Home » Energy Policy » FORD exec: Emission Controls Are Making Cars Unaffordable

FORD exec: Emission Controls Are Making Cars Unaffordable

by John Brian Shannon | June 10, 2016

Ford of Europe boss Jim Farley believes evermore costly emission control technology could eventually make cars unaffordable for many consumers

Ford Mustang in France
Ford Mustang in France. Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Regulators in Europe “need to consider affordability, or risk creating an elitist industry where cars are only attainable by the wealthy.” — Farley told the Financial Times

The obvious conclusion to draw from Ford’s position is that FUELS must become several orders of magnitude cleaner. And with today’s technology, that is entirely possible.

(1) In South Africa, SASOL has been taking the dirtiest grade of coal (brown coal) and turning it into one of the cleanest burning fuels on the planet since 1950.

Cars in South Africa only require minimal emission controls due to the extremely clean burning CTL petrol which has a minimum blend of 30% Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) fuel.

During hot summer days with their higher pollution levels (from coal-fired power plants, from marine shipping and from rail) SASOL simply increases the CTL percentage in its fuel — neatly countering the air quality problem in South African cities.

It should be said that CTL blended fuel is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.

(2) Brazil uses biofuel sourced from sugar cane and now that they are collecting the bagasse (stems, leaves, roots) of the sugar cane and processing it into usable biofuel using the cellulosic biofuel method instead of burning it in the fields, and it is a quantum leap forward in biofuels production and environmental stewardship.

Ethanol from sugar cane dramatically lowers CO2 tailpipe emissions compared to conventional petrol, and the next growing season ‘eats’ every bit of the CO2 that was produced and then comes out of those Brazilian tailpipes. (Two crops per year in Brazil = Those growing plants eat a lot of CO2)

It parallels the normal CO2 recycling of Earth ecosystems.

Again it is the case that ethanol blended fuel from sugarcane is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.

(3) Finally, if major polluting nations like the U.S., China, Europe and Japan, legislate a switch to E15 in 2020, then to E50 throughout the 2020’s, and E85 after that, the air, especially in our cities will become increasingly cleaner.

Yet again! It is the case that biofuel fuel blends are easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.

Until all cars are electric vehicles (or in later decades when Hydrogen fuelled vehicles become economically viable) all of our effort should be going into making fuels cleaner and dropping some emission controls for petrol cars — except for the obvious, like Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) and those that serve to lower emissions during engine warm-up.

Petrol powered cars are here to stay whether some like it or not. But we need to put the focus on making vehicle fuels cleaner as we’ve long ago reached the point of diminishing returns on vehicle emission controls.

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