Because of government mandates for lighter weight vehicles auto makers have spent untold millions--billions?--to comply. From developing new materials to eliminating spare tires in the trunk to innovative engineering, the auto companies have succeeded; cars now weigh much less than they did 50 years ago. As a result of the reduced poundage, miles per gallon has increased. Or should have.
But, as Larry P. Vellequette of Auto News has discovered, grateful citizen car owners--and their passengers--responded by negating these efforts somewhat as "the average American is packing an extra 225/60R-17 around the waistline, canceling out those weight savings in the real world."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American male between ages 20 and 74 now weighs 194.7 pounds, up 28.4 pounds since 1960 -- nearly the same weight as one of the four BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires one might find on a new Ford Mustang.
Meanwhile, the average woman between ages 20 and 74 has packed on an extra 24.5 pounds since 1960, or about the weight of a Michelin 215/65R-16 tire on a minivan.
Whoops! As a result
According to technicians at the EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., the extra 53 pounds Mr. and Mrs. Average American have packed on over the last 50 years might reduce vehicle fuel economy by as much as 1 percent, depending on the vehicle.
But while that 1 percent might mean pennies at the pump, the costs nationwide rack up like calories in an extra value meal.
Based on the total retail gasoline deliveries by refiners in the most recent 12 months available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 1 percent of the refined gasoline delivered in the United States over the past year is 3.6 million barrels, or 153 million gallons.
And at a nationwide average price of $3.29 per gallon, that's $503 million in additional fuel costs, despite a long starvation diet on the part of the automotive industry as their customers pack on the pounds.
Scary thought: Will government autocrats now mandate drivers and their passengers be of a certain weight before they can own, operate or even enter a car, adding financial penalties for those who exceed the limits? Yes, Michelle Obama, I'm referring to you and your Let's Move campaign; admirable as it might be it just might lead to that.
Great government minds would justify this as a way to get the fat cats to pay their fair share.
Think it can't happen? Check out the required mandates, including purchasing health insurance, under Obamacare.
hat tip: Instapundit