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November 27, 2007 9:25 AM   Subscribe

A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V8 Chevy Tahoe? America, meet your 2008 Green Car of the Year!
posted by dead_ (95 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
...Though there is an alternative.
posted by dead_ at 9:26 AM on November 27, 2007


Classy!
posted by OmieWise at 9:29 AM on November 27, 2007




It's important to remember that the way gas mileage is calculated has been changed substantially for this model year (2008). All cars are going to have lower mileage claims because of the new standards. 21 MPG city is actually pretty good; it's the same as the 4C Camry gets in town. Here is a link to the 2008 fuel economy guide. Read more at fueleconomy.gov.
posted by Mister_A at 9:31 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2007


Every evening on my walk home from work, I cross the giant parking lot of an upscale steakhouse. Something like 80% of the vehicles parked there are typically SUVs. I often watch people parking and waddling into the restaurant.

Based on this extensive and objective survey, I estimate that approximately -- approximately, mind you -- 0.000% of SUVs driven by actual people in really real reality are ever occupied by more than two human beings at any given time.
posted by gurple at 9:37 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chevrolet’s Tahoe Hybrid changes this dynamic with a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to similar vehicles equipped with a standard V-8.

I bet I could redesign this vehicle to increase the fuel efficiency a few percent. Like make it weigh 1/5 as much.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?

What? Did you expect the manifestation of our collective sexual anxiety to be pretty?
posted by Avenger at 9:43 AM on November 27, 2007 [23 favorites]


I actually saw an SUV that was used semi-appropriately today. It was a ten-year-old Expedition with bullbars and enough surface rust to choke a yak. There were no seats left and the trunk was full of power tools. It was effectively an enclosed pickup truck for the workmen whose tools it housed.

Parked in front of it was a brand new Cadillac Hideousity with one occupant idling while talking on a cellphone and smoking.
posted by Skorgu at 9:46 AM on November 27, 2007


...it costs less that one dollar to charge the [Plugin Prius]. Its all-electric range includes the first 50-60 miles....

WHA?? My truck gets 25 mpg, so that's around $6 for that distance. If electricity is 1/6th the cost of gas, why aren't we producing gasoline electrically (if we can't have electric cars)?
posted by DU at 9:46 AM on November 27, 2007


Hey look everybody! Something unnecessary and destructive is (up to) 30% better. Rejoice!
posted by ssg at 9:47 AM on November 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also worthy of note, the rated 21 mpg city for this vehicle bests all minivans rated in the 2008 FEG.
posted by Mister_A at 9:48 AM on November 27, 2007


Chevy Tahoe platform, huh? I guess the H5 Hummer will get 15 MPG when it's released.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2007


Every evening on my walk home from work, I cross the giant parking lot of an upscale steakhouse...Based on this extensive and objective survey, I estimate that approximately -- approximately, mind you -- 0.000% of SUVs driven by actual people in really real reality are ever occupied by more than two human beings at any given time.

At least they aren't dragging their kids to this upscale steakhouse, which is a much worse crime than destroying the environment.
posted by mullacc at 9:52 AM on November 27, 2007


How 'green' it is won't help me when I get crushed by one while driving around in my '89 Honda Civic.
posted by zzazazz at 9:54 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I crack wise about large cars will I be revealing that my cock is enormous?
posted by srboisvert at 9:56 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on November 27 [+] [!]


Whaaaaaaat?*

*Said in my worst Philly accent
posted by basicchannel at 9:58 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


What about the 100MPG Hummer?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:58 AM on November 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I saw an ad for this thing in the latest Car & Driver magazine, and I admit, my first thought was that making an SUV into a hybrid was sort of like giving a bull a breast enhancement. But what we have here is a hybrid vehicle marketed to a segment that is most resistant to hybrids... "well, I'd love to save gas/save the environment/decrease our dependance on foreign oil but I need to haul around eight passengers and a trailer..." For these folks, they think "hybrid" means tiny, noisy, and weird. This will go a long way to changing those minds.
Is it perfect? Not even close. But it's a start...
The next step is the plug-in hybrid, like this Volvo effort based on the C30.
posted by Jughead at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2007


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?

They spend all their design money at the ad agencies, which is where all the designers in the country work.

I estimate that approximately... 0.000% of SUVs ... are ever occupied by more than two human beings at any given time.

And pickup trucks almost never carry anything you couldn't put into the trunk of a small car. What's new? Their logic (?) is that they could carry lots of people or lots of stuff, they could go on an off-road vacation adventure running over small animals and tearing up the landscape, that these giant boxes give them some kind of freedom. They need a Civic but they try to buy this freedom the ads are pushing. So they get some big horrible thing for reasons that makes sense for them almost never, maybe just a few days days of the year, but it makes them feel better about driving some big stupid fucker around all the rest of the days of the year.
posted by pracowity at 10:05 AM on November 27, 2007


If electricity is 1/6th the cost of gas, why aren't we producing gasoline electrically

You're kidding, right?
posted by Kwantsar at 10:07 AM on November 27, 2007


Yes, jughead, I look at this as further evidence that concern for the environment is a part of mainstream America. Remember, you can't get people to make big changes all at once; little steps are needed. This is a little step.

I would love to see the US government invest heavily in mass transit infrastructure and vehicle upgrades so that fewer people have to drive, but that is not going to happen right away. So we take this little step for what it's worth.
posted by Mister_A at 10:07 AM on November 27, 2007


While I would never consider buying an SUV (I drive a Honda Fit that gets 50MPG), I'm not totally convinced that a V8 Chevy Tahoe is such a bad choice as 'green car of the year.'

Someone has to shoulder the cost of developing expensive technologies that will help humans decrease their environmental footprint (although in this case a bicycle would be the best choice). Technologies and special features once found only in high-end, high-margin cars, such as airbags, A/C, CD changers, reinforced autobodies, ABS, etc., are now pretty much normal in economy cars, as automakers have figured out how to do it cheaper by testing out production methods on more expensive cars first.

Still, I often wonder how much CO2 goes into the manufacturing of a new car, versus the CO2 emissions created when driving the car itself.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2007


KokuRyu, what are you doing to squeeze 50 mpg out of your Fit? The best I've managed with my 5-speed Fit is 42 and that was at 55 mph with limited starts/stops.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2007


I bet I could redesign this vehicle to increase the fuel efficiency a few percent. Like make it weigh 1/5 as much.

Okay, but titanium is pretty expensive...
posted by LordSludge at 10:15 AM on November 27, 2007


That is a good question, kokoryu. I drive an '86 Buick 4-banger that gets about 30 mpg; I wonder at what point it would make sense to get a newer, higher mpg car based on the environmental cost needed to manufacture a new car?
posted by Mister_A at 10:16 AM on November 27, 2007


A pair of Jetta TDIs could get also ~21 MPG (collectively), and they'd have room for 1 extra person in each car.

So, we have an SUV that's as efficient as, uh, two separate cars?
posted by bhayes82 at 10:17 AM on November 27, 2007


Does anybody know if it can still tow a decent load?

I know most SUVs are used like station wagons, but a lot of the full-size ones are also used to tow horses, small boats and the like.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2007


Two Jettas wouldn't be able to two a 2-gallons-per-mile speedboat that everyone "needs."
posted by drstrangelove at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2007


er...I meant "tow."
posted by drstrangelove at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2007


Just to be fair, MPG estimates for Jetta TDI have been revised to a still-excellent 35/44 (5-speed manual; 2002 model year). The new method for calculating MPG for vehicles has resulted in lower stated MPG for every vehicle.
posted by Mister_A at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2007


I have my eye on a hybrid SUV for our second car, the first being a biodiesel Golf, but my SO doesn't like the SUV stigma. Data point: we actually need sports utility out of a vehicle.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:24 AM on November 27, 2007


Regular Tahoe: tows 8,200 pounds
Hybrid Tahoe: tows 6,200 pounds
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:24 AM on November 27, 2007


0.000% of SUVs driven by actual people in really real reality are ever occupied by more than two human beings at any given time.

Yes, but in terms of physical mass one USian super-sizing steak-gorging waddler equals two or three regular human beings, so technically those tin tanks are filled to at least half capacity.

In terms of environmental impact each vehicle transports an entire hamlet.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:27 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


i've read that a car produces up to 40% of its lifetime emissions before it's sold. i don't have a cite though, and it would depend on how far it went, how well it was maintained, etc.

but all this crap about fuel efficient behemoths is really beside the point. the problem is not how much gas cars use, but that we drive them at all.

think of the metal and plastic that goes into them; the vast areas of landscape that we pave to accomodate them; the toxic fluids we pour into them (that eventually leak out); the retarded urban planning "strategies" that cater to them - i've lived in LA. i know what happens when you build a city to favour the automobile. the automobile is probably the single most dangerous force in western society. making them more fuel efficient doesn't really address much of their destructive potential.

i own a pickup truck that i drive about once a week. i use it for recreation that requires travel, usually with two people and gear on board, or for moving heavy items. the rest of the time, i walk, bike or bus. my gas-guzzling truck uses less gas than a hybrid driven every day, because i use it as sparingly as possible. most people seem to think that the development of fuel efficient vehicles gives us to be a pass to be stupid and lazy about transportation, but we will end up in just as bad a fix either way. hybrids may just delay the inevitable crunch a little longer.
posted by klanawa at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


I call shenanigans. Anytime an American vehicle wins anything, you know the contest was rigged. robots > unions
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2007


klanawa: if you want to get people out of cars, first we need to re-think the way almost all of America's zoning regulations work.

As it stands, it's almost always illegal for somebody to run a small pharmacy, barber shop, restaurant of convenience store out of a residential neighborhood. As such, even our most common chores nearly always require traveling several miles.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Artw writes "Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?"

What are you talking about?

Although I will admit, they don't make them like that anymore.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


robots > unions
There's a hell of a lot of robots in US auto plants. A lot of them in unionized German plants, too.

In any case, the crappiness of American iron is born not on the assembly line. The crap is designed-in by numbers-crunchers and engineers way before any welding begins...either by robots or union members. You can only build them as well as they were designed.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2007


As it stands, it's almost always illegal for somebody to run a small pharmacy, barber shop, restaurant of convenience store out of a residential neighborhood. As such, even our most common chores nearly always require traveling several miles.

++
I think about this point a lot. I live in a medium-sized sub-development out in the country. 100 years ago, it would have qualified as a small, rural town. As such, it would have had it's own school, markets, pubs, doctors, etc. The surrounding farm lands would have supplied the populace with food.

Today, though, we have to drive several miles to do/get anything. I'm not sure that's necessarily progress.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:49 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good grief...even when the news is good some people can't do anything but bitch & whine.
I hope this thing sells like hotcakes and influences further adoption of hybrid engines in non-traditional vehicles. We're not all gonna start riding bikes overnight, people.
posted by rocket88 at 10:49 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


As such, even our most common chores nearly always require traveling several miles.

I live in a suburb with very mixed zoning (Levittown, NY), and really, it's only marginally better. I walk to the library, the bagel shop, the pizzeria, but most people don't. These places are a quarter of a mile away--no matter where you live--and yet everybody drives.

While I do think that the really terrible zoning in suburbs in much of the US is a big problem--why should I have to drive 10, 15, 30 miles to go grocery shopping?--I don't think that fixing that is going to get people out of cars. People will complain all day long about traffic and the price of gas, but nothing you do (possibly short of insane, iron-fisted regulation) is going to get them out of their cars.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:51 AM on November 27, 2007


But if we do start riding bikes, we'll need one of these.

An acquaintance of mine is working on a feasibility study for just such a thing; Philadelphia is actually a really good spot for this kind of thing.
posted by Mister_A at 10:52 AM on November 27, 2007


KokuRyu, what are you doing to squeeze 50 mpg out of your Fit?

Check your gas -- if it's E10 (10% ethanol) that may be the problem right there. Most cars lose about five percent of their normal mileage, because ethanol has less energy density than gasoline. Some cars lose more -- the ethanol seems to much up the mix a bit. I lose almost 10% with my Honda Civic Hybrid and corn gas.
posted by eriko at 10:55 AM on November 27, 2007


(I should note that I'm one of those people who will never give up his car. But I actually enjoy driving. It's people who don't like to drive--and who buy giant SUVs for the perceived passive safety because accidents are "inevitable"--who should be the targets of "get-off-the-road" activity.)
posted by uncleozzy at 10:57 AM on November 27, 2007


eriko-- I don't use E10 for precisely that reason. Unless KokuRyu is a "hypermiler," I seriously doubt they're getting 50 mpg.
posted by drstrangelove at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2007


Did anyone else read the article in Fast Company about the guy who converted his Hummer to Biodiesel, got 100 MPG out of it, and increased horsepower?

Here it is. I'm wondering if the claims in the article stand up.
posted by drezdn at 11:04 AM on November 27, 2007


I just base my Fit's mileage on what the manufacturer says. The car actually qualified for a $1000 "eco-rebate".

Man I love my Fit. Boy do I hate SUVs.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:14 AM on November 27, 2007


I estimate that approximately... 0.000% of SUVs ... are ever occupied by more than two human beings at any given time.

Over the summer, I saw a funeral procession drive pass me. Almost all of the vehicles were SUV's, and almost all of them were occupied by one person. All going to the same funeral to mourn.
posted by jdotglenn at 11:21 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


...AND THAT FUNERAL WAS FOR THE EARTH! </ottVoiceover>
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on November 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


Mourn what, the death of the environment?
posted by ersatz at 11:35 AM on November 27, 2007


uncleozzy writes "It's people who don't like to drive--and who buy giant SUVs for the perceived passive safety because accidents are 'inevitable'--who should be the targets of 'get-off-the-road' activity."

Well, I own a small SUV (97 Toyota 4Runner) that gets about 20mpg in the city. The main reason I bought it is because I live in a rural area where many people live at the end of ungraded dirt roads (including my own). Part of my job is going to people's houses, so it's necessary. In the middle of winter, it's not uncommon to get more than a foot of snow on the ground, and anything less than a 4-wheel drive is going to struggle on heavy snow-covered dirt roads. I also need the SUV because I have to haul around a lot of parts when working. My last car, a Volvo hatchback, got about 25mpg in the city - not much of an improvement, and it struggled when the snow got over 4 inches (plus it cost way too much in maintenance/problems). Not sure I'd buy a Volvo again, but they do well in accidents, if that's an issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:36 AM on November 27, 2007


hi Artw
posted by ersatz at 11:36 AM on November 27, 2007


In other words, a Tahoe owner that opts for hybrid saves 63.1 more gallons of gasoline every year than a Civic driver who makes the same choice.

Read this editorial
.
posted by ninjew at 11:38 AM on November 27, 2007


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?

I agree that the Hondas and Toyotas built by Americans are ugly. I also agree that the BMWs designed by American Chris Bangle are ugly, and that the BMWs and Mercedes built by Americans are ugly--even those that were designed by non-Americans.

I think the answer to the question is that Americans build whatever cars the companies they work for ask them to build, whether it's an Accord built in Ohio or a BMW built in Georgia, whether the cars were designed by an American working for a German company or by a German, French, or Japanese designer.

For some reason, car companies seem to think that Americans either like ugly cars or that Americans simply don't care whether a car looks good. The Honda Accord is a great example of this, as it has become bigger and uglier over the years. Meanwhile, Mercedes stopped making indestructible tanks and started building Honda Accords with Merc badges.

In fact, the nation that builds the least offensive cars from a design perspective seems to be Mexico (with the exception of the Avalanche, which is a design abomination). I would have said Italy, but then I remembered the Fiat Multipla, whose ugliness outweighs all the beauty of every Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa ever made.
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on November 27, 2007


I own a small SUV [...] it's necessary.

Hey man, that's cool. I didn't mean to come off sounding like some holier-than-thou prick; I drive a totally unnecessary car because it's fun, for crying out loud. I'm just generally pissed with people who only drive big cars because they can't be bothered to try to avoid accidents (like the small-lady-in-big-truck who likes to make a left turn in front of me 5 seconds after the light goes red because she can't wait for the next cycle). I'd be thrilled to keep them off of the road (as they seem to be the vast majority of drivers).

Yes, 5 seconds, at the minimum. Yes, this happens every day. Yes, it's always a woman in a truck, usually a Lexus RX or a Porsche Cayenne. Yes, this has caused me to drive with both middle fingers extended outside of the car. No, I am not proud of that.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:49 AM on November 27, 2007


KokuRyu-- Where do you live? Do you know which engine is in your Fit? In the US we only have the 1.5-liter VTEC model, while the rest of the world have smaller, more-efficient engine options...
posted by drstrangelove at 11:52 AM on November 27, 2007


Mister_A, thanks for the informative comments. Not everyone is ignoring them. Nice change from the hysterical "SUVs suck amirite???" ones.
posted by smackfu at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2007


ninjew-Perhaps you should also read How to Lie with Statistics. The raw numbers from the editorial suggest that the hybrid Tahoe still burns 200 more gallons per year than the non-hybrid Civic.

Sure, everyone is free to drive whatever car they want, but the precise point of the criticism is that the environmentally devastating choice a Tahoe owner is making when they choose a Tahoe is not really rationally ameliorated by the switch to a hybrid Tahoe. I agree with the editorial, it is relatively better, but only relative to something indefensible to start with.
posted by OmieWise at 11:59 AM on November 27, 2007


This is the car that answers "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
posted by GuyZero at 12:07 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I bet the Hummer would have won if they'd added a flower vase and used recycled aluminum for the rims.

This is a laudable change in the SUV world but Green Car of the Year? Why not go with a car that actually gets great mileage or doesn't pollute at all? Or how about an SUV that won't run unless more than two people are in it?
posted by fenriq at 12:09 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy writes "I'm just generally pissed with people who only drive big cars because they can't be bothered to try to avoid accidents (like the small-lady-in-big-truck who likes to make a left turn in front of me 5 seconds after the light goes red because she can't wait for the next cycle). I'd be thrilled to keep them off of the road (as they seem to be the vast majority of drivers)."

Yeah, I see this a lot when I go to the big city. I'm always amazed at how clean all those big 4x4s are (especially compared to mine, most often covered in mud). Out here most people have pickups or SUVs, but it's almost always out of necessity.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:11 PM on November 27, 2007


I'm not attempting to stand up to the anti-SUV popular opinion. The car I drive now averages about 18mpg. In the past, I'd owned more than a few Civics, all of them averaging in the upper 20s in mpg numbers. I've never owned a truck or SUV, but I wouldn't feel bad about owning one if I had a reason to. In that editorial, he was looking at an average American community where truck use was common, and mostly justified. It's not so much the statistics that I found convincing, it was that these people were going to buy large trucks. They are aware of the consequences of their purchase. Now that they're given a choice, they can opt to use the same type of vehicle while burning less fuel.

That being an average American community, they've got kids and dogs and boats and whatever. If this was 1978, they might be rolling around in one of these. The only station wagons you can usually find now are made by the luxury brands, and mostly they aren't driven by middle class buyers. Well, maybe used ones are. Minivans can haul all the people, but they generally can't tow much of anything. And like someone pointed out above, minivans don't get great mileage overall either.

If I needed a truck like that, and now I'm able to own that type of vehicle and average over 20mpg, while still being able to use it is as intended... well I'd be happy to have that choice.
posted by ninjew at 12:26 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]



This is a laudable change in the SUV world but Green Car of the Year? Why not go with a car that actually gets great mileage or doesn't pollute at all? Or how about an SUV that won't run unless more than two people are in it?
posted by fenriq at 3:09 PM on November 27


This SUV gets the same mileage as a Honda Accord. So why isn't the Accord green car of the year? Why isn't the Prius?

Because this SUV sends the right Red State message - you can have it all - fuel economy and the big truck - and you don't have to sacrifice.

The best part about all this is that gas prices do NOT reflect the current price of oil. They are lagging as refining margins are pushed ever lower. Wait until next year and when people start to see $4.00 gas. At that price point people will be sawing off their catalytic converters to squeeze out an extra 10% MPG.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:29 PM on November 27, 2007


...but only relative to something indefensible to start with.

I've said this before, and I'll probably say it again...but I like my small SUV. I can carry multiple 90 pound dogs, my kid, 800 pounds of raw ingredients or finished product and a partridge in a pear tree. Yay me. So...it's not indefensible. I actually need that much cargo space. Do I need it all the time? No...but I need it often enough that having to go rent an SUV if I need to take my dog to the vet, or need to make a delivery would be stupid.

By the same token, my SUV is almost 10 years old, and has less than 25,000 miles on it...so it's not like I load it up and go trekking cross country with it either. Who could afford that? Good god, the thing gets the same mileage as my souped up old Camaro...well, maybe a little better...the Camaro was pretty rough on gas. And my 64 1/2 Mustang...with a 351 windsor, 10/11 rear end gears and double holley high rise....sheesh, just to crank the engine on that bad boy takes a gallon of gas.

But, ya know, oddly enough, nobody has ever fucked with me when I'm driving the growling monster car of evil death. Nobody comes up and accuses me of "destroying the earth" or raping the planet, or causing global warming...or whatever; whereas I get shit from all sorts of holier-than-thou, leather wearing, dolce and gabbana uniform fetish, Starbucks cup-carrying, pseudo hippies about the SUV.

You know, some of us still live in rural areas. Some of us drive roads on a daily basis that would destroy a Prius...as adorable and cuddly as they may be. Some of us are surrounded by trophy wives in Lincoln Navigators and the only way we can get them to see us through the haze of face powder and botox is to drive something at least as far off the ground. And frankly, my SUV gets about 17 miles to the gallon, which is in line with any minivan and better than most trucks and significantly better than any big suvs.

I'm just saying;not all SUVs are indefensible, not all SUV drivers are blinded by stupidity and false eyelashes, and I'm pretty sure South Park was right about the Smug Factor from the early adopters killing off the willingness of middle America to move into saner vehicles. (For the record, we are replacing one of our trucks with a Prius...we decided we only needed one utility vehicle...but by gods, we actually do *need* that one.)
posted by dejah420 at 12:37 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?

Not necessarily. Sure, some of the new SUV monstrosities are hideous, but there have always been very aesthetically pleasing American cars as well.

I remember sitting in my uncle's brand new black 1977 Pontiac Firebird (he'd shipped it from San Diego to London) in Baker Street while he ran into a store to pick something up. In the ten minutes he was gone, a crowd of about forty or fifty people gathered around the car to gawk at it, oblivious that there was a little boy in there nervously looking back at them. Some of them even took it upon themselves to reverently stroke the car, paying particular attention to the firebird/phoenix painted on the hood. It was the strangest thing.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:43 PM on November 27, 2007


We got trouble. Right here in Motor City. With a capitol "T" and that rhymes with "G" and that stands for GCOY. Which happens to ryhme with "decoy." Which also rhymes with "bleak oy..."
posted by ericbop at 12:49 PM on November 27, 2007


This article is obviously a work of satire - the publication date is 2008.
posted by Paid In Full at 1:02 PM on November 27, 2007


I've said this before, and I'll probably say it again...but I like my small SUV.

I've never said this before, but I'd be happy to say it again...the SUV in question is not small by any stretch of the imagination.

Look, I've owned a truck/SUV when I lived in the country and on a dirt road. I needed the 4wd, I needed the space. It had a 4 liter engine and got ~25 mpg on average. What we're talking about with Tahoe's is almost never need, it's almost always style. That, to my mind, is indefensible.

But I'm just some guy, and I think it's fine for other people to have different opinions, and I'm not going to ram it or anything.
posted by OmieWise at 1:10 PM on November 27, 2007


They are lagging as refining margins are pushed ever lower. Wait until next year and when people start to see $4.00 gas.

You're right that crack spreads and refining margins are pretty low nowadays, and it's true that they mean-revert over time, but in the face of a weaker US consumer (and a refining market that tends to clear near marginal cash cost), I'm not lining up to make the bet that refiners do measurably better anytime soon.

Was your comment an offhand remark, Pastabagel, or a deeply -held thesis? Because refining stocks are getting smoked right now.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2007


Damn, dejah, a Camaro AND a Mustang? What was in the Camaro? I'm picturing a fire-breathing 396?
posted by Mister_A at 1:32 PM on November 27, 2007


DU,
I see what you're getting at, given the conservation of energy and all. So I looked it up. Electricity is not 1/6 the price of gas. Using the energy equivalent for gas of 114,100 Btu per gallon, and gas at four bucks a gallon, I get the electical energy equivalent of 3 cents a kilowatt-hour. So gas is way cheaper than electricity, even at four bucks. It wouldn't surprise me if a Smart is cheaper to run than a Prius.
posted by jimmietown softgirl at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2007


Pepsi Green!
posted by ORthey at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2007


jimmietown, is your 114,100 BTU based on theoretical 100% efficiency? IC engines are <100% efficient.
posted by Mister_A at 1:48 PM on November 27, 2007


However, I do wonder which is really cheaper - plug in electric or efficient gas-powered motor - in economic and environmental terms.
posted by Mister_A at 1:49 PM on November 27, 2007


In other words, a Tahoe owner that when Hannibal Lecter opts for hybrid a diet, he saves 63.1 more gallons of gasoline juicy, tasty humans every year than a Civic driver vegetarian who makes the same choice.

That still doesn't make cannibalism (or Chevy Tahoes, for that matter), any more sensible or responsible...
posted by Skeptic at 1:56 PM on November 27, 2007


Hi Mister A,

Not based on any efficiency, just grabbed it from the web and it claims to be an average amount of energy in a gallon of gas. So I converted it to kWh.

I see what you're getting at. Electric motors are more efficient than gas engines, sure.

But most of us pay 10 - 20 cents a kilowatt-hour for what comes out of our outlets, so the efficiency difference would have to be way more than it is, I'm guessing, for this to pencil out.

A person considering this would probably want to know which is more polluting, and that would depend where you live. And then there are the dam fish...

Complicated. I like the Drive Less idea for best guilt attenuation.
posted by jimmietown softgirl at 1:57 PM on November 27, 2007


If you want high torque to tow your boat and high fuel economy buy a damn turbo diesel already.
posted by Talez at 2:03 PM on November 27, 2007


Also worthy of note, the rated 21 mpg city for this vehicle bests all minivans rated in the 2008 FEG.

Worthy of note is that if a minivan were given this technology, its mileage would be a lot better than this Chevy Tahoe's.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:14 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


1 US gallon of gasoline is good for about 130000000 joules (reference). 130000000 joules is 36.1 kWh, which at 15 cents per kWh is $5.42, significantly above the current price of a gallon of gas.

The exact efficiency difference between pure-internal-combusion, hybrid and pure-electric cars, however, depends on which factors you include in the equation. That, in turn, depends on where you are, and whether you're interested only in what a given vehicle will cost you personally to run, or what it's costing "society" or the environment.

In "typical US driving conditions", about 20% of the fuel energy, at best, ends up pushing you down the road (reference). Efficiency is rather better on the highway - maybe 30% - but falls to zero whenever you're sitting still with the engine running. Hybrids use no fuel in that situation, which is a big part of the reason why they have excellent city mileage.

(There are a few internal combustion cars that cut the engine whenever they're at rest, too.)

Overall drivetrain efficiency for (pure) electric vehicles, in contrast, is close to 90% (reference). Interestingly, regenerative braking doesn't usually make very much difference, since most electric vehicles and hybrids don't have a capacitor bank to rapidly accept the very large power that a serious regenerative braking system outputs.

So, once you've got your gallon of gas or 130000000 joules of electricity into your vehicle, a pure electric vehicle will take you 4.5 times as far on it than a gasoline vehicle will, all other things being equal.

Since the electric vehicle is likely to be light, very streamlined, have low rolling resistance tyres and so on, it could easily go even further - I wouldn't be surprised to see ten times as far - per unit of energy. All of these latter features could, of course, be applied to the internal combustion vehicle too.

If you live somewhere with much steeper petrol taxes than the USA - which is to say, almost anywhere else in the world that isn't full of oil wells - the value difference is likely to be much more dramatic. US electrical power prices are not vastly different from European prices, but petrol in the States is (still) much cheaper than it is in Europe.

But it's more complex even that that.

If you take into account electricity generation and transmission and charging losses (same reference), overall efficiency for pure electric vehicles is less than 30%. That's mainly because electrical power is usually generated in fossil fuel or nuclear plants, both of which use hideously inefficient steam turbines to turn the generators.

But if you take into account losses in the refining process and transportation (vehicular fuel can't be moved down a wire...), the overall efficiency of even diesel IC automobiles starts to dip very close to 10%.
posted by dansdata at 3:25 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Eletric motors are pretty efficient, much better than 90%. You can see this is true by looking at the cooling systems of large industrial motors. Mostly they have some metal fins, maybe a fan. Internal combustion engines need liquid cooling and big radiators.

And don't forget to account for road taxes!
posted by ryanrs at 4:07 PM on November 27, 2007


dansdata-- How much energy is lost during the recharging of the batteries? Also, how much is lost when the temperature falls below freezing?
posted by drstrangelove at 4:45 PM on November 27, 2007


Wait until next year and when people start to see $4.00 gas. At that price point people will be sawing off their catalytic converters to squeeze out an extra 10% MPG.

I was recently in France, and gas there averaged out to about $8/ gallon (or $1.5 euros/litre - check my math).

Nobody there was sawing off anything. In fact, cars were remarkedly bigger than the last time I visited 4 years ago.

Honestly, I think gas prices could rise to a similar level, and despite all the yelling and crying, most everyone would drive just as much as they do now.

We're not all gonna start riding bikes overnight, people.

No, but I do think we're all going to stop driving cars virtually overnight, and it won't be pretty. Like most good citizens, I can only hope I'm dead by then.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:52 PM on November 27, 2007


50 years ago a volkswagen, as well as most other european cars, averaged over 30 mpg. what have automakers been doing for half a century? how can they possibly be bragging about 23 mpg?
posted by kitchenrat at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2007


what have automakers been doing for half a century?

Adding safety equipment to keep you alive when the two-ton Tahoe hits you. And power windows, moonroofs, larger wheels and tires, heated seats, CD changers, and soundproofing. Heavier small cars need bigger engines to deliver acceptable performance, which use more fuel. The 50hp 4-banger might have been sufficient for the sub-ton Beetle, but it wouldn't get your 1.5-ton Corolla up the on-ramp anymore.

Modern internal combustion technology delivers more horsepower-miles for a given volume of fuel, but the fact remains that cars keep getting heavier, and engines keep getting bigger.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


how can they possibly be bragging about 23 mpg?

Cars that seat 8 people, have over 300 horsepower, and have all the weight of modern safety and convenience features have not been getting 23 mpg.

50 years ago, a Volkwagen, as well as most other european cars, were tin can death traps with no power, and it was impressive if 8 clowns piled out of them at the circus.

The fact that U.S. regulations essentially require cars to be overweight doesn't help, either.
posted by The World Famous at 5:29 PM on November 27, 2007


Interesting. My 1989 Corolla gets the same city mileage as the 2008 Tahoe, according to the EPA's new formula. And I know my MPG highway is higher in practice. 30-35 MPG highway is more accurate, and is what is estimated by the old formula. My actual city MPG is just a little lower than the older estimate, IIRC (low to mid 20s).

It seems a little odd that they chose this one, even if the judges were trying to show progress within SUV models. It's not even in the list of most efficient SUVs for 2008, unless it has really good highway mileage. What is the highway mileage for this Tahoe? I didn't see it in the article.

Most Efficient Sport Utility Vehicles

MPG
cty hwy
34 30 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD
34 30 Mazda Tribute Hybrid
34 30 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
23 28 Jeep Compass
23 28 Jeep Patriot
21 ? Tahoe
posted by Tehanu at 5:37 PM on November 27, 2007


Why are cars built by Americans so uniquely ugly?

You want eye-searingly ugly, designed-by-Homer-Simpson ugly, you can't beat Ssangyong, the also-ran Korean carmaker. Dear sweet automotive jeebus, they must be eating that import Chinese kimchi that's tainted with parasites and heavy metals.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:55 PM on November 27, 2007


In fairness, Tehanu, the first three on that list are the same vehicle, and none of the ones with better mileage than the Tahoe seat more than 5 people.
posted by The World Famous at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2007


The 50hp 4-banger might have been sufficient for the sub-ton Beetle, but it wouldn't get your 1.5-ton Corolla up the on-ramp anymore.

It depends if people actually use the available horsepower. Most people who bring their Corolla up to 3K before shifting will only be bringing it up to 30-40hp.

50hp is more than enough to get the Corolla up the ramp. It's just that people won't actually use it unless there's another 80hp in front of it.
posted by Talez at 7:39 PM on November 27, 2007


How much energy is lost during the recharging of the batteries?

It depends on the battery chemistry and the charge connection. The standard rule of thumb for charging small batteries - loose consumer-sized cells, radio control model batteries and such - is that you have to put in 1.4 times as much power as you get out, meaning only about 70% efficiency.

Larger battery systems are generally considerably better; that electroauto.com page gives a figure of 88%, which seems pretty decent for a directly connected charger to me.

If the charger isn't directly connected, you can expect to lose a few more per cent, at least. This is the case for some electric vehicles (the old GM EV1, for instance), which use an "inductive" charger, as seen in a much smaller scale in those electric toothbrushes that you just park in their smooth plastic holder to recharge.

An inductive EV charger has an insulated plastic paddle that you plug into the car. A coil within the paddle inductively couples with a coil in the similarly insulated receptacle, making a transformer that moves the power. The advantage of this is that there are no exposed contacts; the disadvantage is loss of efficiency.

Also, how much is lost when the temperature falls below freezing?

It depends, again, on the battery chemistry, and also on how cold the batteries actually get. For a regularly used car, this may be less of an issue than you'd think, since it's pretty easy to insulate the batteries well enough that they'll still be above freezing after a night in a -10°C garage, yet don't bake when you drive around in summer.

Nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium and lead acid all have -20°C as their commonly quoted lower limit, but at that temperature you're only getting about a fifth of full capacity. -5°C, on the other hand, is pretty much fine. Lithium ion batteries (but not true lithium polymer, which I think still has a water-based electrolyte) are better for very low temperatures.
posted by dansdata at 8:17 PM on November 27, 2007


Ssangyong

¿Eh? The SUV•RV they show on the home page looks like any other boxy SUV. [pokes at "showroom"] The Rodius, though, yah, that's fugly. And the Actyon's looks odd, although I could see it working as a reworking of the old-school Honda CRX Si.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:57 PM on November 27, 2007


Much of the inefficiency in modern gas engines has nothing to do with gas itself, and everything to do with marketing.

A Prius cruising at 80mph requires about 31.5hp to keep going in a straight line. Seems pretty thrifty compared to a 325hp-engined H2.

But an H2 cruising at 80mph only requires 78.9hp of it's available horsepower. And if they slow down to 65, they only need about 42.3hp to keep cruising.

Auto manufacturers are putting out engines that are far more powerful than anybody can usefully use, because big numbers sell product. unfortunately, they also mean that the engines are very poorly suited to sitting around and generating the extremely small amounts of power that are actually required to keep a car at cruising speeds.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:00 PM on November 27, 2007


Well, one does want some acceleration power. And in this mountainous terrain (BC), the ability to go up hills in low gear during icy weather is kind of a bonus.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 PM on November 27, 2007


Staying at speed once you get there is really not the main function of the car's engine. We didn't invent cars because we were already zooming along at 75 mph and needed a better way to make sure we didn't slow down.
posted by The World Famous at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2007


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