By Elvis L. Hoffpauir, MACS president and COO
When I got into the mobile air conditioning business back in 1979, our industry was in the midst of a PR campaign. The goal was to educate consumers that “windows up, A/C on” was a practical and economical alternative to speeding along the highway with all the windows down, which emulated the effect of popping the chute to slow a dragster at the end of a quarter mile run. (By the way, the cost of a gallon of gas was 86 cents back then.)
We may have to dust off that old PR campaign and trot it out again. Regulators here in the U.S. and around the world are again focused on the effect of mobile A/C operation on tailpipe emissions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld might say. I believe we all have a stake in resource conservation and fighting pollution. But I do worry that sometimes we convince ourselves to do all the wrong things for all the right reasons.
Regulators have taken on the daunting challenge of developing a common global industry test procedure to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions related to mobile A/C usage. A single worldwide testing standard is certainly preferable to a hodgepodge of approaches, but given the complexities and variables associated with the task, I can’t help thinking that the final standard will have more asterisks and footnotes than a book on sports records when the truth comes out about all the athletes who doped for their game.
The real rub comes if the process generates mpg numbers for consumer comparison. If those numbers are expressed in terms of an A/C “penalty,” without the discussion of offsetting factors from rolling the windows down (mpg penalty from drag, avoiding the “bouquet” of diesel fumes and pulp mills, rain on your shoulder, bugs in your face and gangsta-rap in your ears, courtesy of a fellow commuter who also has the windows down and the sound cranked up), the consumer may be led to do the wrong thing for the right reason. And seriously, one of the major pluses for A/C is the factor of safety for both the driver and all the other drivers who share the road. The cool, dry cabin environment helps to reduce driver fatigue and promote alertness.
It’s comforting that the world’s top engineers and most influential regulators were convened in Phoenix in July 2010 to address this issue. As the sessions concluded on Thursday, July 15, 2010 the ambient temperature was 114 degrees F. When we all hopped into cars and headed to the airport for the trip home – the windows were up, the A/C was on.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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You can E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://bit.ly/cf7az8 to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit http://bit.ly/9FxwTh to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.
The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.