The PBS show, Newshour, ran a useful segment last night on the Obama Administration’s signaled willingness to let states like California establish their own regulatory regime to control vehicle emissions. After the setup piece, moderator Ray Suarez interviewed Ian Bowles, the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environment, and Mike Dushane, executive editor of Car and Driver.
Dushane was impressive and provided a valuable dose of “let’s get real” here, highlighting the technological and economic obstacles that make it difficult if not impossible for the auto manufacturers to develop a fleet of vehicles that meets California’s standards while producing cars that are also affordable and wanted by consumers.
MIKE DUSHANE, CarandDriver.com: Well, if there are different laws in different states, it’s going to create a very difficult situation for carmakers which, first of all, takes a long time to develop vehicles, and, second of all, save money by producing a uniform set of vehicles for the whole country.
But what I’m hearing here is that there’s all this technology that could be used by car companies and just isn’t. The reality is that that technology means vehicles will be smaller; they will be less powerful; they will be less safe; and they will be thousands of dollars more expensive for people living in those states where these rules may be adopted.
RAY SUAREZ: For a long time, California had different standards for automobiles registered in the states than other places in the country. Can we use that as a test case? Was a car in California more expensive?
MIKE DUSHANE: The differences were not nearly as dramatic as what we’re talking about now. We’re talking about, in six years, a 30 percent increase in economy standards. That is virtually unobtainable unless everyone starts buying compact cars with hybrid systems, meaning those cars are going to be small and they’re going to cost probably $4,000 more than comparable compact cars today, so get ready to buy a compact car for $25,000 in those states.
Followed by more regulations, subsidies and bailouts, in an ever circular pattern until we achieve full Lada implementation.
The contrast is striking between Dushane’s analysis, which is based on years of covering the automotive industry, and Bowles’ sloganeering, which appears based on ideology and hoping.