Is it bravery - at last - or desperation?
Both sometimes conspire to the same effect, the instinct to survive being overpowering.
GM, FiatChrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai/Kia apparently want to survive. They have just announced they are opposed to what is doggedly and dishonestly portrayed as “clean” vehicles by the Fake News media.
They might as well have done a blackface skit - as far as the predictable eruption of feigned outrage in the usual quarters. Typical was this effusion from Senator Tom Carper of Delaware:
"Instead of choosing the responsible path forged by four automakers (he means Ford, Honda, VW and BMW) and the state of California, one that will move us (he means force us) toward the cleaner (a lie; bear with) alternative fuel vehicles of the future (oy vey) these companies have chosen to head down a dead-end road."
But what is actually at issue is the open road - and whether it is to be closed, via onerous fuel efficiency mandatory minimums despicably conflated in recent years by Carper, et al, with emissions regulations - to guilt-trip acceptance of their legitimacy and suborn acceptance of the state of California’s attempt to impose a near-doubling of these mandatory minimums on the entire nation.
Which, if it comes to pass, will make cars unaffordable for most people.
Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regs currently require that new cars average about 36 miles-per-gallon; those that don't cost you more to buy - via "gas guzzler" taxes applied to their manufacturers, who naturally pass those taxes along to the buyer.
CAFE regs date back to the '70s, when it was thought the world was close to running out of oil (or so we were told) and "steps" had to be taken to conserve what was left. But the regs are as outdated as bell bottom cords given the facts about how much oil there actually is - and right here in the U.S.
We are literally swimming in it.
But the regs - premised on a scarcity that doesn't exist - persist and expand, forcing people to pay more for "efficient" cars than it would have cost them to buy less "efficient" but far less expensive cars which didn't have to have cost-padding technologies such as Automated Stop/Start (aka, ASS) and direct-injection (which carbon fouls engines) and transmissions with nine or even ten speeds rather than five or six to eke out fractional MPG gains.
California is insisting on much more than fractional gains. It is demanding the MPG/"clean" regs be raised to almost 50 miles-per-gallon - and by 2025.
This almost-doubling had been decreed at the federal level, Midnight Judge-style, by the Obama regulatory apparat. But when the Orange Man unexpectedly ascended to the throne in 2016, he decreed otherwise. The federal fuel-efficiency fatwa would remain at about 36 MPG. Which can be complied with - just barely - without forcing people into compact-sized hybrids and high-priced electric cars.
Which are the only vehicles that can comply with a 50-MPG fatwa - something the Fake News media never explains to people, probably because it would arouse objections in most people.
The Orange Man's “reversal” (it was actually a holding-steady) of the federal/Obama fatwa has been portrayed as the equivalent of pouring used motor oil down storm sewers; the skies will darken, children face asphyxiated by toxic clouds.
See Carper's comments.
The problem with that scenario - for those interested in facts - is that whether a new car averages 36 MPG or 56 MPG almost nothing comes out of the tailpipe except water vapor and carbon dioxide. And while C02 is a “greenhouse” gas, that has nothing at all to do with air quality.
Hence the despicable dishonesty in characterizing this as being about “clean” cars.
All new cars are very “clean."
But not “clean” enough for California, which wants to force everyone - not just the people of California - into a hybrid or electric car via the fatwa’ing the 50 MPG mandate for all cars sold in the state of California.
Which would not only force the car companies to build "California compliant" cars - hybrids and electric cars - it would effectively force them to build only "California complaint" cars. Because it would be too expensive to build one line of hybrid/electric cars just for California and then another line of cars for the rest of the country.
The car industry could, of course, just stop selling cars in California, period - but that would amount to giving up a huge market and not just California's. Several other states - including Carper's state - have endorsed California's standards, so if the fatwa holds it will mean California rules - literally - for all of us.
The matter is now being hashed out in the courts, which will decide whether California's autocrats can set policy for the rest of the country.
It is good news that a majority of the car industry is lining up with the Orange Man because it indicates sanity - unlike Elvis - hasn't yet left the building.
The debate isn't really about "clean" cars.
It is about whether we are to have cars at all.
A 50 MPG/ "zero emissions" car is no good to anyone if they can't afford to buy the thing - and no one seems to want to talk about what it would cost to make cars that average 50 MPG and produce "zero emissions" . . . at the tailpipe.
That's another thing we aren't supposed to talk about - the elsewhere emissions from "zero emissions" electric vehicles; i.e., the carbon dioxide generated by the coal/oil/natural gas-burning utilities that produce two-thirds of the country's electricity.
Regardless, it's expensive to be "clean" - as California styles it - and people's ability to pay isn't infinite. Millionaire California autocrat-oligarchs like Governor Gavin Newsome (and taxpayer-financed autocrats like Carper) can comfortably afford to spend $40,000-plus on a "clean" electric car.
But most of us mopes can't.
The autocrats must know this - it is simple arithmetic. And so it stands to reason they understand what these fatwas mean and intend for them to mean.
But GM, Toyota, FiatChrysler, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, Mazda and Subaru also seem to finally understand. They know what it will mean for their business if they are forced to sell cars most of their customers can't afford - and many others simply don't want.
Having your back to the wall isn't a pleasant thing - but it can be the saving thing.
No one wants a fight. But sometimes, the only choice left is to put up your dukes.
Here's hoping for a knockout punch.
. . .
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