Mileage, Shmileage — What About the Cup Holders?
DaimlerChrysler has unveiled a new 72-mpg diesel-electric hybrid sedan with a lightweight plastic body, but it has no plans to sell the car. The concept vehicle, the Dodge ESX3, would be priced at $28,500 — $7,500 more than a comparable, conventional Dodge Intrepid sedan — were it ever to hit the showrooms. DaimlerChrysler argues that there’s not much market in the U.S. for fuel-efficient cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists criticized the ESX3 for using diesel, which causes more air pollution than conventional gasoline even though it burns more efficiently. The car is a product of a joint government-industry program formed in 1993 — the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles — under which American automakers agreed to develop affordable, safe, and practical family sedans that get 80 mpg by 2004. Some enviros criticize the expensive program because it does not actually require automakers to bring clean cars to market.