Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is the SUV Dead?

It's official - all cars sold in America will have to meet a new emissions standard by 2016 that is

TOYOTA FCHV(Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle). The fue...Image via Wikipedia

30% higher than it is today. That is a huge jump - particularly given that car companies have been saying for years that it was impossible. It's amazing what a few billion dollars in bailout money can do to change your mind!

Thirty percent less emissions is a great thing (equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road), but what will the change actually look like? Well, for starters, the average MPG for an auto fleet will need to be 35.5. That leads to a lot of questions...

Will cars cost more? Yes - about $1300

Will gas cost less? No one can predict that, but we'll definitely be buying less of it which should offset the higher price of cars over time.

Now, for the big question... What will the soccer moms (and dads) of the world do without their minivans and SUVs? I'm sensitive to this question because I drive a 4WD 8-seater Honda Pilot. I consider it on the smaller side, but maybe that's just because I'm comparing it to the Suburban or the Escalade. In truth, the mileage is pretty horrible - I think 15 in the city and 20 on the freeway.

2007 Mini Cooper photographed in USA.Image via Wikipedia

Are we all going to be driving Minis by 2016? I love the car - and have a friend in San Francisco that drives one with 3 kids so I know it can be done - but I'm wondering about the other options...

Electric? Hybrid? Something brand new that we've never heard of yet? I'm open-minded and committed to doing my part to reduce my own car's emissions when it comes time to replace my car. I do remember thinking 15/20 MPG was actually pretty good back when I bought it in 2004.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for a good family car available today that already meets the higher emissions standards.

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