To commemorate U.S. President Barack Obama’s executive order that will make such cars extinct, I recently launched myself like an astronaut in a 662-horsepower Ford Shelby Mustang GT500.
The acceleration brought about by a monstrous 5.7-litre supercharged V-8, with electronic launch control, pressed my eye balls back in my head to the point where I couldn’t stand much more and lifted off. I was still in second gear.
I survived, but cars like this won’t – except in museums. Rest In Peace, muscle cars.
A couple of weeks ago, the Obama administration in the United States gave the green light to rules that will require nearly double the fuel economy of the cars and trucks manufactured in 2025. That’s only 13 years away and, by that time, new cars on average must make 54.5 miles per U.S. gallon. For those of you who were around before the Trudeau years, that’s about 68 miles per Imperial gallon or today that’s about 4.3 litres/100 km.
Yes, it’s a U.S. regulation but Canada will follow suit.
Obama said the fuel standards “represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that he’d seek “a better way of encouraging fuel economy” than corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) mileage requirements, without mentioning what that might be.
You won’t really get 54 or 68 mpg, or 4.3 litres/100 km, because these numbers are based on government laboratory tests – but under the new standards, even in real world driving conditions, it will likely be double what you’re getting now.
And the cars that will deliver this kind of fuel economy won’t be much like the big heavy things a lot of people are driving today and certainly not like the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500.
For one thing, the electric motors in the Shelby move things like the windows and fans. Under the new regime, in any cars that are fun to drive, you’ll find the electric motor or motors driving the wheels. Hybrids will reach every segment of the market, including performance cars. The U.S. government predicts that with the new regulations the sales of hybrids, plug-in electric vehicles and fully electric vehicles should rise from a mere 3 per cent of all sales today to 49 per cent by 2025.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have your eyeballs thrust back into your skull any more but it does mean that a 662-hp gasoline engine won’t be providing the effect much longer.
The Tesla S that I recently wrote about will do the job nicely. But it’s silent – totally silent. Where’s the raucous, blaring V-8 screaming out of the tail pipes? Who’s going to notice me – it’s all about me – making a fool of myself in a very expensive car? I’m sure that’s a problem marketing geniuses are working on.
For decades, gas-guzzling has trumped green. Maybe the opinions of drivers have altered slightly in the last few years but the new regs will push them over the brink. The development of more fuel-efficient cars is now the law and that means good night to the Shelby GT500 and various hot Corvettes, Bimmers and Mercs. But don’t worry; they won’t give up their market share easily. You just better like electricity along with your gasoline fumes.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles program calls the new regulations a victory of “innovation over stagnation.” Carroll Shelby, who recently passed away, was always an innovator and meant a huge amount to high-performance at Ford for several decades. I hope that a few years down the road they put his name on some light-weight, super-efficient performance car that bears no resemblance to the mighty but gas-guzzling V-8 Shelby GT500 that is also passing on.