GM’s $9,800 Car . . . The One We’re Not Allowed to Buy

Sail leadEric Peters Auto – by Eric

How much is the EPA and DOT costing you?

One way to quantify this is to consider a car GM builds – but which you can’t buy. Well, not unless you move outside the United States – and beyond the diktats and fatwas of the EPA and DOT.

It is called the Sail – and GM makes it in China. It retails for 60,000 yuan – equivalent to about $9,800 in “federal” reserve notes.  

Demand for the car is so great that GM plans to increase its exports of the Sail to countries like Chile and Ecuador by nearly 70 percent, according to a recent Reuters article (see here).

It just won’t be exported here.

And why?Sail inside

Those two federal agencies mentioned at the beginning of this story. These unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies have made it illegal – a criminal offense – to sell you a car like the Sail. Which, by the way, is neither primitive nor pathetic. The most recent design is a modern and aesthetically appealing sedan or five-door hatchback wagon with a Corvette-inspired “dual cockpit” dash layout. The car has AC, power windows, power door mirrors and a modern stereo with Bluetooth wireless and music streaming. It even has a leather-wrapped steering wheel.Sail 2

It would look at home on any road – and in any garage – in the Western world.

But what really sets the car apart is what’s under its hood. There, you would (if you could buy the Sail) find a high-efficiency 1.4 liter, 101 hp engine or (if you were allowed to choose) 1.2 liter, 85-hp engine that averages 41.2 MPG – easily meeting the 35.5 MPG fuel economy fatwaissued by the Feds, which goes into effect just two model years from now (2016). There is also a 1.3 liter turbo-diesel engine (Fiat-sourced!) on the roster of options.sail engine

It does even better.

Imagine that: A 40 MPG-plus car that costs less than $10,000 and which isn’t a flimsy/shoddy latter-day Yugo, either. It’s not the quickest thing on wheels – depending on the engine, zero to 60 takes 12-15 seconds – but it’s certainly adequate for A to B commuting and general knocking around. It’s only slightly less quick than a Prius C, hybrid – which takes about 11.3 seconds to get to 60 (and costs almost $20,000).

Unfortunately (for American car buyers) the Sail does not pass muster with currentEPA emissions and DOT safety requirements.

Hence, it cannot be sold here.

But it is neither “unsafe” – nor “dirty.”Sail EPA

The Sail would probably meet the EPA/DOT standards in effect circa 1990 – by which time new cars were so “clean” that only about 5 percent of what came out of the tailpipe was other than water vapor and carbon dioxide (an inert gas that has nothing to do with the formation of smog). Since that time, the EPA has pursued a policy of diminishing returns by insisting that the remaining 5 percent of the exhaust stream that’s not water vapor and C02 be “controlled.” Instead of a $200 catalytic converter, a $70 oxygen sensor and a $500 throttle body fuel injection system – which cleaned up 90 percent of the exhaust – it’s $500 a piece for for multiple close-coupled cats, $2,000 for direct gas injection (and so on) to get a 1 percent (if that) additional reduction.Sail obamacar

But that’s not the way it’s presented to the public. EPA will instead say that its newest mandate will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” Which istechnically true. But what EPA never tells you is that they mean 50 percent off the remaining 3-5 percent of tailpipe emissions that are not yet “controlled.” In other words, a fractional reduction – at ever-increasing cost to consumers. But that doesn’t sound as good as saying the new edict will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” So it’s not said.

It’s a similar story with regard to DOT “safety” edicts.Sail Metro

Probably, the Sail would be ok if it only had to meet the “safety” standards that were in effect circa 1990. It is after all about the same size and weight as a Geo Metro of that era. Was the Metro a deathtrap? Hundreds of thousands of people drove them without suffering so much as a stubbed toe. But it would be hugely illegal for GM to try to sell the 1990 Metro today. Just as it is illegal for GM to try to sell the Sail today.

To us, that is.Sail Benz

The fact of the matter is that almost any car sold in this country as recently as five years ago would likely not pass muster with current “safety” requirements. Go back ten years and none would make the cut. Think about that. A model year 2003 S-Class Mercedes sedan would be considered “unsafe”   . . . by currentstandards. But was it actually unsafe? Of course not. And neither was a 1993 S-Class Benz.

Like so many – like all – agencies of state coercion, there “ain’t no end to doin’ right” – as the rabid Union cavalry officer put it in the classic film, The Outlaw Josey Wales. It just won’t do to admit that the job has been done. Cars are clean enough – and “safe” enough. Our job is done. Time to find productive work.

No, of course not. EPA and DOT continue to metastacize  – their staffs and budgets always increasing, their edicts and fatwas becoming ever-more-onerous, ever-more-absurd, ever-more-expensive.

And that’s why GM can’t sell you a $9,800 (and 41.2 MPG) Sail.

Throw it in the Woods?

13 thoughts on “GM’s $9,800 Car . . . The One We’re Not Allowed to Buy

  1. First off,This article is very misleading and deceptive on it face. What’s left of the united States does not need nor should even consider any further importation of communist chinese goods into this country!!! I don’t care how cheap or impressive the product, NO MORE CHINESE GARBAGE.

    We have been so debilitated by the constant selling out of our country that now we lament that we can’t import a slave-manufactured car because the big, bad ‘govement’ won’t let us have it. What a laugh!!!! What stupidity…..

    General motors (GM) sold out the American worker long ago and is responsible for much of the destruction of Detroit, Michigan. They further disgraced themselves when after accepting taxpayer bailout monies of $49.5 billion ( see>>>, closed down their remaining manufacturing plants in the U.S. and has off-shored 90%+ of their production to china.

    If this government had ever cared about the people of this country, GM would have never been bailed out as they were, but encouraged, to relocate its operations in china.

    Don’t but into their lies!

    1. I think you missed the point. This car can be produced this cheaply in the USA – IF the USG didn’t tax and regulate the price into the stratosphere. There’s no use in pitching a hissy fit against China; they’re only producing the car for GM.
      The definition of an Elephant: a mouse built to government specifications.

      1. You need to learn how to read, this has nothing to do with taxes. It doesn’t meet EPA and DOT safety standards. That’s why it isn’t sold here.

  2. Poor America, if it hasn’t got a fuel tank the size of a hangar and the thirst of a artic lorry then its not seemly to be driving anything less and these decisions are made for you and removing choice all the way so you are forced to drive them yee-hah gas guzzlers and with oil prices becoming hard to keep on subsidising… There be trouble ahead.

    India however is capitalising thoroughly on the microcar and three wheelers, a company called SIL produces some very good utility three wheelers and there are probably more Tuk Tuk rickshaws out there than other makes combined, small is the way forward and the US giants are refusing to see this.

    In Asia the two wheeled vehicle is everywhere, with Chinese companies able to churn out electric or petrol scooters for a few hundred dollars brand new, scooters doing 150 mpg and capable of taking two people with little effort, a third class drive is always better than a first class walk anyday and over here in the UK, as seen in other times of recession and austerity, scooter riding and the hey dey of the Vespa has come back into vogue.

    I own two Vespa’s, a 1985 MotoVespa T5 which is customised and a very sturdy, excellently built Bajaj Vespa derivative which has given me 4 years unbroken, daily driving. Both machines give me 120mpg, can 0-60 in under 10 seconds and being 2 stroke are incredibly simple to maintain.

    I also own a Reliant Robin MKII, Reliant was the last British hand built car until it went bust recent years, Reliants were for the most part very light three wheel cars but had the space of a older classic Mini, you can get 4 people plus the shopping in a Reliant, 75mpg, 90mph+, built as a chassis’d vehicle like Triumphs and Jaguars, no rust and incredibly reliable engines, when the brown stuff hits the van again I would rather have a third class drive than a first class walk.


  4. I’m not defending the EPA requirements, but they could easily make a car meet USA standards and sell it for the same price. Cars are priced according to what the manufacturers think the market will bear. If people stopped buying them, the price would drop real fast.

    Same with gas. As soon as the demand slows down the price drops.

  5. I have owned 3 GM cars in Canada. In all 3 the gas gauge did not work correctly. The might as well put a big question mark in the space for the gas gauge.
    I have also had the Uplander “heater experience” which resulted in 2 thousand dollar addition to the cost of my trip. For those who don’t know about this – an air bubble develops at around 70,000KM. When it gets to the water pump the pump does not circulate water correctly – causing overheating.
    The solution is to point the car uphill about 30 degrees and rev like crazy until it “burbs”. This is after the mechanic has changed every part he can think of changing.
    No more GM for me.

  6. I’ve owned a bunch of GM pickups: 1951, ’54, ’55, ’65, and 1980 and they were all good. The ’80 half ton would haul 2 tons of rock no problem, and go 130 miles an hour on Montana freeways back in the day with a normal load. 🙂

    I agree with the first comment above though. No Chinese junk for me.

  7. Kind ‘a weak article. Lots of grousing, but also lots of dancing around the facts, and lots of vagueness. We do have standards for safety, and those standards keep a number of cars cheaper than this out of the US, including ones from India and China. Instead of moaning about not being able to buy a cheap piece of junk, why not whine about Congress giving tax credits to companies that send good paying jobs overseas, and the working families who can no longer afford any new car, no matter how cheap?

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