Made by GM, its called the Sail. With a sticker price under 10 grand and it gets 41 miles per gallon. A pretty sweet deal for anyone wanting inexpensive, environmental friendly transportation. Half the price of a Prius. But YOU can’t buy one.
Not unless you move to China, Chile, or Equador, or one of the other countries where the Sail will be on sale. It’s no tin can either: a modern hatchback with power windows, air conditioning, and a stereo with Bluetooth wireless. It even has a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
So why can’t you buy one?
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation say so that’s why.
But the Sail is neither dangerous nor dirty. It gets better gas mileage than a Honda CR-Z or Volkswagon Jetta.
The Sail could meet the EPA/DOT standards of 1990 – by which time cars were plenty clean and plenty safe. Long gone were the Ford Pintos and Chevy Vega of the 1970s. People were enjoying Geo Metros and Volkswagon Golfs, cars which the Sail compares favorably with.
So what’s the problem?
The EPA continues to tighten the screws year after year. Instead of a $200 catalytic converter and $500 throttle body fuel injection – which cleaned up 90 percent of the exhaust – it’s now $500 for multiple catalytic converters, and $2,000 for direct gas injection.
The EPA says the newest rules will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” While technically true, what they don’t say is that the 50 percent is off the emissions which have already been cut by 90 percent by previous regulation. 50 percent off the remaining 10 percent is only a 5 percent reduction – at a cost of thousands of dollars per car. Paid for by consumers, not car companies.
The Sail would be ok if the 1990 standards were still in effect. It’s about the same size and gets about the same performance of a Geo Metro of that era. But it would be illegal for GM to sell any more Metros. Just as it is illegal for GM to sell the Sail.
To you, that is.
Was the Geo Metro a bane to humanity? I seem to recall it being a hip little car that got great mileage, but no more… it’s against the law. It would appear that regulation for regulations sake is the new order of things. After all government agencies which are given power over such things, need to wield that power in ever increasing measure to justify their continued funding. And so they do.
The result is less freedom of choice, more cost to consumers, fewer people who can afford a car, and less money flowing to more productive uses. Perhaps it is time to declare that cars are ‘clean enough’ and ‘safe enough’ and focus our efforts and funding elsewhere.