This climate change stuff is getting real (and has been) and we are heading to disaster if we keep this up.

I originally wrote this for another car forum with more of the environmentally conscience demographic, but I thought it was also relevant here:

If we were serious about cutting emissions, we would harmonize FMVSS/CMVSS/EPA with UN-ECE UNIVERSAL standards. We Americans and Canadians simply do not have access to the ultra efficient passenger cars and their drivetrains across the pond due to our unnecessary market protection regulations. Even if we made responsible car buying decisions, the same cars simply don’t hold a candle to what is offered across the pond. Want a base Ford Fusion? Stuck with an archaic 2.5l NA I-4 gasoline engine. Meanwhile in the UK for the same car, Ford Mondeo, in base trim you get to choose from 1.0T Ecoboost, 1.5T Ecoboost, 1.5 TDCi diesel, and 2.0 TDCi diesel. Multiply this with hundreds of models and you have quite a descrepancy with emissions between the two places. And this is for the reasonable consumers who buy what fits their needs, not even counting the hordes of light truck (SUVs, crossovers, vans) buyers (which account for about 2/3 of the market). It all adds up!


In this regard, I hope that TTIP deal goes through...

U.S. vehicle CO2 emissions still almost double Europe and Japan
Darren QuickDarren QuickJune 21st, 2010

Despite ongoing efforts to wean itself off the teat of foreign oil, the U.S. car market is still almost twice as polluting as Europe and Japan. This new finding from automotive data provider, JATO Dynamics, comes despite the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) – better known as “cash for clunkers” – program that replaced over 690,000 vehicles on the roads with more fuel-efficient models and the fact that American consumers are significantly more inclined to adopt Hybrid technology than Europeans. Then why is it so?

JATO’s study of the U.S. light vehicle market in the first quarter of 2010 reveals that the market’s average CO2 output is 268.5 g/km. In order to reflect like-for-like comparison with car markets in other global regions, excluding pick-up trucks, full size vans and small commercial vehicles, the figure falls to 255.6 g/km. This figure compares very unfavorably to Japan (130.8 g/km) and Europe’s five biggest markets, which average 140.3 g/km.

All markets improved marginally when compared to the full-year average in 2009 with Japan’s CO2 output down 0.4 g/km, the USA down 1.0 g/km and Europe improving most significantly with a 4.3 g/km reduction in the year-to-date.

“It is still clear that American consumers need to undergo a fundamental re-think of their vehicle buying preferences, but the past period of economic upheaval is likely to have meant that other domestic issues have taken consumer’s priority”, says David Mitchell, President of JATO Americas. “The blame can’t just lie with consumers though, the OEM product offering in the US still does little to promote alternatives to the large engine capacity gasoline vehicles which still dominate the market.”

Gasoline, diesel and Hybrid cars

However, Americans consumers have taken a shine to Hybrids such as the
Toyota Prius. Hybrids enjoy a 2.3 percent market share in the U.S., while in Europe it is still only 0.5 percent. Not surprisingly though, Japan leads the way with 10.1 percent of market share going to Hybrids.
While they mightn’t have embraced Hybrids as much as Americans, Europeans have been able to reduce their CO2 emissions thanks to the rising popularity of diesel, a fuel which has a 48.9 percent market share in Europe. Conversely, Japan has a tiny diesel share of only 0.11 percent, but its highly congested roads make very small and economical gasoline cars a popular choice. Currently, the U.S. market is dominated by gasoline which has 81.9 percent market share, with only 1.7 percent being diesel.

Fuel too cheap?

JATO sees cost as a major factor in the difference between the popularity of different fuels and fuel technologies in different countries. The price of gasoline still remains comparatively low in the U.S. when compared to other global markets where its rising prices have been one of the key influences for change. Of the vehicles sold in the U.S. 33.9 percent fall within a 15-20 mpg consumption bracket, compared with only 0.63 percent in Japan and just 0.29 percent in Europe.
Carrot or stick?

JATO says varying CO2-based taxation regimes that reward or penalize certain technologies can also play a part in regional variances. Japan’s high-technology driven economy favors new technologies such as Hybrid and electric vehicles, while European vehicle “scrappage” schemes have contributed significantly to the introduction of a large number of low polluting, fuel-efficient small cars – something that “cash for clunkers” didn’t do to the same effect.

There is a lot to gain from harmonizing regs, according to this lengthy policy brief:

In regards to emissions (bolded mine):

For example, the European Union is moving toward

a greenhouse gas emissions standard of 95 grams/kilometer

(60.6 miles per gallon equivalent) for 95 percent of vehicles by

2020 and the United States is moving toward an average level

of 163 grams/mile (54.5 miles per gallon equivalent) by 2025. It may be in the producer’s interest to make one car for both

markets that meets the 60.6 miles per gallon threshold.2

A clear hierarchy in these regulations favors low emissions. As a result,

environmental regulations can create a race to the top, where

an automobile that meets the highest standard on various emissions

tests is marketable in both economies.

Now, I’m not for banning anything and I know there are people out there with legitimate uses for their Suburbans, etc. But we should have more choices as consumers in this regard and I wouldn’t mind if we incentivise buying habits for more efficient vehicles somehow without hurting the consumer too much.

Edit: Just noticed the irony of my username.