I extracted two useful items from an otherwise poor lecture by a Toyota regulatory affairs staffer. He was explaining their opposition to the flexible fuels mandate.
The two useful items were:
- Take your proposal and remove all mention of global warming or fuel supply security issues. Examine what is left. If it's not attractive, you have a problem. Car buyers (and most of the public) don't consider policy issues when making a purchase like a car. Too many proposals look like this when those two policy issues are removed: "We want to make cars more expensive, lower quality, less convenient, and less reliable."
- Every administration from Carter on to the present has picked a silver bullet automotive policy, spent tens of billions to subsidize it, then had it fail. The Obama silver bullet is electric cars. He listed them back for all the other administrations. All failed. The total waste is in the hundreds of billions. That money could have been better used to make regular modest improvements that would add up to big improvements by now.
You can tell he is from the Toyota production system experience. They concentrate their design and engineering on regular steady improvement, based on measurement and experience. Toyota does not like big radical changes.
The rest of his talk needed a lot of work on clarity and presentation.
The core of Toyota's opposition to the flexible fuels mandate is that the cost will be much more than the politicians estimate, and the other savings minimal. Instead of mandating that automobiles run on any mix of gasoline, ethanol, or methanol as long as it is at least 15% gasoline, he suggested mandating a mix range with at least 75% gasoline. This would make a huge difference in cost and reliability. He argued that the fuel impact of that difference would be nil. If you take the largest prediction of ethanol/methanol production for 2030 and the smallest prediction for gasoline needs by assuming that mileage targets are met, there will only be enough ethanol and methanol to make a 25% methanol/ethanol 75% gasoline mix.