Explicit in the Obama administration’s new mpg edict is Euro-envy (a sentiment that informs much of this president’s economics). If the Europeans can drive 39 mpg cars, why can’t we?
Yes, European cars average 39 mpg. That’s under the duress of $7-a-gallon petrol. And on a smaller continent with less space and narrower roads. And — as my Michigan colleagues Steve Siler and Mike Duchane of Car & Driver point out — in vehicles less capable and considerably more expensive than ours.
“Car for car,” they write, “European vehicles aren’t meaningfully more efficient. Take the Ford Focus sedan, a car that’s comparably sized here and in Europe. In the U.S., the base Focus sedan costs $15,000, has 140 hp, and is rated at 28 mpg combined by the EPA. The base Focus sedan available in Germany costs $20,000 (plus a 19-percent tax), has only 79 hp, and would be rated by the EPA at approximately 30 mpg combined if they were to test it. Paying an extra $5000, Europeans sacrifice 44 percent of their horsepower and gain less than 10 percent in fuel economy.
“So why is Europe’s fleet so much more efficient overall? The cars people buy there are much smaller. The Focus is one of the tinier mass-market cars sold in the U.S. today, but . . . the average European consumer buys a car a few sizes smaller than a Focus. And about half of Europeans buy diesels, which consume around 30 percent less fuel.”
Obama mouthpieces like Michigan governor Granholm insist that we can have it all: Greener cars with the same capabilities. But the Euro experience proves there is no such thing as a free lunch.