Today’s proposal lays out choices for our energy, economic and environmental futures. Based on my read of the agencies’ proposal, a 62 mpg standard would save more oil, cut more pollution and spur more innovation than the weaker choices.

Most significant items from my quick read of the agencies’ proposal (“NOI”) released today are:

  1. Range of standards for 2025 will be 47 to 62 mpg. Table 1 of the NOI shows the range of scenarios the agencies’ analyzed, using 3-6% annual improvement rates in CO2 emissions. This yields 143 to 190 gram CO2/mile, and a MPG-equivalent of 47 to 62 mpg.
  2. Average cost per vehicle for 143 gram/mile and 62 mpg would be $2800 to $3500 (Table 2). The payback time is 3.1 to 4.2 years (assuming 3% discount rate, this is the amount of time that the driver needs to recover the initial cost in savings at the pump).  A recent poll we commissioned showed 83% support for a 60 mpg standard that cost $3000 with payback time of 4 years. The automakers appeared to have gotten it wrong by a factor of about three times which actually is consistent with their past history, based on my research that has been cited in Thomas Friedman’s recent book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.
  3. A 62 mpg standard would save 85% more oil and 73% more carbon pollution than a 47 mpg standard (see Table 3). More oil saved means more money back in pocketbooks of consumers and less money sent overseas to OPEC and other countries.  We estimate in 2030 drivers would save $100 billion, even after considering the extra cost of the technology.
  4. The 6% standard is the only level that requires electric vehicles (Table 4).  Innovation is the key to competitiveness. The 3%, 4%, and 5% standards do not require any plug in hybrids or battery electric vehicles, thus ensuring the U.S. auto industry will lag behind the Germans, Japanese and most critically the Chinese in this critical market.

The choice is clear: if we want to kick the oil habit and return the US auto industry to global leadership, 62 mpg is the winner.

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AlexOct 1 2010 09:47 PM

Thanks, guys, for signing the death warrant for anything fun-to-drive. I look forward to all the classic automobiles I grew up loving being tossed to the crusher. Hail our new micro electric beigemobile overlords.

Jim Bullis, Miastrada CompanyOct 3 2010 02:36 PM

Alex Nigro and Roland Hwang,

Not to be quite so worried Alex, since we are talking about new production. But for the future, I do not concur with you Alix on the desirability to keep future generations in muscle cars.

But there is something to be concerned about.

If they rate MPG according to the flawed physics of the EPA, Argonne National Laboratories, and Automotive Xprize, we will see electric vehicles making this goal very easy to accomplish.

But real physics and logical economic thinking tells us that coal will be the fuel that powers the electric cars. The ultimate joke is that the electric vehicle will increase CO2 compared to where it might be if we used good hybrids, though it will of course shift from oil to coal as the fuel.

I suspect that those having the shift from oil to coal as a goal, and that is not irrational in itself, are chuckling to themselves about having "tricked the greeneis" on this. The fact is that standard cars can be readily converted to some degree of plug-in operation without significant efforts to actually achieve energy efficiency.

Automotive Xprize measurements which I extract from for the following commented table show the overwhelming advantage given to the electric vehicles (EV in the table) over the scarce remaining contender that carry their own engine, and actually made significant achievements in efficiency to make these work.

But the main fact to note is that the CO2 (greenhouse gas) emissions for the electric cars were much higher than those for the gasoline (E85) powered cars. Thus, I demonstrate the trickery. And even here, I contend that the Xprize folks failed to show how bad the CO2 would really be, since they calculated this assuming much of the fuel would be from sources other than coal, including nuclear and renewables. They insisted on this, in spite of the fact that sources having no capacity to respond to new loads, and sources that would be irrational economic decisions by power planners are inappropriate to use in the data.

Table extracted from site showing superior achievement in emissions by the only cars that carry their own engines.

MPGe*/Energy Consumed**/Greenhouse Gas Emissions***

American Hypower – ZAMS (1) EV 54.5/2.48/210

amp – amp’d Sky (13) EV 86.2/1.56/265

Aptera – Aptera 2e (32) EV 140.1/0.96/163

BITW Technologies – Vincitore 1000 (53) EV 51.1/2.64/223

Edison2 – Very Light Car (95) ICEngine 97/1.39/90
Edison2 – Very Light Car (97) ICEngine 101.4/1.31/86
Edison2 – Very Light Car (98) ICEngine 80.3/1.68/108

FVT Racing – eVaro (6) EV 152.4/0.83/157

Global-E – G1 (26) EV 50.4/2.67/275

Illuminati Motor Works – SEVEN (77) EV 119.8/1.13/191

Li-ion Motors – Wave II (27) EV 182.3/0.74/125

RaceAbout Association – RaceAbout (10) EV 128.1/1.05/178

Spira – Spira4u (4) EV 84.8/1.59/136

Tango (Commuter Cars) – Tango T600 (49) EV 86.8/1.55/263

Tata Motors – Indica Vista EV X (9) 134.3/1/170

TW4XP – TW4XP (33) EV 107/1.26/214

West Philly Hybrid X (EVX Team)-EVX Focus(21) 63.5/2.09/256

West Philly Hybrid X (EVX Team)-EVX GT (22) 57.5/2.35/219

Western Washington University-Viking 45(45)EV 92.5/1.32/174

X-Tracer Team Switzerland-E-Tracer 7002(72)EV 180/0.75/127

X-Tracer Team Switzerland-E-Tracer 7009(79)EV 188.8/0.69/121

ZAP – Alias (8) EV 111.1/1.2/206


*MPGe = Miles per gallon gasoline equivalent
**Engergy Consumed = Gallons of gasoline equivalent
***Greenhouse Gas Emissions = Grams per mile CO2e
I disagree violently with their MPGE system and mildly with their emissions analysis, but the relative emissions analysis is almost fair. (I am not sure what power generation scheme they assume for the CO2 calculation.)

The MPGE approach would have resulted in none of the electric vehicles being on the list of remaining contenders if the calculation of MPGE had been done using the real fuel that will power electric vehicles for many years, probably over fifty. This would cut the MPGE numbers on this table by about one third.

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