21st century and our cars only get 30 MPG?

Someone explain to me how is it we walked on the moon but we can’t create a vehicle that gets 200 MPG? We’re in the 21st century and car commercials are boasting on their new 2008’s that get 36 MPG. IT"S RIDICULOUS!

I completely agree. In 1973 I drove a '57 VW bug and got over 30 MPG. We were all really into getting more mpg way back then! Today I have a Subaru and was disappointed that it only gets 27 MPG. My friends think that’s great mileage! They mostly drive SUVs at the 18 mpg level!!

It is ridiculous. Check out the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (www.sonyclassics.com/whokilledtheelectriccar/ ) It’s a matter of commerce. And let’s face it, we Americans are spoiled and it’s hard to give up our habits. I include myself in that statement. I purchased a Vespa and a bicycle and yet, I usually choose the car - it’s hot here in FL - see what I mean?

I had signed up for the Smart Car, until I saw that modifications for the US took it from 80 MPG down to about 40 MPG! If the hybrids weren’t so expensive, I’d probably go for a Prius, but last I checked they were too costly. In the final analysis, as soon as the public buys only the top MPG models, then the auto companies will build only the top MPG models. But as long as we’re buying the gas guzzlers, Detroit will produce gas guzzlers.

Think about it a little. Take a look at how small an actual gallon is, then take a look at your car. That little bit of fuel propels that vehicle 25 miles down the road and you are disappointed? Physics is science, not magic. Pay $60,000 for an SUV and then when it costs $100 to run it, let it sit. We’d better start thinking a little bit. And if we want to start switching to electric, we need to shore up the power lines like crazy and start building nuclear plants.

What we do have is a Corvette that puts out 638hp 604lb-ft of torque,0-60in3.4sec 14mpgcity 20highway meets emmissions. This kind of a machine intrigues me.How much longer will we see such machines? What will stop such excess (IMHO)

I have thought about this. That it is amazing that a gallon of liquid can make such a heavy machine go 20+ miles. The thing that I don’t understand is why, like Marshgirl said, in the 1970’s we had cars going 30mpg, and today it is no better. No advancement. In 100 years it can still be amazing that a gallon made something so heavy go so far, but its the idea of improvement that needs to be addressed.

Economical models have been ‘also rans’ throughout the history of the auto. Crossleys, Metropolitans, all the BLMC FWDs, Simcas, etc., were all failures. And the BLMCs and Simcas were really nice automobiles. Personally, I feel it will require taxing displacement to move the market to more reasonable models.

The manufacturers sell what people buy. And the manufacturers can’t just turn off production of big trucks and turn on production of small cars. The factory has to be retooled and the workers trained to work on a different vehicle than they are used to. The manufacturers are also not going to change things until it appears that the change in buying habits is long-term and not just a fad or that the fuel prices are just temporary. It costs many millions of dollars to change production lines. And what if the new facilities don’t fit into the old factory? Then they need to tear buildings down or build on a new site. Why should they do it on a whim?

In the 1960s, I wanted a Jaguar XKE coupe, but I drove a VW beetle because, as an impoverished student, that’s all I could afford.

In the 1980s, I wanted a Porsche 944, but I bought a used Mazda RX-7 because it was a bargain. Although my job paid well enough for me to afford the Porsche, I felt it was more important pay off the mortgage and save for retirement.

Now, I can afford pretty much what I want and recently bought a 330 hp Infiniti coupe. I neither need nor appreciate arrogant, self-righteous, would-be tyrants telling me I shouldn’t enjoy it.

Today’s cars are hundreds of pounds heavier, have more of everything, are driven 20 mph, 30 mph, 40 mph faster, make several times the number of stops per “trip”, idle in traffic longer, accelerate faster, and so on; and, all that is being compared is raw mpg?! THIS is equivalency? Not when I went to school!

Well, that '57 bug didn’t have A/C, or power windows, or power seats, or safety bumpers, or air bags, or amplifiers with multiple stereo speakers, or many other features that we take for granted (or perhaps it could be said that we demand nowadays). That '57 bug had something like 36 hp, vs. modern “economy” cars that have over 100 hp. That VW was also not engineered, with high strength steel, to protect its occupants in severe crashes.

In other words, if there was a new car on the market with as little power as that old VW had, and if the new car was also devoid of all of the safety. comfort, and convenience features that are now commonplace, that new car could easily exceed the gas mileage of that old VW, simply because of computerized engine management systems that now exist.

However, the reality is that goverment mandates fortunately have made a lot of safety equipment standard on modern cars, and that equipment adds a lot to the weight of a car. And, very few people would be willing put up with the rate of acceleration of that old VW bug.

It is possible for modern cars to get very good gas mileage, but the public first has to demand fewer comfort and convenience features, all of which add weight to a vehicle. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And, it is very unlikely that future cars will have less safety equipment on them.

Improving gas mileage will be an ongoing, incremental process that will only be accelerated if the public is willing to accept a car with as little equipment as that old VW bug.

I just re-inherited a 1987 Chevy Nova(Toyota Corolla clone manufactured in the Fremont,CA GM plant) from my son who had used it in College and for a year and a half after he graduated. I drove it back home(around 750 miles) and averaged over 44 mpg for the entire trip. On one leg I held the speed down to 57 mph just to see how good it would do and got an amazing 49.72 mpg. We have way less than a thousand dollars tied up in this car and it has provided very reliable and economical transportation for us since 2003.You do not have to spend $30,000 on a Prius to get great mpg. You just have to look around and find a used gas sipper and drive slower. Incidentally, this car has an 74 HP 1.6 liter engine with a 1 barrel carburetor and a five speed manual transmission.Nothing high tech about that.
Oh, and you can also do without electric locks, electric windows,moon roofs, DVD players,and A/C. That’s how we managed in the past.
I also do not think 30 mpg for a $30,000 vehicle is a great deal.

Until maybe 6 months ago, fuel cost was an insignificant part of vehicle ownership. Nobody CARED about gas mileage. Now that peak oil is upon us, gas mileage has become a prime concern almost overnight. Detroit WILL respond to these concerns, but it takes TIME to re-tool all the F-150, F250, F350, truck and SUV plants and retool them to produce the Chevy Volt. Before the car-makers will mass produce 50 MPG cars, they will want to sure of their market…They have been burned by consumer fads before…

Please allow me to further enrage you. There has been no truly meaningful progress among US automakers in 30 years regarding the ecology and efficiency, AND there has been no truly meaningful progress in the US to get us off oil for energy production using nuclear/wind/water/and solar methods (all very much safer than oil), AND there has been no meaningful progress in the US in health care strategies, all due to the same reason: industrial PACs have our government on a tight leash. That tight leash is in the hands of some of the very people who are in high political power at the moment and we can see just how smart and concerned they are about the well being of the country.

US automakers are laughable. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have been eating their lunch for 20 years
on reliable, economic cars and trucks. In response, the US industy produced the GMC Suburban and the Ford Excursion which are not only ecological disasters, but also reliability disasters. Then Toyota, Honda, and Nissan produce even more economical cars in hybrid form, and the US designers respond with a few new chrome strips on already gaudy deathtraps.

Have a swell day!

In 1970 I drove a VW bug. I got about 31 - 35 mpg Today I drive a VW bug TDI and I get mid 40’s to low 60’s. Things are better if you look for them, but people have been buying hummers not small efficient cars.

Yes, you’re right; man’s greatest achievement is when he realizes his lacks.

I have to agree with you 100%. I have a little Subaru Justy 3-cylinder 72hp gasoline sipper that regularly gets over 40mpg as a commuter car. The technology is there and has been there for 30-40 years, even without hybrids. It just saddens me of the tragic waste and short-sightedness of our culture and our leaders to continue down the path of oil dependency, when we could have averted the mess years ago and diversified our energy policy. Let’s hope we get it right this time!

Forget about 200 mpg cars. What I want to know is what happened to the George Jetson future we were supposed to be living in by now. Where are the flying cars? Where are those sassy robot maids to clean our houses?

No, he is NOT right…Most of thechums post is BS…The Excursion and Suburban sold like hotcakes and at high profit margins. They were reliable and safe and provided thousands of high-paying American jobs. The Ford Focus and Chevy Malibu are very popular, reliable, safe, fuel efficient cars…

That’s all part of TV Fantasyland…

In even the most mundane lines of logical thought across all areas of consumerism, “Popular” does not equal “Quality”. I frankly kind of like the look of the Malibu, the Focus, and the other mid-size Ford (whatever its name is), but when I look inside I cringe just a little when comparing the cosmetic quality to what I see when I look inside the big 3 Japanese offerings. Further, my admittedly incomprehensive knowlegebase of reliability ratings at year 4 - 5 - 6 …10 tells me that the US car owners will be suffering compared to the Japanese car owners. The resale values tell the tale.

It is not that I think we cannot compete, it is that we have not competed very well in this arena. Maybe it is because of the unions, which forced US makers to pay absurd wages to “high-paying” jobs, to people who did not fully deserve those high wages. Once the US makers are forced into that situation, less money is available to be spend on innovation, design, and manufacturing efficiency.

Combine this with unaccountable management, corporate-level pork barreling, and blindingly huge bonuses for those who oversee this disaster of an industry, and we get just a little biy uncompetative.