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Discussion Starter #1
Now if you are really serious about getting to the
root of the problem, having a positive environmental
impact and creating jobs, let capitalism do its things
and taxes do theirs. Here is what I mean...

1) ALL non-commercial vehicles averaging under 35MPG
based upon EPA ratings will pay a surcharge each and
every year they remain on the road equal to 100% of
the average annual gasoline price multiplied by the
number of miles the vehicle is used between between
registration anniversaries divided by the estimated
EPA MPG for the vehicle.

Basically...If fuel costs $3.00 per gallon, gas pig
vehicle owners will pay $6.00 per gallon. The
surcharge will be collected by the BMV and the funds
will be used for funding alternative fuels, R&D and
acceleration of the development of high mileage
vehicles. A percentage can be used for infrastructural
(road) repairs and NOTHING else! People who attempt to
cheat on reporting accurately (rolling back odometers,
etc.) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the
law including the loss of operators permits.

2) One of two things will happen to the consumer,
either A) they will drive less or find other means of
transportation B) they will demand and purchase new
fuel efficient cars which will force manufacturers to
build what the society/consumer wants and needs. This
will create high paying jobs and will show US
automakers how to make a profit on smaller more
efficient vehicles.

3) Society will change so that "performance autos"
SUV's and other fuel pigs will become undesireable and
a stigma will be attached to owning something so
selfish, wasteful, and unhealthy (like having a pig
sty in the city).

This is the ICATFISHMAN HAS HAD ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE PLAN.

BTW. I own a minivan and also a VW Jetta TDI so I
would have to pay the surcharge on the minivan mileage
but not the TDI. The $3 fuel price is why I bought the
VW. I have already changed my driving habits.
 

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I like half of your plan...the half without the taxes. The government has demonstrated to me that it can't manage money properly (I'm not talking partisan politics here...I mean in general...over the history of social programs). Money collected by fuel taxes are already diverted away from road maintenance, so adding additional funding to a pork account for "R&D" will undoubtedly get misdirected.

I think we're on the right track. I'll tell you, a heck of a lot more people NOW prioritize efficient vehicles compared to just 10 years ago. DaimlerChrysler has announced that it's bring E85 compatibility BACK to the minivan, after a multiyear absense starting in 2004, and they didn't need additional taxes to do it...they already get the CAFE credits for producing the flex fuel vehicles on their fleet side of things. They're seeing capitalism at its best in the form of heavy advertising on the part of General Motors and Ford. They're capitalizing on their wealth of vehicles that will burn ethanol, and as the momentum starts to build in this area, it will drive its own train. It won't need a government steering committee. All it'll need is greedy oil companies continuing to be greedy and for folks like you and me (and our automakers) to spread the word about other options.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It will only work if...

...there is a significant out of pocket penalty to the owner/driver of the fuel pig vehicle. There is NO excuse for ANY non commercial to be on the road if it is not averaging at least 35MPG combined highway and city mileage. The only way to force domestic automakers to act is by losing sales to their competition.

I am 53 years old. I have been driving since I was 16 and I have seen fuel prices
multiply by 10 since I first started buying gas. Mileage has not even doubled. This is over a period of nearly 40 years. Change can no longer be gradual. It needs to be immediate and drastic.

I am generally not thrilled with governments management of tax revenues however, if the law is well drafted, there can be no work arounds.
 

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I agree that it's important to address fuel efficiency, but the fact of the matter is, that's not really making process...by itself. Making a car more efficient isn't being "good"...it's just "less bad". We're still using the same resource...only less of it.

Using something other than gasoline is the desired result. No, I don't think E85 is the final solution. Nor do I think current gas/electric hybrids provide much real benefit. Using less gasoline is a short term, knee-jerk reaction in my opinion. It can't be sustained for long because it's really unavoidable for a growing nation and economy to use more resources. China is a great example, and a factor that is certainly playing a part in rising petroleum prices lately.

As you probably know, the first diesel engines were designed to run on soybean and peanut oil. Henry Ford's first engines were designed to run on ethanol/alcohol. The advent of cheap gasoline bastardized the original designs for those engines and we've been living large for a while. But as politics and greed play into the oil industry (insert your scapegoat here), our prices have gone up. Consumers will start to demand different solutions because you're right -- we as a whole will only act if it hits us in the pocket. "Alternative fuels" such as ethanol have been around forever. But we didn't care because gasoline was a quarter a gallon. I'm glad fuel prices have risen lately because it's going to FORCE us to care.

E85 is an excellent play for the cards that are shown on the table right now. There are tons of flex fuel vehicles on the road. We have tons of field-grade corn available, as well as cellulose ethanol production just on the horizon. The momentum is quickly building as people start to grasp the benefits of not having to buy 100% gasoline all the time. It won't happen overnight, but the pace is faster now than it ever has been, and ethanol production is increasing everyday. In another 20 years, maybe hydrogen/fuel cells will be the norm. I don't think that simply focusing on a straight MPG figure will get us where we need to be. It's certainly not a bad thing to aspire to...more efficient vehicles. But I think we need to keep our eye on the ball, and work towards efficiency while also introducing flexibility in what type of fuel we can burn. Heaven forbid there's a widespread gasoline shortage this summer, and service stations shut down. No matter how efficient your gasoline engine is, it won't go anywhere on nothing. A situation like that may give flex fuel a BIG BIG market, as those stations selling flex fuel would likely survive okay, being that the fuel they're selling is only 15% gasoline. And owners of flex fuel drivers may be able to keep driving, as they're only using 15% the gasoline that others are using. Just a thought.

Great discussion, let's keep it going!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
But it still gets down to...

Making it so painful to operate pig vehicles that they no longer have a place in the market. As long as people are willing to operate new or used guzzlers, there is little incentive to change.

I am all in favor of the development, marketing and sale of any alternative fuels and in fact in the past several weeks I have further put my money where my mouth is and purchased shares in EFT's and single stocks that involve both alternative fuel sources as well as Ethanol.

But the bottom line is that until market forces including punitive measures are put into play, folks and manufacturers will not change quickly enough. Right now is the time to implement policies that work rather than listening to yet more auto and oil company bs.
 

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icatfishman said:
Making it so painful to operate pig vehicles that they no longer have a place in the market. As long as people are willing to operate new or used guzzlers, there is little incentive to change.
Concur 100%.

icatfishman said:
But the bottom line is that until market forces including punitive measures are put into play, folks and manufacturers will not change quickly enough.
I think this is where we have to be careful. How do we define what a reasonable punative measure is? What's the correct way forward? I'm sure most hybrid owners feel that anyone who doesn't own a hybrid should pay an extra tax. Many E85 supporters might feel that anyone who does NOT own a flex fuel vehicle, regardless of mileage, should be subject to a penalty. How do we make the call? It seems you would like to focus solely on fuel economy, without respect to the type of fuel used. I'm almost on the opposite side of the fence. I like focusing on alternative fuels at this point, without respect to the actual efficiency. I'm sure the "best" plan of attack is somewhere there in the middle. I'm intrigued by the new Ford Escape Hybrid. I think starting either this year or next, the Escape Hybrid will ALSO be a flexible fuel vehicle...so you're hybriding, but you're also E85-ing. I think that really adds value to both technologies. I would love to see Japanese companies support alternative fuels, but so far, they won't. I read that Toyota may be coming out with some E85-capable vehicles in the 2008 timeframe. That'd be great.
 

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Ok, I agree with you guys on almost all points.

Now,here comes the wrench in the machinery.

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Making it so painful to operate pig vehicles that they no longer have a place in the market. As long as people are willing to operate new or used guzzlers, there is little incentive to change.
WHAT is a pig vehicle??? Your minivan?? What kind of cut off on size and MPG? ESPEICALLY on Size. If I have a family of 6, do I drive 2 vehicles everywhere I go because they can NOT FIT into a smaller fuel efficient vehicle? Where is the savings there?
I admit that I drive two big vehicles, a 2004 AWD Pacifica and a 2001 Grand Caravan Sport. I had a small two seater 1995 Eagle Talon (YOU sit in the back seat if you say it is not a two seater) and the Mini van for 3 years before I sold the Talon and bought the Pacifica. It got over 30 mpg with no problems and on long trips, I could pull almost 40 mpg with it. I miss the vehicle very much as I enjoyed driving it very much. The great MPG was an added benefit. However I am not sorry I traded it up for a larger vehicle. It was done because the time was right (then) and future usage was the thought. We do alot of multi week travels with 4 full size adults and there are no other vehicles out there that fit my needs beside what I have. I know I don't need 2 full size but when the time comes to get rid of one, the van will go and a smaller vehicle such as a Dodge Caliber will replace it. However, I do not see any savings by getting rid of my mini van prematurly and loosing money in the deal when it is still a perfectly good vehicle. I always keep a vehicle at least 10 years and over 150,000 miles per.
Interested on any comments.
 

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I think it is an education issue. If you don't need a pickup, don't buy one. If you can't afford it, don't buy it.

I think we (United States) can't complain about gas prices when I see people idling their Expeditions in the Walmart parking lot with the AC on while they gab on the cell phone (with no kids in the car).

We can't complain about gas prices when the majority of America chooses to live 20-30 miles from where they work (including me). This is partially due to the fact that companies would rather build outside of city centers, using up precious farm land and leaving our inner cities to rot.

Taxes won't solve the problem. We live in a very selfish socieity that feels entitled to have everything at the cost of someone else.

Lastly, we need to quit doing business in China and bring it back here. The boom in their economy is part of our price spike. Of course, that would raise the cost of everything due to the high cost of our labor force. More illegal immigrants would flood in, raising other costs.

We can't win, can we?
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I Think this is one of the most important threads anywhere!

You folks are great.

Here are my points:

1) My minivan is a pig vehicle, period! Under my plan and based upon last years
mileage, and a pump price of $3 per gallon, I would have to pay $2400 in surcharge(tax, fine, users fee or whatever you want to call it). Since approx. 500 miles of use REQUIRED the van, I could have saved myself over $2300 in surcharge by simply walking, biking, using another vehicle. If mass transit were available to me, that would have factored in as well.

Now, would I have enjoyed paying that surcharge...**** NO! I would have rented a van the few times I actually needed it and saved myself enough for courtside NBA playoff tickets.

2) We have ENABLED our governments to provide for crappy mass transit by even considering the feelings of people who are compelled to drive their Hummers to the grocery rather than getting off of their butts and walking or organizing themselves for once a week trips. The 1960's and the days of the muscle car should be long gone and forgotten.

3) Alternative fuels are critical to our security,our good citizenship and the health of our environment. They must be encouraged and employed. That being said. The issue still remains one of MPG since swapping one fuel for another without maximizing efficiency leaves us vulnerable to distribution issues regardless of whether we are talking about ethanol or fossil fuels.

4) My plan is going to hurt and it needs to hurt if we are going to change. An addict will not quit unless it hurts more to continue than to recover. It is the same with dramatic changes.
 

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icatfishman said:
1) My minivan is a pig vehicle, period!
So why did you buy it? Was it need? Or was it in an earlier time period where you may have felt differently about this issue.

Personally, I DON'T think you should be artificially penalized for driving a larger vehicle. The penalty will come with the higher fuel prices. The larger vehicle you have, in general, the more you'll pay to operate it. We're all big boys and girls; we know that a larger vehicle is more expensive to operate.

I come around to my first question, and one DSMLVR got at... Why did you buy your minivan? Certainly not "bling". Escalades and H2s are good for that. Certainly not off-road capability. Grand Cherokees and Land Rovers are good for that. It was probably because you felt you needed a larger vehicle. We're ALL here on this forum because we enjoy the space and flexibility of a larger vehicle. In that same vein, I think we're all ahead of the game because we're buying large vehicles that return in the upper 20s MPG on the highway rather than the upper teens like an Expedition. I've seen families try to fit into Honda Civics. It's not pretty, or safe. I also don't think it's reasonable to expect people to go out of their way to rent something that they may need as often as once a month.

But this really gets back to a question I posed earlier -- how do we determine punative penalties? Why are we focusing solely on VEHICLES here? A co-worker here drives a Civic Hybrid. But he lives 40 MILES away from work. I only live 10. I use far less gasoline in my Cadillac driving to work than he does in his hybrid. Yet, he gets rewarded for driving a hybrid with a tax break and I get nothing. He's also got three kids. I have one. We may have another, but just for the sake of argument, let's just say that my family will stop at one. Certainly, his family of five is more of a draw on our resources than my family of three is. We can assume that since they'll have good educations that they'll be productive members of society, but still, more mouths to feed is more mouths to feed, regardless of where that mouth lives. Our vehicle choices tend to be scapegoats for environmental issues.

No WAY am I suggesting that we penalize people for having a lot of kids. Nor am I suggesting that we regulate how far someone can live from work. All I'm pointing out is that there is a really big picture that often gets overlooked, especially when we start talking about incentives/penalties based on the cars we drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Why a minivan??

Because I THOUGHT I needed to have a vehicle for hauling stuff that would be comfortable enough for five people over 6' tall who might want to travel with me.

I have actually used it for the tasks described above maybe 500 miles each year. I really like the van and I want to keep it but I am willing to pay for that convenience If I have to.

I totally disagree the the presumption that we should not penalize folks for wanting larger vehicles or that vehicles are scapegoats for environmental concerns. FOSSIL FUEL POWER PLANTS ARE THE NUMBER 1 CAUSE OF AIR POLLUTION FOLLOWED BY AUTOMOBILES. OFF ROAD VEHICLES DESTROY NATURAL HABITATS, CAUSE EROSION, AND CREATE HORRIBLE NOISE POLLUTION.


1) PEOPLE DO NOT CHANGE UNLESS IT HURTS!
2) IF THERE WAS BETTER MASS TRANSIT, THERE WOULD BE FEWER DRIVERS.
4) WE AS AMERICANS CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT "MY FREEDOM TO SWING MY ARMS AROUND ENDS AT THE TIP OF YOUR NOSE." That way of thinking is just wrong and for that matter dangerous.

We need to do whatever it takes get folks to understand that a vehicle is not a lifestyle decision it is transportation. Unfortunately, until we as consumers come to understand that fact and use our wallets to mandats change, we are going to have to be rather dramatic.
 

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icatfishman, do you have a vehicle that gets 35 MPG that I can use to haul my fluegelhorn case, my triple trumpet case, my trombone case, my cornet case, my backpack, and my computer in? Just this equipment by itself will fill up the back of my SWB Caravan, with the rearmost seat out. And those are just the things I haul with me on a regular basis to school; that doesn't include some of the recording equipment I bring with me when I record small ensembles or recitals (which obviously I don't need EVERY day) or anything else I may need occasionally.

Just because you don't need a minivan all the time, doesn't mean that everybody who drives a minivan doesn't need that space. I only live 13 miles from school, which is very commutable (it is about a 20 minute drive for me, no idling or traffic jams). I'd much rather drive a vehicle that will run E85 and return mileage in the 20's with my driving (which has been getting more and more conservative as gas prices have been rising), than some gas-guzzling SUV. When I get out of school, I will probably look at a Caliber since I will undoubtedly need less cargo space then. But until then, I'm being as efficent as I can be.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Speaking of size

"do you have a vehicle that gets 35 MPG that I can use to haul my fluegelhorn case, my triple trumpet case, my trombone case, my cornet case, my backpack, and my computer in?"

I happen to have just purchased a VW Jetta TDI. I have already carried a two electric guitars, one acoustic guitar, a Line 6 Flextone combo amp w/ 2-12" speakers, a Mesa Boogie amp with 1-12" speaker, misc. guitar and amp stands, a case full of cords and my girlfriend. I get 45MPG

It really gets down to what is important to you and right now, what is important to me is getting pig vehicles off of the road, increasing fuel efficiency and developing alternative fuels.

Too bad VW doesn't offer the old 100k comprehensive warranty Audio used to give you.
 

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How far do you live from work? How many children do you have, or plan to have? What is the square footage of your house's footprint (impermeable surface)? Do you have a gravel driveway or paved? Is your roof black or silver/tan? These are all factors of one's environmental footprint. One's vehicle/transportation choice is just one of them.

The notion that the government should penalize folks for making one choice over another in a free enterprise seems to be counter to the POINT of free enterprise. Then on the other hand, you have government regulation on many forms of media and literature in the name of morality or other initiative. There's certainly no easy answer, or "correct" answer in my opinion. The best answer may take a bit from many different opinions, and roll it into one big huge compromise.

How do you feel about some of the questions I asked at the top of this thread (icatfishman or anyone)? I would certainly wager that some of those factors weigh much more heavily on one's environmental footprint than does their choice of transportation. If you drive a 45 mpg VW 45 miles to work, and your buddy drives a 20 mpg Caravan 20 miles to work, who's "better"? Your buddy will get fined a tax by your plan, even though he's using the same amount of fuel you are. The way I understand your point of view, we'd also have to impose a tax on one's distance to work. This situation isn't equitable. You get the freedom to have a longer commute, or to escape taxes, just based on the type of vehicle you drive. In the name of equity, why don't we offer the guy who chooses to live in an apartment and bike to work to own a Suburban to tow a boat on the weekend, without the burden of a "pig vehicle" tax?
 

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Jason said:
If you drive a 45 mpg VW 45 miles to work, and your buddy drives a 20 mpg Caravan 20 miles to work, who's "better"? Your buddy will get fined a tax by your plan, even though he's using the same amount of fuel you are. The way I understand your point of view, we'd also have to impose a tax on one's distance to work, no?
This is an excellent point. I use A LOT less gasoline than my dad does. I have a slightly longer commute, and both of our vehicles get comparable mileage; but my car uses E85 and his only runs E10 (standard in our area). So which one of us is doing more to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What you are missing

I suppose that doing heroin is a lifestyle choice as is not to paying child support or by extension...viewing child pornography. In certain cultures, these are all acceptible "choices". Not that they are good for society nor do they fundamentally alter behaviors that are by and large destructive.

I have come to the point where I no longer believe that we will make purchasing or usage decisions unless and until it becomes painful to NOT make them. We have hit a point in our history where these changes regarding motor vehicles and their operation simply must be made. I do not see automobiles as lifestyle choices anymore than I see child abuse as a lifestyle choice. I have never and will never allow what I think are insidious advertising campaings to make ME define MYSELF by THEIR product.

Over the years we as a society and in particular, we as manufacturers and consumers have put up with the development and purchase of some really superfluous and stupid product and now is the time to force and end to that kind of thinking.
 

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Yeah, if you're getting 20 mpg on E85, figure the math:

200 miles / 20 mpg = 10 gallons of E85.
10 gallons of E85 contains only 1.5 gallons of gasoline.
200 miles / 1.5 gallons = 133 mpg of gasoline.

Even if you only get 15 mpg using E85:

200 miles / 15 mpg = 13.33 gallons
13.33 gallons of E85 contains about 2 gallons of gasoline.
200 miles / 2 gallons of gasoline = 100 mpg of gasoline.

The air quality issue is about a wash. Mileage suffers with E85, but tailpipe emissions are cleaner.
 

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icatfishman said:
Over the years we as a society and in particular, we as manufacturers and consumers have put up with the development and purchase of some really superfluous and stupid product and now is the time to force and end to that kind of thinking.
So are you saying that now is the time to move to a socialist society?
 

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Mr. Catfish:

I am starting to get offended by your outlandish, unwarranted posts. I have a family of 4 kids, 1 of which is an orphan that I adopted and pulled from some government support system. So, I need to have a minivan to haul them around. Now, I could have purchased and Excursion, which I would enjoy more due to my outdoor lifestyle. I chose not to and have a minivan to haul us around instead. Maybe you think we should have population control?

The fact that you would insist that I pay a tax for owning this vehicle is absoutely rediculous. The market will dictate what we buy, not goverment taxes. I have noticed a HUGE number of SUV's and Pickup trucks on the side of the road with FOR SALE signs. Why? People can't afford to drive them, so they are moving into cars. It is not a goverment tax causing this.

Now, you are completely forgetting that nations such as Mexico and China have no EPA or concern for the enviroment. They can use whatever pesticides they want. They can burn all of the fossil fuels they want, because no one can stop them. THE UNITED STATES GOES OUT OF IT'S WAY TO BE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY. Why are you not on their case?

I get sick of you people that feel a need to interject into my life and tell me what I can eat, what I can drive, where I can and cannot worship my Savior, and what I should pay for. YOUR type are the ones who don't allow additional refining capacity in this country. YOUR type are the ones who won't let us drill in a refuge in the middle of no where. YOUR types are the ones who don't mind Mexico drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, yet if we even propose it we are considered evil.

Man my blood is pumping......
 

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how about horsepower (or fuel economy) per pound of weight? Then put it on a sliding scale, thusly...

if a 2000lb car has > 100 hp, it is taxed.
if a 3000lb car has > 150 hp, ""

My 3000 lb van has 114hp, so I am not taxed.

similarly, using mpg:

A 2000lb car must get >35mpg to avoid tax
A 3000lb car must get >30mpg to avoid tax

This discourages grossly overpowered cars.

Another thing that *must* be done is to rewrite the tax code for businesses. It's why you see so many SUVs driving around empty.

Any vehicle that has a gross weight over 6000 lbs is considered a truck. If Mr. Corporate Bigshot drives a 20mpg Cadillac, it is taxed and accounted for as a car. If he chooses a 12mpg Hummer H1, it is taxed and accounted for same as if it was a delivery van, i.e. 100% writeoff, INCLUDING FUEL!

That loopphole needs to be closed straight off.
 
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