Back home this morning on the latest leg of his “Mission Accomplished” tour, President Obama spoke at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant where he celebrated a green, $6 billon federal loan to build Ford’s new. . . . gas-guzzling Ford Explorer SUV?
Obama is touting his transformation of U.S. automakers into designers of lean, mean, fuel-efficient fighting machines. “Ford dedicated itself to increasing fuel efficiency of more than a dozen of its models. And the Department of Energy awarded Ford a two-year loan commitment to help make that happen,” said Obama. “And Ford used that loan to retool this factory to build the next-generation Explorer. That’s a model that will be up to 30 percent more fuel efficient.”
A fuel-efficient, 6-cylinder, 17 mpg SUV. Well, it depends on what your definition of “fuel-efficient” is. Because, while most buyers of the new Explorer will likely opt for the 6-cylinder engine, Ford is responding to strict new federal mpg rules by also offering a 23 mpg, 4-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine (which explains the the 30 percent increase over the current six). Will consumers buy a 4-cylinder engine in a 4600-lb. vehicle? Will anyone buy the line that 23 mpg is “fuel-efficient” car?
That seems a stretch. But so is the claim that SUVs are green cars deserving DOE money.