Smog is car poop
Cars 2 is billed as a movie where cartoon car characters save the world. I found myself wondering, “How will they do that, exactly?”
Scratch that. Actually I don’t give a shit. Whatever. I have to admit, it sounds like exactly the wrong message at exactly the wrong time.
Is your planet being killed by pollution? No worries, mate! All you need is more of the #1 thing that caused it – cars! And we got ’em incoming, full throttle. Here they come to save the day! *cough* *cough*
Bah! There’s gotta be some irony there. “I’ll save you by killing you!” If that’s the aim of the movie, then I for one say, “Job well done!”
Ever curious, I decided to do a little research into the characters in this movie. Here are my findings.
Lightning McQueen – A “generic” NASCAR with design influenced from the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper. According to NASCAR their race cars can get about 4.2 miles per gallon. (Source.)
Mater – A tow truck inspired by a 1951 International Harvester but Mater looks more like a 1955-1957 Chevrolet or GMC. I can’t find fuel economy data but I’m guessing it was about 5 to 10 mpg.
Finn McMissile – Inspired by James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5. This one had a whopping 14.6 mpg.
Holley Shiftwell – Unknown vehicle type but she looks a lot like another race car to me. We’ll just go ahead and call this one 4.2 mpg, too.
Rod “Torque” Redline – a tough-as-nails Detroit muscle car. That’s a bit too ambiguous to nail down fuel economy but I’m guessing that isn’t was “muscle cars” are known for.
And now, at last, the plot of Cars 2 can be leaked. Remember, you heard it here first! Start your engines!
It is a dark time for the rebellion. The Empire, powered by a new Death Star (semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit) named “BP” is consuming the planetary fuel reserves at an alarming rate. Fuel that is desperately needed by our heroes for life and death stuff like winning the first-ever race to determine who is the world’s fastest car.
Darn it, wouldn’t you know that to win that race their gonna need fuel – and lots of it!
The gang speeds off to enlist the help of Emmit “Doc” Brown who has replaced Doc Hudson who has dimmed his high beams for the last time and is now parked in that great wrecking yard in the sky.
Doc Brown introduces Dicky DeLorean, a cocky stainless steel farm boy who’s the fastest ship in the fleet, and possesses doors that, when opened, allow him to fly and kill womprats just like he did at Beggar’s Canyon back home.
It’s a race against time to get the fuel they need to save the planet from, well, from cars. Just like them. Will they be able to stop the hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur oxide, and volatile organic compounds that belch from their very own exhaust pipes before they run out of fuel and save the planet and make the atmosphere safe to breath again?
Fasten your seat belts! It’s the carbon-based thrill ride of the year!
You call that mileage?
While watching the Super Bowl the other day, I caught a couple of car commercials bragging about fuel economy in the 40 mpg range. One of them was the 2011 Hyundai Elantra that claims to get 40 miles per gallon.
40 mpg? That’s it? This supposed to be what is considered good?
That got me thinking. I decided to build a graph.
First, where we were. The initial point on the graph. I picked the Ford Model T. Says Wikipedia: “According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13 to 21 mpg.”
To keep the graph fair, I used the lower value of 13 mpg. This will make the improvement over time that much more dramatic.
I then made a linear line showing the increase in MPG over time between those two points. The 13 mpg of 1908 and the approx. 40 mpg of 2008.
In other words, in about 90 years we’ve gone from 13 mpg to about 40 mpg. Think about that. With all of the advances in technology in the 20th century, that’s all we could do? Wow!
Of course, using only two data points leaves out a lot of interesting activity in between. Here’s a graph that shows detail activity from the 70’s to present day:
Source: PewFuelEfficiency.org (PDF)
This graph shows a nice increase across the board between 1975 and 1987 or so. Of course, you have to notice that in 1975 the average fuel economy was only about 15 mpg. What the hell?
So yeah, the pricing crisis in the early 1970’s prompted that increase in fuel economy. But then look what happens. We get complacent. We have a short memory. For over 20 years fuel economy has remained as flat as a pancake. And that’s just pathetic.
Oil is a finite resource. Put simply, if we could double fuel economy we’d use half as much. (In theory. Of course, if that happened demand would go up, so it wouldn’t be quite that simple.) Even so, fuel economy is probably the single most important lever we could move at this moment in time – if we had the collective will to care.
I’m amazed that car commercials can tout 40 mpg as some sort of achievement when really it is nothing more than a pathetic reminder of how little we’ve done.