May 20, 2009

US carmakers need 7 years to match Toyota’s efficiency

Jim Harris
Magazine Article

Yesterday was historic: US car makers agreed to produce 35 mpg cars by 2016. Wow! My Prius gets 60 mpg now. But US car makers apparently aren’t that innovative. European car makers by 2016 are going to have to get 45 mpg. So this ensures that US car makers market share will continue to decline as oil prices inevitably rise. If you doubt oil prices will rise here’s an interesting tidbit: Chinese consumer are now buying more than a million cars a month — that’s going to increase demand for oil and drive the price up. Just wait till we come out of the current recession and oil prices race back to $147 a barrel.

But back to fuel efficiency: Volkswagen has a 235 mpg car already. But US car makers need another seven years to take a baby step. Now a truly impressive goal would be to see the US commit to 100 mpg average fuel efficiency by 2016. That’s what I would call a stretch goal. A goal akin to JFK telling the nation that within a decade the US would put a man on the moon — and then eight years later acheiving it.

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