Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

New Ford Focus Gets 71MPG – Only in Europe

Five years ago I visited family in Estonia, a country still digging out from decades of Soviet domination after World War Two. Estonia is an amazingly beautiful country full of “old world” charm and wonderful people. My cousin, who built heavy robotic equipment for the lumber industry , drove a SEAT hatchback with a small, quiet, and clean diesel engine that had tons of torque, ran on bio-diesel (available in most towns), and got better than 65 miles per gallon regularly. I was astonished.

We drove that spunky car all over the country, into Latvia, with the whole family, sometimes towing his little Russian-era boat. It was a joy to drive, and when we passed a field of soybean my cousin would smile at me and point, saying we were driving on sunshine – converted to oil in those plants. He said proudly “We are all green in Estonia. I am a green man.”

I wondered why I couldn’t buy a car like that back home in America.

Consider the new Ford Focus (available in Europe) with a little diesel engine, and upgraded starter, alternator, battery package that support their improved ECOnic start/stop technology – similar to a golf cart, the engine stops when the car is idle for a few seconds, and springs back to life when you press the accelerator to move ahead.

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As with any Focus it is delightfully balanced and comfortable and the stop/start process in traffic is by no means intrusive or unduly noisy. In fact it is one of the better versions of the current crop of on/off engines.

The starter motor has been beefed up to cope with the additional use while developments have been made to the alternator to reduce friction and lessen the workload on the engine.

To improve fuel consumption further, kinetic energy built up as the car goes along is captured and used to recharge one of the two batteries which power the likes of the air conditioning or entertainment systems when the engine is off.

NOTE: While it’s generally a good idea to turn off your engine and reduce idling when not in traffic, we do NOT recommend turning your car off while in traffic – hybrids and stop/start equipped cars are designed to do this safely and automatically. Turning your car off (turning off the “ignition”) while in traffic is illegal in most places and puts you at risk if you need to move quickly to avoid a hazard.

The Focus also takes “driver feedback” to another level, with an on-board “eco driving coach” that will analyze driving habits and help encourage the driver to be more efficient.

On the road, the car monitors the driver’s technique examining gear changes, the smoothness of steering and use of speed.

The results are displayed on the instrument panel and highlight areas were improvements can be made. It also praises good eco-driving.

Eco-driver feedback systems are becoming more and more popular. FuelClinic is a type of feedback system, but isn’t real-time and doesn’t travel along with you in the car. Our new CarChip Pro does travel with you, providing real-time feedback when you accelerate too quickly, brake too aggressively, or exceed a pre-set speed limit. Other devices like the Rover from Cartasite provide similar feedback, and communicate wirelessly.

These uber-efficient diesels are not easily available in the US (you’ll need to look to Volkswagen if you want a diesel car here), nor is a ready supply of bio-diesel at pumps in many places – a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Would you buy a small diesel-powered vehicle like the Focus mentioned? What if you could have your favorite make, manufacturer, and body style – but with a little-diesel option?



Fuelishness! Feed: Saving Money Motiviate Drivers; Oil & Gas Not Prepared for Risk; New Drilling Tech vs. Peak Oil; Doubts about 2016 Efficiency Goals

  • Money proves biggest motivator for a motorist’s eco-driving choices — When it comes to fuel efficiency, saving money trumps saving the environment for most people who have recently bought – or are thinking of buying – a new vehicle.
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  • Oil and Gas at Risk From Climate Change but The Industry is Not Prepared — A new Acclimatise report backed by IBM, entitled Global Oil & Gas – The Adaptation Challenge has identified top five impacts of climate change to the oil and gas industry. While three quarters of the world’s oil and gas companies surveyed believe climate change could impact their business, only 19 percent are taking action as noted in this Acclimatise report.
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  • New Techniques Oil Companies are Using in Drilling for Oil — As the politics and philosophical arguments about “Peak Oil” continue to rage, science continues to move steadily onward, progressively creating new and better ways to both find and extract oil that we never could have previously discovered, as well as get a lot more bang for our buck by more effectively utilizing the oil that we currently have readily available to us in our current reserves.
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  • Fuel efficiency up, but many miles to go — EPA report shows small gains in ’08, casts doubts on meeting 2016 goals — Americans bought slightly more efficient cars and trucks in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and are expected to do so again this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.


How to ensure people’s transportation and at the same time be sustainable?

by Lincoln Pavia, The MelhorAr Project 
 
The better that the economy of a country is, the greater the demand will be for transportation and the larger the impact will be on the public transportation service and the emission of CO2, with obvious repercussions on the traffic of towns and cities.
 
The MelhorAr (Improve Air) Project of Sustainable Mobility arose from the need to develop a culture concerned with managing the demand for mobility in a sustainable manner in order to reduce the use of individual transportation,  responsible for 70% of the occupation of the earth and for the problems arising from this option such as pollution and investments in modal infrastructure, as well as to discuss alternative, more sustainable means for cities.
 
Evaluating the current models of mobility of the large global urban centers, the  MelhorAr Project opted to develop projects focusing on the corporate market,  responsible for a large part of the transportation in cities, both of workers and of the distribution of consumer goods. This work model is unique throughout the world, as most consultancies perform with governments.
 
Nowadays the projects of sustainable mobility are still for the public sector, especially in Europe, where the main focus is on modal integration (interconnection between modes of transport) as a means of encouraging people to walk or cycle in order to reduce the pressure on public transportation. In developing countries where a large part of the population does not earn enough to use public transportation, the option for these cases is to get about on foot. However, to the extent that the economy becomes stronger in developing countries, these people end up opting for individual means of transport, as a large part of the public transportation does not cater efficiently for this new public of the layers D and E. Moreover, the most serious problem is the nonexistence of modal connections, so that people travel most of their route using a single mode. The challenge now in our country is to increase the options of collective means of travel without burdening towns and cities with works of infrastructure and investments in transportation which increase the social, economic and environmental impacts. In developed countries (G8), people usually choose to displacement by car, increasing pollution and affecting the quality of life of the population. Making life unbearable in the city.
 
 
 The most urgent challenge is to execute an inventory count of the emissions of public and private collective transportation. It is true that while most emissions come from individual means of transport, the automotive industry is already investing millions of dollars in building more economical, hybrid and electrical models and adapting their engines to cleaner fuels, although the traffic will continue to increase. In the collective transportation sector, we do not yet have an inventory count of emissions of the journeys made. The Public Sector will have to do its homework executing an inventory count of its fleet of buses, trains subway trains, etc. The metropolitan train and subway companies will be increasing their capacity of attending to the public by increasing their networks, which will generate a greater emission of CO2 as the Brazilian and others countries generation of power depends upon thermoelectric stations. The pertinent question is how much power will these increases require?  Countries has the capacity to build hydroelectric and thermoelectric stations, but will they be sufficient to cover the demand of new consumers, electric cars, collective electrical transportation?
 
How will the private sector of collective transportation be able to complement this demand with a quick, cheap, more efficient and sustainable public transportation?

Read more



Announcing “Cash for Un-Clunkers” Program

c4c2Are you driving an un-clunker like this recently destroyed Volvo S80? You’ve heard about the “Cash for Clunkers” program where you can turn in that un-clunker worth $10K to $15K for a government “allowance” of $3.5K or $4.5K off another new car that gets better gas mileage? 

Sure that un-clunker will get it’s engine destroyed in a dirty and unsafe procedure, effectively wasting all of the energy and resources used to build it — but you just want to save money and be more energy efficient! Right?

What if I told you there is an alternative program, one that will help you save money and measurably improve your vehicle’s fuel economy… 

“Cash for Un-Clunkers” – Keep Your Un-Clunker & More of Your Cash

The “Cash for Un-Clunkers” plan requires no government funding, does not require you to take a new loan, pays you back for every mile you drive, can increase fuel efficiency of any vehicle, and can be immediately rolled-out nationwide. 

Everyone is pre-qualified, there is no red-tape, you can take advantage of the free program right now, and it applies to every single motor vehicle ever made.  

Keep your “Un-clunker” – and upgrade your driving habits instead – improving your fuel mileage  10%, 20%, or more – without new car payments or destroying the existing re-sale value of your property.

Potential side-effects of “Cash for Un-Clunkers” include:

  1. Increased levels of personal-safety for you and those sharing the road with you.
  2. Reduced stress and anxiety as you no longer jockey and compete against other drivers, instead begin competing “against” the gas pump or your best mileage record.
  3. Reduction in the frequency or severity of traffic citations – contributing to lower insurance costs over time.
  4. Overall improvements in traffic flow and reduction of accidents, injuries, and congestion.
  5. You may experience a dizzy sensation when you realize how much money you could have saved last year.
  6. Some swelling of your purchasing-power if you re-sell your car when you are done with it – or – a reduction of your tax burden if you choose to donate your car to charity.

Program Basics:

The “Cash for Un-Clunkers” program allows for various levels of participation. You can tailor the program to your own requirements, participating at a level that is comfortable to you and fits your lifestyle. The more actively you participate, the greater your savings and success at achieving greater fuel economy. 

At the most basic level, the program encourages these simple and effective techniques, mostly geared to the conservation of momentum and maximizing your engine’s mechanical advantage. In city driving, you can expect to save 10% to 20% (or more) following those guidelines as often as possible. There are additional techniques that will help you even more, like keeping top-speed below 65 MPH on the highway (depending on your car’s specific aerodynamics, engine, transmission, and tire configuration your optimum highway speed may vary).

Additionally, professional eco-driving instruction delivered by certified eco-driving instructors will soon be available in the United States for fleet owners or individuals interested in maximizing their fuel efficiency through driver training. 

Participating websites:

  • FuelClinic.com – Our local favorite. Improve your driving habits, track your success. 
  • EcoDrive$mart.com – Our partner site. Take Eco-Driving quiz, learn about certified Eco-Driving training available soon in the US through our new partnership.
  • FuelEconomy.gov – A government website about improving fuel efficiency? Yes – one of the best around.


“Cash for Clunkers” vs. “Cash for Un-Clunkers”

[Updated: New link to “Cash for Un-Clunkers” added]

Far from a model of energy-efficiency, the CARS (Cash for Clunkers) program creates a system that encourages mind-boggling waste of energy, money, and natural resources.

The word “clunker” makes you think of cars with no real value left, in poor mechanical shape, incredibly inefficient, outdated, unsafe, and already a problem for the owner. The government program assumes the clunker is such a problem that the it requires that the “trade-ins” drive-train be destroyed within 2 days, else the dealer is fined $15,000. In reality, there are perfectly good vehicles with lots of value remaining – and can get measurably much better mileage if driven efficiently – being turned in and destroyed. 

Take for example this video of a decidedly “un-clunky” Volvo S40 or S80 being destroyed as part of the CARS program. All of the energy used to produce that car is completely wasted, even if it would still have value in the used car market.

WARNING: This is a surprisingly graphic video – especially if you are a “car guy”. This top-quality machine literally screams as the “liquid glass” solution (used in place of motor oil) scours the moving parts inside this engine, eventually overheating it enough to start a fire in the engine compartment, and puking it’s last remaining ounces of red-hot oil out onto the ground in front of it as it finally seizes up.

Some thoughts on this video:

  1. That’s a well engineered, safe, and fairly efficient high-quality car that apparently ran well when turned in.
  2. It has obvious value remaining (KBB says around $13K).
  3. I can’t believe it ran for over 4 minutes with sodium silicate instead of oil. 
  4. Thank goodness it didn’t puke up that red-hot oil all over the young man as he reached across the engine to put the oil fill cap (?) back on.  

On Wednesday it was announced that the program was suspended – some say it was because dealership couldn’t get their paperwork filed fast enough to not go bankrupt in the short-term, others said it was because the program was too successful and already “spent” all of it’s funding. Then yesterday it was announced that the program would be re-funded, using grants previously slated for other energy-efficiency improvement programs. 

I propose a different plan called: “Cash for Un-Clunkers

Can anyone answer me “why” we should scrap perfectly good cars instead of invest in improving driving habits?



You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have engines with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!

Dr. Evil would be so happy to hear about Ford and the University of Liverpool recently reported work to replace the high-voltage spark plug with high-tech laser ignition systems – literally attached to their heads.

Continuing their work to improve engine technology for maximum efficiency and power, Ford once again shows it certainly is the greenest and most innovative of the American car companies. The recent flurry of engine efficiency innovations also repudiates the arguments that tried to explain away the flat-line in fuel efficiency since 1980 as a “technological barrier” we just couldn’t overcome because engines were  just too darn advanced already. 

Ford reportedly plans to install the laser ignitions in a select range of vehicles in the next few years before expanding the laser ignitions on a larger scale. The technology works like this: The laser is quickly directed toward the combustion chamber where the fuel is most concentrated, allowing the engine to run on a more efficient mix of fuel and air. Bigger diameter valves that improve engine gas flow could be used in such a system because the thin fiber optic cable delivering the laser beam is smaller than a spark plug. The laser is also more reliable than a traditional spark plug.

The laser ignition may also overcome a significant barrier to widespread adoption of biofuels — starting the vehicle when the engine is cold. According to the Telegraph, reflecting part of the laser back from inside the cylinder can deliver information on fuel type and ignition level to allow vehicles to optimally adjust the air/fuel mix.

We can only imagine what the future has in-store for this new engine technology…

ford-ecoboost-engine-with-laser-ignition-vs-tie-fighter



Fifth Gear Puts Fuel Economy Ratings to the Test



Ford’s EcoBoost Gas-Turbo Direct Injection Engine

June 23, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Science · 2 Comments 

Earlier this year I proposed that Ford was “America’s Greenest Car Company“. Since then the company has managed to navigate the economic storm, plans to include a four-cylinder option for every vehicle they make, and has innovated some exciting new technologies that make real engineering progress in fuel efficiency and power. A case in point, the EcoBoost engine.

EcoBoost Gas-Turbo Direct Injection Engine 

The EcoBoost family of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines features turbocharging and direct injection technology.  Compared with more expensive hybrids and diesel engines, EcoBoost builds upon today’s affordable gasoline engine and improves it, providing more customers with a way to improve fuel economy and emissions without compromising driving performance.

ford_ecoboost
Click to See Original PDF Version

Faster return on investment to consumers means that the new technology “pays for itself” thru fuel savings in a shorter period of time than my other favorite efficient engines – the turbo-diesel and hybrids (can we get a flex-fuel hybrid out the door please!)

“Compared with the current cost of diesel and hybrid technologies, customers in North America can expect to recoup their initial investment in a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine through fuel savings in approximately 30 months.  A diesel in North America will take an average of seven and one-half years, while the cost of a hybrid will take nearly 12 years to recoup – given equivalent miles driven per year and fuel costs,” [said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development.]

In case you’re thinking that EcoBoost might mean a wimpy ride, consider that Ford has had to redesign and strengthen the standard automatic transmission to handle the extra torque and power.

Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected EcoBoost V-6 engine, set to debut this spring under the hood of the Lincoln MKS and Ford Taurus SHO, makes so much torque (350 pound-feet, to be exact) that apparently the automaker’s standard 6F-50 six-speed automatic transmission couldn’t reliably handle it. So Ford went back to the drawing board and created a new transmission specifically for the higher torque demands of the new powerplant: the 6f-55 automatic transmission.

While most of the details are highly technical in nature, the key changes for this new transmission include stronger parts and materials to deal with the increased forces and temperatures present in the turbocharged power train. For example, the 6f-55 transmission features thicker transfer and final gears and a new, more robust differential case.

Ford continues to demonstrate that there is plenty of room for innovation even in old-fashioned piston engine technology. Instead of making excuses, they choose to find solutions.



$3-per-gallon Gas a New “Pain Threshold” for Car Buyers

June 16, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Eco-Driving, Saving Money · 1 Comment 

Orlando Business Journal

Americans are less optimistic today than they were earlier in the year about gas prices going down, according to a new survey by Kelley Blue Book.

Eighty-seven percent of new car shoppers last month said they think gas prices will go much higher, up from 66 percent in April.

The prospect of higher gas prices also is having an impact on purchasing decisions.

When asked what they would be most likely to compromise in their next new-vehicle purchase, shoppers cited engine size as the top item likely to be sacrificed, followed closely by vehicle size.

In addition, 73 percent of those who saw gas prices increasing in May said they plan to change their spending habits if gas prices were to go much higher.

“While we may not see the $5-per-gallon gas experienced in some areas last year, current economic conditions compounded by the pain at the pump may make $3-per-gallon gas a new threshold for car buyers – the point at which they change their mind about what vehicle to buy and how they spend their money,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and KBB.com, in a news release.



Fuelishness! Feed: Oil firms above $60; Venezuela builds oil rig with China; The end of the gas guzzler; Will transform US auto fleet; Safety could suffer

  • Oil firms above $60 – Oil prices have been on an upward trend since mid-April on equity-led rallies. They have recovered from below $33 in December after a plunge from record highs above $147 in July.
     
  • Venezuela set to build first oil rig with China – China buys 300,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude every day, and is eager for more from the Latin American country as part of its global quest for a diverse range of energy supplies.
     
  • The end of the great American gas guzzler – President Barack Obama will unveil new fuel efficiency standards today in an effort to limit the release of greenhouse gases by cars and trucks. 
     
  • Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet – The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.
     
  • Safety could suffer if we boost mileage by making cars smaller – The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually. 


Jetta TDI Meets Prius [Video]

May 20, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Diesel, Hybrid Vehicles · Comment 

This is funny new commercial.

Popular Mechanics wrote:

The new era of clean diesel in America will officially be ushered in by the new VW Jetta TDi when it goes on sale in a few months. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-banger that produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, it will be the first automobile to meet the world’s most stringent emission control standards, California’s Tier II, Bin 5.

I enjoyed driving a brand new diesel Seat around the beautiful country of Estonia in 2006. My Estonian cousin who’s car I was driving smiled as he pointed to a local blooming soy-bean farm and told me we are driving on sunshine. He fills his car with bio-diesel. He wondered why I didn’t do the same thing.

Clean diesels are a blast to drive. Like most diesels they have gobs of low-end torque that plants you in your seat, and since you can upshift as low as 1200 rpm you can take mechanical advantage of all that torque with quick up-shifts instead of revving out your fuel pump.

It’s not an answer to our oil addiction, and road taxes on diesel is pretty steep (meaning diesel is often more expensive than gasoline), it does offer you a way to get more mpg and enjoy the music of a finely tuned machine.



Let’s get real about alternative energy

Let’s get real about alternative energy
By David MacKay

CNN.com, 5/13/2009

We need to introduce simple arithmetic into our discussions of energy. We need to understand how much energy our chosen lifestyles consume. We need to decide where we want that energy to come from, and we need to get on with building energy systems of sufficient size to match our desired consumption. Our failure to talk straight about the numbers is allowing people to persist in wishful thinking. Assuming we are serious about getting off fossil fuels, the scale of building required should not be underestimated. Small actions alone will not deliver a solution. The author goes on to break down the numbers associated with American and European energy usage, along with the numbers associated with energy production from renewables. Focusing attention on the numbers may make it possible to develop honest and constructive conversations about energy. It’s not going to be easy to make an energy plan that adds up, but it is possible. We need to get building.

David MacKay is a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air.”

Link to full text in primary source.



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. 


An American Automotive Industry Rescue Plan that Just Might Work

April 11, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Congress, FuelClinic, Governments · 3 Comments 

If you’re like me you’re more than a little disappointed by the early missteps of the Obama Administration’s efforts to save a few of the big American auto manufacturers, and by association, the entire industry.  The Presidential Task Force seems a little out of touch.

Enter Iowahawk. He’s a guy with a clue about what it takes to help rescue the American Automotive Industry… take a hint from the booming American Custom Car Industry… all he needs is “unlimited regulatory powers and expense account“.

imagination

I realize the [automotive] industry is not suffering from a lack of law professors — it is suffering from a lack of  imagination. They gave us cup holders and electric seat warmers when we wanted angel fur and bubble tops. They pushed micro-clown cars and hybrids when the market was rife for chromed 8-deuce Chrysler Hemis. Well, Bucko, all that outmoded thinking is going to end during the reign of Czar Dave. Saving the American auto industry is going to be a big job, but I won’t be doing it alone. I have already appointed my own shadow Council of Automotive Advisors, a select group of successful auto manufacturers whose qualifications appear after the jump. Many are close personal friends of mine, and I can attest to their patriotism, integrity, ingenuity, and wonderful lack of law degrees.

Not too many gas sipping hybrids on display at the link – but there is just as many customizers (both professional and do-it-yourselfers) who’s passion are cars that squeeze every last tenth-of-a-mile from a gallon of gas.

The point is that we need car guys — who know cars and what makes people love cars, not more lawyers and bureaucrats — saving our auto industry. 

Read the rest of Iowahawk’s argument, with lots more photos of hot cars…



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.



Hybrid car sales go from 60 to 0 at breakneck speed; Hybrid Car Sales Take Off

Hybrid whiplash. (Two articles w/ dissimilar headlines… 3/17/2009)

  • Hybrid car sales go from 60 to 0 at breakneck speed

    The gas-electric vehicles are piling up on dealers’ lots as anxiety over gasoline prices evaporates. But more hybrid models are on the way. 

    …Americans have cut back on buying vehicles of all types as the economy continues its slide. But the slowdown has been particularly brutal for hybrids, which use electricity and gasoline as power sources. They were the industry’s darling just last summer, but sales have collapsed as consumers refuse to pay a premium for a fuel-efficient vehicle now that the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally has slipped below $2.”When gas prices came down, the priority of buying a hybrid fell off quite quickly,” said Wes Brown, a partner at Los Angeles-based market research firm Iceology. “Yet even as consumer interest declined, the manufacturers have continued to pump them out.” 

    Last month, only 15,144 hybrids sold nationwide, down almost two-thirds from April, when the segment’s sales peaked and gas averaged $3.57 a gallon. That’s far larger than the drop in industry sales for the period and scarcely a better showing than January, when hybrid sales were at their lowest since early 2005…

    Read the rest…
      

  • Hybrid Car Sales Take Off 
     
    …The hybrid vehicle market is about to heat up. Major car makers are expanding their hybrid offerings with new innovations and improvements, including greater fuel economy, all designed to help the environment. Toyota, Lexus, Ford and Honda all have announced major milestones over the past week.Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. says the total combined Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicle sales in the U.S. now have topped the one-million mark, thanks to six hybrid vehicles including the top-selling Toyota Prius. The Prius is touted as the all-time worldwide leader in hybrid sales.Cumulative worldwide sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids have exceeded 1.7 million vehicles through January 2009. The car maker projects sales of one million gas-electric hybrids per year by early in the next decade with the launch of 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012…

    Read the rest… 

Which is it? Tell us what you think in the comments.



Fuelishness Marathon! – Part 4: Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences; $25 Billion For Green Cars;



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: 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: Slippery Mercedes E-Class, Fuel-Efficient Indian SUV’s, Another Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Scheme

  • New Mercedes E-Class Coupe couples low drag coefficient to efficient engines : Partnering the wind-cheating new shape of the E-Class Coupe, which replaces the outgoing CLK and joins the new E-Class sedan just unveiled a few months ago, is a range of fuel-sipping engines, including the new four-cylinder turbo-diesel E 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, which offers more power and torque than the model it replaces while returning 17 percent better fuel economy (5.3 liters per 100 kilometers on the European combined cycle) and emitting 138 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Efficiency is also optimized by use of on-demand activation for the steering and fuel pumps, a dynamic alternator and tires with low rolling resistance, which join the roster of new driving and safety systems you can read about in the press release after the jump. See more photos of the new E-Class Coupe in the gallery below.
     
  • Indian Automaker Sees U.S. Market As Ready For Its 30 MPG Diesel Pickups and SUVs : Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian manufacturer specializing in pick-ups and SUVs, believes that what works with value-conscious Indian car buyers will translate to American consumers weary of gas guzzlers but not quite ready to kick their SUV habits… A key part of the trucks’ allure will be high fuel-efficiency figures. Power will come from a 2.2-liter common rail four-cylinder diesel engine, fitted to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Mahindra representatives say the engine and transmission combination will deliver a fuel economy average of at least 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
     
  • Massachusetts Joins States Contemplating Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Plans : As a matter of national policy we are encouraging people to jettison their gas-guzzlers and seek out the most efficient cars and trucks they can. We want plug-in hybrids and electric cars that use no oil at all. Taxing gasoline rewards and thus encourages purchases of fuel-efficient vehicles; charging by the mile doesn’t. The driver of a 15-miles-per-gallon Jeep Grand Cherokee pays the same for a 100 miles trip as the driver of a 48-mpg Prius, even though the Jeep uses more than three times as much fuel and, as a heavier vehicle, does more damage to the road surface. 


Mexican Consumer Group Demands Vehicle Efficiency Labeling on All New Cars

February 4, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry · Comment 

A consumer organization in Mexico is working to set higher efficiency standards, and to clearly label fuel efficiency and safety information on all new cars sold in Mexico. (Abstract: English, Full text: Spanish)

A Mexican consumer group, The Power of the Consumer (El Poder del Consumidor – EPC) is calling upon automobile manufacturers to label all new vehicles sold in Mexico regarding their fuel efficiency [kilometers (km) per liter consumed] and greenhouse gas emissions [primarily grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per km], similar to the way that cars in Europe are labeled…

…EPC would also like a binding Official Mexican Norm (NOM) requiring greater fuel efficiency in new vehicles sold in Mexico.

Read more here (Spanish).



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?



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.


Detroit Auto Show: Audi Says 45-MPG A3 Diesel Hatchback Is Coming to the U.S.

January 12, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Bio-Diesel, Diesel, FuelClinic, Fuelishness! · Comment 

audi-a3-220liter-tdi-thumb-400x266

From: Green Car Advisor

Audi today announced that its 2010 A3 2.0-liter TDI diesel hatchback will appear in dealer showrooms across the U.S. starting early next year.

The low-emissions, fuel-efficient car won’t be significantly different from the 2009 version, which Audi included in a herd of clean-diesel vehicles it drove across the land of the free last year.

The A3 got the best fuel economy of the lot, averaging slightly more than 45 miles per gallon over 4,000-plus miles.

Audi said it is targeting the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, both of which are hybrids. Some of the A3’s prospective buyers will also likely be considering the Mini Cooper and Volvo C30.

The A3’s powertrain will include a 140-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing of the front-wheel-drive vehicle won’t be announced until much later this year.

Audi said standard features will include hill-hold assist, Sirius Satellite Radio, leather seating surfaces, leather steering wheel and auxiliary audio input. Audi Magnetic Ride will be optional.



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