DEMOCRATS like to portray themselves as defenders of science, but their pursuit of a “green” environmental agenda often involves goals that defy the laws of physics. Take the fuel-economy standards the Obama administration pushed through in 2011. Those regulations require the U.S. vehicle fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Even with advances in engineering, that goal is daunting. The power required to move something as massive as an American vehicle (full-size trucks weigh between 7,500 and 12,000 pounds) at high speeds necessitates burning a little fuel.
Consider this: Many 2012 model motorcycles don't get 54.5 miles per gallon, according to www.totalmotorcycle.com. Even if they did, we doubt many families are willing to have mom and dad double up on a motorcycle and ride flying down the Interstate with junior riding the handlebars just to satisfy liberal notions of environmental progress.
This leaves auto manufacturers in a quandary. In response, Ford is trying to develop an F-150 truck with a largely aluminum body. That could prove a tough sell. Many truck buyers, recalling what happens when their 5-year-old stomps a pop can, may be hesitant to drive an aluminum vehicle when high-speed collisions with deer and other cars aren't uncommon. Aluminum will also increase the cost of the vehicle, since it's more expensive than steel. So truck drivers may pay more for the opportunity to feel less secure.
Ironically, the new fuel standards could also increase consumption of electricity generated by the coal plants that environmentalists love to hate. Car plants use magnets to move steel sheets, but electricity-guzzling vacuums are needed to move aluminum.
Other automakers are pursing a different tack. The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors will try to meet the new fuel standards by producing two different trucks. One will be a traditional full-size model appealing to customers who, well, drive trucks. The other will be a smaller truck with better gas mileage appealing to government bean counters.