70 mpg?

Doesn’t look too shabby, does it?

Volkswagen is looking to get into the hybrid market with a70 mpg diesel-electric vehicle. That’s good news for us and the atmosphere, but bad news for Detroit automakers. Despite the huge increases in gas prices over the last few years, American automakers have still not begun producing and aggressively marketing fuel-efficient cars. Of thetop ten most-efficient autos sold in the US, not one is from an American car company.

That the Detroit automakers have been so consistently behind the curve with respect to fuel efficiency is a long, fascinating, and depressing story. It has to do with how much the government needs them to stay in business, the machinations of oil and auto lobbyists, and just plain stupidity, among other things. Ultimately, the people who pay the price for all that maneuvering and idiocy are the men and women who work in assembly plants in America and the towns devastated by factory closures.

There is one small red flag with this article, though. It’s a diesel-electric vehicle.

The last time the Germans started making a fleet of diesel-electric vehicles…

That’s right.

23 thoughts on “70 mpg?

  1. I’d go with stupidity as easily the number one factor. Idiots.
    I want that car, and the kit to make it bio-diesel. Now that’s drivin’.

  2. It’s so wee! I love it! The longer I live in the city the more I want the smallest car possible so as to minimize the need to circle the block (again and again and again, Tiny Blonde Escalade Driver Who Lives Near Me) looking for a parking space in which my behemoth will fit. I keep trying to talk Mr. A into a two-door when the Saturn finally dies (which hopefully will not be until NEXT winter).

  3. A, that’s very interesting. I’d be curious to see if smaller cars take off over here in the US now that it’s a strain on the pocketbook to run some of these behemoths.
    Wonder what the BBC’s Top Gear crew might have to say about this little technological marvel? (One of them was driving a concept mega-brute up-engined VW Golf in a recent program.)

  4. As long as the computer isn’t as finnicky as the one on my 03 Jetta TDI (the damn fault light is on AGAIN!) I’m there.
    A VW TDI running B100 (100% biodiesel) will actually beat a Prius in tailpipe emissions. Recovered, filtered vegetable oil is even better.
    Of course, it’s not really practical to run either in a Chicago winter–both gel up around 32 F–but I’ve seen a few tricked-out old Benzes in the city with twin fuel tanks (veggie oil/bio in the main tank, petro in a smaller one) and a heat exchanger that runs off the car’s cooling system. You start up with the petro & switch over to the bio when it’s warm enough; the engine’s heat will keep the bio/veg flowing, even in the middle of winter.

  5. Oh, A, have you seen the SmartCar? There was a dealer near our house who got some of the European versions before they were released here, and he was selling them as “used.” So I got to see one up close, and both Mr. BuggyQ and I developed such a yen for one.
    And that’s with us both currently driving the Scion Xa (mine’s a special edition with neon blue lights in the footwell…I have such a pimped-out ride…) If Toyota made a hybrid Scion, I’d be all over it. It has been such a good car for both of us. Mr. BuggyQ was even able to borrow against the equity he’d gotten in it when they were in high demand and had the no-haggle price, so used ones were going for more than new. He got his camera by borrowing against his *car*. Hee!

  6. my chef ex-beau said he got an old Diesel Rabbit to run on filtered (used) fryer oil from the kitchens…said it put out ‘french-fry’ like fumes! (Granted, I heard a very similar story told by Willie Nelson and am not entirely sure the ex-beau was telling THAT story in his own persona…wouldn’t surprise me)
    In Madrid there were very few SUV-type autos visible (they may have been in the underground parking for weekend use?), most everything aside from delivery trucks were twee compacts. I even saw a Swatch-Car that was about $3,000.00 IIRC, it’s been almost 10 years since that visit…dammit.
    It’s about flippin’ time this country and its urban(e) sprawl and destruction of the countryside and environment finally gets on the job. You can’t tell me they (the big 3) didn’t see this coming and could have spent some capital to invest in such designs and thus kept more of their job force and had them building such cars. Nope, they let themselves bury their heads in the sand, and be pimped out by Big Oil to keep pumping out fossils to burn fossil fuels and not even consider hybrids. I don’t feel bad for the Big Three, but I do feel bad for all of the factory workers that unnecessarily lost their jobs so that the fat cats kept getting fatter even as quality and innovation went overseas to a lower bidder or early adapter.
    Elspeth (who has a Ford Focus she loves because it is small, efficient and easy to park in the city)

  7. they built a smart car dealership next to the hummer dealership on the way north out of milw. and as somebody who had to park early 70’s barge cars, i feel parking pain. but i am a good parker with the puny toyota now.
    they talk about space with SUV’s, but i can get a tent, art, chairs display stuff etc etc etc luggage and 2 people in a camry easier than into a SUV.

  8. The car companies have been shooting themselves in the foot for years with this one. I’m supposed to believe that 70mpg is impressive in the year 2008?! Boy, what short memories they think we have (and some of us do, but I’m a historian).
    For example… Back in the dim dead days of the late 1950s, General Motors was advertising a French-built (by a GM subsidiary) car called the Renault Dauphine. It looked a little weird by 1950s car standards, but to modern eyes, it was a perfectly acceptable little subcompact, in the Chevette model. GM wanted to kill this thing for the US market so badly, while still having plausible deniability (as in, “No, we didn’t kill it, American consumers just won’t buy a car that small”), they put out anad (sorry, it’s in the middle of a bunch of them, but watch through anyway because it’s quite fascinating) that basically said, “This is a kiddie car, and if you buy this, you’re abig pussy, or a little girl.” (It was, of course, as almost all 1950s car ads were, aimed exclusively at men.) Watch it and tell me I’m not right.
    The Renault Dauphine got 45mpg.
    Go ahead and tell me with a straight face that we couldn’t have gotten up to 70mpg using just the improvements in technologyalone in the last 60 years. I bet you can’t.
    The US automakers (and GM in particular, currently led by ananthropogenic global warming denier-in-denial, by the way) have been deliberately stunting greener technology forsixty years now, mostly, I think, because the current model is still working out relatively well for them, up to and including the pretty-much-mandatory government bailouts from time to time. After all, why innovate, since no US government would ever actually let one of the US Big Three (*gasp* *horrors*)go under!
    That’s gone well beyond “stupidity” into “malice,” thank you very much. And, of course, with the current US mentality (that they actually had a huge hand in shaping) thatoh well, things inthe marketsjust happen and they don’t actuallyhave causes or anything, there’s nothing we can do about it, they continue to get away with it and get away with it, to the detriment of all of us as both citizens of Earth (and various political entities)and as consumers.

  9. Elspeth: people in Europe drive smaller cars because a) gas is SO expensive there, and b)SUVs simply don’t fit in European streets. Also, diesel engines are quite common in Europe because diesel is so much less expensive. But then you have problems with pollution…
    Anyway, I have always been flummoxed by the way the Big Three have just stuck their heads in the sand and keep building big old trucks and SUVs, completely ignoring the actual market. I guess they figure Texans will keep them afloat?

  10. Anyway, I have always been flummoxed by the way the Big Three have just stuck their heads in the sand and keep building big old trucks and SUVs, completely ignoring the actual market.
    It’s worse than that, actually: they actively created the market for larger engines and larger vehicles. Check the car dealer ads sometime and compare the deals and incentives offered on trucks and SUVs against the the incentives offerend on even mid-sized sedans–much less compacts.
    It’s hard to justify 8.9% financing on a mid-sized sedan when you can get a truck with 0% financing.
    I guess they figure Texans will keep them afloat?
    Well, maybe not Texans per se but men who are insecure in their masculinity and concerned about looking like “wimps” on the road. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that these guys seem to gather in Texas.

  11. Mothra, I wasn’t dissing Madrilenian cars, I was in awe of all the little cars about the town and I know they have pricier gas (but then it’s sold in larger amounts at least in England), and denser cities – whereas America sadly has a problem w/being too dense to process the knowledge to make the right choice the obvious choice – oh, America is ‘green’ alright – as long as the ‘green’ in question is money to heck w/the trees and animals and humanity.
    And, I AM a Texan (and a native at that!), and I refuse to buy a behemoth auto. I live in an apartment complex and I can usually luck out in getting a space that a Royal SUV Barge won’t be able to nip into unless it eats some serious curb or the adjacent auto.

  12. It’s worse than that, actually: they actively created the market for larger engines and larger vehicles.
    It’s even worse than that — they actively created the market for more and more cars — the amount they spent on advertising in asingle year in the 1930s had to amount to the hundreds of millions of dollars in 1930s dollars alone. Besides that aspect of creating demand (or maybe “manufacturing consent”), do you think the demise of widespread, workable public transit in the USjust happened?

  13. That’s an awesome car. VW had the best high mpg cars in the late 70s-early 80s. I recall a diesel Rabbit getting 55 mpg or so. Note: If you want to read a GREAT book about German U-boats check out ‘Operation Drumbeat’ about the German campaign against merchant ships off the Atlantic coast of the US. It’s a fine history that reads like a more exicting version of The Hunt for Red October. And it’s true.

  14. Last time gas prices were over 3 bucks a gallon (way over 3 bucks, I might add) Ford came out with a 500 horsepower reissue of the Shelby GT mustang. Chevy just came out with a hybrid of one of it’s Tahoe. It gets a whopping 21 mpg (yeah, now THAT’S fuel efficiency for ya!). Like solar power, we could have started working on hybrids 30 years ago, but since America is owned by EXXON, Shell, et al well, you know how that goes.

  15. Get it out of your head that American car companies sell cars. American car companies sell machines that create a demand for gas.
    The cars are the handles… the oil is the razors. The oil is where the profits are. It doesn’t even matter very much if the car companies are profitable… sometimes they get bailed out … the government, influenced by big energy/oil isn’t likely to let them die entirely.
    American car companies have 1/10 the market capitalization of the oil companies. Car companies exist to create a demand for what the oil industry produces.

  16. Actually, there’s one angle not mentioned yet. It takes a lot of energy, mostly from fossil fuels to manufacture any new car. I have bought used Toyotas for years, knowing that they’d be good for 250k-500k miles, and even though the mileage on my ’89 Camry isn’t that great, it will last me at least until I can buy my next car. My next car will be the second, new off the lot car I’ve ever bought, and its an Aptera. See one at http://www.aptera.com/

  17. it might actually be better in the long run if the american car companies go under. that way there will be less political pressure to orient urban development around the car.
    “the left” is too busy talking about fuel standards and preserving the happy motoring paradigm when they should be talking about independence from the car.

  18. “the left” is too busy talking about fuel standards and preserving the happy motoring paradigm when they should be talking about independence from the car.
    Posted by: newironshapes

    Actually… depending upon where you live, there are plenty of liberals and even centrists who are talking about moving away from a car-centered life. (Bloomberg in NY is a case in point with his congestion-charging plan.) However, they’re also realists who have figured out that there are some bits of the 50 where car-free just doesn’t work (and it’s not just a question of political pressure, it’s geographical exigency), and so an interim solution is to pester for greener cars.

  19. Please we needed a company that can supply us 360 unity of Toyota Camry from 2006 t0 2008 model on contract basis

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