William Amos and HA reader Xiphos send today’s entry, where President Barack Obama waxes nostalgic for the days when cars were truly fuel-efficient. Both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press reported this late last week:
In his first few months, President Barack Obama has proven an ardent booster of the U.S. auto industry’s future — but he keeps screwing up its history.
Last month, Obama mistakenly called the automobile an American invention, surprising the Germans who claim that mantle. And in a speech in California today, Obama revived an inaccurate jab against the industry that Ford Motor Co.’s original Model T burned less fuel than modern sport utility vehicles. …
“The 1908 Model T — think about this — the 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than the typical SUV in 2008,” Obama told the crowd. “Think about that — a hundred years later and we’re getting less gas mileage, not better, on SUVs.”
Well, except it didn’t, as the Freep explains:
But according to Ford the first Model Ts built in 1908 could go 13 to 21 miles on a gallon, depending on the particular variation. The automaker and Model T clubs say typical Tin Lizzies averaged 15 m.p.g.
What remains unclear is how it makes sense to compare a fabric-roofed, four-seat car to a seven-passenger truck stuffed with high-tech accoutrements.
Those first Model Ts weighed about 1,200 pounds, lacked windows, rode on wood wheels and could ease up to a top speed of 45 miles per hour. A modern SUV tips the scales at 4,600 pounds, hits a top speed of 140 m.p.h. and has to meet a bevy of laws for crashworthiness.
The Chronicle includes this pithy quote from the CEO of the Model-T Ford Club of America, emphasis mine:
But with an array of modern regulations, he noted, “You couldn’t build a Model T today because the government wouldn’t let you put it on the road.”
Maybe Ford should check with Obama to start applying for waivers ….
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