October 27, 2014
Small Steps in Fuel Efficiency Lead to Great Leaps.
Car companies are now exceeding Corporate Average Fuel Economy expectations, and will continue to do so.
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
Better automatic transmissions. Small turbocharged engines. Fewer cylinders. Light-weighting. A smattering of diesels, electrics, hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Totally new vehicle types in company product lines. Car makers are doing everything they can think of to increase their Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards as mandated by Washington.
Don't expect car companies to make giant strides in fuel economy, but each year with new model introductions, along with updates of existing vehicles, fuel economy will steadily improve – bit-by-bit.
Honda has found another 3 MPG overall in its very popular CRV crossover by swapping a five speed automatic for a continuously variable box. The nearly exact model in 2014 got 26 overall, now its up to 29, according to EPA estimates.
Ford has taken the gutsy move of building its new F-150 pickup in aluminum to cut weight. Ford expects a 5 to 20 percent increase in fuel economy over the outgoing model, depending on engine choice of course.
Chevy is adding the Trax mini crossover to its US lineup, putting a 29 MPG model in its offerings that wasn't there before. The Trax will compete with a GM cousin the Buick Encore as well as vehicles like the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the really popular Kia Soul and the upcoming FIAT 500X and Jeep Renegade. Both of those models are new and fuel savers compared to larger crossovers.
The automaker's gas saving efforts are working.
A new report from University of MichiganTransportation Research Institute, "A comparison of CAFE standards and actual CAFE performance of new light-duty vehicles: An update through model year 2014" states this in its abstract:
"CAFE performance has exceeded these anticipated levels for each of the 2012, 2013, and 2014 model years—the first three years that the current standard has been in effect. Additionally, achieved CAFE performance has consistently increased annually from model year 2008 through model year 2014. If the current trends in annual improvements continue, future achieved CAFE performance is expected to continue meeting or exceeding the projected performance levels (and desired GHG reductions) contained in the latest CAFE standards."
The report is authored by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, Ph.D. Director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, at the University.
What's changed? Do car companies now embrace fuel efficiency? Is it just the long arm of government telling them they have to do so? Do car companies suddenly care about environmental issues, rising sea levels and all? Or having gone through a near-death experience, are they spooked by oil?
At one time car companies vehemently resisted attempts by Washington to raise fuel economy standards. Global events – political and economic – have changed all that. With the gas price run-up of 2007-2008, car companies can no longer trust global oil markets to keep prices stable for more than a few years. (If that.) The current gas run-down is only a prelude to more expensive fuel in the future. Even if the next administration is foolish enough to remove the current mandate of 54.5 MPG by 2025, car makers should ignore politics and keep seeking better fuel economy to have gas sipping cars and trucks ready to sell when the next upturn comes. Next time they'll be no bailout.
In the long run – many decades ahead – it's in the best interest of car companies to continuously find ways to seek better and better fuel efficiencies.
Green Energy News is not responsible for content on external websites.