US set to roll back fuel economy rules; car makers to keep cranking out light trucks

© Ford Navigator production line

All this talk about clean little electric cars taking over the roads is just fantasy.

Last month at CES the head of Ford announced a shift away from internal combustion engines."Ford will prepare for disruption by becoming fit," the executive said. "There's no doubt that we've entered this period of disruption, you all know that. But we have to design the business to be more fit because it's going to give us time, resources and flexibility to evolve to where we know we have to be."

Meanwhile, Ford has just ramped up production of its giant Navigators and Expeditions to meet demand. According to the Detroit Free Press, they can't crank them out fast enough.

Nearly 85 percent of all Navigator buyers chose high-end Black Label and Reserve models in January 2018, which drove up the transaction price $21,000 from a year ago to $77,400. Sales are driven primarily by Texans, Floridians and Californians. They're trading in competitor vehicles — known in the industry as a "conquest" — at a rate of 40%.

The engineer in charge of making the trucks explains why he likes them.

Hinrichs climbed into a Lincoln Navigator, his vehicle of choice for 14 years. He had noted that his wife was hit by a red-light runner and credits her Navigator's steel frame for "keeping her safe."..."The Navigator is so big, so heavy," Hinrichs said. "Aces in the snow."

ford navigator© The Ford in your Future

But it takes a lot of gas to push a Navigator through the snow, and the fuel economy average set by President Obama for 2026 is 46.6 miles per gallon. So the Trump administration is rolling it back to 35.7 MPH. According to Bloomberg, under the lower standard, auto makers will get away with making fewer electric cars.

Under that scenario, the agency projects an estimated 10 percent of new cars and light trucks sold in 2030 would need to be hybrid or plug-in electric to comply with the standards. That compares to 61 percent under the Obama-era proposal, according to the document.

In other words, the whole idea that electric cars will replace gas powered cars was wishful thinking; the industry is going to keep churning out Navigators because that is what people apparently want. And because more and more people are buying trucks and SUVs instead of cars, the average Miles Per Gallon has barely budged in five years.

Automakers have aggressively lobbied Trump to take a new look at the standards that they say need adjustments in light of surging light-truck sales, low gasoline prices and tepid demand for plug-in vehicles.

In summary: The US government is doing everything they can to flood the country in gas and oil and the car makers are doing everything they can to keep making big gas guzzlers for as long as they can, and electric cars will be a fraction of the market for decades to come.

And all this talk about clean little electric cars taking over the roads is just fantasy.

top five carmakers assessedInfluence Map/Screen capture

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