“Everybody wanna hear the truth
But yet everybody wants to tell a lie
I say everybody wants to hear the truth
But still they all wanna tell a lie
Ohhh everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”

  • ALBERT KING, Blues Singer

A big fat lie is being accepted by U.S. citizens. That lie can be paraphrased as such: “The auto industry has made great strides in improving the efficiency of the automobile.” Multiple facts prove this accepted myth to be far from accurate. Consider just one time-tested fact to see how far the statement strays from the truth:
The Model T was introduced on Oct. 1, 1908 by Henry Ford. Powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE), this primeval auto ran on pure gasoline. Its efficiency per gallon of gasoline was 21 miles per gallon (MPG). One hundred and fourteen years later, the average efficiency of ICE-powered automobiles in the USA is 25 MPG. That’s correct. In well over a century, the MPG for ICE-powered automobiles has improved by a measly 4 MPG.
Defenders of the miniscule efficiency improvement argue, “Apples are being compared to oranges; Model T Fords are not the same as Mercedes-Benz luxury sedans.” Other distinct differences exist that support the defense that apples are being compared to oranges:

  • Autos today are much faster, more powerful and safer
  • Autos today are much easier to drive; some even drive themselves
  • Autos today are more comfortable
  • Autos today do not create pollution like the old Model Ts.
    All these claims are valid points, but an improvement of 4 MPG in 114 years is laughable. This improvement equates to less than 4/100 of a MPG per year. Can anyone other than politicians, auto executives and snake oil salesmen claim with a straight face “great strides have been made improving the efficiency of automobiles” in the last century?
    “I say everybody wants to hear the truth
    But still they all wanna tell a lie”
    So what’s behind the popularity of this big fat lie?
    Popular acceptance of the auto efficiency myth is simple. It’s no more complex than what’s said in the lyrics of Albert King’s song: “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” The words make clear that no one truly wants to pay the real price—as do most other countries—for the requirements of auto energy efficiency.
    U.S. auto executives know well the feelings of their auto customers. They’re aware buyers don’t want to be bothered about fuel efficiency. Driving is an owner’s expression of freedom and liberty. It’s the last vestige of American individualism and their proud entitlement.
    “Everybody wanna hear the truth. But still they all wanna tell a lie”
    The executives also know auto economic facts. They know fuel efficiency is pricey. The USA’s on-again-off-again auto MPG standard policy reflects the hushed negative impact that high fuel efficiency has on auto sales. For many buyers, the added cost of auto efficiency would make automobiles unaffordable, just as electric autos have remained unaffordable to the average U.S. auto customer.
    The auto industry fully embraces the MPG myth, and they’re not alone. They have the public, local politicians and Washington policy makers on their side. They know that fewer auto sales translate into fewer jobs, fewer government tax dollars and more miffed constituents/voters. They know that career politicians live by the unspoken mantra “What’s good for the auto industry is good for the U.S. economy.” … and for their political career.
    By de facto the U.S. auto driver rejects an inconvenient truth. The auto MPG myth lives on. The result of denying reality is a ticking time bomb. The explosive consequences of the MPG myth is being passed on to the next generation because:
    “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”