Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Ford to Triple EcoBoost-Equipped Vehicle Production Capacity in 2012

From Automotive Fleet:

WASHINGTON – Ford announced it plans to more than triple its production levels of vehicles equipped with its EcoBoost engines. In addition, the company is expanding the number of vehicle models available with EcoBoost engines, from seven in 2011 to a total of 11 in 2012. The automaker added that by the end of 2012, nine Ford models will get an EPA-certified 40 mpg highway…

Read the rest



Fiat’s Study: Eco-Driving Uncovered – Introduction

Last month Fiat Motors released the results of their eco:Drive system study of 9 million journeys by 42,000 European drivers. I’ve spent the last few days reading and re-reading it, and it’s so good that I’m going to post sections of it in an on-going series here at Fuelishness!

If you’d like to download and read the whole report (and you should if you are at all interested in driver behavior modification), you can find it at the Fiat website for download.

Look for Part One shortly.



Fiat eco-driving trial cuts emissions by 6%

Source: TheENDSReport

A five-month ‘eco-driving’ trial involving 5,700 drivers achieved an average fuel saving of 6%, Fiat reported in November.

The most improved tenth of drivers in the trial, covering five EU nations including the UK, reduced fuel use by 16% on average.

Drivers were given a USB ‘memory stick’ which plugged into cars to record data on acceleration, gear changes, average speed and deceleration. Data was then analysed by Fiat’s ecoDrive software on home computers and tailored advice given on how to improve driving to cut fuel consumption and emissions.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the now-abolished Commission for Integrated Transport have advocated eco-driving as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce transport CO2 emissions.

Our own eco-driving results are not too far off – with an average 5.03% improvement from our 3,500+ members of FuelClinic.com, as measured over the last two years.

Motorists who also use the FuelClinic-Configured Car-Chip as an in-vehicle eco-driving coach see even better results. When properly configured to warn drivers of inefficient driving like excessive acceleration, inefficient top-speed, and aggressive driving, the device provides important immediate reminders about driving behavior to drivers.

Immediate in-car feedback is important to maximize returns on eco-driving training and programs, but must be done in a manner that is not distracting to the driver. Simple audible feedback is the form of “warning beeps” reminds the driver that their current action is “missing the mark” set for their eco-driving goals.

The full FIAT Eco:Drive Report is available for download. It is an excellent study, and I have been studying it for a few days now. I will add it to our “Research Library” shortly. In the mean time, you can download it from FIAT.



Google Robot Car is Everywhere!

Even more for you Google Robot Car fans…

The Google blog post says that its autopilot vehicles have logged more than 140,000 miles to date, which presumably means the project has been going on for quite a while. It sounds cool, but I’m unclear why it’s apparently been secret until now, or why Schmidt spoke so cryptically and so recently of laws restricting the roads to self-driving cars without mentioning that Google was building them.

Google isn’t the only outfit working on this idea–a few months ago, I went for a very brief ride in a self-driving, self-parking Volkswagen developed at Stanford University. And the basic idea has been fodder for magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Sciencefor decades. Herewith, a few examples from the past seventy-seven years ago–none of which seem to have gotten as far as Google’s experiments.

Read more



205mph Electric Hybrid Supercar from Jaguar

From The Daily Telegraph:

A sexy new 205mph Jaguar supercar that blends sporting looks and performance with the latest ‘green’ technology is set to rock the prestigious Paris Motor Show when it is officially unveiled today.

The new two-seater Jaguar C-X75 is a £200,000 electric hybrid vehicle uses hi-tech jet-turbine know-how from the aviation industry to sprint from rest to 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds and up to 100mph in just 5.5 seconds…

The new Jaguar dispenses with a conventional internal combustion engine.

Instead, powered by a lithium ion battery charged from the domestic mains, the new Jaguar can run with zero-emissions for up to 68 miles on four electric motors – one of which drives each of four wheels.

Then it can harness two rear-mounted super-efficient gas-turbines to generate the extra electric power it needs to give it an extended range of 560miles – enough to get it from London to Berlin on a single 60 litre tank-full.

And that is with minimal emissions of just 28g/km of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas blamed for global warning and against which all UK cars are now taxed…

Read the rest (and see more great photos of this car).



Free Clean-Fleet & Vehicle Expo next Tuesday

NIRPC is sponsoring a ONE day expo. Valuable information is available to transportation professional regarding the latest clean fuels and engine technologies that will improve air quality in Northern Indiana.

Where: Porter County Expo Center – 215 East Division Road Valparaiso, IN 46383 ( Get Directions )

When: Tuesday June 8th (10 am- 3 pm) Lunch will be severed at noon.

This event is FREE however advanced registration is requested by Friday June 4th.

Please contact SSCC at 219-365-4289 or southscc@comcast.net



Ford Motor Company, Progress Energy, Orange County & The University of Central Florida to debut Florida’s First Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

Community Leaders to Address Electronic Transportation Needs & UCF & Orange County/Metro Orlando’s Sustainable Energy Initiatives


Orlando, FL — Ford Motor Company, Progress Energy, Orange County and the University of Central Florida have partnered to debut Florida’s first Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) at UCF’s Smart Solar Plug – In Research Facility on the Campus’ Memory Mall.

– Ford and Progress Energy are testing one of the industry’s first vehicle-to-electric grid communications and control systems, which enables electric vehicles to interface with the grid for optimal recharging.

-The new technology allows the vehicle operator to program when to recharge the vehicle, for how long and at what utility rate. For example, an operator could choose to charge only during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper, or when the grid is using renewable energy.

– This unique vehicle, which can achieve up to 120 miles per gallon, will be tested in Florida by Progress Energy, through its partnership with Ford Motor Company. Media will have the opportunity to be among the first to test drive the vehicle. Interview key leaders in the sustainable energy community are also available.

– UCF’s Smart Solar Plug-In Research Facility includes parking spaces for four electric-powered vehicles. The roof canopy consists of 48 photovoltaic solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electrical power. The system also can charge vehicles when it’s dark or cloudy outside.

Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 11:00 AM

Subject: Florida’s first Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) at UCF

Location: University of Central Florida Solar Smart Grid Research Facility on the Campus’ Memory Mall adjacent to Parking Lot D

http://campusmap.ucf.edu/printmap/ & http://campusmap.ucf.edu/address.php

Speakers:

– Dr. John Hitt, President, UCF

– The Honorable Richard Crotty, Mayor, Orange County

– Dr. Marwan Simaan, Dean, UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science

– Greg Frenette, Manager, Global Electrified Fleets, Ford Motor Company

– Rob Caldwell, Vice President of Efficiency & Innovative Technology, Progress Energy



The Distracted Driver: Looking Away From Road Main Factor in Crashes and Near-Misses

From Ford “Driving Skills for Life“:

Independent research based on real-world studies, that’s where drivers are monitored in their own cars rather than in labs, show that looking away from the road is the main factor associated with crashes and near-misses. Another study by NHTSA/Virginia Technology Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that “dialing a handheld device” had a higher risk compared to “just driving,” while “talking/listening on a cell phone” did not statistically differ from risks associated with “just driving.” VTTI summarized their findings by stating that it’s rare that drivers are involved in a crash when their eyes are on the roadway, regardless of any cognitive demand they may be under. Another point to keep in mind is that although there was explosive growth of cell phone subscriptions in the U.S. during the last 15 years, there has been a decline in crash rates which may indicate that drivers choose to engage in tasks when they judge the driving conditions are least demanding.

More than likely this is already apparent to most drivers, but indicates the importance of human-systems integration design in new vehicles so that drivers “know” where their controls and displays are without having to hunt for them.

What impact does this have on add-on gadgets that require the driver to take his/her eyes off of the road to gather information? GPS navigation suckered to your windshield? After-market eco-driving instrumentation or “apps” with charts and graphs indicating how well you are driving?



2010 Best/Worst Overall Fuel Economy

From this month’s Consumer Reports:

Best/Worst overall fuel economy 2010 Models

Best mpg Worst mpg
Toyota Prius 44 mpg Ford F-250 Lariat (diesel) 10 mpg
Smart ForTwo Passion 39 Hummer H2 11
Honda Insight EX 38 Cadillac Escalade 13
Volkswagen Golf TDI (manual) 38 Chevrolet Avalanche LT (5.3) 13
Honda Civic Hybrid 37 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ 13
Ford Fusion Hybrid 34 Ford Expedition EL Eddie Bauer 13
Scion xD (manual) 34 Jeep Commander Limited (5.7) 13
Toyota Camry Hybrid 34 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate 13
Honda Fit Sport (manual) 33 Nissan Armada LE 13
Mini Cooper (manual) 33 Nissan Titan SE 13

Overall mpg is based on our real-world fuel-economy tests. All vehicles are equipped with an automatic transmission unless noted otherwise.

No real surprises here.



BREAKING: Tesla Motors Files S-1 Registration Statement for proposed IPO

Tesla Motors has filed the S-1 Registration Statement with the SEC for a proposed public offering of it’s common stock – the first such IPO from an American auto manufacturer since Ford went public in 1956.

While the filing is an exciting sign of growth at Tesla, there’s a bit of bad news buried in the paperwork for Roadster fans… apparently the current Roadster we’ve all come to love will not be built after 2011… possibly to be replaced with a new Roadster after Lotus re-tools their plant in England.

The Model S coupe is expected sometime in 2012.

From AutoBlogGreen:

For the first time in more than fifty years, a U.S. automaker is holding a public offering. Henry Ford made shares of Ford Motor Company public back in 1956. Tesla, the Elon Musk-owned Silicon Valley electric car company, filed to do so today. There’s no word as to when the shares will be available for public consumption, nor any word as to how much each share will cost…

The press release from Tesla Motors starts…

PALO ALTO, CA. – Tesla Motors, Inc. today announced that it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. Tesla Motors designs, manufactures and sells high-performance fully electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined…

But Wired Autopia Blog finds some discouraging news in the IPO filings, Tesla Motors say they’ll stop building their popular Roadster sometime in 2011. Here’s why:

Wired’s Autopia was digging through the papers filed by Tesla to the Securities and Exchange Commission for its IPO and came across with this nugget:

“We do not plan to sell our current generation Tesla Roadster after 2011 due to planned tooling changes at a supplier for the Tesla Roadster.”

As everyone’s aware, the current iteration of the Tesla Roadster is built in Hethel, England by Lotus using Elise/Exige underpinnings. Judging by the quote above, that means the Elise/Exige is due to be replaced by a new model (good news for enthusiasts), but that leaves Tesla up a creek without the proverbial paddle.

The other telling line is this:

“As a result, we anticipate that we may generate limited, if any, revenue from selling electric vehicles after 2011 until the launch of the planned model S…”

Read the rest…

Exciting days ahead for the EV enthusiasts for sure.



Fuelishness! Feed: Test Drive Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost; Bioethanol Volvo Wins; Hybrids Offset Little Oil; How Much Is That Hybrid In The Window?

  • Test-drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost – The EcoBoost V6 readily delivers on Ford’s claim that it produces V8-levels of power, and it also does it with V8 linearity. Torque reaches peak at a very low 1500rpm and rides a plateau all the way to 5250rpm, thanks to the diminutive size of the Honeywell GT15 turbos which max out at 12 pounds boost, and the high 10.0:1 compression ratio that’s only possible because of the direct injection. In other words, there really is no turbo lag whatsoever. (This ain’t your Momma’s Taurus!)
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  • Bioethanol Powered Volvo Posts Wins at Swedish Touring Car Championship – The Swedish Touring Car Championship is the first production car championship race to allow the use of bioethanol or E85. With the use of the alternative fuel, Volvo’s race cars produces 80 percent less carbon dioxide emissions compared to gasoline-powered vehicles participating in the championship.
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  • Study: Hybrid Cars Won’t Save Much Oil – In a report, the analysts point out that even under high-growth assumptions, where hybrids account for a third of all new car sales in 2020, the savings would be just 200,000 barrels of oil a day, or just 1 percent of the nation’s current oil demand.
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  • Detroit needs a buyer for its efficiency drive – Research from Walter McManus, director of the Automotive Analysis Division of the University of Michigan, suggests the big three carmakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — could boost their gross profits by $3 billion (£1.8 billion) a year and increase sales by the equivalent of two assembly plants by embracing new government standards on fuel economy.


GP Elec Levallois – The first 100% electric city-course Grand Prix

Levallois City Council approved plans for the organization of the first GP Elec Levallois.

The Grand Prix and surrounding events will take place on the 4, 5, and 6 of June 2010. It will be an amazing showcase of electric vehicles. Levallois city council approved Mobygreen’s plans for the event after months of planning and preparation in secret.

The course will take high-powered TESLA cars and electric racing prototypes around a 3km course (1.8 miles) through the city. The course has 8 bends, a tunnel, and an 800 meter straight.

The cars- although high powered- will be quiet, making the event free of sound pollution and something completely new for the public. Their cheers will be louder than the cars’ engines.

In the spirit of an old-fashioned grand prix it is completely free to the public. Spectators will have the chance to see the cars up close after each race.

The Grand Prix will host a Sustainable Mobility Salon in the city’s square, where the public will be able to learn more about electric vehicles, environmental concerns, and innovations in transportation. The salon will have events for children and adults, including electric go-karts, children cars, and an eco-educational garden.

GP Elec is a free, eco-friendly event.

To find out more, visit the website at www.gp-elec.com

About Levallois

Levallois is located in the north-western suburbs of Paris, France. The city has a strong relationship with industry, as seen by the gear wheel on its coat-of-arms. The history of Levallois is inseparable of that of the automobile. The establishment of companies such as Clement-Bayard, Delage, and Chapron gave way to the importance of auto manufacturing

in the city. The Citroen ‘2cv’which will remain legendary, forever etched into automobile history, was produced for 40 years in Levallois. Today, the City of Levallois supports strong message of environmental protection-including all sectors of the automobile industry.

About Mobygreen

The company’s name embodies its driving force- to deliver ‘green mobility.’ The two founders, Franck Moritz, a young entrepreneur, 33 years old, whose concern for the environment manifests in his business ; and Phillipe Poincloux, 57 years old ,entrepreneur and Team Manager of Team Luc Alphand Aventures, strive to raise awareness of environmentally-friendly development.

For more information, download complete press release.



MINI Cooper D Sets New Zealand Fuel Economy Record Of 3.5 l/100km (67.2 MPG)

Source: The Motor Report

2009-mini-cooperd-newzealand-fueleconomyrecord-01

A MINI Cooper D (diesel) – piloted by trained ecodrivers Mark Whittaker and Paul Owen – has just set a new record for fuel efficient driving, by driving 2000 km on just over 72 liters (19 US gallons) of diesel fuel – achieving 3.5 l/100km (just over 67 MPG) average for that trip.

Mark Whittaker said the aim of the exercise was to highlight the potential for cutting New Zealand’s transport related emissions at little or no extra cost.

“In setting this record we are demonstrating that everyone can contribute to reducing emissions by choosing a fuel efficient car and employing simple ecodriving techniques,” Mr Whittaker said.

While Whittaker and Owen had originally targeted an average of 3.0 l/100km, the final 3.5 l/100km figure bested the country’s other top fuel miser – the third generation Toyota Prius – with which the Cooper D shares an official fuel economy of 3.9 l/100km.

The MINI Cooper D sports a fuel efficient and spunky small clean diesel engine and state-of-the-art start/stop technology similar to the new Ford Focus ECOnic we profiled a few days ago.

The Cooper D’s figures are thanks to a host of technological innovations borrowed from parent company BMW (including a start-stop system and a thrifty diesel engine from PSA).

BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the fuel economy record proves how far diesel technology has come.

“The MINI has proven that new, small clean diesel engines have an important part to play in improving the fuel economy of the New Zealand vehicle fleet,” said Mr Gilbert.

“And the other clear message from this exercise is that it is not only what you drive, but how you drive, that counts,” he said. (Emphasis added)

That last bit sounds familiar! We certainly agree.

The bad news is that although it was mentioned last February that MINI was considering making the Cooper D available in the US, it has yet to become a reality according to our local MINI dealer. A message to MINI USA about the future availability of the “D” here in the US is awaiting reply – I’ll update you should we hear back. (If you’ve seen a “firm” scheduled availability date, please let me know.)

The future availability of the Ford Focus ECOnic diesel is also yet to be announced. In the past I mentioned my experience driving the SEAT with a small clean diesel a few years ago in Estonia… for now, you’ll still need to cross the pond to have this much fun driving at over 65 miles per gallon.



Lotus Tests the Two-Stroke “Omnivore” Engine

Lotus_Omnivore_Engine_270x404

Source: CNET Green Tech

Last year, Lotus announced the development of its Omnivore engine, the name denoting flex fuel capability. Today Lotus released test results for the engine, along with the kind of detail on how it operates only an engineer could love. These test results cover the first phase of testing the Omnivore engine with gasoline. Presumably, testing with fuels derived from alcohol and other sources are in the next phases.

In Lotus’ lab, the Omnivore engine brought in 10 percent better fuel economy than current direct injection engines, which are the most efficient on the market.

Two-stroke engines have twice as many “power strokes” at any given RPM when compared to the common four-stroke engines, making them more powerful and naturally efficient. (The engine is not “wasting” as much energy moving the piston up and down in power-robbing intake and scavenging strokes.) Two-strokes are smaller and lighter when compared to four-stroke engine of similar horsepower, and have fewer moving parts that simplifies the inner workings, making them cheaper to build and maintain.

In the past, the problem has always been pollution – it was considered near-impossible to build a two-stroke engine that could meet modern emission standards. Apparently Lotus is solving this problem:

Omnivore also uses a two-stroke, rather than a four stroke cycle, but still manages to turn in emission levels equivalent to modern production engines.

This Lotus prototype engine uses an ignition system called “homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), meaning that instead of igniting its fuel charge with a spark plug, the compression of the cylinder causes the charge to ignite, similar to a diesel engine.”

More good news – the prototype is a flex-fuel engine, which would allow the owner/operator to choose what kind of fuel preferred to power it with – fossil-fuel gasoline (and diesel?) or bio-mass alcohol (ethanol/methanol) or a combination of the two.

Flex-fuel engines already exist, the problem with the current crop is that they are engineered as gasoline engines, and re-programmed to also run on alcohol blends – meaning that mechanically they are still designed for the lower compression ratios required to run on modern gasoline blends. Alcohol fuels have “less energy” per gallon than gasoline, but can run at a much higher compression ratios, allowing a properly-built alcohol engine to “gain” additional efficiency and reduce the “MPG” gap with gasoline.

The Lotus engine can apparently modify it’s compression ratio thanks to what they call the “puck” – or the “variable compression mechanism…at the top of the cylinder which dynamically changes the displacement depending on running conditions.”

Once again innovative engineering is proving that there still are many ways to improve fuel efficiency with the internal combustion engines, and there are no technical reasons we can’t be driving cars that get 60+ MPG regularly. The “fuel efficiency flat-line” from the mid-1980’s until just recently was due to something else – not because it was “technically impossible” to build more efficient engines.



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.


Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Efficient Prototypes; Fuel Efficiency Ratings for Tires; Peugeot Advert gets Banned; More MPG from a Pickup Truck

  • GreenTech Unveils 4 Fuel Efficient Prototypes — According to the Associated Press, “The prototypes include a midsize four-door hybrid that will get 50 miles per gallon, a zero-emissions electric car, a high-efficiency gasoline car designed to get 65 mpg and a hybrid sports coupe designed to get 45 miles to gallon and to go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5.9 seconds.”
     
  • Europe may have tyres with efficiency ratings — When adopted, this legislation will help to reduce CO2 and noise emissions on Europe’s roads, by promoting green tyres with improved fuel-efficiency that do not compromise on safety. In addition, the labels will provide more transparency to consumers.
     
  • Peugeot 308 ad campaign banned for suggesting unrealistic level of fuel efficiency — The ad campaign, which ran in the national press, highlighted a “fuel stretching world record” that achieved 126 miles per gallon in a Peugeot 308 HDi. A picture of the car in the ad had the text “126mpg” on it.
     
  • Getting the Most Possible Mileage Out of a Pickup — Because today’s EPA ratings are fairly realistic, thanks to the recent change in how they’re calculated, these trucks should be about 1 mpg better in real-world use as well. But at $2.40 a gallon at an average 18 mpg (versus 17), if you drive 12,000 miles each year, that 1-mpg difference will save $94 a year. Which raises the question: Why are these trucks just 1 mpg better? Why can’t automakers improve the fuel economy by 10, or even 12?


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



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. 


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: Car Shoppers Want Efficiency, Hydraulic Hybrids Cheaper than Electric, Mass. Considers Gas Guzzler Tax, 70MPG VW Rabbit for $7000?

  • Fuel Efficiency is the First Priority of Car Shoppers : Many car shoppers at the Chicago Auto Show say money-saving fuel-efficiency technology is becoming the top factor affecting their purchase decisions… Though the price of gasoline has dropped in the past seven months, down from $3.86 to $1.97 per gallon on average for regular gasoline, car shoppers have learned their lesson, becoming more cautious of fluctuating prices. [ With video ]
     
  • Green Car Halves Fuel Consumption : A hybrid hydraulic drive allows energy usually wasted during braking to be stored and used again when the car needs to accelerate. The car ran on a mixture of stored energy and petrol, with computer control technology used to switch between the two power sources. The team from Midlothian-based Artemis Intelligent Power said the equipment was less expensive than the batteries used in existing hybrid vehicles.
     
  • Massachusetts Considers Gas-Guzzler Tax : Governor Deval Patrick said today he is looking at a Hummer tax — adding higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offering discounts for those that do less harm to the environment. One industry opponent said it would be the first such fee in the nation on the state level. 
      
  • Top Gear America to Build 70MPG Car Out of a 1971 VW Rabbit for $7,000 : “While converting a gas-powered car to diesel power is technically simple (replace the engine and the gas tank), it’s bureaucratically cumbersome. Our creation will need a license plate, and that license plate requires a registration, and renewing that registration will require some kind of emissions test… If the book doesn’t say the Scirocco’s pipe gas should smell like a diesel, we’re dead in the water.” 


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


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