Toledo, Ohio has just squeaked by a major environmental crisis. A toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie poisoned the city’s water supply, leaving over 400,000 residents high and dry for three days. Restaurants, schools and businesses closed, the National Guard trucked in water, and the governor declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, Fiat-Chrysler had to resort to creative measures to keep its Toledo Jeep plant running.
I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this has interests beyond the world of automobiles. As both an observer of and participant in the news and information biz, it’s fascinating for me to see how a story in the automotive media will sometimes percolate into general news outlets, showing up on the front page, print or digital, of your local newspaper (if it’s still in business) weeks after you’ve read about it here at TTAC or at another car enthusiast or news site.
Though Toyota and Nissan may be leading the charge to a hybrid plug-in future, it’s Mazda who, once again, leads the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy list for the 2013 model year with an average of 27.5 mpg.
Remember this piece from the Honda Summer 2008 Hydrogen Collection? It was supposed to point the way to future of green fuel technology before the Tesla brought plug-in sex appeal down the ramp with their Roadster and, later on, the S, as well as the trend of compliance EVs from Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia.
But with sales of plug-in hybrids advancing far slower than originally expected regulators are taking another look at alternative ZEV powertrains.
The U.S. EPA has released its latest fuel economy ratings and the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE with the 1 liter 3 cylinder EcoBoost engine and a 5 speed manual transmission had the highest mpg rating of any non-hybrid gasoline powered car, 45 mpg highway, 32 city and 37 mpg combined. Both three and five door models had the same rating. Interestingly, Ford will still offer the Fiesta SFE (Super Fuel Economy), which actually gets poorer gas mileage than the 1 liter EcoBoost SE, 30 city/41 highway. (Read More…)
In an extensive interview with the Automotive News, Christopher Grundler, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said that the auto industry is ahead of schedule on meeting the Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards that mandate a nominal average of 54.5 mpg (according to CAFE calculations) by the year 2025.
Only weeks after starting up long-delayed production of lithium-ion batteries for the Chevy Volt at their new factory in Holland, Michigan, LG Chem has announced that they are stopping production for up to six weeks because a compound used in that production apparently had not been registered for use in manufacturing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While no shutdown order was issued by the EPA, the agency recently issued a subpoena to LG Chem, demanding a list of chemicals used at the Holland facility.
LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer said in an email to news agencies, “We discovered the possibility that this material may not be properly registered and made the decision to pause our production until we have that question resolved. We are currently reviewing the registration status and will work with the EPA to resolve the issue quickly. In the meanwhile, we are delaying production activities for approximately 6 weeks until we have confirmed the registration status or otherwise obtain approval from EPA.” (Read More…)
Following Ford’s announcement that they will revise downward their advertised fuel economy ratings for the C-Max Hybrid, the United States Environmental Protection Agency said that the discrepancy between rated and real world fuel mileage was not the agency’s fault and appeared to be placing the blame on Ford for relying on the agency’s own rules, substituting data derived from the Fusion Hybrid because it shares a drivetrain with the hybrid C-Max. The EPA’s chief automotive regulator, Christopher Grundler, said that when they tested the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Sonata hybrids this summer, “It was fall quite reassuring.”
The revised fuel economy ratings for the Ford C-Max aren’t the first time that an auto maker has been forced to backtrack on fuel economy claims – nor will it be the last unless meaningful reform is undertaken to ensure that fuel economy figures more accurately reflect the way motorists drive their cars in the real world.