The Truth About Cars » Fuel Economy The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:25:59 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Fuel Economy EPA Mandates Real-World Testing For All Automakers Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 EPA HQ

In light of re-estimated mileage per gallon claims by Ford, Hyundai and Kia, the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to prove the claims of all automakers through real-world testings.

Automotive News reports a proposal by the agency would mandate automakers to road-test their vehicles in order to verify that the mpg claimed in the lab is achievable on the street. The proposal would also make manipulation of lab results to deliver higher figures difficult at best.

Though a number of automakers already use real-world testing, the EPA is establishing “a regulatory requirement for all automakers,” according to agency director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, Chris Grundler.

The test itself would become more rigorous, emphasizing air resistance and rolling friction at the test track over computer modelling.

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Next-Generation Jeep Wrangler To Take Fight To Soft-Roaders, Hold Rubicon Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:00:13 +0000 5-2013-wrangler-rubicon-10th-anniversary-anvil

With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred.

Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and either a smaller gasoline engine than the current 3.6-liter V6 or a diesel like that found in Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel.

Regarding weight, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes aluminium would be another key ingredient in not only bringing down weight, but improving fuel economy on top of the aforementioned powertrain upgrades.

As for the solid front and rear axles that give the Wrangler its off-road prowess to compensate for increased weight and rougher highway travel, Manley didn’t say whether or not they would stay for the next generation of the iconic vehicle — due sometime in 2017 at the earliest — though he vowed Jeep would not “dilute what Wrangler stands for,” citing his killing of the two-wheel-drive Wrangler upon taking the brand’s reins.

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Hyundai Introducing Sonata Eco With Dual Clutch, Turbo Engine Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:01:13 +0000 sonataeco

Hyundai will add a Sonata Eco model, featuring a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a dual clutch transmission, when the new generation sedan debuts for the 2015 model year.

Automotive News reports that the 1.6L mill will put down 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft, through a 7-speed DCT. Fuel economy will rise to 28/38/32 mpg, versus 29 mpg combined for the Sonata with the standard 2.4L engine.

The Eco will start at $24,085, $2,215 more than a 2.4L Sonata SE but adds a back-up camera, a five-inch touchscreen, Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics system and slightly different interior trim.

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European Automakers Face Challenge From New Emissions, Fuel Economy Tests Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:00:01 +0000 Renault Zoe EV With Charging Station

Already facing financial challenges under a weak home economy, European automakers may soon have a new challenge to add to the list when the European Union adopts a more accurate method of testing CO2 emissions and fuel economy among their lineups, with EVs becoming the biggest beneficiaries as a result.

Automotive News Europe reports the EU will do away with the New European Drive Cycle test in 2017, adopting the United Nations’ World Light Vehicle Test Procedure for its higher accuracy than the outgoing testing method. Automakers want the WLTP delayed until 2020, citing cost increases for the reason; French bank Exane BNP Paribas estimates automakers would add €1000 ($1,356 USD) per vehicle to help recoup investment costs into adapting to the new testing standards.

The new test, which is designed to better accurately account for modern driving conditions, would push past the NEDC’s 2021 mandate of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by as much as 20 percent, NOx emissions also boosted among diesel offerings under the WLTP. Exane analyst Stuart Pearson noted the increased reduction goal would reflect in the industry’s bottom line:

Should the new test cycle lead to emissions say 20 percent above that on NEDC, then assuming a 30 euro per gram cost of CO2 technology, the incremental cost for the EU industry would be around 11 billion euros.

Automakers with margins below that needed to meet compliance — including Fiat, Renault and Peugeot — will struggle more than the well-off German manufacturers, while suppliers who provide parts needed to boost fuel efficiency will be the biggest winners. The standards could also boost sales of hybrids and EVs, while diesels slide in kind.

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Editorial: Lots Of Boost, Not Much Eco Tue, 17 Jun 2014 11:00:32 +0000 2013-Ford-Fusion-main_rdax_646x396


Just prior to Ford’s fuel economy ratings adjustment, I returned a brand new Fusion with a 1.5L Ecoboost engine. The last car I’ve driven with 1500 cc’s worth of displacement was my grandmother’s 2000 Civic, with its D-Series, single cam engine and 4-speed automatic. You would think that such a tiny engine would help Ford’s mid-sizer deliver solid fuel economy, but the best I could do was a mere 21 mpg in mixed driving.

According to the EPA, the same Fusion gets 23 mpg in town and 36 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined – that’s about 25 percent better than I got. I’ve never had particularly good luck with the Ecoboost engines, whether it’s the 1.6L in the Escape or the 2.0L in the MKZ  in normal driving. My one good experience, in the utterly fantastic Fiesta ST, saw me return 40 mpg over a stretch of two lane highway at 60 mph. But who drives 60 mph on the highway, let alone in the Fiesta ST.

The Ecoboost engines are like the high school classmate who got infuriatingly good grades, but you always knew you were smarter than. They simply happened to be really good at standardized tests and repeating back information, even if their critical thinking and “streets smarts” were lacking.

So, these engines perform really well on the EPA fuel economy tests, but utterly fall apart in the real world. Driving them as one normally would means dipping into the boost of the turbo engine, and subsequently consuming lots of fuel. For an engine that’s been sold on the age-old promise of “the power of [insert large engine here], the fuel economy of [insert smaller cylinder count here]“, that’s not good at all. Especially when you are publicly forced to revise your own fuel economy estimates.

As fun as it may be for certain parties to mock Ford’s “Egoboost” engines, turbocharging is going to become near ubiquitous. The requirements for economies of scale dictate that global engine programs are the way to go, so no more separate powertrains for different markets. Engines must now meet European and Asian environmental regulations, while delivering power levels acceptable to consumers in America and China. And they must be able to motivate everything from an A-segment hatchback to a large crossover. Guess what fits the bill? A family of modular, turbocharged engines like Ford, BMW, General Motors, Honda and countless other OEMs have planned for the near future.

The big problem is not the engines themselves, but the flawed fuel economy tests that bear little relation to reality. These new technologies are then sold on the results of these tests, and the magic numbers never materialize. In some applications, like the Taurus/Flex/MKS/MKT and the ST cars, you at least get the feeling of “big power/torque” to make up with the so-so fuel economy. In the Fusion/Escape 2.0T cars, you get decent power, but fuel consumption is far below what one expects in vehicles of similar size.

In the newest 1.5L, you get neither. Like Jack said about the 1.6L its replacing, the 1.5L and 6-speed automatic “utterly, totally fails to impress.” The power isn’t there, but neither is the fuel economy. There’s a lot to recommend about the Fusion overall: it looks great, rides well, has a solid, well-built feel and they’ve finally fixed the once-awful MyFord Touch system. But I can’t seem to find a powertrain to works well. Perhaps I’ll have to rent a 2.5L base model. It might end up being the game changer for Ford’s mid-sizer.

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Ford Cuts MPG Figures For Six Models, Offers Rebates For Customers Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:56:58 +0000 450x300x2013-Ford-C-MAX-Energi-Plug-In-Hybrid-450x300.jpg.pagespeed.ic.BQqqG7-Zox

Already stung by a reduction in fuel economy ratings for both the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid, Ford is yet again revising figures for various models, including the C-Max, Fiesta, Fusion and MKZ.

The breakdown of the changes is listed in the table below. Ford will also offer goodwill payments to lease and purchase customers, varying from $125-$1,050 depending on the model.

U.S. EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy Label Ratings and Goodwill Payments*
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised

(City, Highway, Combined)


(City, Highway, Combined)

Lease Customers  Purchase
2014 Fiesta 1.0L GTDI M/T 31 / 43 / 36 32  / 45 /  37 $125 $200
1.6L A/T 27 / 37 / 31 29  / 39 /  32 $150 $250
1.6L SFE A/T 28 / 38 / 32 30  / 41 /  34 $275 $450
1.6L M/T 28 / 36 / 31 27  / 38 /  31 Combined MPG not affected Combined MPG not affected
2013-14 C-MAX Hybrid 42  / 37 / 40 45  / 40 /  43 $300 $475
Fusion Hybrid 44 / 41 / 42 47  / 47 /  47 $450 $775
MKZ Hybrid 38 / 37 / 38 45  / 45 /  45 $625 $1,050
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised**

(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range)


(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range)

Lease Customers  Purchase
2013-14 C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg  / 88 MPGe+ /

19 mi EV range

43 mpg / 100 MPGe+  /

21 mi EV range

$475 $775
Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg  / 88 MPGe+  /

19 mi EV range

43 mpg  / 100 MPGe+ /

21 mi EV range

$525 $850

*Bolded figures in the above chart represent the values used to determine the customer goodwill payment.

** Combined numbers only.  Revised EPA-estimated ratings: 40 city, 36 highway MPG; 95 city, 81 highway MPGe. Charge depleting range is 20 mi.  Previous EPA-estimated ratings: 44 city, 41 highway MPG; 108 city, 92 hwy MPGe. Previous charge depleting range was 21.   

+MPGe is the EPA equivalent measure of gasoline fuel efficiency for electric mode operation.

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Ford’s Lightweight Gamechanger Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:00:53 +0000 ford-fusion-lightweight-1


In just a few hours, we’ll be picking up a brand new Ford Fusion with Ford’s new 1.5L Ecoboost engine. As you are well aware, the Fusion is a gamechanger. Especially the one pictured above, which loses one cylinder and 500 cc of displacement.

The 1.0L Ecoboost three-pot is only part of an overall effort by Ford to produce an experimental lightweight car. The concept combines carbon fiber, aluminum, high strength steel, lightweight wheels and tires, specially treated gas and, of course, the aforementioned 1.0L engine, to bring weight down closer to 2,500 lbs, or about the same as a base model Fiesta.

One day, we’ll inevitably see mass produced cars made with aluminum, carbon fiber and other materials that we currently consider exotic. But how far will we go in decreasing cylinder counts? Some brands are already eliminating V6 engines from their mid-size offerings. Ford is set to offer a 1.0L version of the Fusion/Mondeo in Europe, but will we ever see a triple-powered mid-sizer here? Stranger things have happened, and the newest CAFE regulations are, you know, a game changer for the whole industry.

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Federal, State Governments Face Budget Shortfalls Amid Increased Fuel Efficiency Mon, 02 Jun 2014 10:00:27 +0000 Chevy Volt Gas Station

As the funding aquifers for road maintenance continues to fall before the efficiency-fueled gas tax drought, federal and state governments are left to ponder how best to make up for the shortfall.

Autoblog reports the easiest solution between the two parties is to raise gas taxes, though doing so could be construed as political suicide at best. Thus, other solutions have come to the surface, including per-mile charges, increased sales taxes, fees for hybrids and EVs, tolling and closing tax loopholes. Without a way to recharge the aquifers, the CAFE drought would drain anywhere from $57 billion to $65 billion between 2012 and 2025; the Beltway Aquifer alone is facing complete drainage by this August.

Whatever the solution, there will be those opposed to boosting funding. In one example, Massachusetts made its first gasoline tax increase — 24 cents — in 20 years, but could see a rollback at the polls come Election Day. Meanwhile, California’s own increase proposal may not even be enacted as the Fed Up at the Pump coalition attempts to mobilize the populace to convince the government not go through with the increase next January, believing the tax will not go into greenhouse-gas reduction programs as well as harm lower-income citizens.

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Detroit Three Forging V6 Future Atop Truck Mountain Mon, 05 May 2014 10:00:10 +0000 ford f-150_r

For five decades, the powerplant of choice for Truck Mountain has been the venerable V8. With powerful V6 engines from Ford, General Motors and Ram being favored for more and more consumers of full-size pickups, however, the V8 could soon find itself occupying a smaller niche along the mountain.

The New York Times reports Ford is leading the way toward a V6 future, with 57 percent of all 2014 F-150s possessing an EcoBoost V6 under the bonnet, 47 percent of which have the 3.5-liter twin-turbo delivering the goods with 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque; the remainder opt for the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter, capable of 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. The shift toward the V6 — which began upon increased EcoBoost production last autumn — is in stark contrast to 2013, when over 50 percent of F-150s sold had V8 power.

Further, Ford expects the 2015 all-aluminium F-150 to have a V6 in over 70 percent of trucks sold. To prepare for this sea change, the Blue Oval is dropping the 6.2-liter V8 while adding a 2.7-liter EcoBoost in its stead, leaving only the 5-liter V8 for those who tow heavy loads frequently.

Meanwhile, General Motors and Ram are unleashing their own V6 offerings to customers clamouring for the right balance of fuel economy and power. In particular, Ram’s EcoDiesel 3-liter holds a class-leading 28 mpg on the highway, while the 1500 HFE’s 3.6-liter — once outfitted with stop-start and an eight-speed automatic — holds the top spot for fuel economy in its class with 25 mpg on the highway. As for sales, GM’s new 4.3-liter V6 accounts for 20 percent in 2014, while Ram’s lineup may approach 30 percent by year-end.

In regards to the future, the Detroit Three are forging a path toward the 30-mpg full-size truck through nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions and four-cylinder engines — such as the 2.5-liter I4 found powering the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon mid-size twins — in addition to the V6 strategy.

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EPA: Automakers Ahead Of 2025 CAFE MPG, CO2 Emissions Targets Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:00:58 +0000 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Fuel Economy Display, 49MPG, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Though automakers still have a decade to hit the 2025 CAFE target average of 54.5 mpg, the Environmental Protection Agency proclaimed in a just-released annual report that the automakers were ahead of schedule in meeting said target.

Autoblog Green says the EPA’s Manufacturers Performance Report noted consumers bought more clean vehicles made for the 2012 model year than what was required by the 14-year-long program to reduce greenhouse emissions for the first year.

In addition, the report broke down by automaker CO2 reduction over-compliance. While Tesla led the way in MY 2012, Toyota gathered the most credits among those who still use fossil fuels at over 13.1 million metric tons, providing 6.5 metric tons to ever vehicle sold that year. The rest of the industry garnered a total of 25 million metric tons in CO2 over-compliance credits in 2012, leading to a 10 grams per mile decrease in emissions than what the program required.

As for the CAFE target, the recent EPA Fuel Economy Trends Report found a 1.2-mpg improvement among the automakers over numbers in 2011, the second biggest improvement in 30 years. Further, the agency saw a doubling of SUVs with economy ratings of 25 mpg or higher, while seven times as many cars gained an average of 40 mpg and above.

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EGR-equipped Buick Regal Hits 40 MPG Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:00:56 +0000 EGR Buick Regal Gets 40 MPG

The current Buick Regal is an excellent car. I know, because I have one parked in my garage (it’s sweet). Still, it could be better- and the guys at the SouthWest Research Institute (SWRI) have figured out a way to enhance the mid-range Buick so that it produces fewer harmful carbon emissions and gets better fuel economy.

Can’t beat that!

Far from being pie-in-the-sky thinking, however, the motivation for building this 40 MPG ultra low-emission Buick Regal comes out of necessity. Namely the 2025 CAFE regulations that will force automobile manufacturers to achieve a 54.5 miles per gallon EPA rating across their product range. At the same time, the EPA is also expected to release new, more stringent emissions standards in a bid to improve air quality and save lives. Those two factors mean there is considerable industry focus on improving both emissions and fuel efficiency without incurring huge R&D costs- and the EGR system built into the SWRI team’s 2014 Buick Regal might play a big part in that.

EGR, for those not in the know, stands for exhaust gas recirculation. In the case of the Buick Regal tester, the 2.0 Liter engine was modified so that exhaust from one dedicated cylinder is run with a rich mixture of fuel and air to reform hydrocarbon fuel into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The reformulated exhaust gas is then cooled and looped into a patented mixer where the exhaust gasses are mixed with fresh air before going into the engine intake. “By running one cylinder rich, the excess fuel is reformed into hydrogen and carbon monoxide,” added Chris Chadwell, manager of SWRI’s Spark Ignition Engine R&D section. “The in-cylinder reformation slightly reduces the carbon dioxide and water vapor while producing large volumes of carbon monoxide, which is a good fuel, and hydrogen, which is an outstanding fuel. That provides an octane boost and a flammability boost, and extends the EGR limit of the engine.”

It’s all pretty trick stuff, in other words- and it’s not that far away from being a production-ready piece. Let’s hope the next generation of Buick Regals- heck, let’s hope they build a new ROADMASTER!- has enough slick SWRI stuff on it to still be legal, then. In the meantime, you can check out an under hood shot of the SWRI EGR-equipped 2014 Buick Regal, below. Enjoy!




Source | Photos: SWRI; Originally published on Gas 2.

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Could The 2015 Corvette Stingray Crack 30 MPG With New 8-Speed Automatic? Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:35:49 +0000 2014-GM-Eight-Speed-Automatic-Transmission

GM’s upcoming 8-speed automatic, dubbed the 8L90, will be a cornerstone of their new rear-wheel drive cars – and the 2015 Corvette lineup will be among the first to get it.

Back in December, our own Ronnie Schreiber gave us a preview of the new 8-speed gearbox via a leaked SAE paper. Although it carries the same footprint as the outgoing 6L80, the 8L90 is full of improvements. First gear is shorter, for better acceleration, while fuel economy is said to be improved by 5 percent across the board. With 6-speed automatic C7 able to hit 28 mpg on the highway, a 5 percent gain translates to 29.4 mpg – but it wouldn’t be shocking if Chevy pulled out all the stops to hit the magical thirty em pee gee number, if only for marketing bragging rights.

Along with the Corvette, the 8L90 is expected to appear on other rear-drive cars, as well as trucks. The addition of the 8-speed auto will certainly be a nice boost for GM’s full-size SUVs and pickup trucks, not to mention rear-drive Cadillacs and the upcoming Camaro.

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Diesels, Refinement Key To Kiefer’s Vision Of Future GM Engine Development Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:30:54 +0000 Steve Kiefer

General Motors head of global powertrain and former Delphi senior vice president of powertrain systems Steve Kiefer aims to steer engine development toward a brighter future, one influenced by his love for diesels, quietness and refinement.

Automotive News reports Kiefer’s vision may have begun to come to fruition this week with the debut of the new Ecotec family of engines slated to power 25 percent of GM’s global lineup by 2017. The eleven engines are based on older-though-proven technology found in the cam chains, blocks and other components, resulting in a family with lower NVH than previous engines. The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.

Speaking of Ford, both the Blue Oval and the General are collaborating on a new generation of nine- and 10-speed transmissions for their respective pickups, with the latter expected to arrive in two years. Though no word has been said on whether GM will either use diesel power or smaller gasoline engines in their fullsize trucks, Kiefer’s experience on the supply side of the industry — especially in regards to knowing what the competition is doing to be green and efficient — could prove valuable in the long run.

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GM Unveils New, Clean-Sheet Ecotec Family Thu, 20 Mar 2014 04:10:33 +0000 GM Ecotec New Trinity

General Motors has unveiled a new generation of their Ecotec engine family, whose 11 three- and four-pot powerplants will find a home under the bonnets of 27 models by 2017.

Automotive News reports the new clean-sheet engines range from a turbocharged 1-liter I3, to a 1.5-liter turbo-four, feature modular design for efficient assembly, consist of aluminium heads and blocks, and include VVT, dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder, and water-cooled exhaust manifolds among other offerings. Power in the family ranges from 75 horses/70 lb-ft of torque, to 165 horsepower and 184 lb-ft.

The first of the new engines, the aforementioned I3, is already under production, and will debut under the hood of the Opel Adam later this spring, while the 2015 Cruze will come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter and a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter for the Chinese market. No word on when the Ecotec engines will debut in North America, however, let alone which vehicles will receive them.

GM expects annual volume to reach 2.5 million units by 2017 once all five factories responsible for their production are in full swing. The factories are located in Michigan, Mexico, China, Hungary and South Korea.

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Medium, Heavy Truck Fuel Economy Standards Deadline Set For March 2016 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 11:00:25 +0000 International LoneStar

Before a gathering at a distribution warehouse in Maryland, United States President Barack Obama announced that his administration has set March 2016 as the deadline for the next round of fuel efficiency and emissions standards for medium and heavy trucks to meet compliance.

Bloomberg reports President Obama’s latest initiative — part of his overall strategy regarding energy security and climate change — will bring “thousands of dollars of savings every year” for truck operators while also benefiting the economy via lower costs for consumer goods and new technology development. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the new standards by March 2015.

Industry groups in general were supportive of the announcement, which will also see manufacturers working with the federal government on bringing new trucks up to the new standards, though American Trucking Association president Bill Graves urged the Obama administration to proceed with caution by setting forth a path “that is both based on the best science and research available and economically achievable.”

Moving forward from 2016, the next set of standards to come into force by 2018 and beyond will see the industry aggressively use technology — especially in the use of aerodynamics — to meet the fuel economy standards set at that time,.

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New F-150 Prompts Aluminium Run By Competitors Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:30:24 +0000 ford f-150_r

As Ford’s newest F-150 dons an aluminium crown in place of steel, the usurpers waiting to take the throne of Truck Mountain are running to secure their own supplies of the lightweight metal.

The Detroit News reports that every automaker not named Ford has looked at the Blue Oval’s plans for aluminium use in order to meet CAFE standards with as little effort as possible, prompting a run to any supplier to help them with their ambitions.

One such manufacturer, Novelis Inc., has seen an increase of business as a result of the F-150′s battle plan, with head Tom Boney telling the newspaper how the run is affecting his business and that of his customers:

“There’s isn’t an automotive manufacturer that makes vehicles in North America that we’re not talking to. Our customers will be making announcements fairly regularly over the next six years that will transform the automobile industry.”

In the near term, Ford has most of the automotive-grade metal locked up for their new truck, which should give both automakers and suppliers enough time to see how Ford’s strategy plays out while also working on their own plans, tooling and production capacity.

Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery added that aluminium is the No. 2 material in automobile production, with North American producers aiming to double their use of the metal by 2025 at the same time CAFE standards hit a new peak of 54.5 mpg; Novelis expects usage to climb from 6 percent today to 25 percent by 2020.

Though Boney remained mum on specific vehicle programs waiting to use aluminium, he noted that more trucks will likely follow the F-150′s lead, as well as SUVs. Already, both GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles use the metal in the hoods and chassis components for their respective trucks, while Jaguar and Range Rover already sell aluminium-bodied vehicles.

Ultimately, though, he says that customers will come out on top of this new arms race among manufacturers:

“The automobile industry in Detroit is at its best when innovation is occurring at a rapid pace. That’s the period Ford has thrust us into in a big way”

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U.S. Average Fuel Economy Increases In January Tue, 11 Feb 2014 18:00:55 +0000 2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Exterior

According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the fleetwide fuel economy in the United States increased for the second consecutive month to 24.9 mpg during the month of January 2014.

Though the average peaked at 25 mpg late last year, the current figure is up 1.2 percent over the 24.6 mpg average gained at the same time last year, while already ahead of the overall 2013 average of 24.7 mpg. The gain is in spite of falling green-car sales in the same month, where 14 percent less hybrids and EVs left the showroom floor than had done so in 2013.

The cause? The Toyota Prius, whose four variants on the same theme lost 23 percent of what was sold at the same time last year to more three- and four-pot models such as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Spark, whose application of fuel economy technology differs greatly from EV and hybrid offerings while also capable of pulling customers away from the truck lots.

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President Obama Promises Tougher Truck MPG Standards, More Renewables Thu, 30 Jan 2014 16:35:58 +0000 CNG Pump + Truck Deluxe Combo With Fries

President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address was relevant to auto industry types for more than just the hosting of GM CEO Mary Barra, as President Obama also called fortougher fuel economy standards for heavy duty trucks, as well as increased exploration of natural gas as an alternative fuel.

President Obama believes the fuel source, if “extracted safely,” could serve as a bridge between traditional fossil fuels and alternative energy, powering the United States economy with less carbon pollution deemed responsible for climate change. His aim is to cut the traditional red tape to help states build fuel stations, in turn helping Americans into CNG vehicles while also shaking off the ball and chain of foreign oil.

Speaking of greener vehicles, Obama also focused some attention on trucks. In the next few months, the President plans to work with manufacturers and regulators to establish standards for the big rigs hauling goods across America; light trucks are already covered by the 2025 CAFE target of 54.5 mpg. Natural gas has often been cited as a breakthrough fuel for long haul trucking as well.

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Hyundai Canada Settles Class Action Fuel Economy Suit Wed, 29 Jan 2014 17:00:50 +0000 2011 Hyundai Elantra Build Sheet

Hyundai Auto Canada reached a settlement with consumers in a class action lawsuit over exaggerated fuel economy numbers among their Hyundai and Kia lineup of vehicles, paying a total of $46.65 million CAD ($41.85 million USD) in the deal, according to just-auto.

Under the terms of the settlement — affecting current and former owners and lessees of 130,000 Hyundai and Kia models made between MY2011 and MY2013 — consumers can either take a one-time payment based on type of vehicle affected, or remain in an existing reimbursement program Hyundai started in late 2012 after the automaker restated fuel economy ratings. The program covers additional fuel costs associated with the adjustment, along with a 15 percent premium in acknowledgement of the inconvenience over the issue so long as the vehicle is in the possession of the owner or lessee.

Those who take the lump sum will receive the payment minus previous reimbursements from the program. Other options available include a dealership credit of 150 percent of the lump sum, and a 200 percent credit of the cash amount towards the purchase of a new Hyundai or Kia.

Though Hyundai’s Canadian wing has its ducks in a row, their operations in the United States are still in the class action process after the Environmental Protection Agency announced fuel economy overstatements made by the automaker, as well as subsequent adjustments to the fact.

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Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept Unveiled Before Detroit Debut Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:00:23 +0000 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 01

Another day, another early unveiling prior to the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, this time from Volkswagen AG with their 42-mpg Passat BlueMotion Concept.

The magic behind the concept’s fuel economy lies within its turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline four-pot; at city speeds, the engine deactivates two cylinders to boost economy, a feature already found in the automaker’s Polo and Golf sold in Europe. Other fuel-saving methods include a stop-start system, and a coasting function that decouples the engine from the transmission when the driver lifts off the accelerator; the latter is already available in the Jetta Hybrid.

The above setup — which Volkswagen aims to evaluate for the U.S. market — improves upon the current base Passat’s 34 mpg highway from its 1.8-liter turbocharged power plant, though horsepower drops from 170 to 150. The Jetta may also receive a similar package in order to improve upon its 32 mpg highway rating in an effort to catch up to more efficient offerings from Honda, Hyundai and Mazda.

2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 01 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 02 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 03 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 04 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 05 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 06 ]]> 22
New or Used? : How Much Is MPG Really Worth? Fri, 03 Jan 2014 16:07:59 +0000 autoguide


Dear Steve:

My wife and I finally bought a brand new Honda Accord.  She loves it, and I now have one less worry in my life.

With that one less worry though comes two more things, in the form of two similarly sized cars. At least one of which I no longer need.

We have a 2003 Honda Civic and a 2011 Mazda 3.  The Civic has served as my wife’s faithful commuter for the last 10 years. While the Mazda 3 has served as my own daily driver and our road trip vehicle. I love the Mazda, and it has served me to an absolute T for nearly 50,000 miles.

I just don’t know if I need it now that the Civic is available. Here’s the thing. The Civic gets far better fuel economy than the Mazda 3 which has averaged only about 24 mpg. Now that my wife has a new car that will also become our road trip vehicle, I only need my daily driver to serve as a commuter car. My round-trip commute is 47 miles a day and I just don’t see myself ripping up the asphalt with the Mazda 3 while listening to NPR. So I’m thinking the Civic may be the better long-term bet. Even though I absolutely love the hell out of that Mazda.

Another random thought came to me while adding up the resale numbers. Should I perhaps sell both vehicles and maybe, just maybe, buy a new one? The Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte would be a great match and if I sell both vehicles, the cost difference between a new car and a used one may only be a couple thousand bucks.

So what should I do? Sell the Civic? Sell the Mazda 3? Buy an Impreza? Or should I just keep both used cars?


Steve Says:

The #1 mistake I see folks do in their car buying decisions is overstate the importance of gas consumption.

Enthusiasts want fast… and they want their MPG.

Commuters want comfort… and they want their NPR… and their MPG.

Retirees want luxury… and plenty of unused horsepower, and they want their MPG.

Each one of these sub-species in the automotive buying world has to deal with two big problems related to this want.

The first is that high MPG doesn’t always equate to high personal satisfaction with the vehicle. Let’s take your two cars for example.

The 2011 Mazda 3 has an enthusiast bent to it, and your list of alternatives seem to point to the desire to have a car with great handling and solid performance.

As for the 2003 Honda Civic? My wife kept one for three years. It’s a perfectly pleasant vehicle, and like most cars given that level of mild praise, it’s definitely more aimed towards the non-enthusiast crowd. If all things were equal, the Mazda 3 would likely be your easy choice.

The second problem with putting gas consumption on that highest pedestal of want,  is that gas consumption represents a very minor cost when two vehicles of comparable size and engine displacement are pitted against each other.

Let’s say you kept these two vehicles as your commuter for the next 8 years and 120,000 miles. The Mazda 3 averages 24 mpg during that time (your average), and the Honda Civic averages 30 mpg (my wife’s average).

In that time, the Mazda will consume 5,000 gallons of gas, while the Civic consumes 4,000 gallons. If the average price of gas is $3,50 during that time, you end up with $3500 extra in overall gas cost. This equates to $437.50 a year or a little less than $1.80 a commuting day.

Still with me? Good. Because that level of difference can become a complete wash in the long run when you factor in repair costs to the older high mileage Civic. Maybe that will happen. Maybe not. Insurance, depreciation, resale value, opportunity cost may all sway this one way or the other. But the bottom line is this…

When you make this decision, the driving experience and the quality of the interior in particular should be the two biggest considerations. You will spend months of your life inside that car. So you need to raise ‘quality of life’ to the top of the list and gas consumption, far lower in the list of wants.

You love the Mazda, and like the Civic, and I’m willing to bet that the Mazda 3 hits those two quality of life check marks with a darker #2 pencil than the Civic. So sell the Civic and keep the Mazda. As for the list of new car alternatives, I don’t think any of them are worth the financial leap given that the Mazda 3 already hits your wants and needs. Good luck!


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Overstating MPGs May Cost Hyundai & Kia $395 Million in Proposed Settlement Tue, 24 Dec 2013 15:48:42 +0000 shyster-lead

Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America have agreed to pay as much as $395 million to settle class action lawsuits filed after the Korean automakers overstated fuel economy ratings on about 900,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. Hyundai’s share will be as much as $210 million while Kia will have to pay up to $185 million, according to statements issued by the companies and reports by Automotive News. The settlements must still undergo court review, expected early next year.

The lawsuits were filed after the companies disclosed in November of 2012 that approximately 600,000 Hyundais and 300,000 Kias from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years were sold with EPA fuel economy ratings that weren’t accurate. The U.S. EPA relies on testing results provided by car companies. At the time of the announcement, Hyundai and Kia officials apologized blaming flawed internal testing procedures for the overstatements. Eight models were affected and most consumers say the combined MPG ratings of their cars fall by one or two miles per gallon.

Over 50 lawsuits have been consolidated into a single case being handled in federal court in Los Angeles and the dollar figures work out to an average lump sum payment of ~$353 to the affected Hyundai owners and ~$667 to each affected Kia consumer.

John Yoon, attorney for Kia Motors America, said in a statement: “Kia Motors is a responsible company, and the proposed settlement enhances our goal of making things right for our customers by providing new reimbursement options. Kia Motors is fully committed to taking care of its customers, and today’s settlement adds flexibility by adding lump-sum payment options to the transparent reimbursement program introduced last year.”

The actual amounts paid out will depend on how many owners choose to receive lump sum payments. The owners also have the option of continuing to participate in the existing reimbursement program Hyundai and Kia started back when their vehicles’ fuel economy ratings were restated. Current and past owners participating in the reimbursement program receive debit cards to compensate them for the extra gasoline that they’ve had to buy.

“Customers responded favorably to the original reimbursement program,” W. Gerald Flannery, general counsel for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement. “Today’s settlement is designed to provide them with an option, again intended to make customers fully whole for Hyundai’s fuel economy ratings restatement.”

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Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040 Fri, 20 Dec 2013 13:30:56 +0000 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The green warriors who hoped EVs and hybrids would be the dominate force on the highways of America may need to wait a bit longer: the United States Department of Energy predicts gasoline will be the fuel of a generation until at least 2040.

In fact, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report issued earlier this week that 78 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2040 will still burn fossil fuels, though more efficiently; the EIA predicts an average of 37.2 mpg at that point in time. While 42 percent of all vehicles will use some form of advanced fuel-saving technology, plug-in hybrids and full EVs will each account for only 1 percent of sales.

As for the pump, the EIA believes a gallon of gas will rise to the equivalent of $3.90, with diesel tagged for $4.73. The agency also predicts 30 percent increase in miles traveled from 2012 through 2040, and overall fuel consumption in the nation’s transportation sector to fall by 4 percent.

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EPA Declares Mazda As Most Fuel Efficient Automaker Wed, 18 Dec 2013 10:30:16 +0000 2014 Mazda Mazda6 Exterior

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.

Not only does Mazda maintain its green crown in fuel economy — in part due to its SKYACTIV diesel and gasoline engines, which the automaker expects 80 percent of their 1.7 million units sold worldwide in 2016 to possess — but also has the lowest fleetwide composite carbon dioxide emissions for the outgoing model year with 324 grams per mile. Honda and Toyota make up the rest of the podium with 27 and 25.2 mpg, respectively, though Toyota’s CO2 emissions are 23 grams per mile higher than Honda’s 329 g/mi rating.

The Germans enter the list at No. 4 with VW netting an average of 26.2 mpg, while the Americans arrive with Ford at the No.8 position, rating just 22.6 mpg. Overall, the industry earned an average of 24 mpg and 370 g/mi. Kia and Hyundai were not included in this year’s EPA rankings.

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Seventy Percent of Fords to Receive Stop-Start By 2017 Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:30:29 +0000 2014 Ford Fiesta

For those who are adverse to hybrids, EVs and the like, yet want to do their part to be green may be in luck: Ford plans to install their Auto Stop-Start fuel-economizing technology in 70 percent of their North American lineup by 2017.

The tech, already found in the 2014 Fiesta with its 45 mpg EcoBoost 1-liter I3, and the 2014 Fusion with its 1.5-liter variant, will allow drivers to add anywhere from 3.5 to 10 percent more fuel economy when faced with stop-and-go traffic.

Aside from helping the consumer save fuel, Ford’s expansion of Auto Stop-Start is due to costs; the tech is easy to implement, and barely makes a dent in the automaker’s bottom line. No word on when other vehicles, including the C-MAX and Expedition, will see their own version of the technology.

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