Environmental Progress: The Parked Mustang Test


Detroit — As Greg noted yesterday, activist Bill McKibben took to the pages of the Washington Post’s Earth Day edition to moan, “Forty years in, we’re losing.”

It is a sentiment echoed by his green allies in the media and public office. To admit progress would strip them of the power of perpetual and proliferating regulation that, incredibly, now encompasses CO2 — the very air we breathe. And yet McKibben’s comment is demonstrably false.

Take a simple benchmark: the iconic American muscle car, the Ford Mustang.

The Mustang’s evolution is a marvel of the relentless advance of engineering in a demanding, competitive consumer market. As Autoweek magazine explains, “the 1970 Ford Mustang pollutes more parked in a driveway than a 2010 Mustang does traveling down the road”:

The operating 2010 Mustang is 98.5 percent cleaner than the 1970 with its engine shut off, according to Ed Kulick, an emissions regulatory planner in Ford’s vehicle Environmental Engineering Department.

The ’10 Mustang has demand-based fuel injection with no return lines, hydrocarbon impermeable fluorocarbon gaskets and evaporative emissions canisters that eliminate gasoline vapor seepage, even during refueling. The ’70 Mustang emitted the equivalent of 3.7 grams of hydrocarbon (HC) per mile sitting still, according to Kulick. The ’10 is certified at 0.055 gram of HC per mile when cruising the interstate at 70 mph.

The 1970 ’Stang had Detroit’s first rudimentary apparatus to control exhaust emissions It met federal standards of 4.3 grams of HC, 39.6 grams of carbon monoxide (CO) and 4.1 grams of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) per mile. The 2010 generates no more than 0.055 gram HC, 2.1 grams of CO and 0.070 gram of NOx, for reductions of 98.7 percent, 94.7 percent and 98.3 percent, respectively.

Happy Earth Day. Now can’t we move on to solving a real problem, like AIDS?


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