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This is the tale of two nations.  One of them is the United States of America, where everybody needs to drive, and most people just get whatever is available, kind of like if you lived in the former German Democratic Republic, only without the 17 year wait.  Sure, you've got choices, sort of.  You have a choice between what the auto industry wants to sell you.  From the 1990s onward, that was either a craptastic sedan with the approximate excitement level of a bowl of oatmeal, or some form of sport-utility vehicle.  The SUV is basically a car built on a truck frame constructed with mainly 1950s technology, which means they can be made cheaply and sold at high prices, that is, once your marketing people manage to make them cool, and as long as gas remained dirt cheap.

Alas, that wasn't to last, but did the industry respond by providing efficient right-sized cars?  Hell no.  We got those god-awful "crossover" vehicles instead, a heavily compromised oddity that promises SUV-like utility with gas mileage sort of like what one might expect from a car - from about 1980 or so.  If it indeed does everything, it probably does it badly, and I rarely saw anything remotely like it in Europe during my two-week trip.

Germany is probably the world benchmark for a car buyer's freedom of choice.  If you really want a Ford Explorer (sold there as the Ford Maverick), and don't mind buying all that gas at $7/gal. (not to mention the onerous vehicle taxes on cars with big engines), more power to you.  Hell, you can even get a Hummer there if you're really into that sort of thing.  There are the big Mercedes sedans of yore, minivans of various sizes, and just about any other kind of vehicle available anywhere else in the world.

So what do Germans drive?  Mostly compact and subcompact hatchbacks, real station wagons of the type nearly extinct in North America, and small sedans.  Crossovers?  The only place you'll see those are on the remaining U.S. military installations.  Ditto for SUVs.  I think I saw four of them in the wild the whole time I was over there (you see a lot more of them (usually BMWs) on German television shows).  Do Germans have families?  Yes, they do.  Do their kids play sports?  Oh, yes.  Do Germans go to the supermarket, or Ikea, or Obi (their version of Home Depot)?  Sure, they do.  Do they occasionally go out into the country on a Sunday afternoon?  You bet.  Do you really need to drive a friggin' tank in order to accommodate a suburban lifestyle?  Germans would tell you sei nicht so dumm.

The impressions I get is that Americans are not falling over themselves to buy crossovers because they like them.  If anything, they buy them because that's what's out there.  In other words, in the former German Democratic Republic, you could get a Trabant or you can walk.  In America, you get a pregnant jellybean on wheels or you can patch up your old 1980s-era hatchback and pray it will pass inspection just one more time.  In other words, the industry and government regulation much in need of revision are to blame in large part for the fact that Americans have been staying away from dealer's lots in droves.

Here are a few examples of what you can get in Europe, but not in the USA:

Opel (Saturn) Astra wagon - unavailable in the USA, even though it's basically the same car as the sedan that is available here.
Golf station wagon - unavailable.
Mercedes-Benz A-class - unavailable.  You really gotta see the A-class.  It's a high-roofed compact hatchback like my Scion xA (but a little bit larger) and you see them all over Germany.  You can now drive a Benz and save gas, but only in Europe.  No mini-Benz for you!
Honda/Toyota diesel anything - unavailable.  Diesel is a buck a gallon cheaper in Germany and lasts longer, so quite naturally, Germans heart diesels very much.  You can even get your mini-Benz with a diesel.  Unfortunately, US market Volkswagen diesel vehicles cost enough extra to make them a not-so-attractive option here.

You can't say it's because of safety issues; this is, after all, the country that welcomed the Yugo with open arms in 1987.  When you're selling a car for four grand (more like seven today), you neither expect, nor pay much attention to, NSTHA crash test data.  You can't say it's about emissions, carbon, or anything else like that; EU emissions regulations are probably at least as stringent as ours.  Europe has an ongoing problem with smog that they take very seriously.  Besides, smaller, more efficient engines that use less fuel emit less pretty much by definition.  In short, we deal with smog by putting smog-killing gadgets on cars.  Europeans deal with it by driving smaller and less.  You can't even say it's about power, since most cars available here are laughably overpowered.  Most cars sold in the American marketplace that originated elsewhere (Ford Focus, most Toyotas, most Hondas, etc.) have bigger engines than Europeans or Japanese make do with.  Would most American cars run acceptably on 10 or 15 percent fewer horsepower?  Probably.  They did in the 1980s.

But what do ya do?  Well, the easiest thing would be to raise the tax on gasoline by something like four bucks, but people would scream bloody murder about that, and the Palinites would score big next Election Day.  That would be, to put it mildly, bad.  So instead, we have this abomination called CAFE.  It works, sort of, but over the years, automakers have found ways to cheat, and EPA administrators have mostly looked the other way.  One such way that really pisses me off is to tweak the vehicle specs so you can call it a truck.  This has two benefits to the manufacturer (1) you can exclude it from your fleet numbers for cars, and (2) you can use it to offset your otherwise truly horrible numbers for trucks, and SUVs are, according to the EPA, trucks.  

The result is something called a "crossover" that isn't really a car, but isn't really an SUV either.  I can't imagine taking one of them out in the woods, nor would I think such a vehicle would have particularly great handling characteristics of the sort that manufacturers used to use as a major selling point.  If it weren't for the truck vs. car loophole in CAFE, there would probably be no such thing as a crossover.  As I pointed out, you can get such a thing in Europe, you often see them on television shows over there, but you rarely see them on the streets.  That ought to tell you something.

Originally posted to Steaming Pile on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:02 AM PDT.

Poll

Would you buy a car with 20 fewer horsepower in exchange for 5 extra MPG?

31%19 votes
21%13 votes
27%17 votes
9%6 votes
9%6 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  2010 Prius cost me $23,000 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, Kimball Cross, Losty

      And I routinely get 58 mpg.  Not one day, going downhill with the wind behind me, but the whole tank of gas, in normal driving on mixed roads.

      Many cars cost at least $23,000 if not much more, and get 1/2 or 1/3 the mileage.  So I don't see the Prius as necessarily overpriced- it cost less than a V6 Camry and offers similar five passenger hauling, with more flexibility of the hatchback.

      Had the 2004 Prius for 5 1/2 years, it was OK but only got about 50 mpg, this one is much more efficient.

      "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

      by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:28:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I still own the 2004 Prius but I am waiting for (0+ / 0-)

        an all-electric car!

        •  Nissan Leaf? (0+ / 0-)

          The Nissan folks have lots of information on their web site, but still lots of unanswered questions, and some MAJOR blunders.  They say that every owner MUST use an electrician to install the charging station- that is a major fail!  I have a 30 amp, 220V plug in my garage, ready for a heavy duty charger (or small electric welder).  

          So making the charging station hard-wired is not too smart.  Better to let the car owner have an electrician install the 220V, 30 A socket if needed, and to offer a 120V trickle charger as well- that one should travel with the car.

          "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

          by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 11:04:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Leaf supposedly is going to support 120V. (0+ / 0-)

            As for your 30A 220V (let me guess: a NEMA 10-30R or 14-30R?), here's the deal: common household sockets are not designed for daily connect/disconnect events.  That's one of the main reasons why they designed the J1772 connector, which is rated for 10,000 connect/disconnect events (and is to become the US standard for EV charging).  Also, in J1772, the electrodes aren't live until the data pins establish a connection.  There are a few other requirements needed for any socket designed for EV charging to be up to code.

            Personally, I think the electrical code is going to hold people back; the pursuit of perfection can get in the way of the "good enough for now".  In the mean time, I can pretty much guarantee you that at least someone will sell a J1772 connector that you can plug into your existing 30A, 220V outlet, leave plugged in, and safely and reliably charge your J1772-compatible EV.  And that should be in code compliance.

            •  J1772 is a good solution (0+ / 0-)

              And that is the way I would want to use my existing plug, why should I rewire when I have the power there already?

              So if the charging box is either hard wired or plugged into my 30A, 240V outlet once, the day to day charging is then handled by the J1772 connector.

              While this seems like a minor thing, I can see people not bothering with the Leaf if they add a lot of cost to get the charging station installed, it should be a box that can either be hard wired OR plugged into an existing heavy duty socket- make that connection once- but it also gives the owner the option of moving their charger interface box easily.

              "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

              by MD patriot on Fri Oct 30, 2009 at 08:09:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  What are you looking for in an EV? (0+ / 0-)

          I keep up with the market as part of my job, and so I can help you pick based on what's coming up if you're interested.  :)  Some sample things you might want to consider:

          Price range: Remember that EVs are expensive upfront, cheap to operate.  Expect either a sizable price tag or a battery lease, with a 6-20 year payback time on the premium over a gasoline car if the battery is included.

          Seating: The fewer the seats, in general, the lighter and more efficient the vehicle will be, which means not only less power usage, but also a smaller battery pack, which means less maintenance.

          How important is it to you that the EV come from a big company, rather than a startup, so long as the reviews are good?

          Top speed: Not a huge factor in pricing in the non-NEV world, but it can come into play, and if low enough, opens up NEV possibilities.

          Acceleration: Same as top speed

          Battery pack longevity: How many years do you look to get out of your pack? (you may be surprised at how long the packs are warrantied for, but if you don't care, that may open up a couple more options)

          Wheel count: do you care if your vehicle has less than four wheels, assuming all things are equal in terms of safety?  Reduced wheel count often means reduced price because it reduces the number of parts and makes the vehicle lighter and more streamlined, which means a smaller pack.

          Safety: How important is safety to you?  Pick something along the lines of "required to pass FMVSS", "voluntarily passing FMVSS", "may not pass FMVSS but still taking good reasonable safety measures", "don't care; I'm a safe driver or won't be going on high-speed roads"; etc.

          Payload: How many pounds of payload, not counting driver and passengers, do you want to carry?  How many cubic feet of cargo space do you want?  Or do you not care, and would just use a passenger seat for that?

          •  I would like (0+ / 0-)

            Price range: Not over 40,000

            Seating: Not sure. I wouldn't care if it was a big company or a start up as long as I could get needed service and warranty was backed up.

            Top speed: Same as prius

            Battery pack longevity: How many years do you look to get out of your pack? That depends on the price of the battery.

            Wheel count: It wouldn't matter as long as I get good traction in the snow.

            Safety: I care a lot.

            Payload: If i were just using this car to go to work, shop etc. like i do my Prius I wouldn't care if it only had two seats and enough cargo space for a few groceries but I think i would use this car for travel. I would want  cargo space equivalent to most midsize cars.

    •  PIE. I like my '08 Prius. WYFP? /nt (0+ / 0-)

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 09:39:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw several Volvo crossovers in Paris last year (4+ / 0-)

    And a lot of Peugeots, Citroëns and Renaults, too.  Rented a small Renault station wagon in Geneva. It was great - quick, nimble, plenty of interior room, and fun to drive. The ignition process was a bit quirky, but once I grew accustomed to it I enjoyed driving the car.

  •  Well, the diesel problem is fixable. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, Dauphin

    Basically, the high US taxes on diesel fuel are outdated and need to be removed, and the funding shifted to some other tax form (Currently, they provide major support to highway funding.)

    The theory was "semis do inordinate wear to the roads, so we'll tax diesel to fund that use" which became "only semis use diesel because it's too expensive"

    Emissions requirements didn't help diesel much either, although newer technology has helped abate much of that.

    •  need higher fuel taxes on gasoline (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bcre8ve, Kimball Cross

      18.4 cents per gallon will not pay to fix all the decrepit roads and bridges.  So just raise the gas tax, not lower the diesel tax.

      Semi-trucks should be off the roads completely except for local trips, they use 3X the fuel of freight railroads to move the same tonnage.

      "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

      by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:34:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fuck no!!!! We pay too much in taxes now. (0+ / 0-)

        Fuel taxes, tolls, state taxes, county taxes, federal taxes and maybe 1 or 2 more I missed all go to fix infrastructure.

        •  And clearly that onerous tax burnen is sufficient (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MD patriot, Bcre8ve, Rei

          to take care of our (your AND my) country's roads/bridges/tunnels and everything else (/snark). With respect, if eighteen cents per gallon of gasoline is too much for you- or any person- to pay, then perhaps you should be agitating for better mass transit options. Last I checked, riders of (insert public transit system here) don't pay per-gallon taxes or full tolls.

          I personally would love to be taxed MORE, especially if those taxes went for some other purpose than killing people or providing bailouts to institutions "too large to fail."

          •  and yes, embarrassingly, I misspelled "burden" (0+ / 0-)

            Apologies. It makes me look even more foolish to misspell my subject lines.

          •  I live in semi rural area (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            IL clb

            there is a bus system that has so few riders that yes you guessed it we the tax payers support to keep it operational. Also mass transit doesn't work everywhere. The way I work I need a car to get to my destinations. Being in management I do not work a 9 - 5 so carpooling if available doesn't work as a worker will not wait an extra hour if I have to stay late. And like I stated it's more than 18 cents because every other tax entinty takes a piece also. I watch the way things get done here and none of that money is spent on maintenance until it's a crisis.

            •  The facts are... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bcre8ve, MGross

              that taxes are a small part of total fuel costs, and more importantly, there is no realistic way to get people to change their fuel consumption habits other than higher fuel prices.  So I'm open to all options.  Feebates (where all tax money goes back to users, but not proportionally to how much fuel is used -- i.e., you make money if you conserve)?  Sure.  You name it.  I'm even open to a rural bias in a feebate structure.  But we have to do something.  I refuse to just hear people say "It's too hard!  Change hurts!" and use that as an excuse to not fix our excessive gasoline consumption and our ruining of our atmosphere.

              •  Like I stated my job requires me to drive (0+ / 0-)

                will I have to pay more because I work? And who decides what is excessive? And as far as conservation goes I lowered my consumption of LPG hence I pay more now due to lack of consumption. WTF

                •  Then your job is causing more emissions (0+ / 0-)

                  and we can't turn a blind eye to it.  Its cost needs to factor in the damage it's doing to the environment.

                  Look, jobs at coal plants cause huge amounts of damage to the environment.  Just because people work at them should we not try to stop coal power?

                •  And lest you think I'm not affected by what I (0+ / 0-)

                  preach, my father is the CEO of a major oil refiner, who is generous with his bonuses.  When the company does well, I may get $10,000.  So I'm advocating against my own self interest here.  But it's something we must do if we want to avert environmental catastrope.  Gasoline prices must include the cost of the damage they're doing to the world in some way or another.

      •  Need to put around $5/gallon to fix all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MD patriot

        The first 20cts would just about fix the SF Bay bridge

        •  $20/ gallon gas, coming soon to the USA (0+ / 0-)

          So will we send all of that to the Arabs or keep a large chunk of it here?

          If the "drill baby drill" idiots win we will send most of that money overseas.

          $20/ gallon gas will change everything, check out the book:

          There's something guttural, something personal, about the price of gas. Even though we've pared our driving, there's a feeling that there's more to this, more than $2 versus $4, more than the price of our weekly fill-up. At the gas pump, we're egregiously offended by big numbers and comforted by small ones. Big numbers make us sick. But why?

          The price of commodities, the price of nearly everything we use in abundance, has shot up during the last five years. So what makes gasoline so special? We don't have the same visceral reaction to, say, the price of grain—even though it goes into half of everything we eat and its price has more than doubled in recent years. Why does gasoline set off different, shriller alarms than other things we consistently buy? Perhaps that's our human intuition — an evolved sense that there's more to a situation than the mere face of it. It turns out that our intuition, honed by millennia of survival, is quite canny. The inexorable rising price at the pump represents several worlds of change beyond smaller cars and cumbersome gas station charges.

          $20 per Gallon excerpt

          "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

          by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 11:12:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with the guy you quote (0+ / 0-)

            and already my decisions are being based on this future reality with respect to the house we just built, and the choice of a place to live.

            That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten.

            by senilebiker on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 11:42:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  planning ahead here also (0+ / 0-)

              My current house used 9,100 kwh last year, I want to build a super insulated, energy efficient house that will get that down to a few thousand kwh per year, then supply that with solar power.

              "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

              by MD patriot on Fri Oct 30, 2009 at 08:11:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Just don't make it a price floor. (0+ / 0-)

          If you set a price floor, all refiners will sell product at right below the price floor, as they gain nothing by selling it cheaper (nobody will pick their lower-cost competitors' products when they have to pay the same price due to taxes).

    •  Diesel still has a tough time with US emissions (0+ / 0-)

      In particular, CA.  Aptera, for example, couldn't find a single small diesel for their plug-in hybrid model that met CA emissions requirements.  The only ones that met it were larger, and they barely met them.

      Do note, however, that comparing diesel mpgs to gasoline mpgs is NOT a proper comparison.  Even if you ignore the fact that modern diesels are still significantly more polluting than modern gasoline cars (both are way cleaner than their historic brethren).  The facts are that diesel is a denser fuel than gasoline -- there's about 15% more oil in that gallon of diesel.  That doesn't affect you in terms of price at the pump, but it certainly affects you in terms of CO2 emissions and amount of petroleum consumed.

      Diesel is more efficient than gasoline, but that's already factored into the mpg difference.  The CO2 emissions/oil use isn't.

  •  There are more choices in the EU (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, Dauphin

    but, cars there are much more expensive at least where I hangout. And I still see plenty of X3s, 5s, and Volvo SUVs along with big Merceds and Beemer twin turbos (admittedly dessils) and plenty of exotic sports cars. That being said I have changed my relationship with the auto here and gone to smaller engines and feel much better, and richer, about it at6 the same time!

    •  Cars in Europe are much more expensive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ammo Hauler, Massconfusion

      because of taxes.

      I was at the Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany earlier this year. It's the VW HQ/factory/museum, basically the mecca for VW enthusiasts like myself. And it's also a dealership where Germans can order their car and pick it up as it rolls off the assembly line. I was talking to one of the guys working there. I mentioned I had a GTI and he said they're great cars but a lot of Germans import them from the US. Why, I asked? Here's why: my car cost me about $23,000. The same car, purchased in Germany, costs about 25,000 euros, or nearly $37,000. To buy the car literally at the factory where it's built costs $14,000 MORE than to buy the exact same car here in the US after it's been shipped across the pond and transported to the dealer, wherever in the US it may be. It's cheaper to fly to the US, buy a car here, ship it back over to Germany, and pay any import fees than it is just to buy the car directly from the source. It's more work, but people who have the resources do it.

      So just because some of these compacts sold in Europe are expensive there, doesn't mean they'll be expensive here.

  •  Mercedes... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, Dauphin

    ..doesn't sell the A class here because it is believed, at least in part,  that it would drag down the brand.  The theory is that a  manufacturer can't occupy both the low and high end of the market.  Mercedes tried this a few years ago with its C class hatchback but yanked it after 4 years or so.  Not many were sold.  I have a 2002 purchased with many miles on it.  It's really too bad that they are not sold here any longer.

    Oh, there you are, Perry. -Phineas -SLB-

    by boran2 on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:13:29 AM PDT

    •  You can blame that on the stupid american (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bcre8ve, Kimball Cross

      consumer.

      Seriously, we are so stupid in this country we think Mercedes is simply a luxury car company.
      They do that based on us.

      On the other hand, I dare you to walk down the streets of any euro city and look inside bmw's and mercedes, you will see cloth seats, in the USA that is verboten :D
      Speaking of your hatch, back in 02 I was considering it,  when I told my girlfriends father about it, he made a scorn face and said something to the effect that I didnt deserve it, I was too young for it etc.

      I bought a one of kind (special ordered by customer who didnt pick up) VW Jetta TDI.

      120K 45mpg miles later and I still love it.

      •  99 Jetta TDI (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        George Pirpiris

        160K/44 mpg blended driving but probably 60-65% local.  Love it.  But I do have a few rust spots to tend to.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:56:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You got to have a mk3 :D (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          newfie

          I have a mk4 and they are supposed to be rust free ;)
          lets hope.

          Also props to being one of the few political liberals who drive a TDI.

          I might be stereotyping, but I blame our friends in hollywood for the hybrid push.

          I will never forget this famous quote, 2 years ago Cheryl Crow and Laura David (Larry David's ex wife) did a global warming tour.

          They drove a diesel bus (as all buses) are running on biodiesel.

          In the same sentence when addressing a crowd, one of the two ladies bragged about their biodiesel bus and then asked for a show of hands who's parents bought them a hybrid.

          I think the problem in hollywood and tv is Hybrid sounds like a cool word, almost elite.

          Its pretty much why VW/BMW/Merc had to try and rebrand diesel.
          For those that watch VW it was clear when they rolled out the "CleanDiesel" campaign.

          What people dont get, is TDI's mpg is a plus, but its the fun and drivability that counts.

          Let me ask you, have you done any tuning to the car?
          What state do you live in?

          •  PA. (0+ / 0-)

            No tuning.  Just driving and routine maintenance.  A few spots up on the front of my hood.  Looks like where rocks and stones have hit it.  Frankly, I am not the best at such upkeep.  I let things sit too long such as my rust spots - small spots really.  I still have time.  I wish I had a dime for every person I have driven around who has said "THis is a diesel".  I use the same mechanic I have for the past nearly 20 years.  He's a Saab man.  I used him for my pre-GM Saab 900.  He loves my TDI and the way it handles.  He reminds me every time I bring it on for maintenance or inspection.

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 04:02:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Cloth seats, no nav unit and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bcre8ve

        a manual transmission.

        Mercedes and BMWs are a status symbol here. In Germany, for them, owning a Merc or BMW is no different than us owning a Chevy or Ford.

        Merc and BMW could sell a stripped down, basic car in the low to mid $20,000 range, but then if any joe blow can buy a Merc or BMW, they lose the status symbol that current buyers love so much.

        •  EasyEverything (0+ / 0-)

          same company as EasyJet, had (has?) a low-cost car rental service in Europe that exclusively used Mercedes "Smart Cars".

          I saw many of these cars in the cities I visited (not so much on the highways) and thought they would be a great answer for many drivers here in the US.

          I have now spotted a few in my city, and I hope this is a signal that Mercedes is willing to veer away from their policy of only offering their high-end sedans here.

          BTW - Does anyone have a good answer as to why American versions of common European cars seem to get significantly lower gas mileage?  I've heard, in the past, that it was because of emissions regs, but considering that the EU has taken emissions much more seriously than we have, I am pretty sure that is BS.

          "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." -Plato

          by Bcre8ve on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 02:18:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It may have something to do with the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bcre8ve

            testing methods. The method the EPA uses for measuring MPG may be different for their European counterparts, which can result in different MPG ratings. For example, if the European countries test with a lower average speed than the US, they'll be getting a higher MPG.

      •  45mpg diesel = ~39mpg gasoline (0+ / 0-)

        So worse than even a new Insight in terms of oil usage and CO2 emission, let alone a Prius.  And in terms of non-CO2 emissions, way worse.

        But better than a lot of cars, at least.

    •  Starting a new brand... (0+ / 0-)

      ...is the usual way of getting around this.

      Half-baked ideas for sale - cheap!

      by Steaming Pile on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 12:38:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Completely agreed (4+ / 0-)

    I've been pushing my 1992 Sable Wagon beyond all realistic limits as I didn't want a van/crossover/whatever.  Finally had to give up this year and get one to have a reliable vehicle that will hold more than 5 people squished.  I've been to Germany several times in the last few years.  I walk around looking at the cars on the street wondering why I can't buy those here.  Added insult is when you find out some of them (cue that Opal wagon) were manufactured by GM but we're not allowed to have them.  They wonder why they weren't selling the crap they put out here.

  •  Mercedes A Class (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin

    Well you said it should be seen. Note that the fuel consumption is given in Km/L but it is now more common to give emissions expressed in grams of CO2 per Km.

    "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:19:39 AM PDT

  •  There are plenty of choices here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MD patriot, Dauphin

    It's a status thing, no more no less. I don't think diesel is all that great - I choked on the fumes all over Europe while I walked or rode my bike (didn't have a car) especially in valleys.

  •  I own an 09 Honda CRV..... (0+ / 0-)

    only crossover with a 4 cylinder engine. I get better that 30 mpg on the highway and aroud 24 in town. The car was very affordable, 23k fully loaded has 4wd for the winter, plenty of space and is very comfortable for long trips that we do often.

  •  Some U.S. wagons I am looking forward to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin

    with me being in the market for a family car in the next two years;

    The upcoming Chevy Orlando, slated for 2011.  To be built on the frame of the upcoming Cruze that will replace the Cobalt. The cargo area of the wagon will have fold-up third row seating spacious enough for the kids.

    The upcomig Ford CMax, to be built on the same new platform as the Focus. Also will have fold-up third row seating from the cargo area floor.

    One of these may be my next car. I won't buy an SUV or minivan. I hate driving big sloppy handling vehicles, and the thrid row seating really is handy (as is the cargo space when the third row is tucked away).

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:25:17 AM PDT

    •  Jetta TDI wagon: 40 mpg (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      George Pirpiris

      Cost about $25K, but gets better mileage than the competition and uses Mercedes technology licensed to VW for clean diesel.

      The old diesels were dirty belchers, these new clean diesel vehicles are much better.

      "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

      by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:32:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you own a TDI? (0+ / 0-)

        If so being in Maryland, do you hang out with the tdiclub.com crowd?

        Also to the diarist, you say no Golf Wagon, the Jetta Wagon is literally the same chasis and body.

        Also, dont get fooled into mercededs and VW "technology"  its all bosch and from what I can tell the VW group is the head of the pact in securing technology

        •  No TDI here, just 2010 Prius (0+ / 0-)

          But I'm looking to at least mostly replace my total guzzler F250.  Still need it to plow snow and things, but I want a small wagon to haul kayaks and things like that.

          I'm probably a few years out from the TDI, but I like to research cars before I buy them, thanks for the tdiclub.com link, are you a tdi owner?

          "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

          by MD patriot on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 11:14:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, have been since 2002 (0+ / 0-)

            Research is a good idea, and like folks on here, people on tdiclub are total geeks,

            the demographic is amazing, Im a youngster on there where the key demo is 40-60 year old professionals.

            Also, unlike a hybrid, TDI's are FAST.

            My car is very tuned, gives Vr6 drivers a run for the money.

            What has changed since 2002 and today is that fuel injection is much more advanced, where my car needed upgraded computer program and bigger fuel injectors, new tdis only need new computer programs.

            A new TDI with just a "chip" upgrade will have more HP then my car can dream of (unless I spend another 3 grand)

            the reason i tell you about performance, is that no matter what wheel size I have, or how tuned it is, the economy stays the same.

            I get 140hp and 280 lb/ft and run 17x8 wheels and get 42 mpg.

            At the end of the day, I would still drive a tdi even if it got 30 mpg,  if you like driving stick shift, the tourque is amazing.

            Also let me add too that Maryland is a MECCA for TDI drivers and the TDIclub scene.

            •  Do you care about fuel cost or emissions? (0+ / 0-)

              Contrary to the hype, "clean" diesels are still worse than modern gasolines at the typical "air pollution" emissions, and in terms of CO2, a gallon of diesel emits 15% more CO2 than a gallon of gasoline.

              I'm not anti-diesel, but I think way too people realize this about them, and I hate people making decisions based on bad information.

              •  I dont buy the hype, and I dont buy yours (0+ / 0-)

                The enviro fight on diesel is old news.

                In a country where mpg avg 20 and people DEMAND tourque and power, diesel makes all the sense in the world.

                And by emissions, gasoline ALWAYS makes more C02,  what you are thinking is N0x emmisions, which America has no rules over.

                And trust me, diesels have had a FAIL deployment in America,  fans have fought tooth and nail to get them here.

                •  Not true (0+ / 0-)

                  In a country where mpg avg 20 and people DEMAND tourque and power, diesel makes all the sense in the world.

                  Diesel engines have to be notably larger (and often turbocharged) to make the same amount of power as a gasoline engine.  And also, comparing a turbocharged diesel with a non-turbocharged gasoline in terms of efficiency or  power is an inherently biased comparison.

                  As for torque, gearing makes how much torque the engine puts out irrelevant.  To be blunt, who gives a rat's arse if your engine puts out half the torque at twice the RPMs when you can just double the gear ratio and get the exact same thing?

                  And by emissions, gasoline ALWAYS makes more C02

                  Per gallon, absolutely not.  Diesel emits about 15% more CO2 per gallon.  This is a fact.  Denying it won't make it not be a fact.  Look it up.

                  what you are thinking is N0x emmisions, which America has no rules over.

                  1. America does regulate NOx emissions, and
                  1. NOx is hardly the only problematic emission from diesels (for example, PM).
  •  I rented a Mercedes A class turbo-diesel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, Steaming Pile

    when I was in Switzerland once...great car to drive, and carried all our ski gear comfortably as well.

    I got it from easycar.com (great discount online rental...some restrictions -- pay up front, and you get charged a premium if you need to return the car late, but if you're flexible with your time, you can get a great deal).

    It's often said that life is strange. But compared to what? --Steve Forbert

    by darthstar on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:26:42 AM PDT

  •  I don't understand this rant. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

       If Americans wanted diesels and station wagons, Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Volkswagen, Hundai, or Nissan would be importing them. Actually, Subaru does import a more traditional station wagon. Crossovers are just a station wagon styled like an SUV. I have one. The only SUV characteristic is the higher ground clearance. Otherwise, it rides and handles like a traditional station wagon. The new turbo diesels are great, but the American consumer still erroneously thinks they are noisy, smelly engines. Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz have tried to sell diesel cars here with very limited success. Diesel fuel is only a few cents more expensive in Michigan than regular fuel but diesel engines are 10-15% more efficient. However, diesels don't sell well, even for the european brands. It's not the manufacturers, it's the market!  

    •  As a 8 year diesel driver (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      newfie

      We have been fighting hard to get them.

      VW and Merecedes, and BMW sell current models.

      The reason Honda and Toyota don't bring them is because for some insane reason Americans can fathom a 25-40K box on batteries.

      Unlike Europe and Asia, America is a big country, and our consumer markets reflect that.
      For a product to work it has to sell big.

      Think about it, you ever realize how clothes are always on sale, we have stores that liquidate them 75% off of retail,  lemme tell you that does not exist in other countries.

      Also our fuel is too cheap.

      I own a diesel VW, when diesel and gas was almost 5 a gallon the local VW dealerships were sending me letters REGULARLY offering my 5K above book value.

      The same year my little brother bought a 2007 VW tdi, put 35K miles on it, then sold it to someone for the exact price he paid for it new.

      •  Not so much (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        George Pirpiris

        Unlike Europe and Asia, America is a big country, and our consumer markets reflect that.

        geographic Europe and the 50 states are about the same size 10 million sq km.

        The 27 countries of the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland come in at around 5.2mm sq km, whereas the lower 48 come in at around 8mm sq km.

        Plus more important than overall area is density, as this determines the amount of miles driven on each trip. the US biggest problem is that its urban areas are just sprawl due to an absence of town planning

        densitypricegas

        source wiki.

        Interestingly, compare US to Australia to see the impct og gas taxex

        •  Not what I meant (0+ / 0-)

          I am trying to justify the lack of competition in America.

          One factor is our size and consumer base.

          First you cannot lump the EU together as there is no EU dealer, insurance, license plate or license.

          Second their ecnomies and regulations vary greatly.

          In greece, where I am from they are silly and do not allow diesel, they also punish through taxes so hard that you are HARD pressed to find any motor over 2.0 liters
          (In many EU countries they tax you like they tax your house, and you pay more taxes for options like leather)

          The size and scale of our consumer economy is one factor in our lack of competition.

          Other factors are cheap gas, cheap taxes, cheap registration etc.

          We might be the only country in the modern world were poor people can afford to drive a rust bucket with a v8

          But thanks for the info, the perspective is interesting.

          •  Things have changed a lot (0+ / 0-)

            First you cannot lump the EU together as there is no EU dealer, insurance, license plate or license

            .

            Under EU rules,  most of what you say is wrong.

            1. Guarantees for vehicles ( and all products) have to be valid throughout the EU.
            1. Any car insurance issued in any EU country is valid throughout the EU, although some benefits may be reduced.
            1. The EU has standardised driving licences, and you no longer have to change your licence if you change country.(an excpetion to this is that if you commmit a traffic offence in you new residence country which awards points, you will then have to exchange your licence for a local one - but you won't have to take a test or anything)
            1. In the US license plates ( and driving licences) are issued by the States, so you have to re-register if you move,
    •  You don't read Jalopnik much, do you? (0+ / 0-)

      People there regularly rant about the cars you can get in Europe that are wildly popular there, but unavailable here for various reasons usually having to do with marketing, not what people actually want.  My working title for this rant was something on the lines that the US auto market was beginning to resemble that of a former Warsaw Pact nation, but that would have been a bit of an exaggeration, to say the least.  Still, you get what they want to sell you, not what you really want, and that was my point.

      Half-baked ideas for sale - cheap!

      by Steaming Pile on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:53:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diarist knows little about cars (0+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately 99% of Kos lives in their own bubble world of misinformed opinion when it comes to cars, and they're happy that way.  My sympathy goes out to people who know cars and use this site.

  •  I am still waiting fir the new Cinquicento (0+ / 0-)

    to appear here...I want mine yellow...lika Luigi!

  •  The obsession with physical size and weight for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    senilebiker, Steaming Pile

    safety is what bugs me.

    Some American parents think their families need to be protected by the biggest, heaviest vehicle they can transport them in.

    Besides consuming outsized amounts of fuel, they make it hazardous for those of us in normal size sedans by blocking our vision and having an unfair kinetic energy advantage in a collision.

  •  US car market like US pharmaceutical market (0+ / 0-)

    Just like the pharmaceutical market, the US manufacturers protect their home market and charge us higher prices and prevent us from shopping on the world market. At the same time, our CORPORATIONS shop for low labor rates on the world market.
    What I find most interesting is the level of technology in European compact and micro cars. Ford, and Toyota both sell models in Europe using 'clean diesel' to achieve mileage avobe 50mpg. The Toyota iQ diesel gets about 60mpg.  Tired of Waiting?

    •  Yeah, on the ridiculous 10-15 cycle (0+ / 0-)

      Not only do diesel mpgs != gasoline mpgs (diesel is 15% denser than gasoline), but different cycles are not equal to each other, either.  The 10-15 (Japanese) is ridiculously lax, even moreso than the NEDC (European), which routinely gives figures 20-30% more optimistic than the combined FTP75/US06 figures that we use.

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