Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Fuelishness Feed: FastSkinz Fail; The NEW Pumped-Up Prius; 10,561 MPG Econo-Coffin; Tata’s Start-Stop – Sound Familiar?

  • Popular Mechanics Tests FastSkinz Car Wrap: Essentially, in our test, we found no real fuel-economy improvement from the Fastskinz MPG-Plus wrap. And if you trust Ford’s MPG displays, the Fastskinz Flex actually delivered slightly worse fuel economy on our loop. So two identical vehicles, on an identical route at identical speeds, with the same drivers, on the same day, returned nearly the same fuel economy. Where did MPG-Plus go wrong?
     
  • The New Toyota Prius Has 22% More Power: At the same time overall fuel economy has been improved by 10 per cent, new Prius returning 72.4mpg in combined cycle driving. The adoption of a larger, 1.8-litre engine reduces the rpm during high-speed driving to give a 10 per cent gain in long-haul cruising fuel efficiency. And with more torque produced at lower engine speeds, new Prius offers more relaxed cruising performance, too.
     
  • 10,561 Miles Per Gallon: But there are a few drawbacks. You would have to drive lying on your back in a space no bigger than a coffin.
     
  • Tata Motors — Stop-Start Technology good for 6-10% Better Fuel Efficiency: Market sources indicate that now Tata Motors has the technology it can be extended to its other range of products like passenger vehicles and trucks . In a ‘stop-start’ technology, the vehicle’s ECU (electronically controlled unit) is so programmed that after 10 seconds of it recognising that the engine is on but idle, it automatically switches off the engine. 


Fuelishness! Feed: The axles of evil; Fuel injected motorcycles; Nissan’s improved fuel-efficiency; Toyota says Prius achieves highest fuel efficiency for gasoline cars

  • The axles of evil: Absent $4 gasoline, customers, those nuisances with their insufferable preferences, do not want the vehicles the politicians want them to want, even with manufacturers now offering large rebates and other incentives… 
      
  •  Fuel Injection in motorcycles: Since it is intelligent to use the fuel the Fuel Efficiency of the motorcycle is increased than the carb ones. And also fuel injection helps to deliver good power even in high altitude regions… 
     
  • Nissan’s improved fuel-efficiency models to offer major tax breaks : Nissan Motor Co. will soon release seven vehicle models with improved fuel efficiency, measures that qualify them for major tax breaks…
     
  • Toyota says Prius achieves highest fuel efficiency for gasoline carsToyota Motor Corp. claimed Friday its new Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car to be launched in mid-May has achieved the world’s highest fuel efficiency of 38 kilometers per liter, an improvement of some 7 percent from the current Prius.


Obama Administration’s New Fuel Economy Standards Sued as Too Weak

The Center for Biological Diversity,  an organization of “biodiversity activists” who are keen to use the courts to help “protect the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive” – have appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the Obama administration’s new few standards for 2011 are violating federal law.

The Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards for 2011 vehicles, the first industry wide increase in miles-per-gallon requirements since the mid-1980s, were challenged in court Thursday by an environmental group, which said the rules are too weak and still don’t consider the impact of emissions on global warming.

The standards, announced last Friday by the Department of Transportation, would boost average fuel economy requirements to 27.3 mpg for all vehicles, up by 2 mpg from 2010 models. Passenger cars would have to reach 30.2 mpg and light trucks 24.1 mpg.

Some environmental groups have said the new standards are a small step in the right direction, but the Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday they’re actually weaker than the requirements that the Bush administration proposed last year for 2011 vehicles…

Our fuel economy standards have been nearly flat since the early 1980’s – while modern engines are more efficient than older models (fuel injection vs. carburetors is a simple example),  cars and trucks have become bigger and more powerful, and actual fuel mileage – miles per gallon – has not increased. 

…The group asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the administration violated a federal law requiring that fuel economy standards be set at the maximum feasible level, in light of current technology, economic impact, and the nation’s need to conserve energy. The same court ruled in a similar lawsuit in 2007 that the Bush administration’s fuel standards for light trucks and SUVs for the 2008 through 2011 model years were invalid…

Given the existing “climate of chaos” gripping the government, it’s unlikely that this appeal will make many ripples. The problem is not enough time to do the various impact studies and set the standards based on those findings – while still  giving the struggling manufacturers time to retool and implement the needed technologies. 

…The administration “cooked the books to conclude the maximum fuel efficiency level the United States can achieve in 2011 is the lowest in the world,” Siegel said.

Critics of Obama’s “Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” pointed out early that the members of the task force generally seem a little out of touch with the importance of improved fuel economy – another example of this administration’s disappointing “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the subject of energy efficiency.



Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 3: What is cellulosic ethanol; Algae Farming; Most Efficient Way to Travel 350 Miles

  • What is cellulosic ethanol and how does it fit with green cars? : There is a lot of controversy surrounding biofuels. Various studies have shown that crop-based biofuels contribute to global warming more than they help prevent it, that ethanol is no better than gasoline, and that South East Asian rainforests are suffering for biofuels, to name just three. The most dramatic recent claim was that ethanol was the worst type of renewable energy.
      
  • Algae Sizzle and Algae Steak : Bionavitas “Light Rod” idea called Light Immersion Technology that looks like a giant tapered optical fiber that places light at depth into algae cultures. Ingenious as ideas go, with a near stunning amount of coverage on Wednesday the idea might get some financial and research legs. What has been left out is the details about the light. The photos seem to leave out the top of the rod or fiber or just show a shaft, whose top area sets the amount of light; no matter how deep it is distributed. The idea solves a problem in algae culturing, getting light deep so that the culture isn’t just a thin layer at the sunlit surface.
      
  • How Many Gallons of Fuel Does it Take to Travel 350 Miles? : GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Robert A. Di Leso, Jr., explores fuel use by various modes of transportation. In what is essentially a fancied up bar chart, we see how many gallons of fuel it takes for a passenger to travel 350 miles by cruise ship, Amtrak, Boeing 737, Sedan, hybrid, etc. A couple of non-fuel modes of transportation are included as well using caloric conversions. It’ll take about 48 Whoppers with cheese to walk 350 miles. Good to know, especially since I was planning on walking 350 miles today. Totally kidding. I’m walking 360. Like a circle.


Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 2: Plug-In Charging Stations; Mille Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle; Omnivore Concept Engine

  • Raleigh, N.C. to Install Plug-in Hybrid Charging Stations : Like the San Francisco-based program, drivers will access the charging stations through key-cards. In Raleigh, this means simple credit card access at a cost of about 2.5 cents per mile, while the SF-based program uses chargers provided by Coulomb Technologies at no cost, but are only available to members of the car-sharing programs City CarShare and Zipcar.
     
  • Miller Industries Adds Eaton Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle To Fleet : The debut of the colorful white and green vehicle as part of Miller’s 12-truck fleet at the famed Daytona International Speedway was so successful that Miller announced plans to have it added to the company’s fleet of race recovery vehicles that will be operating throughout 2009. Miller supplies race recovery trucks for a large number of NASCAR events.
     
  • Geneva Preview: Lotus to unveil Omnivore concept engine : The Omnivore is specifically designed to take advantage of varying fuels and modern electronic control capabilities. Like most research engines, this is a single cylinder design that allows the Lotus engineers to more quickly make changes and study the effects. This is also a two-stroke design with an air assisted direct injection system provided by Orbital Corporation of Australia. Those interested in two-strokes may remember Orbital from the early nineties when a number of manufacturers were investigating two-stroke engines. The concept engine uses a mono-block layout with a single hunk of metal comprising the cylinder block and head and no poppet valves. Instead the ports are exposed by the piston’s motion. Variations in timing between intake and exhaust are achieved by valve in the exhaust port that traps the exhaust.


Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 1: Cellulosic Ethanol in NY; GM’s Fuel Economy Estimates Drop; A Turbo For Every Car

  • Mascoma Begins Cellulosic Ethanol Production in New York : Mascoma Corporation has begun producing cellulosic ethanol from non-food biomass at its demonstration facility in Rome, New York. Mascoma’s Consolidated Bioprocessing (CBP) process consists of a mild pretreatment followed by the introduction of cellulose-utilizing and ethanol-fermenting microbes that both hydrolyze and ferment the sugars into ethanol.
     
  • GM’s Future Fuel Economy Estimates Drop in New Federal Aid Application : Citing the possibility of an ongoing increase in sales of larger, less-efficient cars and trucks as one factor, General Motors Corp. has revised its future average fuel economy numbers sharply downward in its most recent application for federal aid.
     
  • Popular Mechanics: 5 TurboCharger Innovations for Fuel Efficiency and Power : In the 1980s, it was difficult to escape the turbocharger. The twin energy crises of the 1970s forced automakers to produce cars that delivered better fuel economy. And that meant downsizing engines. By the 1980s, turbo technology was evolving and automakers installed them to boost the power of these smaller engines. But turbos promised more than just power—they promised fuel economy benefits too.turbo


Fuelishness! Feed: $81,400,836,908 For a Tank of Gas?, Obama Declares War on Oil, Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus

February 27, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, Fuelishness!, Governments, Oil Industry · Comment 
  • Your gas tank’s full; that’ll be $81,400,836,908 : When a commuter pulled into a gas station in Richland, Wash., to fill up the tank of his 1994 Camaro on Tuesday, he thought the $90 he had on his PayPal debit card would easily cover the $26 bill…The transaction, Juan Zamora told the newspaper, was recorded as $81,400,836,908.
     
  • Obama’s budget upsets oil and gas industries : President Barack Obama’s first budget wallops the oil and gas industry by eliminating $31.5 billion in tax breaks while blaming the administration of former President George W. Bush for perpetuating the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels… “I am just absolutely flabbergasted,” said Houston oilman Bruce Vincent, vice chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “It’s like putting a dagger in the heart of the oil and gas industry in America. If you actually did all these things, it would kill the industry.”
     
  • Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus : How about one that’ll create at least a million jobs, give our economy a multitrillion-dollar boost, make our nation energy-secure and won’t cost us a penny? • $8.2 trillion in additional GDP. • $2.2 trillion in total new state and federal tax revenues. • 1.2 million new jobs at high wages. • $70 billion in added wages to the economy each year.


Fuelishness! Feed: Plug-In Tax Credits; Reducing Travel Intensity; Chu Doesn’t Know What to Do; The Electric Car Re-Thought

  • Stimulus Bill Provides Major Increase in Plug-in Vehicle Purchase Credit Program : Under current law, a credit is available for each new qualified fuel cell vehicle, hybrid vehicle, advanced lean burn technology vehicle, and alternative fuel vehicle placed in service by a taxpayer during the taxable year. In general, the credit amount varies based on technology, weight, fuel efficiency, and other factors. The credit generally is available for vehicles purchased after 2005. The credit terminates after 2009, 2010, or 2014, depending on the type of vehicle. The alternative motor vehicle credit is not allowed against the alternative minimum tax.
     
  • Two Studies on Regional Options for Reducing GHG Highlight Need for Reduction in Travel Intensity : Achieving targeted regional reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector will require concentrated efforts to change travel behavior and reduce vehicle miles travelled in addition to advances in vehicle technology and fuels, according to two recent studies.
     
  • As OPEC Prepares to Meet, Chu Focuses on U.S. Energy : Energy Secretary Steven Chu — whose agency has long taken the lead on global oil-market policy — said Thursday he doesn’t know what the Obama administration would urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to do at its meeting next month.
     
  • Better Place – Electric Recharge Grid Operator : Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of “smart” charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan—unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go—all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They’d buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes. [ Video : 33min


Fuelishness! Feed: Airlines Finds Biofuel More Efficient; Curtailing Ethanol Carbon Loss; Pryolysis-Gasification of Bio-Mass; Venezuela heading for collapse.

February 10, 2009 · Filed Under Ethanol, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Oil Industry, Twitter · Comment 
  • Earlier in the month Continental Airlines completed a test flight using biofuels, and now a few weeks later Japan Airlines has joined a (slowly) expanding number of airlines trying to green their fuel usage. The fuel used was a mixture of jatropha oil, algae oil, and camelina oil (the first time that feedstock has been employed in a jet fuel). 
     
  • Scientists at Michigan State University are finding ways to curtail carbon loss when transforming plant waste into ethanol…“These results demonstrate that bio-energy cropping systems, particularly those integrating livestock manure into their management scheme, are a win-win option on both alternative energy and environmental fronts,” Thelen said. “Under proper management, livestock manure can replace carbon lost from corn stover removal and actually provide an environmental benefit, both in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation and the improved soil properties associated with increasing (soil carbon) levels, such as increased water retention.”
     
  • Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) think they have a winner with Bioliq, a fuel produce by pyrolysis-gasification processing of wood, straw, or other substances. They are constructing a pilot plant, to be completed in 2012. process to create relatively affordable biofuels out of common plant wastes, such as waste wood. They hope the technology will yield fuel that costs €0.50 a liter or $2.49/gallon USD.
     
  • The collapse in oil prices has hit OPEC nations hard, but perhaps none more so than Venezuela.  Hugo Chavez apparently put more of his profits into his socialization programs than in paying contractors for their work.  Now they have stopped working altogether as Chavez has no money to pay their past-due notices, which will curtail production just when Chavez needs it most…


Fuelishness! Rated at “Blogged” – Add Your Rating

February 5, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic.com, Fuelishness! · Comment 

Fuelishness! Fuel Economy Blog was recently reviewed at “Blogged” – a website where blog are reviewed by an editor on several criteria including frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design, and writing style.

“The blogs in our database are reviewed, rated, and categorized by editors, so you won’t experience the frustration of filtering through blogs that are spam, outdated, or irrelevant. You’ll be able to find quality blogs that you would be unlikely to have found through a traditional blog search. “

blogged_fuelclinic

Blogged is a good place to find quality blogs you may not have run across yet. If you enjoy Fuelishness!, please consider clicking thru and adding your own review.



Fuelishness! Feed: Green Themed Truck Show, CARB Targets Plug-In’s, Audi’s Clean Diesel, Plug-In Prius Gets 65MPG

February 2, 2009 · Filed Under Fuelishness! · Comment 
  • Green theme returns to 2009 Work Truck ShowDay one starts with the return of the “Green Truck Summit: The Future of Hybrids and Alternative Fuels,” an educational event meant to show fleet managers and others how environmentally-friendly products and practices can make a positive impact.
     
  • First it Killed the Electric Car; Now CARB Goes After Plug-in Hybrids: Proving once again that CARB is a political machine with something more than “clean air” in its agenda, the board is set to deal a punishing, bureaucratic body-blow to startup companies like 3 Prong Power and A123 Systems.
     
  • Audi’s Clean Diesel A3 TDI Coming To The US: The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine spits out 140 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. Last Fall, at the Audi Mileage Marathon, the A3 averaged about 45 mpg over a 4,000 mile journey.
     
  • Why Do Freeways Come to an Annoying Hault? This is a simple, good infographic that seeks to explain why traffic on freeways slows to a crawl without any apparent reason to drivers.  By Stephen J. Beard and Rich Exner in The Plain Dealer.

freeways

  • Toyota: Plug-in Prius returning 65 mpg in testingAccording to Toyota, its plug-in Prius hybrids are averaging 65 miles per gallon in real world testing. This is an improvement of 15 mpg over the recently-unveiled 2010 Prius. The secret to the big fuel mileage increase is a battery with the capacity to store much more energy than the unit in the standard Prius.


Is Ford the “Greenest American” Car Maker?

The Ford Motor Company isn’t looking for a handout – they’ve managed to keep their business running the old fashioned way, they’ve kept their finger on the pulse of American car buyers.

Years ago they developed a “sustainability” plan, long before it was a political topic. Near-term elements of Ford’s sustainability plan include improving today’s gasoline engines to make them more fuel efficient with reduced emissions:

  • The Ford Fusion is now America’s most fuel efficient mid-size sedan for both hybrid and conventional gasoline models 
  • The four-cylinder Ford Fusion S is now certified at 34 mpg highway and 23 mpg in the city, topping the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord 
  • The new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrids deliver up to 41 miles per gallon in the city – eight miles per gallon better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. In addition, the base Fusion with its 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission is EPA certified with best-in-class fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway 
  • The Ford Focus with its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission delivers 35 mpg on the highway, 5 mpg better than Toyota Corolla’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 2 mpg better than Honda Fit’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, both also with manual transmissions 
  • The all-new 2009 Ford F-150 – which is Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year – achieves 3 mpg more than the Toyota Tundra pickup on the highway and 1 mpg better in the city with its 4.6-liter V-8 engine, compared to Toyota’s 4.7-liter V-8. The F-150’s larger 5.4-liter V-8 achieves 2 mpg better on the highway than the facing Tundra engine 
  • The 2009 Ford Escape with its new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission achieves 28 mpg on the highway, the same as Toyota’s RAV4 and 1 mpg better than the Honda CR-V, both with 4-cylinder engines, too 
  • The Ford Expedition achieves 20 mpg on the highway, beating both of the Toyota Sequoia’s V-8 engines by as much as 3 mpg on the highway

And Ford’s plans for the near future:

  • A new battery electric commercial van in 2010 
  • A new battery electric small car in 2011 to be developed jointly with Magna International 
  • Next-generation hybrid vehicles, including a plug-in version in 2012 

Some other links to Ford documents with additional information about the their plans and progress:

What do you think – has Ford proven itself to be the Most American Car Maker?

The Greenest American Car Maker?



Congress Plans to Block ANWR Forever

January 31, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Oil Industry · Comment 

A few weeks ago, Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska issued a statement  after members of Congress introduced a bill to permanently prohibit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

Governor Palin writes she is “dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America – the coastal plain of ANWR, in Alaska”…

…”Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America.”

She made the following points, among others…

* Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.

* ANWR sits within a 20 million acre refuge (the size of South Carolina) but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a two-by-three-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.

* Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.

* Federal revenues from ANWR – cash bids, leases, and oil taxes – would help reduce the multi-trillion dollar national debt, and we’d circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.

What do you think:

  • Is this political payback time?
  • Is banning (forever) drilling in ANWR smart for the country or economy?
  • How does banning drilling in ANWR help America?


Two Quick Updates: Curse of the “”, Curse of the “HHO Ads”

January 29, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic.com, Fuelishness! · Comment 

Two quick blog-related updates:

  • I apologise for the strange little “” characters popping up in some of the older posts on the blog. Apparently during a recent WordPress update, the character set of the database was also changed, and in some cases this caused “” and other odd characters to be created where before they were tabs, or em-dashes, or whatever. I’ll be cleaning them up over the next few weeks.
     
  • I’ve added an “advertising policy” page that explains a very important point about certain types of ads I’m trying to limit, why you might still see them on this site, and why those ads do not infer any kind of endorsement on our part. 

If you have any questions about either, please leave a comment and I will answer you.



Fuelishness! Feed – Who will buy green cars, Geothermal energy, more…

I’ve recently found a good source of links to main stream energy-related commentary and opionions at the OpinionSource.com website.  This edition of Fuelishness! Feed will include some of the best discussion material from the past few weeks.

  • NYT Op-Ed: But who will drive them? …with gas below $2 a gallon and recession-ravaged consumers hanging tight to their wallets, even the cheaper hybrids have to compete with cars that run on boring old internal combustion engines. The Prius was the flavor of the month when gas prices soared to $4. But in December, Prius sales plummeted 45 percent compared with the same month a year earlier — more than the 36 percent drop in all car sales…
     
  •  Honda Unveils a Cheaper Hybrid Challenger to Toyota’s Top-Selling Prius – It is smaller and less fuel efficient than the Prius, but it is expected to sell for as little as $18,000, about $4,000 less than the Prius. “It’s the first direct competitor to the Prius,” said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at the Power Information Network of J. D. Power & Associates. “And it’s from Honda, so I think it’s going to be a major success.”
     
  • WaTimes Commentary: Oil and the economic crisis –  Saudi Arabia said recently that oil prices should be at $75 per barrel, an idea other OPEC members have welcomed with enthusiasm. So when the group met recently, it decided to reduce output again, this time by more than 2 million barrels daily. However, the Saudis clearly did not want to assume all the reduction and insisted other producers, including Iran and Venezuela, not only approve the new cuts, but also implement them, which will lead to additional pressure on Venezuela’s already dwindling export volumes.
     
  • ABG: First stage of Nevada algae biodiesel completed successfully –  Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have been testing a pair of outdoor algae ponds to evaluate the viability of growing fuel algae in the region. The first phase was a success with algae growing in a pair of 5,000 gallon ponds even with overnight temperatures in the 20s.
     
  • NYT Op-Ed: Geothermal future – [Can we replace coal with geothermal plants? -ed.] In 2006, a panel led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology surveyed the prospects for electricity production from enhanced geothermal systems. Its conclusions were conservative but very optimistic. The panel suggested that with modest federal support, geothermal power could play a critical role in America’s energy future, adding substantially to the nation’s store of renewable energy and more than making up for coal-burning power plants that would have to be retired. 

As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated.



Obama orders push to cleaner, more efficient cars

 

Barack Obama speaking at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.

Some encouraging news earlier today…

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama opened an ambitious, double-barreled assault on global warming and U.S. energy woes Monday, moving quickly toward rules requiring cleaner-running cars that guzzle less gas — a must, he said, for “our security, our economy and our planet.”

He also vowed to succeed where a long line of predecessors had failed in slowing U.S. dependence on foreign oil…

…Obama directed federal transportation officials to get going on new fuel efficiency rules, which will affect cars produced and sold for the 2011 model year. That step was needed to enforce a 2007 energy law, which calls for cars and trucks to be more efficient every year, to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

While I have worked very hard over the last 8 months to help users improve fuel efficiency, and strongly support higher efficiency standards (it’s a disgrace that fuel efficiency for modern vehicles is basically unchanged from those of the early 1980’s), I am concerned about the potential confusion of having each state able to set their own standards for vehicle emissions, and so are the automakers…

The auto industry responded warily. Reducing planet-warming emissions is a great idea, car makers and dealers said, but they expressed deep concern about costly regulations and conflicting state and federal rules at a time when people already are not buying cars. U.S. auto sales plunged 18 percent in 2008.

And industry analysts said the changes could cost consumers thousands of dollars — for smaller, “greener” cars.

Obama on Monday directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether California and more than a dozen states should be allowed to impose tougher auto emission standards on car makers to fight greenhouse gas emissions. The Bush administration had blocked the efforts by the states, which account for about half of the nation’s auto sales

We have a national auto-industry, not state-specific cottage industries. Our auto makers need to be able to efficiently build automobiles that can be sold anywhere in the country. America simply does not have “time or money” to mitigate a jumbled quagmire of new emissions regulations for the automakers. We need to act more quickly.  

Instead of creating a confusing new collection of tighter tail-pipe emission standards, maintaining the current established emissions standards while increasing fuel efficiency standards will have a greater and more immediate effect – creating and securing jobs, saving consumers after-tax money (which is an economic-stimulus method that works), cutting fuel consumption (and foreign oil dependence), and cutting emissions more aggressively – without cumbersome tailpipe testing.  

This approach will also reduce the engineering costs by allowing automakers to focus all their talents on improving fuel efficiency, so they can create automobiles that are competitive with the higher-mileage imports,  instead of trying to improve efficiency while also managing to meet a variety of emissions-only regulations. 

At the same time, Obama should hold American automakers to their promise of building-in the Flex-Fuel components needed to “future-proof” these new vehicles, to allow consumers to have a choice to take advantage of the growing alternative fuels market. These systems add very little to the cost of building a new car (about $100/ea. is the last estimate I’ve heard), are well-proven (they’ve been around for 10 years or so), and empower drivers to reduce their own emissions even further by choosing to use alcohol-blended fuels.

I also suggest shifting the impetus for new efficiency standards from global warming for the time being, and concentrate on economic and security related benefits of higher fuel efficiency standards. Regardless of your position on the issue of man-made global warming, the consuming public (who put their hard-earned money on the line) is simply not very worried about global warming, according to the recent Pew survey (among others).

Why try to force-feed the customers a solution to a problem they aren’t concerned about? I think there is much more potential for progress by explaining the economic and national security advantages of higher-fuel-efficiency vehicles – with the added benefit of reduced emissions.

As far as I’m concerned, the best news from today is apparently Obama’s not going to let the temporary downturn in oil prices sway his resolve…

Obama also meant to set a tone with his promises: Science will trump ideology and special interests, attention will stay high even when gas prices fall.

We all know these prices are bound to rebound. Prices are already making upticks at retail gasoline stations (+$0.20 this last month), even as excess oil sits idly in storage tanks and tanker ships around the world

What do you think about Obama’s announcement today?

What do you think of my own proposals?

Comments are greatly appreciated and all view points (thoughtfully delivered) are welcome.



Highlights from “Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona” Race

January 26, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Racing · Comment 

A quick reel of highlights from the 2009 “Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona” race this last weekend.

Also at YouTube in Higher Quality.

These video images were taken on the first day of racing – January 24th. We were the guests of Mike Kern of MJK Racing and really appreciate his help and tour of the race track.

Watch it here at YouTube in Higher Quality.

FuelClinic.com is a sponsor of MJK Racing. Both businesses are currently based in Orlando, Florida. For more information or if you are interested in becoming a sponsor for the best SCCA team in Florida, visit http://www.mjkracing.com — to learn more about FuelClinic – visit our website at http://www.fuelclinic.com



When do consumers really go green?

Check out this recent Pew Research Center poll data: 

Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009 
http://people-press.org/report/485/economy-top-policy-priority 

“Going green” must be economical in order to be widely embraced. We need to be able to be greener and save money at the same time. “Green” must also mean jobs, economic recovery, and strength – not “going without”. 

The poll indicates “global warming” is losing ground in the public’s attention span. Judging by the Pew poll, and my own little poll at FuelClinic, it’s simply not a strong motivator right now – it’s in dead last place. 

I suggest that any persuasive new argument/marketing approach regarding developing “green” initiatives should not be based solely around global warming (or it’s new name “climate change”). 

Instead a strong argument would focus on immediate and mid-term cost-savings, creation of jobs, benefit to national economy, and improvements to energy security. The long-term payoff being plentiful clean energy for the future and improving the environment. 

But, it all boils down to money. In the end, the tipping point is the same as always – the wallet. It must be cheaper.



Fuelishness! Feed

  • On Tuesday, The Energized Guyz, a live theatrical production developed by National Theatre for Children which is sponsored by Ameren, visited Mt. Vernon District 80 Primary Center, McClellan Grade School and St. Mary School teaching students about how to be “wise energy users.”
     
  • We import a lot of our oil and if we could curb consumption, we could actually dramatically reduce those imports and that would affect our balance of trade, which would positively influence the value of the dollar, which would do all sorts of things in terms of what we could afford to buy in terms of imported goods,” said energy analyst Ken Medlock at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
      
  • First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in USA Up and Running  — After a million shot in the arm from oil giant BP back in August, second generation cellulosic ethanol pioneer Verenium has started production of ethanol from non-food sources such as wood chips, grass straw, and trash at their Jennings Louisiana demonstration plant (PDF).
     
  • Earth to Congressman Massa: That’s Not What “Efficiency” Means — First off, the fuel-cell car that Massa selected to drive the aforementioned 300 miles only had a range of 175 – 200 miles (depending on who you believe), and there were exactly zero (0) hydrogen fuel cell filling stations en route.
       
  • Range Fuels Gets $80 Million Federal Loan Guarantee for Cellulosic Refinery —  The loan guarantee program is designed to promote development of facilities and technologies aimed at producing ethanol and other biofuels from non-food resources.
      
  • Lexus Recalling 214,500 Cars For Possible Fuel Line Corrosion Caused by Ethanol —  Seems that low-moisture ethanol blends can corrode the cars’ fuel delivery pipes, causing a warning light to come on and possibly eating a pinhole through the pipe wall, causing a fuel leak. … Toyota Motors Sales USA, which is managing the recall for the automaker, said repairs will involve replacing the fuel pipes with new ones that won’t be affected by ethanol. the repairs will be done at no charge, the automaker said.


Bio-Diesel Days – (UPDATED: Independent Study Says Bio-Diesel NOT to Blame.)

January 20, 2009 · Filed Under Bio-Diesel, Commercial Fleets, FuelClinic, Fuelishness! · Comment 

When I was a kid, to get to school we walked 20 miles up broken-glass-and-lava covered volcanic hills, dodging poison dart frogs and angry hornets, while reciting the entire unabridged Advanced Quantum Mechanics for Forth Graders… now those wipper-snappers get days because of gelled bio-diesel fuel…

All schools in the Bloomington School District will be closed today after state-required biodiesel fuel clogged in school buses Thursday morning and left dozens of students stranded in frigid weather, the district said late Thursday.

Rick Kaufman, the district’s spokesman, said elements in the biodiesel fuel that turn into a gel-like substance at temperatures below 10 degrees clogged about a dozen district buses Thursday morning. Some buses weren’t able to operate at all and others experienced problems while picking up students, he said. 

h/t: HotAir

UPDATED 1/27/2009

It looks like the Bloomington School District has taken a closer look at their bus problems from last week were un-related to bio-diesel fuel.

Citing an independent study, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reiterated today that biodiesel was not the culprit that caused school buses in Bloomington, Minn. to malfunction last week.

“The problems with school buses in Minnesota had nothing to do with biodiesel,” said Bill Walsh, Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “An independent investigation confirmed what we believed last week – when it gets to 20 degrees below zero in the Midwest, diesel engines have trouble operating unless they are properly maintained – whether or not they are using a biodiesel blend.”



New Blog Feature: Subscribe By Email

January 17, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, FuelClinic.com, Fuelishness! · 1 Comment 

Over the last few days we’ve been using to Feedburner to syndicate our updates for this blog. One of the cool new features with Feedburner is that you can now choose to subscribe via email.

You can subscribe by clicking the “Subscribe by Email” link at the bottom of any post. This will subscribe you to all new posts. You will then get a confirmation email from Feedburner, clicking that link in the email will activate your subscription.

As soon as your subscription is active, FeedBurner will send a daily email message if Fuelishness! Fuel Economy Blog has new content. Nice!



Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Danger Increases as Record Low Temps Decend Over America

January 16, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, News & Reports · 5 Comments 

America’s suffering a deep freeze this weekend – and the risk of carbon monoxide related poisoning climbs as people try to stay warm. Much of America is unprepared for such low temperatures, with rarely-used and poorly maintained heating systems, chimneys clogged with debris or birds nests, or dead batteries in their carbon monoxide detectors. Others will try dangerous methods to stay warm, methods like using auxiliary heaters indoors.

According to JAMA, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in America. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and cannot be detected by people without the use of carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common household appliances such as gas or oil furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, ovens and ranges. A charcoal grill operating in an enclosed area, a fire burning in a fireplace or a car running in an attached garage also produce carbon monoxide.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Poison?

CO combines with hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying agent in the red blood cells. When oxygen is robbed from the brain and other organs, death can result. In addition, up to 40 percent of survivors of severe CO poisoning develop memory impairment and other serious illnesses.

Many cases of reported carbon monoxide poisoning indicate that victims are aware they are not well but become so disoriented that they are unable to save themselves.

But what do you do and who to you call when your carbon monoxide detector goes into alarm? The manufacturer of First Alert®, the leading brand of carbon monoxide detectors, recommends the following:

If the alarm goes off, turn off appliances, or other sources of combustion at once. Immediately get fresh air into the premises by opening doors and windows. Call a qualified technician and have the problem fixed before restarting appliances. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, vomiting, call the fire department and immediately move to a location that has fresh air. Do a head count to be sure all persons are accounted for. Do not re-enter the premises until it has been aired out and the problem corrected. 

This weekend stay safe, err on the side of caution. Carbon Monoxide Detectors are available at most hardware stores and retailers like WalMart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc. They generally cost between $20 to $40 each – the more expensive ones have a digital readout to give you a real-time and highest-recorded PPM reading.



The “Energy Independence in 2009 Conference” is cancelled

January 16, 2009 · Filed Under Energy Independence, FuelClinic, Fuelishness! · 3 Comments 

Low gas prices have gutted public interest in energy independence talk, says Dave Reaboi at Citizens For Energy Freedom. This Wednesday the group announced the cancellation this weekend’s energy independence conference due to low registration… 

Unfortunately, the ENERGY INDEPENDENCE IN 2009 Conference scheduled for January 17 & 18 has been canceled due to low registration.

We are grateful for your interest in attending, but we regret that we are unable to hold the conference.

To contact us with any questions or concerns, please call Dave Reaboi at (202) 835-9077 or email us at info@citizensforenergyfreedom.org

This is really unfortunate. At the Chicago conference back in October – when the sting of high gas prices was fresh in the public’s minds, there was a real sense of urgency and momentum.  

Our own statistics at FuelClinic.com indicate some slowing in growth over the last month – but the site continues to attract new & returning members, who continue to work to reduce their fuel consumption. Let’s keep the ball rolling!



Fuelishness! Feed

January 16, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Tax Credits · Comment 
  • If Our Gas Taxes Go Up, Will Gas Prices Become Unfair?  Faced with dwindling cash reserves, several states are considering raising their Gas Tax. Those with efficient vehicles will come out ahead. Low income families, the trucking industry and the alternative fuel industry will finish last.
      
  • Taxing Motorists Based on Miles Traveled, Not Gasoline Consumed? Oregon… Kulongoski wants motorists in the Beaver State to pay 1.2 cents for every mile they drive regardless of whether their rides chug gasoline and spew rivers of greenhouse gas, or run on electricity supplied by happy hamsters spinning wheel-generators.
      
  • Waxman promises quick action on climate – “Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence,” said Waxman. “U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments.”  


Crude Oil Prices Continue To Chill

Today as a mass of “global-warming-denying” arctic weather shuts in much of the country with punishing and historic low temperatures; crude oil prices slip again – this time to under $34 – leaving oil companies to float their stock at sea in the bellies of supertankers.

From the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere.

The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise.

Some producing countries are trying to force that rise by using the tankers to withhold oil from the market, while traders are trying to profit by buying cheap oil now to store and sell at a higher price later. Oil storage has become so popular that onshore tank capacity is becoming scarce.

The crude oil markets are none-to-worried about the “unrest” in the middle east either, it seems. Normally a war (or threat of a war) in that area results in a spike in the price of crude, as futures traders bet on a resulting shortage resulting from direct action or political punishment. But not this time. There was a blip last week, just a hint of warming… but it didn’t last long. 

OPEC lowered its energy demand forecast for 2009, with investors already shrugging off production cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day by member countries. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its January report that it expects world demand for crude will fall 180,000 barrels per day in 2009, compared with the previous year.

Is Gaia herself giving us a glimpse into our financial future? Do the record low temperatures foretell the continued glacerialization of world economies, the freezing of credit, and the icing-over of hope?

Even Hugo Chavez can’t believe his eyes, or the bottom line. He’s busy eating a little crow at the moment, hoping to court western oil companies to help bail him out of the mess he’s created in his oil-rich but cash-starved 

President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.

Until recently, Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.

But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials here have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.

This economic slowdown, recession, adjustment (whatever you’d like to call it) seems bigger than currently imagined.

Meanwhile, U.S. oil inventories have been rising for months, suggesting that the recession severely cut into energy demand. The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that crude inventories grew by 1.2 million barrels for the week ended Friday after jumping 6.7 million barrels the previous week…

Refineries are cutting back production because profit margins are next to nil.

Flynn said any existing storage facilities could be flooded with crude as the February contract comes to a close Tuesday, leaving little excess capacity.

“We’re running out of places to put it,” he said. “There’s more oil out there now than we’ve had in a long time.”



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