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The 2013 St. Louis Auto Show

Fuel economy is mentioned often in this year’s St. Louis Auto Show, which started yesterday and runs through 5pm Sunday.

ABOVE: Sign at the Toyota display
ABOVE: Sign at the Toyota display

No wonder really, given the views of today’s auto buyers:

15% of those surveyed said that fuel economy was their #1 criteria in choosing a new car, but as low as that figure sounds, it still outranked styling, reliability, and cost. In other words: fuel economy is leading the pack, but not by much. (Christian Science Monitor)

Consider where we were in 2008:

The cost of gas in June of 2008, the early stages of the heavy summer driving season and during the presidential campaign, was $4.10 per gallon. The 2008 gas crisis hit its peak one month later with prices averaging $4.11 per gallon. (CBS News/Face the Nation)

By December 2008:

Gas prices declined for the sixth straight day on Thursday, falling below the $1.65 per gallon, according to a national survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations. (CNN Money

Currently the national average is around $3.31/gal (AAA).

This focus on fuel economy is partly a response to consumer demand but also to higher standards announced by the Obama Administration in August 2012:

The standards — which mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year — will increase the pressure on auto manufacturers to step up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market models through techniques like more efficient engines and lighter car bodies.

Current rules for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, program mandate an average of about 29 miles per gallon, with gradual increases to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016. (NY Times)

I’m glad to see manufacturers and consumers on the same page.

ABOVE: Chrysler products continued their "Imported from Detroit" theme
ABOVE: Chrysler products continued their “Imported from Detroit” theme
ABOVE: Ford featured the small Fiesta on its first display
ABOVE: Ford featured the small Fiesta on its first display
ABOVE: The Tesla Model S is in the Eco area
ABOVE: The Tesla Model S is in the Eco area

The annual show is billed as the “largest automobile event in the St. Louis area, the 2013 Saint Louis Auto Show features more than 500 new cars, trucks, SUVs and luxury vehicles from over 25 manufacturers all under one roof.”  Maybe, but some weren’t  present: Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, BMW, and Porsche.

Still, the show is a great place to see many cars in one place. It runs noon-10pm today, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-5pm Sunday.

— Steve Patterson


No Ethanol

I haven’t written about the gasoline vs ethanol debate since 2008 (100% Gas Sold Here) but I was reminded again in Oklahoma last week. My brother wanted to make sure we could get gasoline instead of “alcohol.” He was buying the fuel for the rental car so I didn’t question it.

ABOVEL; No ethanol pumps are very clearly marked in Oklsahoma
ABOVEL; No ethanol pumps are very clearly marked in Oklahoma

Pure gasoline advocates say the vehicle runs better and goes farther on a gallon. Gasoline in St. Louis is actually E10 or E15, a blend of mostly gasoline with some ethanol, aka gasohol.

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling starch crops, such as corn. It can also be made from “cellulosic biomass” such as trees and grasses. The use of ethanol can reduce our dependence upon foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

E10 (gasohol)

E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles. However, vehicles will typically go 3–4% fewer miles per gallon on E10 than on straight gasoline. (fueleconomy.gov)

The rental car was actually a GM flex fuel vehicle so we could’ve filled up with E85.

ABOVE: Three of the 6-8 pumps at this 7-11 were ethanol-free
ABOVE: Three of the 6-8 two-sided pumps at this 7-11 were ethanol-free

Ethanol is touted as a reducing pollution as well as being domestically produced, reducing dependance on foreign oil. The 100% gasoline costs a bit more per gallon, but again you can go farther on each gallon. Thoughts?

— Steve Patterson


Icy Sidewalks Hard To Navigate In Power Chair

Winter weather has arrived, my first post-stroke winter without a car. I can bundle up to deal with cold temperatures, but modest snow can leave me stranded at home or looking for alternate routes.

ABOiVE: Our recent light snow made this stretch of sidewalk along Olive nearly impassable.
ABOiVE: Our recent light snow made this stretch of sidewalk along Olive nearly impassable.

I frequently take the sidewalk along Olive (above) from 16th to 14th to reach transit options. I passed over the ice you see but it was very rough, not easy on my power chair. If we’d have had more snow I couldn’t have gotten through this way.

I’ll learn which sidewalks get cleared and which do not, altering my route to avoid problem areas.

— Steve Patterson


Happy Winter Solstice…Or End

December 21, 2012 Environment, Featured 1 Comment
ABOVE: Forest Park
ItABOVE: Forest Park will still be here on the 22nd, just not in summer green

It is the 21st and the world hasn’t ended, maybe that’ll happen later today. I suppose a few might be reading this from your bunker but most of us we are going about our daily lives:

Scientists confidently predict that the worst upheaval we humans face at the end of this, and indeed any other calendar, is the need to get a new calendar. And perhaps nurse a celebratory hangover.

To their credit – because to say nothing might be worse – scientists have come forward to explain the fallacy, or sometimes that misinterpreted grain of truth, which lies behind each of the doomsday scenarios. In a move that gave short shrift to hedging, the US space agency released a video intended for 22 December 10 days early. Nasa has called it Why the Earth Did Not End yesterday. Academics did their part too. They traipsed from studio to studio to lay out the mundane truth for TV and radio audiences. Some spoke to otherwise respectable journalists for newspaper articles. (Source)

Have a great weekend….happy solstice.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Climate Change Is Absolutely Affecting Weather In The United States

December 12, 2012 Environment 12 Comments

The latest way climate deniers are dismissing reality is they acknowledge climate change but deny that it’s caused by man. The latest example is Arizona Gov Jan Brewer:

“Everybody has an opinion on it, you know, and I probably don’t believe that it’s man-made,” she told Welch, who had posed the question in the context of her upcoming speech at an energy summit. “I believe that, you know, that weather and certain elements are controlled maybe by different things.” (Huffington Post)

Different things? Such as? But it couldn’t possibly be man and all our burning of fossil fuels! Other things…non-man things.

Thankfully most of the readers don’t try to split hairs on the cause of climate change, here are the results of the poll from last week:

Q: Do You Think Climate Change (Global Warming) Is Affecting The Weather In The United States?

  1. Absolutely 89 [66.92%]
  2. Possibly 19 [14.29%]
  3. Not at all 16 [12.03%]
  4. Unsure/No Answer 5 [3.76%]
  5. Other: 4 [3.01%]

Here are the four other answers:

  1. You would have to be a blind dumbass to think otherwise
  2. Climate change is mostly a result of natural causes; humans may accelerate…
  3. Yes, it is real but probably not manmade
  4. Duh!!!!

Political ideology is preventing many from accepting that humans have altered our climate. Happy 12-12-12!

— Steve Patterson




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