About a week ago, amidst all the sound and fury that was the "compromise and collaboration" on the U.S. debt plan, our president made an announcement: The target for new cars will be 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That's quite a leap from the current standards that require automakers to achieve 35.5 mpg by 2016. It's just about the distance between a 1993 Saturn station wagon and a 2006 Toyota Prius.
I mention this connection because it is precisely the point where my family and I find ourselves here in 2011. After struggling through the various stages of grief, we were finally able to bid our golden steed adieu and move on to what would become our next family car. The fact that these stages included an additional process by which we had to mourn the fact that my son's first car was so very rudely taken out of the automotive food chain without any prior consultation. This is some measure of relief for him, since he can return to that happy place where he can own any car, foreign or domestic, regardless of price, insurance or miles per gallon.
His mother, meanwhile, continues to squeal, literally, with delight as the display on the dashboard of our new hybrid tells us that we are averaging somewhere close to fifty miles per gallon on our trips over hill and dale. I worry that this screen could provide dangerous distraction as we drive alternately spend and generate energy via mechanisms we are only beginning to comprehend. The notion of driving from Oakland to Los Angeles on a single tank of gas has become a reality. That sound you hear is my wife swooning. All the while, I have suddenly become hyper-aware of the number of Prii on the highways and byways around me. Kind of like the way I have always been able to spot another pair of high top Converse from a hundred yards away.
I'm getting a couple hundred miles a pair from my Chuck Taylor All-Stars. I'm pretty sure they're hybrids too.