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« Gingrich vs. Steele | Main | The courage of their convictions »

November 12, 2008



I do not understand why the WSJ would call it a "myth" that the Volt could get 50 MPG on its small gasoline engine. I owned a first-generation Prius and it got 40-45 MPG in suburban driving. I do not think that a 10-20% increase in efficiency over the subsequent eight years of R&D is unreasonable. This is especially true since the engine would be run at the most efficient RPM in order to generate power for electricity generation, rather than being constrained by the requirement to create torque.

Tom Bowler

The "requirement to create torque," if you think there is such a requirement, is market driven. It's what people want to buy. Car companies are in business to make money. If they could make money by selling more hybrids, they would sell more hybrids. The Friedman solution -- dictating what Detroit will be allowed to market -- will kill the American auto industry that congress hopes to save with its bail out. But that's just Friedman being a visionary.


Tom, I fear you misunderstood my comment. I believe the Volt will drive the wheels from the electric motor only. The only purpose of the gas engine is to recharge the battery for the electric motor. So the gas engine can be run for optimal fuel efficiency with no other constraint.

I am not disputing any political or economic commentary. I was only stating that 50 MPG seemed eminently reasonable.

I agree that a 40 mile range is rather wimpy. But that will be within the range of many commutes. I live 10 miles from work, and even with dropping a kid off at school, I have a daily commute of less than 40 miles. And if the only downside of exceeding that is "the car turns on", well, that's not a great issue either.

It is of some interest that this strikes at the heart of fuel taxes as the source of "pay as you go" for road maintenance. There already has been a hit from the proliferation of high MPG cars and the increase in motorcycle use. There will be a further hit when more commuting is done in cars that rarely use gasoline.

Tom Bowler

Yes I did misunderstand, Fritz. Sorry. You make an interesting point about the impact of high mileage cars on road maintenance user fees. I'm confident, though, that our elected officials will find their way to raising taxes in whatever form they might be. Now that EZ-Pass has made paying tolls a lot less painful I can imagine toll roads will enjoy a resurgence, which doesn't thrill me. The idea that an arm of government can have a record of your driving patterns seems a bit invasive.


Tom, are you aware that that same record of driving patterns can be accumulated by the now-mandatory tire air pressure sensors? Your car is constantly giving off 4 low-energy signals with unique IDs from your tires. These can be recorded by devices in the road. Mapping them to your car should not be hard (think annual smog checks, if nothing else).

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