The Truth About Cars » Efficiency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:08:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Efficiency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Question Of The Day: Which Car Companies Do You Not Like… But Respect? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/question-of-the-day-which-car-companies-do-you-not-like-but-respect/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/question-of-the-day-which-car-companies-do-you-not-like-but-respect/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=468186

The late Gore Vidal was fond of saying, “Gratitude can be a complicated thing.”

He was right. Whether you are a hater, or simply a chronic critic, the act of complimenting those who follow the beat of a different drummer is usually not within the tip of the human tongue.

We want things our way… and sometimes we’re just plain wrong.

Chrysler minivans may never be a hot rod’s dream and a Neon may have been a little bit too cheap for its own good. But they had beauty and brilliance if you chose to look at the right trim levels and generations.

The same can be said for Suburbans and Silverados. In good times it is the small cars that get the shove. In lean times it’s the opulent gas guzzler. These vehicles may not be the top picks for most city folk and media fashionistas. But they definitely make country life far better.

Toyotas have been labeled as boring for well over thirty years, and yet the company’s products continue to be a gold standard for those seeking fuel efficiency and reliability.

German cars are anointed with the schizophrenic paradozes of glitchiness and outstanding engineering. In much the same way as Korean cars are considered to be cheap, but loaded with great value.

Every manufacturer offers their own DNA and unique qualities to the buying public. Good and bad. Over the last few years, which one of them has garnered your respect? Even though you may not quite like what it is they do?

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Eco-Friendly Supercars: A Fool’s Errand? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/eco-friendly-supercars-a-fools-errand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/eco-friendly-supercars-a-fools-errand/#comments Fri, 03 Aug 2012 16:54:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455415

In the eternal quest to adhere to “sustainability”, Lamborghini will apparently be fitting the Aventador with a start-stop system and cylinder deactivation. Am I the only one that finds the recent trend of eco-friendly supercars ridiculous?

We can argue over their relevance in today’s wider world, what direction they should take (lightweight and pure, like a McLaren F1 or obese but rapidmissiles like the Bugatti Veyr0n) and what even qualifies as a supercar when there are record numbers of Ferraris and Gallardos being built, to the point where they no longer turn heads in major urban centers.

One thing we can agree on is that the supercar, in all its forms, is the absolute zenith of what the automobile can achieve in terms of performance and technological achievement. That doesn’t mean that they can’t strive for greater efficiency. I see no negative effect on making cars more efficient. But it must be done in the right way, rather than in a manner that panders to the pseudo-religious zeitgeist that demands we be “green” without ever really explaining why, beyond a bunch of theoretical doomsday scenarios that would send us back to pre-Industrial agrarian communities (which is a positive development for some hairshirt green types…but that’s another topic). That path is why we have all kinds of technological solutions which impose significant weight penalties while returning minimal gains in fuel consumption and emissions reduction.

Nowadays, you can’t attend a Porsche product demonstration without hearing their spiel about a committment to the environment and the planet. It’s so transparently contrived and disingenuous that it’s almost nauseating. My driving partner and I sat through it at the 2013 Porsche Boxster launch, and after a minute of dealing with the start-stop system, we promptly hit the “Off” button. On the other end of the spectrum, we have silly systems like GM’s eAssist, which are pseudo-hybrid systems that don’t give the car a competitive advantage in terms of “MPGs”, but take up weight and space.

The one true path to creating a “greener” supercar – or any car – is light weight. There is no way around it. Yes, cars have become heavier, and despite what the auto-dork purist crowd will tell you, it’s not all bad; you probably won’t be horribly mutilated or killed in an impact anymore, and they’re quite nice places to be, what with satellite radio and heated  and cooled seats (which are apparently more efficient than using the climate control system) – but something has to give.

Imagine if the next Acura NSX didn’t have a hybrid system; just an Earth Dreams V6, making 350 horsepower (say we sacrifice some efficiency in the name of power) but the car was radically light weight – kind of like what Honda did last time around. Yes, the NSX wasn’t terrible fuel-efficient by our standards, but the powertrain and the mindset behind it, is now 20+ years old. What could be done with current knowledge in the fields of engines, aerodynamics and lightweight construction, minus the heavy battery packs and hybrid motors?

The NSX is a supercar that can theoretically be driven every single day. The Aventador isn’t. Focusing on a efficiency for a car that will be used sparingly seems like a foolish misallocation of brainpower and resources. Even if it does get 11 mpg around town (likely less with all the revving at stoplights and burst of acceleration the cretin owners are likely to engage in), it’s on the road for perhaps a couple of hours at a time, once or twice a month. The net gain in carbon emissions is inconsequential. The V12 engine is an endangered species, and anyone looking for that carnal blast of noise would be let down by the pedestrian drone of a V6 once the cylinder-deactivation system kicks in.

This is why the Lexus LFA is so admirable. There is a contingent that cannot look past the numbers, and can only type out a spastic admonishment that “(Insert supercar here, or a Nissan GTR) would smoke this thing”. The accomplishment at hand is lost on them, as well as those who rightfully appreciate the amazing, hand-crafted V10 and gorgeous styling. The LFA mostly exists as a test bed for carbon fiber vehicle construction, a way to justify the costs of all of this R&D in the guise of a halo car marketing exercise for Toyota and Lexus.

Subsequent breakthroughs will allow us to have our cake and eat it too; all the safety and supplemental comforts that we are used to, with no drop-off in performance and efficiency. It is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, which is why most car companies are unable to explore radical solutions for reducing mass at this time. And lest we forget how pleasing it is to drive something free of unnecessary mass, light on its feet, with sharp reflexes and the unparalleled feeling of not knowing where you end and the car begins.

The likelihood is that we’ll continue to see more of these measures, like start-stop systems and hybrid drivetrains in the dream machines of tomorrow. In some cases, like the Porsche 918 and the Acura NSX, they do exist in the name of pushing the performance envelope. In the case of the Aventador, they are a naked PR move to appease a contingent of people who are not going to be Aventador customers, and often have a reflexive distaste for “the rich”, without ever realizing that they too are human beings, with insecurities and regrets and a hankering for escapism through consumption. Which is what compels them to buy the Aventador in the first place.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Which Automaker May Be Fudging Their EPA Numbers? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/ask-the-best-and-brightest-which-automaker-may-be-fudging-their-epa-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/ask-the-best-and-brightest-which-automaker-may-be-fudging-their-epa-numbers/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2011 17:12:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410055

The Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy testing system is notoriously weak, relying on self-reporting for the vast majority of vehicles, and exhibiting vulnerabilities to “gaming.” But rather than attacking each others’ EPA numbers, automakers seem to have agreed that it’s best if everyone does their best to juice their own numbers and allows the imperfect system to limp on. But over at Automotive News [sub], we’re hearing what could be the first shots fired in a new war over EPA ratings, as Product Editor Rick Kranz reveals that an OEM is starting to complain about another OEM’s fuel economy ratings. He writes:

An executive of one U.S. automaker suggests there might be some sleight of hand going on and that the EPA is not catching the offenders.

The issue: There’s a noticeable difference between the mpg number posted on some cars’ window sticker and an analysis of the data submitted by automakers to the EPA.

Ruh-roh!

Kranz continues:

The executive raised a red flag earlier this year. He told me his company was unable to replicate the city, highway and overall fuel economy numbers achieved by some automakers for their 2011 car models.

He didn’t name the automakers or the car models in question. Neither would he give the percentage differences between the mpg numbers posted on new-car window stickers and an analysis of the data taken from dynamometer readings his company purchased for certain competing models.

But he said consumers are being misled. The mpg numbers on some window stickers or in advertising are being misrepresented, he said.

Here’s the thing: if an executive is complaining about another OEM gaming the EPA test or somehow fudging its results, this executive must be extremely angry or frustrated. After all, a weak EPA testing regime benefits all automakers at the expense of customers. And if someone is willing to blow down the EPA’s house of cards, there’s no knowing where the fallout could end. There are basically three possibilities:
1) The accusing executive has the wrong end of the stick, and is just lashing out without cause.
2) The accusing executive is on to something and an automaker is fudging its EPA numbers.
3) The accusing executive is on to something, and he’s just scratching the surface of a problem infecting a large part of the industry.
As fuel economy becomes a bigger factor in car-buying decisions, the EPA needs to recognize that there is more riding on its weak, “faith-based” fuel economy testing regime than ever. It should not only investigate this allegation, but it should perform supplemental targeted verification tests on vehicles with “suspiciously high” fuel economy ratings. Consumers need to trust their window stickers, and if there are rumors of gamesmanship around the production of those numbers, competitive pressure will spread deceptive practices around the industry. This needs to be nipped on the bud.
So, in hopes of helping the EPA get a handle on this situation, I ask the B&B to share their thoughts about what automakers might be fudging their numbers. What vehicles would you spot-test to see if they can achieve their window sticker numbers?
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Fuel Efficiency Still A Consumer Concern http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/fuel-efficiency-still-a-consumer-concern/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/fuel-efficiency-still-a-consumer-concern/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2009 20:25:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=240631

According to a study by the Consumer Federation of America (PDF), relatively low gas prices haven’t done much to change consumer trends towards more fuel-efficient vehicles. This revelation comes amid claims that small car demand was artificially inflated by high gas prices and increased truck production from General Motors. The survey asked respondents to rate the importance of gas prices, global warming and US dependence on Middle East oil over the next five years, with 76 percent reporting “great concern” for gas prices and energy independence.

“Despite pump prices averaging less than $2.00, Americans still plan to significantly increase the fuel economy of their cars when they make their next purchase,” concludes CFA Public Affairs Director Jack Gillis. Pointing out that only 1.4 percent of new car models for sale in the US get over 30mpg, the CFA argues that automakers will be hard pressed to woo car shoppers who seem convinced that Gas will reach $3 per gallon before their next purchase. “At least to date, Americans view low gas prices as an aberration,” says Gillis. “Expecting higher gas prices in the future, they are adjusting their driving habits as well as planning to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles. Stronger fuel efficiency standards not only respond to clear consumer expectations but will be critical to the survival of the U.S. auto industry.”

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