Unlike the W that preceded him, President Barack Obama believes that US states should have the right to set their own limits on the greenhouse gases spewed from cars and trucks. This morning, The New York Times reports, the new prez asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit a waiver application from California …
On the upside
"Welcome to xxxxxx the tailpipe state". All the redneck SUV drivers will move there.
There's more here than meets the eye...
A lot of the hardcore "me me me"tards will moan about how they believe Global Warming is a myth, and how the environment doesn't matter etc. etc. etc.
I honestly think that Obama's smarter than that on this one though. This has nothing to do with "green" tech, or cutting pollution or any of that. If you watch his policies carefully, he's really quite big on getting out from under the thumb of foreign oil producers. Probably with a bit of worry as regards peak oil mixed in.
This whole thing strikes me as one small step in a much vaster set of ideas designed to dramatically cut back USian fossil fuel consumption, and thus lessen the dependence on "non-US" supplied energy. (Ignore for a moment the large amount of energy provided the US by Canada, because I am sure most Americans consider as us as good as 'theirs' anyways.)
So, (hopefully) in before the slew of "Global Warming is a lie, Obama is a heathen" etc. posts...just think about it for a moment.
Cost of production
The problem with that is US manufacturers now have to either:
1. Make a different car for each state
2. Make the highest common denominator to satisfy all laws
Not to mention, all the dingbats at the state level will be fiddling with the requirements to buy votes thus having the manufacturers chasing around new requirements every year (or buying off legislators, which I'm sure the legislators would prefer.)
Either way, the cost of production just went up. With the cost of unionized labor, we might be down to just 1 maybe 2 US car manufacturers.
Bye bye jobs, bye bye US auto.
re: Cost of production
Car manufacturers are crying because state laws on emissions differ? Is that the limited ambition of US car manufacturers these days -- to sell only to the US states? Because if they want to sell to the rest of the world, they're going to have to live with differing laws and standards. Some countries even drive on the Other Side of the Road!
@Cost of production
Shite. It's not like foreign manufacturers will get a waiver on the tougher emissions regs, is it? Much easier to just blame the unions for having the temerity to resist 3rd World working conditions
Feel free to follow the British example though of conspicuously failing to improve your filthy, inefficient, unreliable and crap car designs and try to bluff people that you can make a living as a country doing nothing except sitting on your arses moving other people's money around, or hairdressing.
Mine's the one with "British Leyland" on the back.
@cost of production
Wow you have not read anything on this subject at all have you?
these generally fleet averages so you don't have make different in each state you have sell differentmixes of cars cars in each state. 13 state are all trying to adopt the SAME stadard as California. These Lawa will apply to all companies not just American companies.
But finally yes US car manufactures may go belly up, they have spent 30+ years prefecting their lobbying skills (starting with no seat belts) and short term marketing skills (think fins on cars) instead of engineering good cars, good power pla\nts and good production systems. Hey that the free market playing politics instead doing core business is a igh risk tatic it paid off for a while but if you screw up you've got no product/service in the end.
@. Make a different car for each state
Um did you th at California has different emissions , so much that auto makers will use a different computer for cars destine for California .
Its hardly a tough target.
From a BBC article
"A 2007 law required that new cars and trucks produced by 2020 obtain 35 miles per gallon of fuel."
35 mpg?! European small cars are achieving almost double that. My 1999 diesel even gets 60ish mpg.
Maybe if the American car giants imported a few efficient European engines, and started weaning Americans off this whole 6 litre engine stuff, the could make some progress.
Cost of Production
Just make cars that exceed the highest common demoninator.
The rest of the western world has been doing it for years.
@Cost of production...
"The problem with that is US manufacturers now have to either:
1. Make a different car for each state
2. Make the highest common denominator to satisfy all laws"
I don't see a problem with that :-)
"Bye bye jobs, bye bye US auto."
And good riddance, I had heard cars were big over here before I moved but sweet jesus! There's pickup trucks (with front and rear seats!) on my street that look like fucking monster trucks and I live in Brooklyn, not the Rockies. There's car adverts on TV boasting about getting 35mpg, BOASTING!? Like that's even slightly good? If the US motor industry can't make a car that does 50mpg it deserves to go down the fucking tubes, that's what happens when you build things nobody wants. Good on Obama, he might save your backwards auto industry yet!
Here we go again.
The last time California was allowed to go it alone, we got EGR systems, Gulp valves, Fuel vaporisation cannisters, airpumps and heavily strangled, detuned engines to make this whole pile of foetid unreliable eco-bollox work. My, how we laughed on the other side of the pond.
Now the focus has changed from reducing the various tailpipe gases across the board to a messianic worship of CO2 figures, they're wondering why American engines are so mind numbingly inefficient in fuel consumption compared to similarly sized engines elsewhere in the world. Californians should try looking in the mirror for the obvious answer here.
I suppose that just because this unilateral approach turned out to be such a monumental pig's ear last time won't stop California doing it again.
US gallons are smaller. Diesels are generally too polluting (the USAnians appear to understand the difference between toxic gases/particulates and harmless plant food gas).
@ Alex Wright
It's not quite as easy a target as it sounds either. That 35mpg is 35mpUSg. 1 US gallon = approx 0.8 Imperial gallons, so the target is actually just under 44mpg (Imperial gallon).
Remember, that's 35 miles per US gallon... adjust that for real gallons and it's actually 41mpg.
I know, still not a hard target though.
I reckon they need to push up the price of 'gas' to UK levels, then they'll worry about fuel economy!!
Sidenote: I've always found it odd that american's refer to a liquid as gas.
Re: Its hardly a tough target.
Let us not forget that a US gallon (3.8 litres) is smaller than the Imperial gallon (4.5 litres) that we are used to seeing quoted in the UK.
RE: "Bye bye jobs, bye bye US auto"
OK, it may not be a good thing that jobs will be lost, but I must shout a big "HURRAY!" for the death of the US Auto industry, with their huge, inefficient V8's, huge, cumbersome chassis, and cheap, tacky plastic interiors.
RE: "A 2007 law required that new cars and trucks produced by 2020 obtain 35 miles per gallon of fuel."
Yes, most small cars in Europe do get better than 35 mpg... but I would assume this one is in US gallons, which would make it 42 mpg(Imperial). Thats actually quite good for even a small petrol-fuelled car.
RE:"The problem with that is US manufacturers now have to either:
"1. Make a different car for each state
"2. Make the highest common denominator to satisfy all laws"
No, actually it would probably just be done with different ECU settings. The VW Polo Blue Motion is available in 2 different models with different emissions figures, and they are just the same enging with a different map. You can get the same (if not better) economy loading one of those maps into any polo with the same engine (although not the same emmisions, as they use a filter on the exhaust).
There has been talk
of one of the big 3 going under for at least the past 7 years. Hopefully this will push them over the edge, because all they have done so far is swalow government money and bully consumers in to buying American crap rather than getting themselfs sorted out.
they're already doing it, just not in the US
Two of the "big three" already make outstandingly fuel-efficient, stylish, best-selling ranges of cars already. It's just that they do it in Europe, not in the USA. All the USA has to do is make slightly cleaner diesel available and Bob's their uncle, the big three can sell Americans outstandingly powerful turbo-charged beasts that do twice the MPG.
Re: Tough target
Some of the European small cars achieving 70mpg are built in Europe by Ford, and by Opel/Vauxhall, otherwise known as General Motors. The US car giants need to import their own technology and start using it!
@Its hardly a tough target
Bear in mind that the 35 mpg figure will be in US gallons, which are 4/5 the size of an Imperial gallon. So, it's actually a target of about 44 mpg. Still not massively challenging, but slightly less embarrassing.
Say no to Carbon Credits and carbon taxes
As long as I don't have to put up with the words 'climate change', 'global warming' or 'green' then pushing companies to create more efficient vehicles is fine. And also, as long as the likes of Al Gore and the Chicago Climate Exchange don't monetise thin air to fill their pockets with billions of dollars that the rest of the population so desperately needs during recession then fine, otherwise I will be sorely grieved at such a daylight robbery.
Anyone notice that Obama is from Chicago, Gore sits on the board of the Chicago Climate Exchange and that most of Gore's employees at GIM are ex-Goldman Sachs traders?
I don't think anyone's against making engines more efficient. They just don't want to have everyone driving a Prius, as that would be a fate worse than another 4 years of Bush.
The aim should be to let the Yanks keep their 6-litre engines. But to make them as powerful as a 6-litre engine would be if the Germans or the Japanese built it- about 600BHP and with bucketloads of torque. Then slap in a half-decent automatic gearbox that'll keep it runnng as efficiently as possible and you could manage 35mpg no problem.
There have to be fast cars, there have to be big trucks. If there aren't then there's a whole market being unexploited- all in the name of enviro-puritanism. And that's bad capitalism.
The least required of all cars are things like the Vauxhall Agila 1.2- they're not roomy, though they're also not particularly large. They've not got a huge amount of cargo area, they take forever to get away from junctions- which is dangerous and don't even look cute. They're not particularly cheap, either. And they're crap for long distances and motorway driving. These cars are, then, of limited usage for the shopping and even worse if you're going for a decent length of drive.
So these cars are wasting petrol that could go to fuel far superior designs of car that are far closer to what people actually want / need (like the Aygo and cars built around that platform- it's cute, it's nippy and it handles well around town. And it'll take a surprisingly vast amount of shopping!
It's called subsidiarity
And it's actually one of the good things about the US political setup: not everything gets decided in Washington. The Bush administration's meddling was simply another example of "big government" in state issues. As has been noted in several places, not least by The Economist http://www.economist.com/search/search.cfm?rv=2&qr=epa+emissions+california&area=1&x=0&y=0 , once a state like California passes such legislation many other states adopt the same law and manufacturers adapt generally pretty quickly to reduce the number of production lines they have to support. There are, of course, some notable exceptions with German car manufacturers infamous for lobbying against tighter European emission legislation ("it can be done") whilst selling models that meet California's even higher requirements.
So politically it's a smart move: Obama gets to look green while making it Schwarzenegger's problem. Effectively done it even becomes a job saver as American manufacturers might get a head start on the next set of restrictions which can be tailored to suit their abilities, ie. reduce the level of "XXX" in emissions once they know how to do this, the free radicals produced by lead-free petrol would be a good place to start.
thats a US gallon... not a standard imperial Gallon.
Come on US peeps. There is no reason a small family car need to weigh 17 tons and have a 7 litre engine.
As 1 US gallon = 0.833 imperial gallons you are looking at a target of 42 mpgImp which yes is still pretty bad as my 220+bhp Saab 2.0 turbo can do more than that quite happily now but its not as bad as it initially sounds
Visiting relatives in Maine I'm always surprised by the number of "small" cars with lots of VWs and Saabs and Volvos and Nissans on the road. OK we might not consider a Volvo estate a small car but compared to some of the Portacabin sized things you see people wallowing round it they are. Diesel just doesn't seem to be as popular over there but maybe winter temperatures of -40 have something to do with it?
Reduce CO2 from ALL sources
Including those (bi-pedal, upright) carbon based life forms that take in Oxygen and produce CO2.
This is junk AlGore science. Let's be consistent ACROSS the board.
Yes, I do drive a nice big SUV thank you (even in California, where they are limiting nice fireplace fires).
I've always found it strange when you hire a US built car in the US, the outside fittings feel like cheap plastic and you can bend them about; It has a V6 inside (allegedly) yet drives like an old skool 0.6 litre Fiat Panda.
Its no wonder that nobody wants to buy them and the US car companies are in such mess
Put taxes up on big "oil rig" engines and cut taxes on "lean mean" engines.
They've been doing it FOR 10 FRIGGING YEARS here in Brazil. They took a major cut in taxes for 1 LITER engines (1000cc) while at the same time increased taxes for all the other sizes beyond that.
As a result, it forced manufactures to improve fuel economy and power on tiny engines, which can now achieve 90 bhp on supercharger, enough to power a 2,000 pound car up to 70mph, but taking a whole minute and drafting on a semi-truck to achieve it. It ain´t powerful, but sure gets great mileage when stuck in traffic!
The law is no longer effective, but they applied the "lessons learned" procedure for every engine up to 2-liters, which have increased power and torque and kept much of the fuel economy.
I have a 1.8 liter car that can do 115bhp (85kW), 10-years old. Cars today can do 135 bhp on the same size, no turbos, no supercharge, just revving it up. Or the same 115bhp on 1.6 engines. I even think my car has more power it needs, though, sometimes.
<flame on> But Americans won't get off their pedestals and give up those "small-block", 5-liter, oil-rig V8 engines because of fuel economy, no sir. If you tell them they can bomb any petrol-filled, mid-eastern country once they no longer require gas to fuel their cars, then they will get their heads of their asses, the foot off the gas, and asking for leccy cars. Environmental Obama, my ass, he is just preparing an excuse to bomb da shit ouf any troublemaker country with oil reserves.
Ops, sorry, i sometimes feel angry because of all the Americans whining about buying an econo / underpowered / short ranged / eco friendly / cheap car, when the rest of the World can only afford one of those, if barely that.
good use of the bailout money
spend it all in legal fees trying to avoid making more efficient vehicles.
@Alex - "weaning Americans"
Yep, and you've just put your finger on something that's an epic struggle between the auto industry, the politicians, and the general public - consumer preference.
Europeans don't buy smaller, more efficient cars out of superior social conscience or anything of the sort - we buy them because fuel is generally taxed quite highly and thus seeing our ~$20k go into an economical and well-packaged small car is a sensible decision for us. By contrast, for J. Average Motorist in the US of A, it's an equally rational and intelligent decision to buy a big automatic with squishy seats for that price - the small difference in cost of fuelling it isn't going to make up for having all that extra space, comfort and performance.
See also how the housing/credit boom in the UK cheapened (relatively) the cost of motoring and gave us all an appetite for large SUVs - an appetite that is now rapidly on the wane, as anyone who's recently tried to part-exchange a petrol X5 will attest.
What's therefore needed is a two-way contract by which the automakers are encouraged to produce smaller, more efficient cars, but also consumers are incentivised to buy those cars when they get to the dealership forecourt. (In fact, all you really need is the latter - demand takes care of the rest, and those manufacturers that think they can get away with ignoring demand are introduced to economic Darwinism sooner or later. It's better to work with the car industry so they know where they need to be focusing their product development for 3/4 years' time, though.)
This is one of the bigger arguments for relatively high fuel taxation - not least because it's an incremental cost rather than a fixed cost, so can encourage more intelligent patterns of vehicle use even *after* said vehicle has been chosen and purchased.
@TeeCee - California emmissions regulations
Don't blame the Californians for ERG valves and stuff - blame the auto makers for just "hacking" their existing thirsty engine designs instead of actually doing some real R&D.
Remember - the EGR valve is just a sneaky way of pumping non-combustible gas through the engine to reduce the concentration of combustion products at the tailpipe - likewise the air pump. They didn't do anything about the actual combustion process itself, insead they made it less effective!
They also lobbied for catalytic converters (another hack) insead of allowing lean-burn engines to be used cat-less, effectively killing develoment of lean-burn.
Too all the Anonymous Cowards...
At least the ones who flame for no reason...shut the hell up. You love to set your sights on Americans, but don't have the courage to put your name on your post. Nice. Must be from France, huh?
And please don't pretend that if your country was bigger than ONE of our states, and you had a job that payed better than shoveling donkey shit on your uncles farm, that you wouldn't buy a larger, more powerful car than you have now.
I know several people who have immigrated here from other countries (Bulgaria, most notibly), and trust me, it didn't take them long to become "Americanized" and buy their first SUV or large car, a bigger house, etc. Please spare me the Holier than Thou, Americans are evil bullshit. If you came over here, you wouldn't be driving the same 600CC, 38bhp, 20 year old Peugeot that you have now. Stop fooling yourself.
And thank you, AC @ 11:23 GMT, for this:
"Europeans don't buy smaller, more efficient cars out of superior social conscience or anything of the sort - we buy them because fuel is generally taxed quite highly and thus seeing our ~$20k go into an economical and well-packaged small car is a sensible decision for us. By contrast, for J. Average Motorist in the US of A, it's an equally rational and intelligent decision to buy a big automatic with squishy seats for that price - the small difference in cost of fuelling it isn't going to make up for having all that extra space, comfort and performance."
At least there is one honest European in here, and I salute you for it.
While I'm all for Obama's initiative, I think his timing is all wrong. It takes a lead time of at least two years to bring a car to market, and with the "big three" already struggling, some of the bailout money will now have to go for research and redesign on a grand scale. I think it's necessary to increase fuel mileage (and soon), but I think the US economy would be better served by waiting a couple of years until things settle down a little before making a grand proclamation like this.
Federal vs State
> Surely, the country would be better served if he pushed through federal regulation that mimics California's tailpipe standards.
Unfortunately then the Republicans (which probably includes Doug Southworth) would be screaming about "Big Government " interfering in the right of States to make their own laws and the whole thing would get bogged down in partisan infighting.
Instead he's going the smart way of realising that even though it may be more expensive, it will cause the US auto industry to finally start cleaning up its act because once they've developed more efficient engines and car designs for one state, they'll roll them out across the rest of them saying "hey, look, we're saving you money on gas!"
I saw part of his speech
Cars that will do 35mpg by 2020? What planet is he on? My old heap from 1985 did 35mpg! Kee-rist. It was an Opel (which is GM) so this tech exists, and USA auto makers have it on tap.
The USA should be aiming for 65mpg+ by 2020, not trying to do what Europe did almost 2 and a bit decades ago.
When life throws you a lemon
1 Make a car more efficient then all your competitors.
2 Bribe erm sorry, lobby the state to require a car at least as efficient as yours.
Good for you, you're a raging idiot (does that make you mad?). I salute you for being an obnoxious twat, and since you are quite happy to stereotype the French (while totally ignoring the resistance which probably did far more than the Americans overall, even with less loss of life), I'm quite happy to blame you for the dead Iraqi and Afghan civillians, not to mention the torture of illegally held suspects. In fact, I might as well just blame you for the coalition soldiers' deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, because it's also clearly your fault the coalition went to war. That sound fair? Twat.
@Aron: I also heard Al Gore arrived in a banana shaped spaceship with Bill Clinton and Che Guevara.
@Herby: I'd entertain you if you actually read anything other than pro-Republican anti-Gore putdowns of CC theory. But you don't read the other side more than just quotes do you?
and the Japanese have been making cars for years that not only sell in different states, but in different countries around the world. I think it's time the US caught up with what the rest of the world has been doing.
I know your gallons are smaller than ours and your petrol is rubbish (89 RON in the US versus 95 in Europe), just stop using it and get a bigger bang for your buck!
Maybe you shouldn't get your information about the cars Europeans drive (or their socio-economic status) from Hollywood.
In addition, maybe you should also stand any US-made car from the "big three" alongside a European car (of ANY size) from the same manufacturer, and ask yourself why the American car industry has been taking the piss out of its US customers for the last 30 years with shoddily built cars made out of egg boxes and engines made out of pig iron. Yes, Europeans drive smaller cars because of higher taxes (and smaller roads), but when a 1 liter Opel Corsa has better interior and exterior build quality than a 5.7 liter Corvette from the same company, ask yourself who's being fooled, those commie yurrupeens or the Land of The Free?
Making use of existing structure
"Surely, the country would be better served if he pushed through federal regulation that mimics California's tailpipe standards"
I don't think this makes Mr Obama any less green. How long would new legislation take? The lobbyists would get a fresh chance to stick their oars in. One of the difficulties faced by any new leader is to be seen to be making things happen quickly. I get the impression that the US expected their world to change overnight with the arrival of Obama. He's just using existing legislation to make that a reality.
I'm sure their country would benefit for increased nation-wide regulations, but in the short term, and as a test project, there's no good reason not to use the methods already in place; Methods that had rendered pointless by the previous administration's refusal to grant the necessary waiver.
One Technical Point: The issue at question is not whether the Detroit marks can make a single vehicle that gets 35mpg, but that their whole sold (as opposed to manufactured and sitting unsold on a lot) production gets an average of 35mpg. So for every large (and profitable) but low mileage vehicle they would have to sell several that got much more than 35mpg.
Not that I'm too sympathetic, Detroit always treated the small cars as junk for suckers, unlike Japan and Europe where they have proven that small cars can also be well made and fun.
Stupid is as stupid does...
First, CO2 is not pollution. It's plant food.
Two, the following statement is absurd if you look at California's economy...
"Surely, the country would be better served if he pushed through federal regulation that mimics California's tailpipe standards."
I was looking to buy a car in the US last April. I saw the fuel prices starting to rise so I narrowed my search down to cars with a high MPG. Only Honda and Toyota made cars that actually got higher than 30mpg, excluding hybrids. I got a Corolla in the end.
Cue the massive fuel price rise over the summer, more than doubling. Trucks remain unsold everywhere. Suddenly, US car makers manage to change their cars to go from 24mpg to 32mpg almost overnight. Not just one either, nearly all of them. Either they managed to do some creative accounting with the mpg figures or they had an efficient design ready to go and sat on it all this time. Something smells fishy, either way.
>" Come on US peeps. There is no reason a small family car need to weigh 17 tons and have a 7 litre engine."
Dude, have you not heard of their obesity epidemic? In the US, a small *family* weighs 17 tons!
@ David Evans
"Maybe you shouldn't get your information about the cars Europeans drive (or their socio-economic status) from Hollywood."
I don't actually believe that most Europeans work on donkey farms or drive 600CC, 38bhp, 20 year old Peugeots, much the same way I assume you don't think that most Americans do nothing for tripple the money of anyone else in the world while driving a 6 ton SUV with 2 engines. My comment got the desired effect though.
"In addition, maybe you should also stand any US-made car from the "big three" alongside a European car (of ANY size) from the same manufacturer, (so on and so forth)?"
While I don't disagree that there are many fine cars made in other parts of the world, I think it is foolish to say that ANY European car is superior to ANY American car. I'm not going to get into a huge debate about specific models, but you can see my point.
My earlier comments were written in haste, and in anger, but the main point was that I get a more than a little tired about the "stupid, lazy, fat, worthless Americans and their crap cars." It seems that you don't like it when the tables are turned, as well you shouldn't. I will never say that America always gets it right, but we don't always get it wrong, either.
Cars in the us
We use petro in the US because it is less toxic in so far as exhaust. Our refinery system is also not geared to produce large amounts of diesel, so, a sudden switch to diesel fueled engines would cause massive shortages. If one views the US going to war over fuel reserved countries that we actually get fuel from, then we would not bother with the middle east at all, and swing our attention to Mexico and Canada. Having said that, could the 'big 3' car companies make more efficient cars ? Sure. And through pressure, they finally are doing just that. When fuel costs are high in this country, most citizens switch over to small cars, that happened in 1973-4 and is happening now. Having the 3rd largest country in the world, it is pretty big, and, if one has a job that needs long distant driving, people are going to drive larger cars. I know, why not take a train ? Be cause we are not as packed together as the whole of Europe. There are places in the west here that one can drive 100's of kilometers and not see any other car or structure, just corn, or desert. It was and is just not possible to have a mass trans system to cope with the distances needed.
Could we do better, sure. Could EU do better, of course. I wonder how efficient Porche's are, or other speciality italian cars, or higher end BMW's, or Jag's, or Bentley's. What is the mean ave fuel consumption of the Lotus or Austin Martin fleet ?? Most of you all cant afford those. Most of americans can not afford those massive SUV's that were sold here either. Most comments here seem to imply that we are all driving around Hummer's ( oh, now a french owned company... ) , and that is far from the truth. And, btw, my wife and I in total, own 2 cars, a 1997 Accord, still getting about 35 mpg, and a new Honda Civic, so, this is not a defence of US made cars, but, rather an attempt to point out that US's driving needs are somewhat different than most of EU's.
"There have to be fast cars, there have to be big trucks. If there aren't then there's a whole market being unexploited- all in the name of enviro-puritanism. And that's bad capitalism."
I can think of several other "whole markets being unexploited" right now due to laws, due to other types of puritanism. So, by your "logic" and fanatical allegiance to "capitalism", I take you want everything to be allowed, right?
"I know several people who have immigrated here from other countries (Bulgaria, most notibly), and trust me, it didn't take them long to become "Americanized" and buy their first SUV or large car, a bigger house, etc. Please spare me the Holier than Thou, Americans are evil bullshit. "
The only point I see you having is that *everyone* can be stupid and evil, not just you and your acquaintances, wherever they came from. That is very true, and I don't blame the people, but their culture. You're not guilty of being born/raised where you were, after all.
But you see, not everyone is that stupid and/or psychologically weak. I might be stupid in many ways, but I've been living in the US for 7 years and do not want a big car or living space. Unlike the morons who come to work driving shiny (i.e. probably unused for what such vehicles are supposedly made for), double-axle, crew cabin pickup trucks that take 1.5 parking spots. Lots of them. Not to mention my favorite: people going to the movie theater in a Hummer H2 (I've seen TWO the same time the other day). I might be a freak, but I know of other foreigners here who've been in the USA even longer than I have and haven't given up to "peer pressure" to get a minibus just because they got a baby or two.
I myself? Chose to drive a C230K coupe, supercharged 1.8 L engine, gasoline (gotta get the "premium" 93 though). OK, only 40 mpUSg on the highway, but
US Fuel is not measured in RON its measured in RdON (or PON) which is a combination of RON and MON. RdON is usually about 5 points below RON so with standard UK unleaded being 95 puts a US RdON of 89 about right.
Mine's the one with Sad Git on the back
Having recently moved I'm amused at your comment on Americanised car buying.
We struggled to find a small car equivalent to our Vauxhall (GM) owned car before we moved. Even cars that had European equivalents all had larger engine sizes, it seems most manufacturers selling in/into North America consider a 2.0l engine the lower end of the range while in Europe it's more likely to be a 1.6 or 1.8 and then theres also the 4 speed automatic gearboxes on a 2.0l+ car.
While I appreciate that in some parts a 4wd large car is essential that's also true in parts of Europe and the UK and a market exists for these vehicles they also aren't the only thing you can buy, funny that in the land of the consumer you get less choice than the rest of the world. I still smile to see the Ford Focus described as a small car (the version here is a couple of models behind the European version) starts at a 2.0l version and doesn't seem to have the new zetec engine.