By Eric Peters on 8.24.12 @ 6:07AM
This time, probably for good. And now even V-6s are in trouble.
V-8s are on the way out — again.
The first mass extinction occurred circa late 1970s/early ’80s, as a result of the first round of the government fuel economy edicts known by the acronym, CAFE — or Corporate Average Fuel Economy. CAFE mandated that cars (but not trucks) achieve an average of at least 22.5 MPG or else the automakers who continued to build such wastrels would be hit with “gas guzzler” fines, which they in turn would pass on to the consumer. This made the formerly commonplace full-frame, rear-drive (and V-8 powered) family car economically impossible — at least, given the technology of the late ’70s era.
So, they — mostly — disappeared.
V-8s (and mass-market large cars) made a comeback in the ’90s and through to the present day as technology — especially fuel injection and overdrive transmissions — made it possible to make the 22.5 MPG CAFE cut. Or at least, come close enough so that any “gas guzzler” fines were economically manageable. Even something as stunningly, obstreperously powerful as a 2012 Cadillac CTS-V — packing a 6.2 liter, 556 hp V-8 — can manage 19 MPG on the highway, thanks to the efficiency improvements of the past 20-something years.
But no technology in existence today — or on the horizon — will get the CTS-V or anything else with a V-8 under its hood close to the new CAFE mandatory minimum of 35.5 MPG, which goes into effect come 2016. That means — in all likelihood — that V-8 powered cars are about to go away again, this time probably for good.
In fact, the die-off is already happening.
Turbos — and superchargers — are seen as the only technically feasible way to match (or at least, come close to) the power/performance of V-8s while still making the CAFE cut.
Well, is all this actually bad?
That depends on your perspective.
From the perspective of the automakers, it’s good. Because it gets Uncle off their backs — at least, temporarily — and increases their profit margin, since they simply pass on the costs of the more expensive powertrains (including maintenance costs) to customers.
From our perspective, as consumers, it’s not such a good deal. We pay more up front — and while that will be somewhat mitigated by reduced fuel consumption, those savings may — and probably will be — swept away by down-the-road maintenance and repair costs. Smaller, higher-stressed engines tend not to last as long as larger, less stressed engines. A force-fed (turbocharged or supercharged) engine is not likely to be a trouble-free 150,000 mile engine. Maybe these new-generation turbo’d and supercharged engines are built tougher — and will last longer. Or at least, as long as a similarly powerful, but less stressed, V-8. We’ll see. If they don’t, look out. Replacing a turbo on a late model car is typically a $2,000-plus job. Many of these CAFE-engineered new cars have two of them.
Of course, Obama — and the next Dear Leader — will still get to drive around in cars powered by big V-8s that get far less than 35.5 MPG…with the gas bill paid by taxpayers.
And that’s just the way they want it.
Read the entire article at The American Spectator: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/08/24/goodbye-v-8s-the-engines-that/