Statistically Speaking: Detroit Does It Better in Europeby Bill Chameides | December 5th, 2008
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)
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A side-by-side look at some U.S. cars and their European cousins shows stark differences between the cars Detroit makes at home and those made abroad.
So the Big Three automakers are in trouble and want some of our money to stay afloat. Before handing over any cash, we might want to look at how Detroit does when it has to.
One of the big problems with the Big Three, it is widely said, is their failure to innovate, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency. Earlier this year, Congress forced the issue by increasing fuel-economy standards from the current 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg by 2020 in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [pdf].
But Detroit cried foul –- no can do without lots of government money. And so, Congress agreed to provide $25 billion in government loans to help Detroit make the transition. Now the Big Three want to use that $25 billion to stay afloat — and forget the newly mandated fuel economy.
It’s a sad story. But before we get out our handkerchiefs, here are some interesting statistics.
Fuel Efficiency: U.S. Car vs. European Cousin
emissions/mile in U.S.
emissions/mile in Europe
So why is Detroit having so much trouble making fuel-efficient cars here when they are already making them in Europe? To be fair, it looks like it’s not all their fault.
Europe’s fuel-efficient cars built by Detroit use a different engine: one powered by diesel as opposed to gasoline. But hold that “aha” for a minute – European diesel is an ultra low-sulfur fuel with highly reduced pollutant emissions. (This new diesel allows controls that lower other pollutants, controls that were previously not viable with higher sulfur diesel.)
Diesel: New vs. Old
- Sulfur oxide emissions down by 97%
- Particulate emissions down by up to 90%
- Nitrogen dioxide emissions down by up to 50%
Whatever the reason for not building these lower emission cars on this side of the pond, clearly Detroit knows how to be green and clean. The cars they are building in Europe exceed the newly upped fuel-efficiency standards mandated by Congress last year — standards that had not been touched in decades. That’s why I say we need to attach some very strong green strings to any Detroit bailout.
Steve Austin, “Study: European Variants of U.S. Cars Average 60% Better Gas Mileage” – www.gas-cost.net/
“Emission Facts: Average Carbon Dioxide Emissions Resulting from Gasoline and Diesel Fuel” – www.epa.gov/oms/climate/420f05001.htm
Ben Hewitt, “The Case for Diesel: Clean, Efficient, Fast Cars (Hybrids Beware!),” Popular Mechanics, January 2008 – www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4237945.htmlfiled under: automobile, carbon dioxide emissions, faculty, Statistically Speaking, transportation
and: air pollution, alternative fuel, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), Detroit, diesel, fuel economy, gasoline, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, ultra low sulfur diesel