Sunday, May 20, 2012

CAFE Loco (a.k.a.: 'Hulk Crush')

You scratched your head when you read about it here first in "The CBO is Driven", March, 2011. 

You kicked your dog after reading about it again in "Driven", November, 2011. 

Well, get ready to punch that concrete wall in your garage, because just as surely as the "Marvel Avengers" sequel will be in theaters before you can say, "Hulk - Crush", it'll be back in the news again. 

Go ahead, make the great big green fist... 

And say it with me now:

Gee, that WAS fast.  Even I didn't see it coming this quickly...

Yes, ladies, gentlemen, boys and girls, it's time to once again turn our eyes towards our collective garages and ask ourselves the question:  "What WILL I be driving ten years from now?"

The second, less obvious question, of course, will be:  "When I'm 60+, will I still be fit enough to ride my bike?"

The third question (for me), from a post several weeks ago, "Where will I get the trading cards to clothes-pin onto the spokes to make that 'Thwacka, thwacka, thwacka' sound I loved so much on my 70's Schwinn Banana Bike?"

Well, like I said, THAT's just me.

And the rest of this post?  Well, it's all about US.

From the May 3rd, 2012, Detroit News Online:

New fuel rules will cost feds, driversAnalysis finds cars that sip gas siphon tax funds for roads

Washington —Rising fuel-efficiency standards will cut gas tax revenue by $57 billion through 2025, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Wednesday.

The government should consider hiking the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax — which hasn't been increased since 1993 — or cutting spending on road repairs or paying for repairs through the general budget, the report said.

The Obama administration reached a deal with 13 major automakers in July to hike fuel standards to 54.5 mpg between 2017 and 2025.

The report says that the higher efficiency standards — including the 2012-16 rules — will cut the Highway Trust Fund 13 percent over 11 years through 2025.

The new rules are to be finalized by late July.

The Congressional Budget Office says a 5 cent per gallon gas tax increase would be necessary to offset the reduction in revenue. The estimate includes a small reduction in fuel use attributable to the higher fuel tax.

Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen automakers, including those from Detroit, said the study showed the new rules have costs. "There are always policy trade-offs for CAFE standards. Adding more technology hurts affordability. Smaller cars raise safety concerns. And gas-sipping vehicles take revenues out of federal and state coffers. That's why we need a balancing act, where we have the maximum fuel economy without adverse effects on jobs or revenues."

The rules will cost the auto industry $157.3 billion, the Obama administration says. In total, drivers will save $1.7 trillion at the pump, including the 2012-16 mileage increases that were finalized in 2010.

The Congressional Budget Office also said the government should consider a tax on miles traveled. Several states are considering adopting a tax to collect revenue from electric vehicles for road repairs.

Okay, let me make sure that I've got this straight:

1.  New CAFE standards will require that the 'average vehicle' get 54.5 MPG by 2025
        -  This 'average' includes minivans and pick-up trucks
        -  This means that your 'average' 2025 car MUST get 60+ MPG, right?

2.  New CAFE standards will increase the cost of all 'average vehicles' sold by $157.3 BILLION by 2025 (the auto industry incurs the cost in R&D, but, you ultimately pay for it)

3.  IF the 'auto industry' passes along these CAFE-related research and development costs on to you over the next twelve years, your additional 'average' vehicle cost will be approximately $13.11 BILLION per year ($157.3 billion / 12 years)

4.  IF you, the 'consumer' continue to purchase roughly 13 MILLION new vehicles per year, you'll buy 156 MILLION new vehicles total, over the next twelve year period

5.  IF you divide the total cost of 12 years of this estimated R&D into the total number of vehicles sold over the same 12 year period you can calculate the additional CAFE-mandated cost per vehicle as:  $ 1,008 (additional - per vehicle sold)

6.  Additionally, since your new 'uber-green' vehicle gets so much BETTER mileage, the Feds will collect less revenue (a.k.a.:  Tax $'s) from you (and everyone else driving 'greenly')...  So, the CBO is looking for an additional five-cent per gallon tax increase.  If you drive 15,000 miles per year in a vehicle which gets an 'average' of 54.5 MPG, you'll pay an additional $ 13.76 in gasoline sales tax annually (15,000/54.5 = 275 gallons x .05 = $13.76). 

7.  But wait, that's just YOU, there are about a quarter of a billion other vehicles out there driving too.  So when you think $13.76 additional per year 'ain't that bad' multiply that amount by three (because no one else is getting 50+ MPG besides you and 12.999 million new car buying Americans) and then by 254,212,610 to figure out what the actual increase annually would be.  I'd do it, but I'm 'Math-Maxed-Out' at the moment (and I'm wearing socks, so higher Math is NOT possible currently)

8.  But wait, there's more!  The CBO is also considering a 'mileage tax' which would bill you per mile driven.   How this mileage tax would be calculated is up for debate, but current suggestions include the following three possibilities: 

a.)  A 'black box' which would track your vehicle usage via a built-in integrated GPS (yes, you'll pay for this, too),

b.)  A friendly government employee who will travel with you (we have to do SOMETHING with all those Under-Employed Americans currently receiving Unemployment), jotting down your mileage as you go,

or, my personal favorite,

c.)  A 'Magic Feather' mounted to your vehicle's antenna so that your vehicle can be tracked by highly-efficient 'Predator drones'.  These drones will not only monitor where you went, but they will also photograph what you did when you got there.  This will greatly enhance Homeland Security accountability, aid in national-threat-removal efforts, and allow you to purchase 8x10 color photographs of yourself enjoying Disney World's 'Runaway Train' at a greatly discounted rate over current Frontier Land Gift Shop pricing!

9.  State governments are devising ways to bill 'gas-equivalent taxes' on EV (Electric Vehicles) to replace state fuel surcharges NOT being billed at the pump due to those fabulously-fuel-efficient fire-starters like the Chevrolet Volt and Karma Fisker

10.  There is no Number 10, but I hate ending on an odd-number

So there you have it:  Once again the government mandates 'something', YOU pay for it (via R&D costs + ongoing higher taxes), then when they get the results they wish for (i.e.:  increased fuel economy) they figure out ways to tax you differently because... 

They got the desired results they were looking for in the first place.  This, of course, makes way for 'new, different, and imaginative' ways of getting additional tax dollars!

A appreciative tip of the hat to the nice folks at Detroit News for picking up on this story... 

Fourteen months after we discussed it here.

Way to go.  Wish I got paid for writing this stuff (yeah, yeah, I know, you wish you got paid for READING it...)

In an effort to help out the Detroit News stay current, I offer the following: 

In other late-breaking news, the War ended, the North won, and Dumbo wants his feather back...

Must go now, my Federally-mandated-ride-along-buddy, Ernie, is watching me this week.  He tracks my mileage for the CBO and sometimes helps out with at-home car repair projects. 

He's pretty handy in the garage - he even works on my home theater system from time to time. 

He's a really nice guy; he used to sell for Avon back before President Obama 'prevented the Depression' of 2009 and created or saved 3.6 MILLION jobs.

Only two problems with Ernie:  His breath is terrible and he keeps leaving oil stains wherever he sits in my car.

Darn big oil - just another reason to hate them...  Because in 2012, it's ALL about hate, isn't it?

Except for you. 

Nothin' but love for you...

Have a nice week! 

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