Wasting Time On Dead End Tech…
And yet they have not committed in a meaningful way to any one technology, and now time is running out. The 2025 CAFE standards of 54.5 mpg may seem like a long ways away, but developing a car or powertrain does not happen overnight. It takes years from concept to physical production to develop a decent car or engine one could certainly argue that Chrysler has wasted time it didn’t really have on technologies it wasn’t ready to commit to.
…or Killing Innovation And Corralling Automakers?
Then there is the other side of the story. I like some of Chrysler’s ideas, especially CNG vehicles and hydraulic hybrids. While converting an engine to CNG shouldn’t be too difficult, technology like the hydraulic hybrid system and plug-in Ram pickup will take time to develop…and rather than encouraging innovation, the CAFE standards are corraling automakers into using a certain type of technology; gas-electric hybrids.
In the long run, using less oil does not solve the problem of oil, and it is unlikely that America will ever be able to provide enough oil energy to power its infrastructure ever again. That means one day, we have to commit to one alternative fuel or another…and forcing automakers towards a single type of technology does not spur the innovation needed to make important breakthroughs.
I know that when given the freedom, automakers made gas-guzzling, technologically inferior vehicles with high profit margins. So I think the government needs to set standards regarding minimum fuel economy requirements. But not at the cost of innovation. Perhaps a lower standard, or more credit for vehicles that use fuel other than gasoline, would help convince automakers of developing riskier, but potentially far more rewarding, technologies.