State Headliners: Vermonters prefer AWD/4WD transportation, despite lower MPG

By Guy Page

Rep. Peter Welch, a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, last month blasted an August 2 EPA plan to reduce Obama-era automotive miles-per-gallon (MPG) targets. “Today, President Trump threw into reverse decades of fuel efficiency progress,” Rep. Welch said in an Aug. 2 press release. “Consumers are demanding greater fuel efficiency in vehicles.”

Rep. Welch seems to have confused “forward” with “reverse.” The 2018 standard is 29 MPG in overall industry average. The Aug. 2 Trump EPA proposal would require 37 MPG industry average for cars and light trucks sold new in model years 2021-2026. The Obama EPA required 47 MPG by 2025. It would be more accurate to say instead of burning rubber, the Trump EPA is accelerating cautiously towards better fuel efficiency.

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Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

Vermont consumers may indeed want greater fuel efficiency, but you wouldn’t know it by the vehicles they buy. Sales and registration data show they like relatively low MPG all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. Consider these facts:

The 11 most popular registered Vermont car models in 2017 were (in order): Ford Truck, Chevrolet Truck, Toyota Truck, GMC Truck, Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav-4, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza, and Subaru Outback. Only the Corolla is a high-MPG 2WD compact. Source: State of Vermont reports (see Pg. 26)

According to, the most popular passenger car model in Vermont is the Subaru Legacy. The “Vermont State Car” is an all-wheel drive vehicle with 25/34 MPG city/highway.

The most popular-selling new car model in Vermont in 2017 was the all-wheel drive Toyota Rav4, with 23/30 MPG city/highway.

The most popular-selling used vehicle model in Vermont in 2017 was the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, according to a study by Capturing 3.3% of all used vehicle sales in Vermont, the Silverado gets 16/22 MPG city/highway. It comes in both 4WD and 2WD, but the mileage difference between the two is minimal.

As for car companies, Jeep, Ram, and Subaru were Vermont’s top #1, #2, and #4 sellers respectively, according to the August 23, 2018 issue of Vermont Auto Outlook. (Ford ranked third.) Jeep, Ram and Subaru sell mostly 4WD/AWD vehicles with relatively low MPGs.

Vermonters prefer AWD/4WD transportation over compacts, even when they cost more to buy and fuel. The state’s most popular rides pass the “white knuckle test”: if you can drive in bad weather and your knuckles DON’T turn white, it passes. However, they would fail both the Trump EPA’s 37 MPG and, of course, the Obama EPA’s 47 MPG.

In fact, safety is the Trump EPA’s main reason for cutting car manufacturers some MPG slack. Getting to 47 MPG would require Detroit to build smaller cars with lighter materials. The new EPA standards are expected to save 12,700 lives through 2029, as well as billions of dollars of social costs incurred by death, injury and car damage.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Paxson Woelber and Page Communications

9 thoughts on “State Headliners: Vermonters prefer AWD/4WD transportation, despite lower MPG

  1. Guy,
    Some more comments regarding replacing E10 vehicles with EVs in New England.

    PNNL engineers (they are not energy gods, but hopefully people similar in education and experience to Hargraves, Angwin, Post, etc.) did studies on EVs and wind, and EVs flattening the daily demand curve. Just Google.

    Those studies are entirely dream scenarios, because all these EVs would have to be connected to the grid to help balance daily demand variations, plus balance the variations of wind and solar, if and when they intermittently show up.

    Using load duration curves, as these energy gods do, is an entirely inappropriate method of analysis (BTW, that would not be obvious to lay people). One has to use minute by minute, or 15 minute by 15 minute, grid data for analysis. ISO-NE publishes those data.

    My calculations are all about the basics of daily charging of the EVs, so people can get to work, etc.
    Never mind any gimmickry about balancing grids.

    Just the daily charging shows very significant increases in demand; 22213 MW, if charging is evenly distributed from 10 pm to 6 am; 7404 MW, if charging is evenly distributed over 24 hours.

    Just to orchestrate the even distribution of charging of many millions of vehicles would be a major effort.
    Just to provide the fuel (LNG at 3 times the price of domestic gas) for the new gas-fired generators would be a major effort.
    Just to provide the grid for supporting an increase in nighttime demand from 12000 MW to 32000 MW would be a major effort.
    Heat pumps and converting transport diesel and other transport fuels to EVs would be in addition.
    H-Q could not provide even 20%, on a 24/7/365 basis, of what is needed just for the LDV EVs.

  2. Guy,

    If Vermont were to replace ALL E10 light duty vehicles with EVs, the AVERAGE nighttime demand to charge them from 10 pm to 6 am would INCREASE by 1063 MW.

    If charging EVs were evenly occurring for 24 hours, the demand INCREASE would be 354 MW.

    Vermont would require 2.724 TWh/y of ADDITIONAL generation from gas turbines. That would be in ADDITION to the 6.000 TWh currently supplied to VT utilities.

    NOTE: The nighttime charging of EVs requires a reliable, steady electricity supply, not dependent on wind and sun, otherwise millions of people likely would not be able to get to work the next day.

    All of Vermont’s distribution and high voltage grids would be inadequate.

    Heat pumps, diesel to EVs, and other fuels to EVs would be impose an ADDITIONAL generation demand.

    NOTE: The turnkey capital cost of one TWh of storage system would be about 1 billion kWh x $400/kWh (as delivered to the HV grid) = $400 billion. Even as future battery costs would decrease, the rest of the turnkey system costs likely would not.

    NOTE: Wind and solar cannot ever be relied upon for electric service at 99.97% reliability, 24/7/365, year after year.
    On an AC-to-AC basis, up to 20% of any energy passing through storage is lost.
    Additional generation is required to make up for that loss.

    RE proponents in Massachusetts and New York are adamantly opposing additional gas lines to provide additional low-cost gas from Pennsylvania. They want to wean us off gas and nuclear to save the world. They say we have plans to temporarily import Russian and Middle East LNG at 3 times the price of domestic gas, until we build out wind and solar.

    RE proponents insist on saving the world by what would involve, during future decades:

    – Permanently ruining tens of thousands of acres of meadows for solar, plus
    – Permanently ruining hundreds of miles of pristine ridgeline for onshore wind, plus
    – At least a thousand square miles of expensive offshore wind, plus
    – Expanding the NE grid to double its capacity.

  3. Guy,
    You are absolutely right.

    78% of Vermonters buy PLUG in HYBRIDS, 22% buy EVs.

    Plug-in EV: Driving an EV in winter, with snow and ice, and hills, and dirt roads, and mud season, and at low temperature, say – 10 C, with the heat pumps heating the battery and the passenger cabin, would be very sluggish going, unless the EV had a large capacity, kWh, battery. The additional stress would cause increased battery aging and capacity loss.

    There are EVs, such as the Tesla Model S, $80,000-$100,000, with 85 – 100 kWh batteries, which offer road-clearance adjustment and all-wheel drive as options, but they are out of reach of almost all Vermonters.

    Plug-in Hybrid: Driving a plug-in hybrid in winter, such as a Toyota Prius Prime, 54 mpg, would be much better, but it does not have 4-wheel/all-wheel drive, a major drawback; the major reason I drive a Subaru Outback.

    Year; EV; Plug-in hybrids; Total
    2014 197 670 867
    2015 248 865 1113
    2016 330 1192 1522
    2017 381 1387 1768
    2018 may have 2100 total

    Tesla model S with two DC motors has 4-wheel drive and adjustable height as options for about
    $85000, and about $56000 for the model 3.

  4. Too bad Peter Welch has no interest in real issues facing us, like how the FBI duped the FISA court, which apparently was happy to be duped. Just like how the majority of Vermonters are willing to be duped by Welch and the gamut of autocratic leftists.

  5. Peter Welch is not concerned about Vermonters, ans never has been. He wants government to control our lives and that is something this state has never stood for. Time to vote him out.

  6. Well no duh,winter happens here and the state when it comes to plowing does a commensurate job for any government venture.

  7. I guess the Liberal fools and there Prius / Tesla must work pretty good in Vermont’s Winters,
    that run eight months a year……..sure !!

    I watch these fools try and drive in the winter ( No control ) stuck in a snow bank or some
    other clown with summer tires trying to make a hill.

    Vermont was made for Four Wheel Drive / All Wheel Drive.

  8. Nobody has ever complained about my low MPG, 4WD RAM 1500 when I’m pulling them out of a ditch because their ‘environmentally friendly’ vehicle failed to keep them on the road in northern VT.

  9. It’s almost as if Vermonters want to drive what is safe and practical in Vermont. Maybe the wackos who promote limiting our freedom should ride bikes in February.

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