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How “Saving Gas” Costs a Fortune




FiatChrysler just made the latest payment – $77 million – which was actually a fine for failing to make its cars “save” enough fuel . . . for Uncle’s tastes.

Irrespective of FCA customers’ tastes.

FiatChrysler’s model lineup – the ones that sell well – are big cars like the Dodge Charger and big SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee – and Uncle is not happy about it.

Similarly about Jaguars ($46.2 million in fines) and Mercedes ($28.2 million) and other car brands that don’t make cars “efficiently” enough to make Uncle happy. These get socked with fines as above, every year. It is not small change. And it will become even more change soon, if Orange Man doesn’t succeed in preventing the fatwas from doubling or even tripling the cost of “saving” all that money ($300 billion, in total, says the Hombre Naranja).


But why should any of us care whether Uncle is happy?

Wasn’t it supposed to be the reverse? Some may recall reading in school about the pursuit of happiness. That Uncle’s job, the very justification for his job – was to facilitate this,  chiefly by leaving people free to pursue it. This would seem to at least imply the freedom to buy whatever vehicle suits them, no matter how much fuel it burns.

Do they teach this in school anymore? Probably not in Uncle’s schools; it makes him look not so good. It might get people to thinking about what an obnoxious, insufferable bully he is.

Someone who thwarts the pursuit of happiness.

At any rate, American car buyers continue to buy vehicles that make them happy, Uncle be damned. And that makes Uncle mad.

He therefore piles on the fatwas – and fines. In order to punish the car companies for attempting to make their customers happy.

Note that nobody is being forced to buy a Hellcat Challenger – despite its 13 city, 22 highway rating (which is actually quite stupendous, given its 707 horsepower V8 engine).

People beg to buy it anyway – at full sticker price. No need for “incentives,” much less mandates or subsidies.

Clearly, the car’s ability to burn a great deal of gas is tremendously appealing. If it were not so, Hellcats would collect cobwebs on dealer’s lots. Like the Chevy Volt, for instance. Which – notwithstanding its “106 MPGe” (an inscrutable amalgamation of its combined combustion engine/electric drivetrain mileage) rating.

You’d have thought (using Uncle’s argument) it would have sold like proverbial hotcakes, given how much it “saves” people. Instead, GM had to cancel it for lack of interest, even when it was made available at a tremendous discount.

As it turns out, the highest-mileage cars are of the least interest to customers; they also make the least money for the car companies – typically just a few hundred bucks, net, each.

Which explains the general reluctance to make them – and the need for the proverbial cattle prod, via the fuel economy fatwas, to force the car companies to make more of them.

But why is the government even rating gas mileage – much less mandating it? If customers desire this information, car makers would certainly provide it – just as they eagerly tout the power made by their engines and other such information of interest to buyers.

Italics added, to make the ought-to-be-obvious point that no one stays in business very long if what they’re selling isn’t of interest to buyers. Unless, of course, they can force “customers” to buy. Then it is possible to make a fortune.

See, for example, the health insurance mafia.

Or, Tesla. It doesn’t use the government to force people to buy its cars – yet. It is a more sophisticated mafia. It uses the government to force people who don’t buy Teslas to finance the purchase for those who do.

This certainly “saves” the – the Tesla buyers – money.

But what about those who had to pay in order for those others to “save”? It takes at least one $7,500 per car discount to convince people to buy an EV – that $7,500 coming out of the pockets of those who didn’t buy the car.

It is quite something that hands are almost never raised when the subject of government decreeing how much gas our cars – which we pay for – will be permitted to use comes up. That almost no one ever asks the question: If gas mileage is of such paramount concern to the car buying public, why does the public seem to consistently prefer cars that emphasize attributes other than how little fuel they use?


And: If fuel economy were such a desperate priority for car buyers, wouldn’t the car companies – in the interests of making money – build as many of them as possible? Wouldn’t they build fewer “gas guzzlers” like the Hellcat – without any need for coercion in the form of punishing fines?


For the very important reason that the subject does not bear discussion.

The fatwas, you see, aren’t actually meant to “save” anything – including gas, which is merely the excuse.

They are designed to get rid of the kinds of vehicles which Uncle does not want Americans to own. Or would, at least, prefer that only a very few can own.

In order to make owning them exclusive again.

For the elite.

Not for you.

Note that Uncle – as manifested by the pants-suited women and “beetle like” men Orwell wrote about, who hold the offices and issue the fuel economy fatwas –  is not very concerned about his city/highway numbers.

You will never see a motorcade of armored Priuses.

Just as you will never see “gun control” applied to the government.

The Priuses (and “gun control” and all the rest) are for us – including the several thousand dollars extra per Prius we must pay vs. an otherwise comparable non-hybrid car, in order to “save” all that money.

Same goes for “features” such as ASS – automated start/stop, which has become de facto standard equipment in almost all new cars. And direct-injected, heavily turbocharged engines. All of these added to cars that would otherwise not pass fatwa muster, but which people still want – and so the car companies continue to try to build.

All of it costs us plenty – ostensibly to “save” us.

But the idea is to make it cost us so much that, eventually, we’ll be forced to “save”  . . . by not driving at all.

Note that EVs – which are being heavily pushed from the top down – promise to at least double the cost of driving for the average person as well as make driving more inconvenient.

Cui bono?

It isn’t us.

. . .

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