Zubrin’s argument is illogical.
Robert Zubrin encapsulates the core of Cliff May’s argument:
Right now there is no constraint on the price of oil, because gasoline is the only game in town. They’ve raised the price of oil to $100/bbl. Unless there is fuel choice, they can raise it to $200/bbl, and are already talking about doing so.
By mandating flex-fuel vehicles, we make the fuel market competitive. This will put a permanent constraint on the price of oil. We need to do that to defend our economy and that of our allies.
So, according to Zubrin, (1) oil could reach $200/bbl, yet consumers won’t demand, and automakers won’t produce, flex-fuel vehicles, but (2) if politicians just compel auto companies to spend an extra hundred bucks per vehicle to make all cars flex-fuel, then the Kingdom of Saud will come a-tumblin’ down. This is illogical.
If (1) is the case, it means there is no profit in making flex-fuel vehicles regardless of how costly oil becomes, in which case flex-fuel technology has no economic merit. But if (2) is the case, then auto companies only have to spend trivial sums to abolish pain at the pump and make billions from grateful customers, in which case no mandate is necessary.