Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

FuelClinic.com Fleet System adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System ( http://fleet.fuelclinic.com ), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.

This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”

FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.

FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.

AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.

Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.

AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.



Something Different: Patriotic Car Commercial

June 16, 2010 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Movies & Video · Comment 



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



Military Continues to Test Alternative Aviation Bio-Fuels

Some additional information regarding how the DoD is exploring options to ween the military away from petroleum based fuels.

On Earth Day, 22 April, the US Navy conducted a test flight of an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, run on a 50-percent mixture of a fuel refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The flight of the Green Hornet, as it was called, followed an Air Force test a month earlier of an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, fueled with a similar blend.

Both events had the purpose of testing the performance of biofuel/petroleum mixtures with an eye toward the eventual certification of the fuels for routine use. They also demonstrate the efforts of the Department of Defense to increase its use of renewable energy, not only for environmental reasons but also to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on overseas sources of petroleum.

The DoD spends $20 billion a year on energy and incurs $1.3 billion in additional costs for every $10 per barrel increase in the market price of oil, according to a report recently released by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. In addition to vulnerability to price fluctuations, the DoD’s “reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield,” said the report. “Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Read the rest…

Source: ISN Security Watch



Pressure-cooking Algae into a Better Biofuel

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Heating and squishing microalgae in a pressure-cooker can fast-forward the crude-oil-making process from millennia to minutes.

University of Michigan professors are working to understand and improve this procedure in an effort to speed up development of affordable biofuels that could replace fossil fuels and power today’s engines.

They are also examining the possibility of other new fuel sources such as E. coli bacteria that would feed on waste products from previous bio-oil batches.

“The vision is that nothing would leave the refinery except oil. Everything would get reused. That’s one of the things that makes this project novel. It’s an integrated process. We’re combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches,” said Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering and principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports this project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This research could play a major role in the nation’s transition toward energy independence and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector,” Savage said.

Read the rest…



“My name is Mike, and I help people save money…”

A few people who know me well have told me about a new Walmart ad that talks about Walmart’s recent work improving efficiency in fleet operations by packing trucks more efficiently and paying more attention to routing, all in an effort to rollback prices for customers.

The funny part (for my friends) is at the end when the driver stands by his truck and says “My name is Mike, and I help people save money…” It’s funny because my name is Mike too, and I’ve been helping people save even more money though better driving habits.

Back to the commercial. I think it’s great, and a sign of the times that the world’s largest retailer, with one of the largest fleets in the world, is spending millions to educate people to the benefits of efficient fleet operations. Fuel prices are on the rise again, and the importance of efficient fleet operations is more important than ever, as our economy continues to recover from it’s recent with no real change to our oil dependency.

I’m only disappointed that Mike doesn’t mention the incredible savings Walmart could be realizing through a comprehensive driver efficiency improvement program that includes eco-driving fundamentals.

Imagine what 5% of their fuel spend must be? With additional computer-based training and strong corporate buy-in, take that 5% number and triple it… that would be some sizable “rollback”. Maybe I should try to get in touch with them.



The Quiet Energy Revolution

Source: The American

The 20th century was the century of oil. Wars were fought over it, and the outcomes of the century’s biggest conflicts hinged on the stuff. In World War I, for instance, Churchill’s conversion of the British Navy to oil gave the crown’s ships supremacy over German vessels. In World War II, when the Nazis and Japanese each failed to secure supplies of oil, they were doomed. Later, President Ronald Reagan, CIA Director William Casey, and America’s Middle Eastern partners manipulated global oil production to bankrupt the Soviet Union and win the Cold War. In the first half of the century, oil policy served as the catalyst for military victory. In the second half, oil helped propel the greatest economic expansion in the history of the world, and liberated mankind from the tyranny of immobility.

All hail oil! But not too much, because the 21st century won’t be defined by oil. It is more likely to be defined by a different fossil fuel: natural gas…

…Natural gas may also change how we drive, and enable ordinary consumers to break oil’s monopoly on transportation. As my colleague, Peter Huber, notes in a recent Manhattan Institute report, “Gas-handling technologies [have] improved quite enough to make natural gas a practical alternative” to oil. After all, gas is cheaper than gasoline and diesel per unit of energy. That’s why large stationary power plants that used to run on oil switched to natural gas long ago.

The chief obstacle to developing a natural gas infrastructure capable of supplying service stations and highway rest stops is regulatory. If that is removed—and here we do need government action—we could expect to see trucks, buses, and cars running on natural gas in a relatively short period of time. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be considerable.

We may also see continued inroads of gas into the electricity-generating sector (which can also affect transportation as we move to hybrid and electric vehicles). Gas emits about half as much carbon per unit of energy as coal. With worries about long-term gas supplies allayed, expect regulators and utilities to favor construction of new gas-fired power plants over controversial coal plants, which are more expensive to build anyway. This same thing happened during the 1990s, and gas shot to a 20 percent share of America’s electricity economy as a result.

Read the whole thing… then add your comment below, or over at our Facebook page. What do you think – is LNG a viable transportation fuel, or will it always be relegated to highly controlled and well-maintained systems like power plants – venturing out on the roads only in bus fleets and corporate utility companies?



Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Economy still the Next Big Thing; Study: Fuel Costs Must Double; Biofuel-Fed A-10 Warthogs; Oil Prices Continue 2-month Climb

  • Still the next big thing: Fuel economy — “We’re all in a race again,” he said. “From the standpoint where we [as manufacturers] kept bringing out new products to meet emission targets, now we’ll be aggressively focusing on fuel economy.”
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  • Study: Fuel costs must (at least) double to reduce GHG emissions — The team concludes that the only way to change the status quo in America — to reduce GHGs 17% by 2020 — is to adopt a mix of stringent rules that substantially increase fuel costs and increase vehicle mileage. To do this, the Harvard study suggests starting with a $0.50 a gallon tax in year one and adding another half-buck tax a year until the tax reaches $3.36 per gallon in 2020.
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  • Air Force Debuts Biofuel-Guzzling Warthog — In a bid to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been looking to new energy alternatives. Under the Air Force’s current energy plan, the goal is to acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel from an alternative blend by 2016. Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said in a statement the goal was to encourage a major shift in the way the service powers its aircraft. “Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption,” he said.
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  • Oil rises above $84, extending 2-month rally — Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.


Breakthrough Engine Technology Turns the “Gasoline-Ethanol Equation” Upside Down

Alternative-fuels like bio-diesel (from algae) and ethanol/methanol (cellulosic ethanol)  would allow us to quickly displace a great quantity of petroleum while continuing to utilize our existing distribution infrastructure.

Ethanol-fuel vehicles have existed for decades, and have been used with great success in sugar-cane ethanol rich Brazil since the 1980’s. Known as “Flex-Fuel” this technology allows a greater combination of ethanol mixed with gasoline (up to 85% ethanol) to be used safely in a standard internal combustion engine, while adding as little as $100 to the cost per vehicle in upgraded fuel system parts. (The current estimate is that there are approx. 7.5 million Flex-Fuel vehicles on American roads today… you may be driving a Flex-Fuel vehicle and not know it.)

One of the biggest problems with Flex-Fuel and ethanol in general is the “decrease in MPG” blamed on ethanol “containing less energy” than an equal quantity of gasoline. You’ll suffer a loss in MPG (but a substantial gain in MPGG) by using ethanol-blends in Flex-Fuel engines because gasoline engines are not designed to take advantage of one of the particular strengths of alcohol-blended fuels – tolerance for higher compression ratio.

Engines designed to be fueled with higher-octane alcohol blends are designed with higher compression ratios, able to squeeze more energy out of the fuel, improving efficiency and producing a greater amount of power. Ricardo recently announced they have developed an engine that takes advantage of the physics, and have developed an ethanol-fueled engine with superior efficiencies…

Ricardo says this engine, which it dubbed the Ethanol Boost Direct Injection engine, or EBDI, is tuned to make the most out of ethanol’s properties where it has an edge on other fuels. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than diesel or gas, so it’s more likely to ignite at just the right point in the engine’s combustion cycle. Diesel and gasoline can sometimes ignite earlier or later than intended, causing knocking noises in the engine. Automakers compensate with knock detection systems, but those can cut an engine’s efficiency.

Ricardo will be testing this new engine in a heavy-duty GMC truck, expecting an 18% improvement in efficiency with the new ethanol-powered engine over the stock gasoline engine.

The engine runs best on a blend with gasoline that is 30% to 50% ethanol, but, Ricardo says, can run on anything from all gas to all ethanol. Ricardo is bringing a GMC Sierra 3500HD pickup to the Washington, D.C., auto show this week that will be outfitted with its V-6 ethanol engine. On gas, it says, the GMC truck gets about 12.7 miles per gallon. On all ethanol, it would get about 12.1 mpg, the company says. But with an optimum blend, it says the engine could get 15 mpg.

Join in the discussion by commenting here, or jumping over to our Facebook Community and add your thoughts!



Eye-candy: Porsche’s Hybrid Supercar

From The Local:

Porsche unveiled its creation at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. It claims the car has a top speed of 320 km/h but uses just three litres of fuel for every 100 kilometres – equivalent to 94 miles per imperial gallon.

“We are a sports car manufacturer and that means it’s about driving fast – but at the same time about cutting pollution and conserving natural resources,” Porsche chief Michael Macht said according to the website of news magazine Der Spiegel.

Critically, the Spyder emits an average of just 70 grammes of carbon dioxide, the firm claims. According to Britain’s Department for Transport, the third-generation Toyota Prius – the best-known hybrid car – emits 89 g/km.

500 HP V-8 that get’s 94 miles per gallon?

Read more



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.



Fuelishness! Feed: Ford’s Focus on Eco-Driving; Pentagon’s Algae Fuel Research; Oil over $80; Lithium Supply for 1M Hybrids; ‘Stuck With Cars’ Discussion

  • Ford’s new Focus on eco driving — It’s about being careful and not wasteful, both when it comes to the way a car runs and, indeed, how it is built in the first place and here Ford is reducing its carbon footprint with a range of sustainability initiatives.
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  • Pentagon Researcher Promises Cheap Biofuel for Jets — Pentagon officials have been talking for years about weaning their jets off of fossil fuels. Now they say they’re only months away from producing a cheap fuel made from algae — for less than $3 a gallon.
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  • Oil above $80 as traders eye low interest rates — Oil prices rose above $80 a barrel Monday in Asia, extending a three-week rally as investors expect the U.S. central bank to keep interest rates near zero to help fuel economic growth, which would boost crude consumption.
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  • Energy for Electric Vehicles Dealt a Blow by Bolivian Lithium Production — Unfortunately for those who are expecting electric cars to spring out of the woodwork in the next few years (remembering that the President’s plan calls for 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015) Mitsubishi estimates that the world will need 500,000 tons per year at full ramp up. The Salar di Uyuni deposit in Bolivia holds at least 9 million tons, although the country has, in total, perhaps as much as 73 million tons.
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  • Stuck With Cars — Every weekday, tens of millions of Americans get into vehicles that are full of passenger space which won’t be used, with engines capable of horsepower and speeds that won’t be attained, holding fuel tanks that could power the car for distances that won’t be traveled. The result of all this over-engineering is that cars cost way more than a vehicle for daily commuting need cost, and they consume way more energy than a vehicle for daily commuting need consume.


Test-drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Examiner.com Car of the Year

A few weeks ago I took a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for a test drive, at the invitation of Michael Block at the Orlando Examiner. He’s been gaining momentum as a car critic over the past year or so, with some thoughtful insights and interesting ideas about modern automobiles, alternative engineering, and fuel efficiency. Give his site a visit.

I found the Fusion Hybrid to be very easy to be comfortable with. The only problem I found was also mentioned by Block – the lack of “toe room” over the pedals – thanks to the “knee airbag”. I think if I was wearing work boots or other “heavy” shoes, it would have been even more annoying.

Instead of re-writing, let me urge you to read Block’s excellent review.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Fusion Hybrid is, as Ford calls it, “the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America.” Up against other hybrid family sedan offerings, such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, it does indeed come out on top with its city rating of 41mpg and highway rating of 36mpg. Observed fuel economy was 35.2mpg, not quite matching the EPA estimates. But considering that most subcompact hatchbacks which are substantially smaller, lighter, and less powerful struggle to achieve the same figures, it’s quite commendable nonetheless.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State

  • In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
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  • Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
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  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
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  • Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.


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.



Gas Prices Steadily Climb Again – What Have We Done To Stop It?

Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.


Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.

It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)

What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?

1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.

2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.

3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.

4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.

5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.

In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.

What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?



Transformational Trucks: Determining the Energy Efficiency Limits of a Class-8 Tractor Trailer

Rocky Mountain Institute: White Paper

Feasible technological improvements in vehicle ef?ciency, combined with “long combination vehicles” (which raise productivity by connecting multiple trailers), can potentially raise the ton-mile ef?ciency of long-haul heavy tractor-trailers by a factor ~2.5 with respect to a baseline of 130 ton-miles/gal. Within existing technological and logistical constraints, these innovations (which do not include such further opportunities as hybrid-electric powertrains or auxiliary power units to displace idling) could thus cut the average fuel used to move each ton of freight by ~64 percent. This would annually save the current U.S. Class 8 ?eet about four billion gallons of diesel fuel and 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Further bene?ts would include lower shipping costs, bigger pro?ts for trucking companies, fewer tractor-trailers on the road, and fewer fatal accidents involving them. Thus transformational, not incremental, redesign of tractors, trailers, and (especially) both as in integrated system can broadly bene?t economic prosperity, public health, energy security, and environmental quality.

Download the Report.



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.



Sirius Traffic Helps Motorists Avoid Traffic Congestion

Slowly we are moving to generally-available real-time ITS solutions that will help drivers navigate around traffic congestion, find fuel at the lowest cost along the route, and provide real-time feedback to drivers about how their driving style is effecting their fuel economy and safety.

SiriusXM constellation of satellites transmits much more than music, news, and Howard Stern – with the right equipment you can receive real-time traffic information for your area beamed directly to your car.

Source: Sirius Traffic FAQ

Real-time traffic flow — Real-time traffic speed on each road segment is averaged over a five minute period and is shown on the navigation map, usually as color-coded roadways… Real-time traffic incidents — This includes updated traffic information on accidents, road construction, road closings and other traffic-related incidents… Since the Sirius Traffic service is integrated with a vehicle’s navigation systems, SIRIUS Traffic can help drivers pick the fastest route. Navigation systems can also reroute based on the updated real-time traffic.

Currently available mostly on high-end OEM platforms (there are a few aftermarket receivers that can read the signals and integrate with your on-board navigation system) to warn you when your route becomes congested, is under construction, or has other incidents – provide you a chance to re-route avoid delays.

Recently it was announced that much of the 2010 class of Mercedes Benz vehicles will come with an OEM version of the Sirius Traffic service pre-installed with a 6-month trial activated.

Source: Sirius Buzz

The news came in today that Sirius Traffic is available on all 2010 Mercedes Benz vehicles equipped with navigation and Sirius satellite radio. It is expected to be installed in 70% of the Mercedes Benz 2010 lineup and will be standard on the S-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class and G-Class models.

Sirius Traffic comes pre-activated with a six month trial subscription for the higher then typical converting customers along with a six-month trial subscription of the “SIRIUS Everything” package.

For those of you who don’t know Sirius Traffic provides traffic speed and flow information to vehicles over Sirius’ network. It also provides information on traffic incidents, scheduled road closings and road construction. Since the Traffic feature is integrated with the vehicle’s navigation system, the service assists drivers in picking the quickest, safest routes based on real-time traffic conditions.

Lern more about Sirius Traffic here and read the Sirius Traffic FAQ here.



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?



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