The rise and fall of Supercar!
December 13, 2002 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Sure, we all know the story about how Detroit developed, and then kept under wraps, a 100mpg carburetor is false. However, affordable 80mpg family sedans are real: behold the Supercar! They are the results of a nearly decade-long partnership between The Big Three and the Clinton administration. However the program was quietly shelved last June, the victim of the Bush administration, and corporate backpedaling. Read the whole sordid tale here. [use username/password for login] In the meantime, you'll have to settle for one of these.
posted by thewittyname (22 comments total)
Anyone else notice that the Chicago Tribune has a spelling mistake in the graphic for the DAIMLERCHRYSLER ESX3? "when teh driver pushes the gas pedal". Suddenly I'm not sure if I can trust this news source.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:47 AM on December 13, 2002

Anyone feel free to list what the Bush administration has done for the middle class that so steadily voted for him in 2000.
Tax cuts? Supply side economics? I really don't know.
posted by four panels at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2002

Yes, I noticed the mis-spell of "the" as well....and let it pass.

As for the meat of the story, if it were fiscally feasible to build this type of machine, it would be prudent of the auto industry to do so. However, as long as the oil industry holds any sway, this will not come to pass. After all, why would they want people purchasing less fuel?
posted by JaxJaggywires at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2002

Sounds like jeffk made that graphic (possibly NSFW, but funny). ;-)
posted by shepd at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2002

now that Jeffk guy is making fun of pennyarcade (a comic I mentioned here)...that's just over the line, man. Over the line.


As for the story, jax got it just right: Money is king. Once we make it profitable for there to be more hybrid and fuel efficient cars, then shall they appear. That will only happen when we have a more environmentally-friendly president, though.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:23 AM on December 13, 2002

some discussion of this topic over at Plastic: Would Jesus Have Driven a Supercar?
posted by gwint at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2002

Man I want a vehicle that gets 70+ miles to the gallon. Stupid oil politics.
posted by Degaz at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2002

Man I want a vehicle that gets 70+ miles to the gallon.

There are a couple (Honda Insight | Toyota Prius) out that get around 50. You driving them? Step up.
posted by fried at 12:35 PM on December 13, 2002

We had an insight for a bit.....problem was the two seater issue. Can't cart around the wagonload of willing women that inevitably show up when they see someone being so environmentally responsible.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:45 PM on December 13, 2002

Being a family man, I will not drive a two-seater (the Insight). And the Prius is smaller than a Geo Metro, not very good for us tall folk.

Besides, I don't buy cars new. I guess I'd consider a used Prius, but still, such a small car.

Which is why this is such a frustrating story. If these "Supercars" (stupid name, by the way. You can tell it came from the gov't, not the auto industry) came to market, I'd be waiting another five years, tops, before I'd be able to snatch one used. As it is, I'm stuck with my Crown Victoria.
posted by rocketman at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2002

Maybe what you want is a Honda Civic Hybrid? Looks like a regular Civic, electric-gas hybrid, 4 doors, 50 mpg, and all under $20K.
posted by dglynn at 1:00 PM on December 13, 2002

I should have done this in the front page post, but contrast this project with the annoucement yesterday of the Bush Administration seeking to raise the average fuel economy of American-made automobiles by a mere 1.5mpg over a three year period....starting two years from now.

It is so sad that Detriot can come up with something like these "Supercars" (the official title of this program was Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, btw), and then give us this pittance. Like others in this thread, I doubt anything will change until a new administration is in office.
posted by thewittyname at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2002

I notice all the hybrid cars aren't American cars. Where is the Ford hybrid? It doesn't really matter to me since I'm one of those evil-doing unamerican people who walks to work, takes the bus or (most evil of all) rides my bicycle.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2002

Guys, I wrote up my recent car purchase: A 45+ mpg turbo diesel Jetta Wagon.

We've only had it a touch over a week, but it's still a roomy, zippy, amazing car to drive (first tank of fuel got about 42 MPG).

The thing that kills me about this is that we don't necessarily need a top-down annoucement from our leaders saying we should conserve fuel. People should make these changes because they make economic sense. If you buy a car like this, your fuel costs will be cut in half or more. You will save money by buying one of these.

The side benefit is we use less oil, don't need oil from the Middle East, and if everyone went diesel, we could even make biodiesel domestically, and never need a drop of crude oil again. What do you think our diplomatic policy would look like then?
posted by mathowie at 1:44 PM on December 13, 2002

lazaruslong: Can't cart around the wagonload of willing women that inevitably show up when they see someone being so environmentally responsible.

And soon after that, they're asking you to haul their cases of patchouli back from the co-op...
posted by mkultra at 1:47 PM on December 13, 2002

I don't think these projects get killed by the oil industry. It's economics: you can't charge most customers $5K extra for a hybrid car when the fuel savings over the first five years of ownership is $5K. Arithmetic: savings for the first 100K miles (at 23mpg vs 50 mpg, a 37mpg difference) is 3700 gal x $1.35/g = $5000. Additional fuel efficiency is probably more expensive and has diminishing returns - I suspect that is why the 80mpg car was killed. Of course, we could all buy these cars because it will help the environment without costing us too much extra.
posted by mediaddict at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2002

Where is the Ford hybrid?

Right here.

And in that sporty SUV style that middle America loves!
posted by themikeb at 3:23 PM on December 13, 2002

mathowie, there are other things to consider, like health factors.
posted by NortonDC at 3:25 PM on December 13, 2002

I think one of the biggest mistakes in the project from reading the article was rejecting Toyota's proposal to join the project. While I can understand that since this was government funded the government wanted to help American carmakers, considering that Toyota is a company that has had experience in making affordable, gas-sipping cars that people want to buy it would have really helped the project (considering what they later learned tearing apart a Prius).
posted by gyc at 3:27 PM on December 13, 2002

To add to what Matt said, at the risk of tootin' my own horn, there's this recent discussion at a well-known blue community weblog.

NortonDC, have there been similar studies done with cars burning BioDiesels?
posted by 40 Watt at 3:42 PM on December 13, 2002

40 Watt - Short answer: I don't know. Speculation: Given that standing over a wok is a major source of lung cancer in Asia, I'm not ready to assume that biodiesel is inherently healthier than standard diesel.
posted by NortonDC at 10:09 PM on December 13, 2002

The only way that a significant number of people will want more fuel-efficient vehicles is if the price of gas goes up, probably via taxes. Which no politician will do.

Personally, I'd like to see gas taxes increased over a period of several years and other taxes decreased by a like amount (revenue-neutral). Want to pay less taxes? Drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Insist upon driving a thirsty behemoth? Fine, but it will cost you more.

Instead of stimulating demand, we have the silly CAFE requirements designed to force automakers to build cars that are hard to sell. One auto executive said it's like trying to discourage people from being overweight by ordering clothing manufacturers not to produce any extra-large size clothing.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:30 PM on December 13, 2002

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