I Never Saved So Much!

No, really, it never DID happen.

Andy Bolig - January 05, 2012 10:00 AM


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I think I’m a typical, level-headed individual. While I’ll use terms like even-keeled or moderate to describe myself (my wife might substitute the term “dull”), I feel the need to stand up and call a spade a spade, at least how I see it.

There are a LOT of factoids that flow across the desks of editor Larry Jewett and myself. Many of them focus on contemporary events or things that the common enthusiast might find themselves discussing around the water jug or at various car shows. One such item that has filtered to the top of the topic fervor is the now-legislated (mandated) fuel economy standards. I know, I touched on that in our November issue and not much has changed, so far as the numbers that are filtering down from the big white domed buildings in DC.

What has got me thinking, are the numbers that I’m seeing flow across my desk with regularity that decry the amount of money that WE, yes, the American people, will be saving since folks in those domed buildings dictated more miles per gallon will be the norm. Please understand, I’ve gotten used to breathing clean air as much as the next guy, but the stuff that I see put before me (suggesting that I openly tell all our readers about) simply doesn’t add up.

The press release reads, “A new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists, both members of the Go60MPG coalition, shows that Americans will see $44.3 billion dollars in net savings at the gas pump by 2030.”

Really? Well, that sounds like we’re betting on a lot more cash floating around since it isn’t flowing through our injectors and into our engines, right? Let’s take a look at that through another angle. Much like investing in stock, while not a guarantee of future performance, by looking at past performances, you can typically get an idea on the overall value of a particular offering. Let’s take a look at the fuel-savings offering that many folks are putting before us.

Go back to 1967. Those engines couldn’t use up all the fuel that was flowing through the U.S. pipelines. That’s why they started putting more than one carburetor on so many engines! Imagine the mpg ratings of those dual-quad Hemis or those tri-powered FE motors. In reality, you could pick any car and it would obviously use more fuel than those designed today. It’s called progress and again, I DO appreciate clean air.

Let’s go with a typical small car, the ’67 Camaro with a straight six. It’s conceivable that you could see around 13 to 15 mpg on a good day. If you were to drive that car from Florida to Carlisle for a show, you would travel about 1,000 miles. If you were to drive on the good side of fuel mileage, you would use around 67 gallons of gold on your trip to the north. Now, if you were driving in a 2010 Camaro with the 3.6L V-6 engine and averaging around 24 mpg, it would only take you around 42 gallons of fuel to reach your destination.

Who wouldn’t rather pay for almost 40 percent less fuel? By today’s fuel prices, which are hovering around $3.35 a gallon, that means you would have saved almost $84! Again, who wouldn’t love that? But here’s the problem: a gallon of fuel in 1967 only cost around 33 cents! Now, if you do the math with that in mind, you’ll see that while the 2010 Camaro will cost you $140, driving it back in 1967, would run you right around $22! Still less than the contemporary car of ’67 but it would take a LOT more miles to add up to billions of dollars. Take into account the rising cost of fuel going forward and the same affect applies.

The report tallies up the amount of savings that the average family can expect to be up to $425 per household. OK, thanks for the CAFE-instigated stimulus package … but when you take into account that the cars designed to meet these new standards could easily cost upwards of a couple thousand dollars more. I still don’t think there will be many iPods under Christmas trees thanks to this supposed windfall. Combine that with the almost-inevitable increases in the cost of a gallon of gas, and you’ve got to wonder, who is going to pay for all this extra money that we’re going to be saving?