What would Zora and Harley think?

Winningreen Discourse       A071411a

A farewell to excellence.  What would Zora and Harley think?

By Tom Randall

Date: July 14, 2011

The U.S. EPA, which has never in history even had a voice in formulating CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards, has finalized a rule that will cause CAFE standards to rise to 56.2 mpg by 2025 and impose fines of up to $25,000 per vehicle for failure meet them.  Congress is now debating the proposed rule, though it is unlikely they will take any meaningful action, even though the EPA has never in history had any involvement is setting CAFE standards.

One of the results will likely be that European makers of luxury and performance vehicles will disappear from the American market.  They simply aren’t geared to produce the machines they do while also producing masses of mini gas-sippers to meet the required average.

It’s a pity.  Not just because Americans will, in the future, be unlikely to have the opportunity to own and drive a Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Porsche or BMW.  As these cars disappear from our shores, their inspiration for excellence will go with them.

A while back we wrote about Hollywood Harley Earl and Zora Arkus-Duntov and how their Corvettes ignited the golden age of the American automobile.  See “A Farewell to General Motors” at: http://www.winningreen.com/site/epage/77918_621.htm

Earl was driven by a desire to out-Jaguar the voluptuous lines of that maker’s post-war XK-120s and XK-140s.  Similarly, Arkus-Duntov felt the challenge of preeminent German engineering embodied in Mercedes’ cars, particularly the lithe, agile 190s, the breathtaking 300 SLs with their gull-wing doors, space frames and massive engines.  Both men were particularly enamored by the SL’s close resemblance to the 300SLR that dominated sports car racing until Pierre Levegh tragically crashed at LeMans in 1955 killing 57 people as well as Mercedes’ participation in racing.

Earl and Arkus-Duntov’s cars were dramatically different from their foreign competitors.  They were bigger by far and far more flamboyant, offered infinite options.  They were made for Americans. But the men who created them were inspired by the excellence of their foreign competitors.  They learned from competition rather than fearing it.

So, it’s reasonable to ask why an agency that has never had a say in CAFE standards is imposing amazingly rigid ones that will, in the process, put Americans who work for the European manufacturers out of work in a failing economy.

It can’t be to lower carbon emissions.  It is true that the U.S. Supreme Court gave the EPA the right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions if they were found to be hazardous, and the EPA swiftly found CO2 emissions to be so.  But they are not, and virtually all objective scientists know that.  Read "Climate Change: the Sun's Role" at  http://www.winningreen.com/site/epage/52299_621.htm
or "The Coming of a New Ice Age" at:  http://www.winningreen.com/site/epage/59549_621.htm

It shouldn’t be to lower other pollutants since our air has been getting steadily cleaner for nearly 40 years.

Also, it shouldn’t be to conserve petroleum since known, recoverable petroleum reserves have increased every year since the first oil well near Titusville, PA.  We have potentially more reserves that the rest of the world combined.  There are numerous new technologies being pursued to produce synthetic oil as well.

But it could be because the new Government Motors has a distinct disadvantage in the luxury field with only one car, the Cadillac, and a similar disadvantage in the performance segment with just the Corvette.  However, it does have the Chevy Volt which the government has awarded with absurdly high mileage ratings while refusing to divulge the methodology behind determining them.

Maybe it’s to assist GM or maybe not.  However, when a government buys into an industry, regulates that market, then regulates away competition, “maybe” looks like a fairly safe bet.

Contact: Tom Randall
Winningreen LLC
Chicago, IL
Phone: 773-857-5086
e-mail: trandall@winningreen.com