If you really want to reduce emissions or conserve energy, get rid of your car.
For the first time in several decades, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' National Report on Commuting Patterns and Trends found an increase in the share of American households that don't own cars. ( Continue… )
Already one of the top choices for luxury SUV buyers who actually use their vehicle for serious work (or serious play), the Cadillac Escalade gets a complete redesign for the 2015 model year, bringing a more powerful and efficient new V-8 engine, a completely revamped exterior, and a more luxurious, spacious interior.
Now entering its fourth generation, the Escalade is Cadillac's flagship SUV, and it's clearly aiming to put the rest of the large luxury SUV world on notice: as with its sedans, Cadillac is gunning for world-class marks.
While production of the new Escalade doesn't begin until next spring, at GM's Arlington, Texas factory, the Escalade's details portend a smart--if not revolutionary--advance on its third-generation model. Both standard and ESV long-wheelbase (14-inches extra wheelbase, 20 inches longer overall) models will be offered; no EXT model with the short pickup-like bed is planned. Rear-wheel drive is once again standard, with all-wheel drive available.
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The heart of the new 2015 Escalade is the 6.2-liter V-8 engine shared with the new Chevy Silverado High Country and GMC Sierra Denali, rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Those figures represent a 5 percent rise in horsepower and a 10 percent rise in torque from the previous model. The grille hosts active shutters to reduce drag when less airflow is needed, just as in many other current GM vehicles. Direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing further help enhance gas mileage, though Cadillac hasn't yet revealed estimated EPA figures for the Escalade. ( Continue… )
Ford is recalling 23,800 cars because they do not make a sound when the driver's door is open, the Detroit News reports. An audible door chime is required by Federal regulations.
All of the vehicles involved are equipped with push-button start, which makes it more likely for drivers to leave their "keys" in the car.
Since the key fob doesn't need to be inserted into the dashboard to start the car, Ford and federal regulators believe drivers are more likely to leave their fobs in running cars, increasing the likelihood that the vehicles could be stolen.
Ford will update vehicles' software to add the door chime. The company will contact owners with the details.
The recall includes 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Energi models, as well as a much smaller number of the 2012 and 2013 Ford Focus Electrics the company has managed to shift. Only about 2,000 of the all-electric cars have been sold.
Last month there were a few reports of Focus Electrics suddenly stalling, but Ford has not issued a recall.
Gas mileage has gotten far more important in new-car choices over the last 10 years, and that's not likely to change.
But not everyone really understands automobile efficiency--or how to maximize their mileage--and which tactics will really save them money.
Here's our cheat sheet. ( Continue… )
Back in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency issued new standards for corporate average fuel economy -- CAFE for short. While the regulations themselves are fairly complex, the gist is that automakers will have to achieve fleet-wide fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Passenger cars will be held to a higher standard (62 mpg), while trucks and SUVs have a lower goal (44 mpg).
Some loved the new regulations, particularly consumer and environmental groups who looked forward to the greener cars that the rules would inspire. Others loathed them, particularly European automakers like Volkswagen, who said that they gave U.S. companies an advantage thanks to the huge numbers of trucks and SUVs that Chrysler, Ford, and GM manufacture. ( Continue… )
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray holds the honor of being the only car on the market with more than 455 horsepower and a 29 mpg highway EPA gas mileage rating. But that's only if you opt for the seven-speed manual. Choose the automatic and you'll lose 1 mpg city and highway.
Gas mileage ratings for the 2014 Stingray with the six-speed auto were just released yesterday, scoring 16 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. That's only a touch less efficient than the 17/29 mpg of the manual version, and the combined rating reflects the same difference: 20 mpg for the automatic, 21 mpg for the manual.
Is that a good argument for why manual transmissions are better? Definitely.
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But there may be more to this story in the coming months (or years), as reports of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission patented by GM recently hint at a possible third option for Chevy's already incredible performance-per-dollar Stingray. ( Continue… )
The EPA hopes to avoid future fuel-economy scandals, by giving the public more information about its audits of the data submitted by carmakers.
After claims of overly-optimistic mileage from Ford, Hyundai, and Kia, the agency plans to release the results of about 20 recent fuel-economy audits to the public, Automotive News reports (subscription may be required).
The audits were meant to double-check the results of the "coast-down" test, which was the source of the controversy over exaggerated Hyundai and Kia fuel economy numbers last year.
The test involves accelerating a vehicle to 80 mph and then letting it coast to a stop. All makers conduct this test, but according to an industry source, there are only two test tracks in the U.S. available to the EPA that are long enough for the test.
The coastdown test provides data on the aerodynamics of a vehicle, the rolling resistance of its tires, and drivetrain friction; its results are used to calibrate a dynamometer for the other fuel economy tests.
The EPA began regularly auditing test results three years ago, as fuel economy became a more important factor for buyers.
However, this is the first time the results of the EPA's audits will be made public--giving buyers a clearer view of how the testing works, and giving rival carmakers a chance to scrutinize each others' work.
The tests will include around 20 new carsand light-trucks, and will take place at Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Ground in Michigan and at two test tracks in Arizona.
The EPA says it will translate the raw data into "plain English" for public consumption.
The decision to release the results comes after a string of fuel-economy scandals.
Both brands reported higher gas-mileage numbers than their cars actually achieved in testing, and were forced to reimburse customers.
Ford had to lower gas-mileage numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid after owners were consistently unable to achieve its 47-mpg rating in real-world use. Its turbochargedEcoBoost engines have faced similar criticism.
One year on, debate still rages over the federal government’s new fuel standards. Will stricter rules, forcing a 60 percent rise in fuel economy by 2025, help consumers – or hurt them?
The answer’s not easy because a big swing in oil prices or an unexpected technology breakthrough can change the calculations. But barring that, there are discernible trends within the auto industry that are likely to shape the future. Here are three:
- Consumers will pay more for their cars up front, but they’ll save overall because they’ll be able to use far less gasoline.
- Gasoline engines won’t disappear. Despite all the attention given to electric cars right now, the American auto fleet will remain gasoline-powered – overwhelmingly so – through 2025.
- Fuel efficiency won’t radically alter car design. The industry intends to make its technological changes as invisibly as possible.
“Americans don’t have to sacrifice affordability, comfort, or even the ‘wow’ factor when they’re shopping for gas-sipping cars,” said James Guest, chief executive of Consumer Reports, at a Consumers Union conference in Yonkers, N.Y., earlier this year. The next wave of consumer automobiles won’t look or feel wildly different from what’s on the market today, he adds.
For consumer pocketbooks, however, the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards represents a big change. Starting in 2017 and moving up incrementally through 2025, CAFE standards will rise from the current 34.2 miles per gallon to 54.5 m.p.g. That’s an average for each automaker’s fleet, so some cars will get even better mileage, some will be worse.
All those incremental fuel-saving changes come at a cost. Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, estimates they will boost the sales price by less than $2,000 (in 2010 dollars). But drivers will save so much in fuel costs that they will still net an average savings of $700 a year – or $4,600 over the useful lifetime of a new vehicle.
Another consumer concern is product choice. In 1971, new federal “exterior protection” standards forced all new passenger cars to adopt much bulkier bumpers, which dramatically altered styling. This time, changes will be more subtle, auto experts say.
Visually, you can expect more streamlining. Aerodynamic improvements are relatively low-hanging fruit for automakers. According to the US government’s fuel economy findings, only about 14 to 26 percent of energy from fuel in a contemporary automobile is used to propel the vehicle; the rest is consumed by losses to heat and vehicle sub-systems, such as interior climate control and electronics.
Inside, car companies are likely to take advantage of advances, such as start-stop technology (engines that shut down when vehicles idle), more seamless integration of vehicle engines and transmissions, and better engine cooling to improve efficiency. Such changes are more likely than a wholesale move to electric cars.
“We do not expect electric drive to be the predominant technology in 2025,” says Ann Schlenker, director of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory.
If you're a pet owner, you probably know the basic rules about road-tripping with your favorite pal. Bring plenty of food and water. Don't leave her in the car. And never put her in an open truck bed.
It's also a good idea to restrain your pet while you're on the road. Whether you're dealing with a cat, dog, or cockatiel, chances are, they don't fully understand the need to stay put, much less the intricacies of driving. Keeping them in a harness or cage is good for your safety and theirs.
Unfortunately, according to Subaru, many of the restraints that pet owners use aren't up to snuff. And that's probably because there aren't any national standards for pet travel products.
RECOMMENDED: Make your car last: 7 tips
To prove its point, Subaru and the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety asked MGA ResearchCorporation (which conducts trials for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to put some of today's most popular restraints to the test. They did so using crash-test dogs (yes, such things exist), weighted at 25 lbs, 45 lbs, and 75 lbs. ( Continue… )
The cause of the accident is pretty clear. A statement from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] indicates that the vehicle hit "a large metallic object in the middle of the road". Whether that collision immediately set off a fire in the Model S' battery pack isn't known, but a report from the Regional Fire Authority of Kent, Washington stated that the pack was on fire by the time first responders arrived. To extinguish it, authorities had to punch holes into the pack and douse it with chemical flame suppressant.
What's far less clear is the effect that the fire will have on Tesla in the near- and middle-term. On Tuesday, the company's stock closed around $190, but yesterday, after the above video was posted to YouTube, the price began to fall. As of this morning, shares are hovering just above $170.
Will the company recover? And if so, when?
Tesla's biggest problem is arguably the novelty of its products. The public is simultaneously fascinated by and afraid of electric cars, and Tuesday's fire plays to both interests. ( Continue… )