Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Ecopreneurist : Veteran’s Day Special: 5 Veteran-Owned Green Businesses

A nice surprise in my morning Google Alerts on Friday, as FuelClinic is included in an article about 5 Veteran-Owned green businesses at Ecopreneurist.

Veteran’s Day usually involves lots of flag-waving, parades, and expressions of gratitude for military service… all well-deserved by those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the armed forces. We tend to focus on the concepts of national security and defense in these celebrations… but, equally as important, is the spirit of serving the greater good that these men and women often carry with them after separating from active duty…

Read the rest



Oil Spill: The Urgency of Doing

We can boycott and punish BP for their crimes… and it is a crime. And on election day we can hold the government accountable for it’s dereliction of duty in this disaster, but the next set of derelicts we elect may be no better. In between we can day-dream of a future when all of our cars are electric and run on sunshine and windmills.

But time is short, and we can “do better” sooner. We can take meaningful action now, every day, starting today.

Leonardo da Vinci inspires me with this quote:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

We must do.

I day-dream about the impact of 3/4 million people waking up tomorrow, starting to work, and quietly deciding that today they will not compete with the other drivers on the road for position. Today they will not race to the next stoplight. Today they will try to maintain more distance in front of them to allow a little coasting before braking. Today they will move to the middle or the right on the highway and slow down 5 or 10 MPH. This week those people will go an additional 25 or 50 miles on a single tank of gas – possibly more, maybe enough to skip a fill-up for a day or two.

If all 750,000 squeezed another 50 miles from a full tank of gas this week, that’s 37,500,000 “carbon-free” miles traveled. At $0.12/mile avg. cost that’s $4.5 million dollars saved – ($6/ea) to be saved or spent elsewhere. Repeat that process each week, and you see it can add up to significant numbers very quickly. And that’s ONLY considering 750,000 people – imagine what would happen if each of them told two friends about what they are doing and impressed them to try.

It’s easy to do. You can track your personal per-tank mileage by setting your trip odometer at each fillup. If you want better data, keep your receipts and use a notepad, a spreadsheet, or a free website like FuelClinic to track your MPG over time, and look for ways to improve your score (see links below for additional techniques).

We all feel the urgency. We know what to do. The only questions is – are we willing? If you are willing, then you must DO.

Learn more fuel-efficient driving techniques here:

http://www.fuelclinic.com
http://www.ecodrivingusa.com
http://www.fueleconomy.gov

Video: Together We Are More Powerful Than Oil



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



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.



Oprah Show: Distracted Driving – America’s New Deadly Obsession

Oprah Winfrey is using her considerable influence to educate motorists to the growing dangers of distracted driving, a topic near to our hearts here at FuelClinic.

Millions of people text, talk or e-mail on their cell phones while driving—a recent survey finds that 71 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 49 admit they text or talk on the phone while they drive.

If you think you can call, text and drive at the same time, you cannot. That message you can’t wait to send could kill. Distracted driving is an epidemic that is sweeping through our country, claiming lives and destroying families.

On Monday, she aired an entire episode dedicated to her new cause. While you can’t find the full episode online, here is a short clip available at CNN.

We applaud Oprah along with the many professional driving educators, technology creators, and others working every day to make positive changes in this important effort.



FuelClinic in the Orlando Sentinel today

October 11, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, FuelClinic.com, News & Reports, Press Room, Related News · 4 Comments 

Today there is a nice article about FuelClinic by Steven Cole Smith in the print edition of the Orlando Sentinel (Section G2), our big hometown paper.

…In a nutshell, FuelClinic.com is “a driver-improvement system that helps create safer, smarter, more efficient drivers,” according to the company Web site. “In consumer applications this system helps families save money on fuel, reduce [carbon] emissions, find deficiencies in inexperienced or young drivers, and helps motorists become generally safer and more professional drivers.”

Bragg also is working on a professional application targeted at businesses and fleet managers that, he said, helps them train employees, reduce fuel expenses and reinforce safety initiatives.

Bragg said one of his goals is to take the idea of fuel savings more mainstream, away from the traditional dedicated, hybrid-driving environmentalist who makes a second career out of saving fuel. Bragg is not telling people that they have to buy a Toyota Prius — he still has that four-wheel-drive truck, in fact — but he is saying that by modifying your driving habits, your routes and other easily manageable changes, you can save a lot of fuel, and a lot of money… ( read the rest )

Judging from new user sign-ups, the article is a huge hit. I’d like to welcome all of the new members, and ask that you let me know what you enjoy about the site, and what you’d like to see changed or improved.



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

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

Read more



Congratulations to iCarpool for winning the ITS Congestion Challenge

The much anticipated announcement was made earlier today at the 16th World Congress on ITS , and online at the ITSA website.

STOCKHOLM – 23 Sept. 2009: The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners announced the results of the ITS Congestion Challenge, a global competition to find the best ideas for reducing traffic congestion.

The three organizations announced the selection of iCarpool.com at the 16th World Congress on ITS in Stockholm. iCarpool.com, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, won the competition among more than 116 entries from 20 countries. The organization will receive a cash investment of $50,000 USD, which will be used for further development of its solution.

For more info on the ITS Congestion Challenge and the other finalists please see the full Press Release – PDF

We here at FuelClinic would like to say “Well done!” and congratulations to iCarpool on their 1st place finish.

Read the entire press release (pdf).



Mexican cartels smuggle stolen oil into U.S.

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Oil Industry, Oil Refining, Related News · 1 Comment 

Mexican drug cartels are skimming oil from the government owned pipelines an selling it to several U.S. refineries.

In a surprising public acknowledgment, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said last week that drug cartels have extended their operations into the theft of oil, Mexico’s leading source of foreign income which finances about 40 percent of the national budget.

At least one U.S. oil executive has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy that involved what prosecutors said was about $2 million in stolen Mexican oil, U.S. Justice Department officials confirmed to The Associated Press.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Obama orders push to cleaner, more efficient cars

 

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

Some encouraging news earlier today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think about Obama’s announcement today?

What do you think of my own proposals?

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



Crude Oil Prices Continue To Chill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



ComEd Adds 50 Prius Electric Plug-INS and Hybrids to One of Nation’s Largest Green Fleets

/PRNewswire/ Chicago, Jan 8th – One of the nation’s largest private fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles just got greener. ComEd has added 50 new Toyota Prius hybrids and plug-in electric hybrids to a fleet that now numbers more than 2,100 green vehicles.

ComEd meter readers in Chicago and the company’s Maywood office will drive the 50 new Priuses, including 10 Priuses that have been specially converted into electric plug-in hybrids. The plug-in conversion is expected to significantly increase fuel-efficiency by providing greater electric-drive capability.

Plug-in electric vehicles and smart charging technology are enabled by building the Smart Grid of the future, an initiative ComEd is actively working on in collaboration with the Illinois Commerce Commission and other stakeholders.

“These new vehicles not only use electricity to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions but may eventually be used as back-up power sources,” said Terence Donnelly, ComEd senior vice president of Transmission and Distribution. “Deploying advanced metering and other Smart Grid technologies will help us understand and manage impacts to the grid from plug-in electric vehicles but more importantly will improve reliability and enable customers to make more efficient choices about their electric usage.”

Traditional hybrids run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. Compared to an average subcompact, the Prius hybrid and plug-in electric version consume about 30 and 65 percent less fuel, respectively. ComEd estimates this will reduce its gasoline use in 2009 by 6,500 gallons and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 metric tons.

Read more



Has OPEC Lost Control?

December 12, 2008 · Filed Under Energy Independence, FuelClinic, Oil Industry, Related News · 2 Comments 

OPEC wants to prop up the dive-bombing price of oil, to keep their bank accounts flush with fresh cash. Russia is also feeling the pinch, as the rest of the world decides it _can_ live on less oil than previously consumed. OPEC would like Russia to join them in cutting output, in an effort to bring prices up.

Opec has been eagerly trying to recruit Russia to join its efforts and analysts say together the two could announce a further reduction of as much as 3m barrels a day of oil production within the next week.

Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s oil minister and Opec’s president, told state radio on Thursday there was a consensus among Opec members to reduce production when they met in the Algerian seaside town of Oran on December 17. He said: “The Oran meeting will decide a severe production cut to stabilise the oil market.” 

Time will tell if they can woo the worlds consumers back to heavy consumption at the same time they bring prices back to “normal” profitability. If they are successful at turning this train around, then it’s likely the run-up and recovery of recent history were always under OPEC control – then what does it say about their intentions, as America teetered on the brink of the housing investment crisis in an election year…

What do you think?



Season 28 of PBS’ MotorWeek Holds Keys to Fuel Efficiency

September 26, 2008 · Filed Under Eco-Driving, News & Reports, Related News · Comment 

Owings Mills, MD — With high gas prices fueling significant changes in how Americans buy and drive cars, PBS’ award-winning automotive series MotorWeek launches its 28th season focused on vehicle technology that is fuel efficient, eco-friendly and reshaping the auto industry.

Beginning Saturday, September 6th (check local listings) MotorWeek rolls out its “Clean Power Drive Season” with all-new, consumer-oriented content including Energy Smart Road Tests, expanded fuel efficiency ratings, interactive opportunities for viewers and audio podcasts. A special “Clean Power Drive” edition of MotorWeek, airing October 18th (check local listings), takes a realistic look at fuel economy currently available and what the future holds for automotives.

“MotorWeek is tuned in to what consumers want in their automotives – comfort, versatility, performance, and now more than ever fuel economy,” said host and executive producer John H. Davis. “Even if gas prices drop, consumers know it is probably a temporary reprieve. They are demanding significant gains in fuel efficiency, without giving up capabilities. That’s a tall order that all automotive companies will have to meet just to survive.”

All 52 new episodes will feature MotorWeek’s traditional Road Tests, along with exclusive Energy Smart Road Tests which will highlight new vehicles that best blend practicality and affordability with increases in fuel economy. Many small cars will be included, as well as new hybrid, diesel and alternative fuel vehicles, and other new technologies to increase fuel efficiency.

Also new this season, viewers will have more tools to determine a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Carbon Footprint ratings will be included in many of the automotive reviews, indicating how much carbon dioxide is emitted annually by a vehicle.

Read more



FORD TESTS SHOW ECO-DRIVING CAN IMPROVE FUEL ECONOMY BY AN AVERAGE OF 24 PERCENT

September 23, 2008 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Related News · Comment 

PHOENIX, Ariz., Aug. 27, 2008 – Tests performed by Ford Motor Company show that motorists coached by eco-driving experts can significantly improve the fuel economy performance of their cars, trucks or SUVs.

Eco-driving refers to specific driving behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote safe driving.  Ford and Phoenix-based Pro Formance Group have teamed up to pilot an eco-driving program for fleet customers.  The program would employ certified master trainers to deliver hands-on coaching to maximize mileage in everyday driving.

Over a four-day period, Ford and the Pro Formance drivers conducted validation tests using volunteers from Phoenix who were given individual coaching on specific driving behaviors.  The Sports Car Club of America verified the results, which showed an average 24 percent improvement in fuel economy as a result of hands-on eco-driving training. 

Read more



Airlines Hurt by Fuel Price Hedging

September 21, 2008 · Filed Under Fuels, Industry, Related News · Comment 

Slacking oil prices has United Airlines paying more for fuel than what it currently costs on the openmarket – and unintended consequence of hedging oil contracts.

 Source: Wired

Here’s a very simplified explanation of how fuel hedging works, using a hypothetical scenario: Let’s say oil is selling for $130 and the price is expected to rise. An airline signs a deal with a supplier to buy, say, three months worth of fuel at $110 a barrel. That’s called a fuel hedge. The price of oil rises to $140 a barrel, but since the airline is locked in at $110, it can sit back and laugh as its competitors pay more for fuel…

But let’s turn that scenario on its head and say the airline hedges at $110 but the price drops to $92. Oops. Now the airline is paying more for fuel than it costs on the open market, placing it at a competitive disadvantage. The balance sheet craters.



AP: Prices Up, Gas Consumption Down

August 29, 2008 · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Related News · 1 Comment 



Death of the SUV

May 7, 2008 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Fuels, Related News · Comment 

“It’s an irrational vehicle. It’ll never come back.” – High fuel prices have started a re-alignment, and quite possibly the death of the SUV.

Source: Boston Globe

…Americans are turning away from the boxy, four-wheel-drive vehicles that have for years dominated the nation’s highways. Sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks – symbols of Americans’ obsession with horsepower, size, and status – are falling out of favor as consumers rich and poor encounter sticker shock at the pump, paying upward of $80 to fill gas tanks.

The sale of new SUVs and pickup trucks has dropped precipitously in recent months amid soaring gas prices and a weakening economy: SUV sales for the month of April alone fell 32.3 percent from a year earlier and small car sales rose 18.6 percent. This fundamental shift comes against a backdrop of relentless gas increases, and growing concerns over the environment and US oil consumption, according to auto analysts and car dealers.

“The SUV craze was a bubble and now it is bursting,” said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University whose research focuses on the automotive industry. “It’s an irrational vehicle. It’ll never come back.”

With stocks of unwanted new SUVs and pickups piling up at dealerships across the country, automakers are offering unprecedented promotions. Incentives for large SUVs, including cash rebates, topped $4,000 in March, or more than double those offered in March 2002, according to Edmunds.com, which monitors the motor industry. 



$2500 Sticker Price & 47 MPG – But would YOU drive it?

January 15, 2008 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Related News · 3 Comments 

The Indian car company Tata Motors has unveiled is micro-commuter the Nano, designed for developing nations – it’s a simple commuter that will sell in India for about $2500. Air conditioning and radio are extra.

Tata Nano - 47 MPG

This little car has four doors, a 2 cylinder 33-horsepower engine that gets a motorcycle-ish 47 MPG (that’s without any hypermiler tuning) and motors along at a less-than-US-highway-safe 60MPH.

It’s called the “People’s Car”, referring to it’s appeal to people who normally couldn’t afford a vehicle. It will be sold in India later this year, and then distributed to developing countries in the same general area. Read more



New Year’s Resolution

January 2, 2008 · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Fuels, Related News · Comment 

New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year! This New Year resolve to change a few habits, save a few bucks, save a few barrels of oil. I’m working to get FuelClinic v.1.0 fully realized, and we’re a few weeks away from that milestone.

In the mean time, you can begin gathering your fuel receipts every time you fill up at the pump. Write your odometer reading on the receipt, and store it in your sun-visor or in a good spot on your dash. After you have 3 receipts, log-in to www.fuelclinic.com and enter the information from your receipts.   



FuelClinic.com in early Beta release.

December 11, 2007 · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Fuels, Related News · Comment 

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally set aside a few hours to get the early-beta release of FuelClinic put together and out on the hosting server.

fuelclinic_beta.jpg

If interested in what the future might hold for FuelClinic – create a new account for yourself, set-up a vehicle in the system, then start adding fuel receipts. With just 2 consecutive receipts in the system the fun begins. The more you add, the better the graphs looks, and more accurate the various projections become.

 All comments, bug reports, feature requests, and general comments are greatly appreciated!

 – Doc



Custom Trucks With Hidden Trapdoors Used To Steal Gas From Fla. Stations

October 19, 2007 · Filed Under Fuels, Oil Industry, Related News · Comment 

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several arrests involving custom-built trucks with hidden trapdoors used to siphon hundreds of gallons of gasoline may be linked to an organized crime ring targeting stations.

“My concern is with Homeland Security,” Police County sheriff Grady Judd said.

“When someone can pull up to a store during business hours and steal hundreds of gallons of gas and simply move on to the next station.” Investigators said Jose Guerra, 22, and Octavio Garcia, 27, were charged with siphoning off hundreds of gallons of gasoline from the Mobil station located on Curry Ford Road and Goldenrod in east Orange County. Wednesday, police said Hobert Gibson, 70, siphoned and stole more than 900 gallons of gas from underground fuel tanks at stations in Polk County.

In both crimes, police said, the men used similar custom-built trucks to steal the gasoline. Deputies said they witnessed Gibson steal gasoline from two stations Tuesday. He would pull over near the underground storage tank at a gas station, pop the trailer’s hood and pretend to fix a problem, as the trap door obscured the view of gas being pumped into the tanks, according to police.

“It was broad daylight, nobody knew that’s what he was doing,” sheriff’s representative Carrie Rodgers said. “He was that good at it.” Sheriff officials believe Gibson stole gas on a daily basis since at least January. They said he may have taken 10,000 gallons of fuel a week to sell at his towing company.



State of the Union – 20/10

January 24, 2007 · Filed Under Governments, News & Reports, Related News · Comment 

Excerpts from last night SOTU re: new fuel economy standards, and an initiative to reduce America’s gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years:

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our Nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists – who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments … raise the price of oil … and do great harm to our economy.

It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply – and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power – by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol – using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington and the strong response of the market. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years – thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 – this is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks – and conserve up to eight and a half billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment – and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.



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