Thursday, January 05, 2006

Must Give Credit Where Due

by Tom Bozzo

This, from Thomas Friedman (for Times Select subscribers), makes a lot of sense:
What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying...

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

...[B]eing green... It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.
Dude, I hope that new V6 you bought runs on biodiesel.

I agree with the sentiment in Friedman's article, though.
Well, I *did* get the 2.5 instead of the 3.5, and I'm getting about 10% better mileage than in the outgoing car -- mainly because the automatic has more fuel-economical shifting habits than I do.

As it happens, if gas is $20/gallon in 2009, it'll be Toyota's problem.
I have always heard that manuals get better gas mileage than automatics. Has the technology on automatics advanced so much that it is better than manuals, or are you a particularly aggressive shifter?

Is there a forecast for $20 gas in 2009 or are you just saying that?

My brother-in-law's brother converted his 1986 VW Golf Diesel to run on vegetable oil. He gets used oil from some fried chicken place and a Chinese restaurant. He just has to filter the oil through a 5 ┬Ám filter, and it's ready to use. He still needs diesel, because the engine runs on diesel while the vegetable oil is being heated up. In the winter this takes longer, but he still only goes through a tank of diesel once every couple of months. He gets 50 mpg with the vegetable oil and it's free, since many restaurants are willing to give it away as opposed to just having it dumped in some landfill.
I'm just saying on the $20. It would take more than $5-6 to surprise me, and more than $10 to shock me, at least in that time frame. Depends on private transportation demand in China, and whether certain OPEC members can put their money where their mouths are in re the ability to expand production in the nearer term.

Conventional automatics (with viscous couplings) *have* improved greatly, such that there's almost no mileage or performance penalty, thanks to smarter shift programs and more gears. Though what's arguably the best automatic of them all right now, the 'direct shift gearbox' currently available on some VWs and Audis, is actually a tricky dual-clutch "manual" transmission with automated operation.

I was not especially lead-footed in the old car. The main thing is that when I'd be cruising around town in 3rd or 4th with the 5-speed manual to minimize throttle lag, the new car loafs along in 5th or 6th and just kicks down a couple gears on command.

A friend of mine who has a long highway commute between the D.C. exurbs and the Baltimore suburbs drives a Jetta TDI which keeps his fuel bills quite reasonable. Notwithstanding the need for some work on what comes out the tailpipe, contemporary diesels are better than hybrids IMHO (though we don't get the best Euro-diesels here, yet). There are also a lot of ways gas engines can be tuned for better economy while retaining more than adequate performance.

I'll be interested to see how all this plays out. In the meanwhile, I just hope the AWD reduces the frequency w/ which I get stuck on our side street.
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