Obama Doesn’t Add Up

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Obama can read a TelePrompter pretty well – but math is apparently not his strong suit. Responding to questions about the rising cost of gas (really, the falling purchasing power of the increasingly worthless dollar), our Great Leader explained that his 55 MPG fuel economy mandate would provide relief:

“…folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time,” he said. “That’s a big deal, especially as families are yet again feeling the pinch from rising gas prices.”

Very folksy talk. No doubt he assumes the folks are as innumerate as he is a smooth talker.

Because what he is saying amounts to – first – you will have to buy a new Obama Car in order to offset the cost of fuel. Let’s work that out and see how it will help the folks.

The average cost of a new car – 2012 – is about $18,000 (not including the financing, not including the taxes, including personal property taxes where applicable, or the cost of a full-coverage insurance policy on a new car). This amount will buy you something along the lines of a Honda Civic one step up from the base model without AC.

Let’s say gas goes to $5 per gallon. That’s about $1.25 in depreciated dollars more than we were paying around this time last year.

So if you have a 15 gallon tank in your car and you fill up once a week, you are now spending about $19 more to fill’er up. Times four times twelve, that works out to $900 more a year. It’s a lot of money, yes. But it’s a lot less than the cost of an $18,000 new car (again, not counting interest payments, taxes and insurance).

How much less?

Well, let’s see. Being generous and assuming 0 percent interest on a five-year loan, the payment on an $18,000 balance works out to $300 a month. So, using Obama maff, your “savings” comes to… well… uh… hmmm.

Three months after you’ve bought your new car, you’re starting to pay a lot more per month for the car than you were paying for gas.

Oh, but wait – because it gets better.

The $18,000 car used in this example is a 2012 model car – not the Obama Car of 2025, when new cars will be required by government mandate to average 55 MPG. And mandates aren’t free. Technology, R&D, hardware, tooling, new materials, etc. – it all costs money. Perhaps Obama has watched too many Star Trek episodes and imagines that just like Captain Picard, he can “make it so” merely by saying so.

Look at current hybrids for a taste of what’s to come. They all cost several thousand dollars more than comparable non-hybrid cars. A 2012 Prius hatchback, for example, has a base sticker price of $23,520 – about $5,500 more than the current average car’s cost. Call it the Obama Car Surcharge.

And none of them – not even the sainted Toyota Prius – averages 55 MPG.

To get to the magic 55 MPG mark, it will be necessary to re-invent the car (and the car engine and lots of other stuff besides).

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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