08 Dec '11, 5pm

Tighter efficiency standards may lead to bigger, more ironic vehicles

The idea behind fuel efficiency standards, nominally, is to end up with more efficient cars. But according to a new study from the University of Michigan, what they actually do is create a financial incentive for bigger cars -- because bigger cars don't have to be as efficient. Fuel economy goals are stated as an average for the whole industry. But the guidelines actually vary by company depending on their vehicles' footprint, which is track width times wheelbase. Companies that make bigger cars can aim for a lower average fuel efficiency. This study found that average vehicle size could increase up to 16 square feet in 2014, with an attendant rise in carbon emissions: Over their lifetimes, these larger vehicles would generate between three and ten 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power plants' worth of excess carbon emissions. A 1,000-megawatt plant could provide power for more ...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-12-08-tighter-efficiency-s...

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