"When we talk about 55 mpg, we had that technology, criminy, 20 years ago," says Margaret Wooldridge, who is also a professor at the University of Michigan in the department of mechanical engineering. She says there's a but — in this case, the car driver.Only NPR would do a story on cars by finding a female professor who says that car mileage has been cut in half by power windows, cellphones, and radios.
"Like, when was the last time you actually took your hand and rolled down a window?" she asks. "But now there's an expectation that every vehicle, even if it's an entry-level vehicle, will have that kind of creature comfort [power windows]."
Wooldridge says we expect our cars to heat faster in winter, to cool faster in summer, have seat warmers and plugs for two cellphones, maybe a DVD player, and — of course — have a radio.
"I personally owned a vehicle that had over 45 mpg fuel economy when I was in college," Wooldridge says. "And it had a manual transmission, manual windows; it was a great car, [it] lasted forever. It was lightweight, kind of chilly to heat in the winter and all that good stuff."
Wooldridge says all those extras can reduce the fuel economy by up to 50 percent — and that it's a fat chance people are going to give up plugging in their cellphones or running the air conditioner or cranking NPR.
Air conditioning can cut your mileage a little bit. The other stuff is negligible. What does this woman do -- drive with her finger on the window up-down switch all the time?
NPR sells liberal guilt. You are supposed listen to NPR in your car, feel guilty about modern comforts and electronic conveniences, feel bad that you might have contributed to climate change, and make a pledge to support more socialist radio.