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.
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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… )
Car sales hit the skids in September, as the major automakers saw double-digit gains from summer turn to single digits--and head in the wrong direction, in some cases.
Numbers are trending downward for many mass-market nameplates as the Federal government shutdown enters its second day, the culmination of a political battle over funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Among the Big Six automakers, Ford and Chrysler eked out single-digit gains--while General Motors watched sales drop by 11 percent, and Nissan fell 5.5 percent. Toyota was up 4 percent--but without accounting for fewer selling days last month, its sales actually fell 4.3 percent. ( Continue… )
Hennessey Performance Engineering does many things we envy, from the Venom GT to its ridiculous/awesome CTS-Vs. But this we don't so much envy--we've already driven the Stingray hard. We can't say it surprises us, either. But it's still impressive.
A bone-stock, automatic-transmission Stingray, the first customer car known to have hit the strip, ran a 12.23-second quarter mile with a trap speed of 114.88 mph. And it's Hennessey's Corvette, so you can bet this is the slowest it will ever go.
Along the way to the end of the quarter mile, the Stingray ripped off a 4.15-second 0-60 mph time and 0-100-mph in 9.5 seconds. That's a hair under the claimed 3.7-second time for the Z51-package Corvette Stingray, but we're guessing it might have had a little trouble hooking up on its stock tires.
An impressive result, to be sure, but we're really looking forward to what comes next.
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California Governor Jerry Brown marked National Plug-In Day by signing six bills to promote electric cars.
The new laws created by these bills will enact or extend a variety of programs that promote the use of electric cars and alternative-fuel vehicles.
Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8) will provide $2 billion in funding for several green initiatives. ( Continue… )
The new Land Rover Ranger Rover and Range Rover Sport SUVs are lighter, higher-tech, and more luxurious than ever--and they're in massive demand. So much so, that even with production running full-blast around the clock, Land Rover simply can't keep up with demand, which is about 40 percent higher than the company predicted.
What does that mean for buyers? Right now, there's a six-month wait on new orders of the Range Rover, and a nine-month wait for the Range Rover Sport, reports Automotive News Europe (subscription required).
China is the main driver behind this demand, according to the report, and buyers are willing to pay premiums of up to $80,000--on top of sticker prices that range as high as $458,000 in the Chinese market.
Considering that in the U.S., the Range Rover Sport starts from just $64,495, and the Range Rover starts from $83,545, it seems that high demand in China is a very good problem for Land Rover to have.