Saturday, November 3, 2012

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

Well time to welcome in the Gen 5 Small-Block-Chevy. It's the new base engine for the 2013 Corvette with 450HP and similar torque over a wider band than the previous engine. It's still 6.2 liters and retains the same bore spacing but it shares no parts with the outgoing mill. They appear to have thrown just about every modern tech trick and tweak that exists at the engine; variable everything, 11.5-1 CR, direct-injection, dry sump oiling, cylinder de-activation, an acoustic foam shell over the manifold to quiet the injectors/pumps, and believe it or not a new sensor that measures air humidity. Oh yeah still a pushrod motor which makes me wonder how the devil Chevy is getting these sorts of power figures with only two valves per cylinder because in specific output terms these figures are comparable to a lot of furrin' big eights that use overhead cams, four valve heads, and their own heaping helpings of ultra-tech. Lastly the 2013 car will be rated at 27 mpg.

When this new design gets punched out, blown, and stuffed into the ZR1 it might well break the 700HP barrier. Perhaps most amazingly of all it still fits into the same rough footprint the original SBC does. Somehow I doubt this is what the gummint was expecting when they bailed out GM. It certainly constitutes a classic double fingered Stooges style poke in the green obsessed eyeballs of the current admin. Plus it's nothing but cheering that Ford and Chrysler have fielded their own hearty high-power eyeball pokes. Good on all of 'em.

It is fascinating that the Obamanauts seemed to think that by sheer rhetorical force they could convince the public that they they must purchase small vehicles with poor performance for inflated prices such as pure electrics and advanced hybrids. The hypothesis was, and is for that matter, that if American manufacturers were forced to build ultra high efficiency vehicles that the public would naturally get with the green program by flocking to buy them encouraged by large bribes incentives, from the feds. How's that working out guys?

The darling of this program is the Chevy Volt which is selling in numbers so low that even Lamborghini would be embarrassed. Turns out folks aren't keen on spending forty grand on an economy car no matter how much high tech is slathered upon it or how big the government bribe is. Trouble is even the most virulent anti-automobile activists have not found a way to force consumers to buy a consumer product they do not want to buy.

It is true that in the case of health care "reform" that the government has enlisted the IRS as a financial leg-breaker in its quest to force the public to buy health insurance and so compliance is likely to be high. However health insurance is, in most cases, not really an optional expense for the public so naked government coercion works more effectively. Buying a new vehicle is almost entirely an optional process for the public however so even the smartest president in history has not yet figured out a way to force them to dance to their preferred green tune while doing it. Luckily the current administration, as of writing, knows that short of literal police-state coercion there is no feasible way to force people to buy a particular kind of ordinary consumer product.

The response of the feds to this impasse has been to heap ever more draconian efficiency mandates upon auto manufacturers so as to try to achieve by extra-legislative regulatory coercion what they cannot accomplish by rhetorical effort. They are advancing this agenda in the hope of two primary effects. First these mandates are to be phased in over decadal time spans consequently the cost to the public of these mandates will not be entirely apparent until the current administration is fully out of office. The second hoped for effect is that the public, in the manner of the famous frog in boiling water, is far more likely to accept the substantial cost of these mandates if they are spread gradually over time instead of being hit by large price increases all at once.

In the Soviet Union consumer choice was severely constrained by the state, grumbling might result in a vacation at a gulag, but that approach will not work, yet, here. So stealth and subterfuge must be employed since the all consuming cause of Climate Change is so stupendously critical that any method the public can be made to swallow must be utilized. A more perfect example of "the end justifies the means" is difficult to imagine. If, despite Solyndrical bumps in the programmatic road, the greenwashed political class continues these efforts we may have to exercise our imaginations quite a lot in the coming years.


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