In his seemingly endless quest to insert himself in every pop-culture phenomenon, President Barack â€œI am Spockâ€ Obama took a straw poll of â€œeveryoneâ€ regarding which Star Trek character he resembled most. By his own tally, â€œeveryoneâ€ told him he is most like Spock.
Today, flanked by auto industry executives who were quaking in their Italian shoes and Brooks Brothers suits, Spock-bama mind-melded with his TelePrompTer and issued forth new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards which he promised will save the planet, increase Americaâ€™s good-will standing in the world, and provide every polar bear with a government subsidized salmon ration.
These standards will require whatever automakers are left to produce cars and trucks which have an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Who do you have to thank for these arbitrary requirements forced on an industry by an over reaching and overzealous government? Ahhhnooollld and the California State Legislature. You see, theyâ€™ve done so well managing the Golden Stateâ€™s swan dive off the Golden Gate, Obama decided to use their figures to pile drive whatâ€™s left of the auto industry into its ready made crater.
Just in case you were wondering, Iâ€™m not a fan of small cars. Personally, I drive a gas guzzling, horsepower rich Ford Mustang with a stereo that can rattle windows a quarter mile away. The Cordeiro family manages to get around in a mini-van. Neither of these vehicles gets anywhere near Barryâ€™s 35.5 mpg number. My reasons for buying the Mustang are my own, and center around the fact that I wonâ€™t be caught dead in a non-descript sedan. The Ravishing Mrs. Cordeiro and I settled on the Dodge mini-van because it offered the best overall solution for our transportation needs. It will get our family where we need to go, and in the event of a traffic accident we stand a better than average chance of walking away from the ordeal.
Iâ€™ve listened to snippets from Obamaâ€™s CAFE speech and Iâ€™ve come away less than impressed. He drones on and on about Detroit building cars that will decrease this nationâ€™s dependence on foreign oil. Fuel economy is not the only calculation that goes into the production of a car that will meet the demands of the consumer. Thereâ€™s also a very important calculation which involves something Barry has probably not thought about since he was a junior at that private Hawaiian high school of his.
As Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott so often told Captain Kirk (and occasionally Mr. Spock), â€œye canna change the laws of physics!â€ In this particular case, Obama canna change Newtonâ€™s Laws of Motion either.
The quickest way to improve fuel economy is to reduce the overall weight of the car. It doesnâ€™t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the stuff that weighs the most also provides the most protection from the various forces involved in a collision. Iâ€™ll spare you the details, but just understand that the high mpg tin cans so beloved by those who deride the automobiles used by most Americans donâ€™t hold up well in safety tests.
For example, the much hyped Smart Car known as the â€œfortwoâ€ suffered the following fate when matched with a C Class Mercedes:
In the fortwo collision, the institute said the Smart, which weighs 1,808 lbs, went airborne and turned around 450 degrees after striking the C Class, which weighs nearly twice as much. There was extensive damage to the fortwo’s interior and the Smart driver could have faced extensive injuries to the head and legs. There was little damage to the front seat area of the C Class. (Emphasis Added)
There will be two negative results which will able to be traced directly to Obamaâ€™s arbitrary CAFE declaration today. First, carmakers will be forced to build cars that do not meet the demands of the consumer. Therefore sales of said automobiles will not help these same automakers build their way out of the slump in which they find themselves.
Second, and by far more important, some Americans will be forced to buy these smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. They may do so because some government agency will offer them a subsidy to trade down from their current vehicle. Perhaps they will buy the smaller cars out of some misplaced sense of Obama inspired cult-of-personality driven patriotism. Regardless of why the car is purchased and placed on Americaâ€™s roads, the fact of the matter is some Americans will be driving these tin cans.
Eventually, some unfortunate American family will be sardined in one of these tin can cars which will meet with an old fashioned piece of American automotive hardware in a collision that in years past would have been just another run of the mill traffic accident. Only this time there will be fatalities because one car was built for the reality of automotive travel and the other was built to fit the bill of Obamaâ€™s go-green environmental lobby.
That family, dear reader, will not be mine. Weâ€™ll be in the aging SUV or minivan held together by spit and bailing wire because I choose to protect that which is most precious to me â€“ and if a few polar bears have to swim a few hundred yards to the next ice floe, so be it. Montgomery Scott was right. No matter how much he extends his mighty hand and declares to the contrary, Obama canna change the laws of physics.