Fuel economy of vehicles sold in the U.S. is on the rise, recording the sharpest gains in almost four decades, an annual report by the EPA shows. Foreign automakers have the most efficient fleets.
The EPA report shows an average 16 percent gain in fuel efficiency for in the past five years, to 23.8 miles per gallon. The EPA’s list is led by foreign carmakers, with Detroit sharing the bottom places with purveyors of thirsty performance cars. (Read More…)
“Everybody uses the road and if some pay and some don’t then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.
Ah, yes. As with any number of current governmental activities, the rationale for per-mile taxation will be fairness.
Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles remains strong, and the fleet of newly bought cars is taking to the streets getting a better mileage on average than a year before. The cars sold by Hyundai/Kia are most miserly with their fuel, with Volkswagen close behind. Automobiles from Detroit on the other hand stay thirsty. This is the result of TrueCar’s TrueMPG survey. (Read More…)
Some automakers have cars that get a stupendous mileage, but they are priced or built so that nobody wants them. We won’t name names, draw your own conclusions. A much better metric than the mileage of a car is the mileage of all cars you sell. The combined mileage of all cars sold by a manufacturer or brand used to be a top secret document. Manufacturers with stellar averages sometimes leaked theirs. But what good are these statistics if manufacturers with mediocre averages hide their data? Thankfully, last year TrueCar started tracking the MPG averages of cars sold in the U.S. And it is coming to surprising results. (Read More…)
The Sea-to-Sky highway in British Columbia, Canada, carves a winding route from the gorgeous – and occasionally riotous – city of Vancouver to the world-class ski resort of Whistler. Its looping curves were rebuilt to make it a high-speed corridor for tourists and athletes during the last Winter Olympics, and as a result, it’s probably one of the top five roads in this country. Mind you, it’s also a favourite hang-out for the local constabulary.
So here I am then, at the wheel of a priceless prototype, sitting on the wrong side of the car next to an emeritus journalist, on a blind on-ramp to one of the most highly-patrolled roads in Canada. What’s called for here is a little decorum, a careful merge, some light throttle application, a few gentle gear-changes and so on. Anything else would be at-worst dangerous and at-best unseemly.
By a curious co-incidence, “unseemly” is my middle name. So I floor it.
So far, if you wanted to save gas and if you didn’t want to suffer a coronary from range anxiety, you bought yourself a hybrid. The problem: They are expensive. You choose to pay Big Car instead of Big Oil. Don’t despair: Ye olde ICE still has a lot of fight in it. (Read More…)
Predicting the future is a risky business. Lincoln Steffens, muckraking journalist and admirer of the Soviet Union said, regarding the then young USSR, “I have been over into the future, and it works.” Steffens apparently wrote that before he actually visited the workers paradise in the early 1920s. A decade later he regretted that endorsement.
Music writer Jon Landau’s prediction was a bit more accurate. “Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square Theater, I saw my rock and roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name was Bruce Springsteen.” Landau was soon to edge The Boss’ original manager, Mike Appel, out of the picture, took over management of Springsteen’s career and production of his music, and did everything in his power to make his prophecy a self-fulfilling one.
Earlier this week I believe that I saw the future of transportation and stationary power and its name is OPOC. That stands for “opposed piston opposed cylinder”, a new engine architecture being developed for production and licensing by EcoMotors, a Troy, Michigan startup.
For an industry under ever-increasing pressure from government emissions standards, start-stop technology (which shuts off engines under idling conditions) seems like an easy route to improved fuel efficiency. Cheaper and less complicated than a true hybrid system, a number of automakers from BMW to Kia are proliferating start-stop technology across their product lines without hybrid-like price premium. Since this technology represents a relatively easy, incremental efficiency upgrade, we’ve wondered why it hasn’t been made available stateside, where hybrids are making up a growing proportion of sales. Detroit’s executives seem to think it’s a good idea, and Mazda has even gone so far as to complain that EPA test results refusing to show the Japanese test-cycle’s 7-9 percent improvement is the main factor preventing it from bringing more stop-start equipped vehicles to the US. But there’s another issue preventing stop-start from becoming standard issue industry-wide, and it’s actually remarkably obvious. (Read More…)
The problem we have is, Congress wants to pass a very robust transportation bill in the neighborhood of $400 billion or $500 billion, and we know the highway trust fund is just deficient in its ability to fund those kinds of projects. The highway trust fund was substantial at one time but now with people driving less, and driving more fuel-efficient cars, it has become deficient. To index the federal fuel tax, that’s something Congress is going to have to decide. As we get into the reauthorization bill, the debate will be how we fund all the things we want to do. You can raise a lot of money with tolling. Another means of funding can be the infrastructural bank. You can sell bonds and set aside money for big projects, multibillion-dollar projects. Another way is (charging a fee to motorists for) vehicle miles traveled. The idea of indexing the taxes that are collected at the gas pump is something I believe Congress will debate. When the gas tax was raised in 1992 or 1993, in the Clinton administration, there was a big debate whether it should be indexed. At that time, they thought there’d be a sufficient amount of money collected. Now we know that isn’t the case. That is one way to keep up with the decline in driving, and more fuel-efficient cars.