By on March 4, 2016

E10 + 100 Percent Gasoline at the Pump

Gasoline is gloriously cheap and the automotive industry is taking a break from the tiresome “more mpg” game.

That, Christmas comes early for Volkswagen employees, Carlos Ghosn has a plan to save big bucks, Google is luring more humans and Bentley can’t build enough SUVs for the “you call this caviar?!” crowd … after the break!


Americans say “that’s enough fuel efficiency for now”

The average fuel economy of cars and light trucks in the United States continues to stagnate, says Automotive News.

Average efficiency for the country’s private fleet didn’t budge in February, matching the 25.2 miles per gallon recorded in January.

With automakers continuously struggling to meet mileage targets imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the flat-lining of average fuel consumption has much to do with satisfying buyer demand for bigger vehicles in during a time of low gas prices.

Average mileage peaked at 25.8 mpg in August of 2014 after a rapid climb from the previous decade.

Volkswagen Dealer Sign (Image: Rob Brewer/Flickr)

This is for sticking around

Things must have been great at Volkswagen last year, because its factory employees are going to get a nice bonus, reports Automotive News.

Volkswagen’s employee newsletter spells out the reasons for the payout: regular overtime, extra shifts, and … continued loyalty to the company in light of the diesel emissions scandal.

About 100,000 in-house workers will be rewarded for staying at their posts, and though there’s no word yet on what amount the payout will come to, previous bonuses amounted to over 5,000 Euros.

Meanwhile, over at Audi, the annual bonus will be downgraded by about 1,100 Euros.

Carlos Ghosn at Tokyo Motor Show

Renault and Nissan move their relationship to the next level

There’s piles of money to be saved at Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Company, assuming both can get along with each other while sharing a lot more stuff, writes Bloomberg.

Under a new plan, the longstanding automotive alliance stands to save $6 billion in 2018 by sharing engineering processes and personnel. Existing resource-sharing agreements will also be extended.

The renewed spirit of European-Asian cooperation being pushed by joint CEO Carlos Ghosn aims to lift Renault’s flagging fortunes as it tries to gain a foothold in new overseas markets.


More humans hired for Google’s robot car

Google’s self-driving vehicle project stands to benefit from a dream team of automotive insiders, reports Automotive News.

A hiring surge is underway at Google in order to bring the car to the teeming masses, with at least 170 dedicated workers on the self-driving project payroll. About 40 of them hail from the human-driven auto sphere, including from such companies as Ford, Tesla and General Motors.

Google doesn’t like to talk about who it’s hiring or the total tally of the team, but the company has listed 40 job ads in the past month, several listing prerequisites related to manufacturing.

It is known that John Krafcik, former head of Hyundai Motor Company’s U.S. operation, is running the show and assembling Google’s team.

Bentley Bentayga

There’s still room at the top

If ultra-luxury vehicles are a reliable economic indicator, then there’s no reason to lose sleep worrying about the world’s rich people.

Motor Authority reports that Bentley is mulling another boost in production for its Bentayga SUV, even after raising the estimate in December. The $230,000 SUV is built using a highly laborious process and can be optioned with almost anything a wealthy buyer desires.

If an SUV costing nearly a quarter-million dollars is flying off the shelves, an automaker would be foolish to limit demand.

The production boost hasn’t yet been confirmed, so the target for the model’s first year still officially stands at 5,500 units.

[Images: Volkswagen: Rob Brewer/Flickr; Bentayga: Bentley Motors]

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27 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: America Slams the Brakes on Efficiency, Bonuses at Volkswagen, and Google Hires a Dream Team...”

  • avatar

    I watched most of a Saabkyle video on the Bentayga and was not impressed. It’s such a gimmick, so far from what makes a real Bentley. And it looks awful to boot.

  • avatar

    “If an SUV costing nearly a quarter-million dollars is flying off the shelves, an automaker would be foolish to limit demand.”

    An automaker cannot limit demand. Only supply.

    Sorry to pick nits – you’re doing a great job, Steph. The Round-up has become my first automotive stop of the day.

  • avatar

    Keep buying the gas hogs America. I only buy used cars, (and have a short commute) so when we have the next oil price spike and everyone freaks out and dumps their car/SUV, I’ll have nice, cheap pickings for my next one.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever you do, don’t get a 1st model year Bentley, expecting cheap pickings……..

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly… and when the next oil price spike happens, those people will be bitching and moaning at the gumberment for not “doing something to reduce gas prices”.

      If you can’t afford to feed a car with spike prices, don’t buy it…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Where can I buy real gas? Everybody around here (western PA) has ethanol in it.

    • 0 avatar

      Check for the US and Canada.

    • 0 avatar

      By real gas you mean fuel that uses more environmentally harmful chemicals to increase the octane rating? Ethanol used in fuel just isn’t “big corn” finding a market. While down on energy density ethanol provides a better alternative to other chemicals used to raise the octane rating and oxygenate fuels and is cheaper in comparison to those additives as well. Anybody with a reasonably modern vehicle has a fuel system and engine designed with E10 or higher in mind ( and takes advantage of the ethanol mixed fuel with today’s hugh compression engines ). Frankly my anecdata doesn’t really show an issue with ethanol mixed gasoline over the long term. I’ve used it in my Shelby since day one and no issues (although when using E85 it can be hard on plastic chain guides in a Ford engine) other than the aforementioned lower fuel economy but like I said it’s balanced against a cheaper more environmentally favorable fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        ‘Ethanol used in fuel just isn’t “big corn” finding a market.’

        Actually, I think it is. The political wrangling over ethanol hardly ever mentions emissions, etc, but seems very tied to money and special interests.

        • 0 avatar

          I doubt if the politicians in Congress would let the EPA off the hook if they fail to enforce the amount guaranteed to purchase each year. Even when there was a drought, the EPA kept the amount allocated to fuel the same. This raised food prices as the shortage didn’t faze them. So human consumption/needs are second to fuel supplements.

  • avatar

    Gloriously cheap gasoline is swinging the other way from it’s basement. After dropping to as low as .89 cent a gallon RBOB short contract, RBOB is back up over a $1.30 a gallon, which will sustain a national average price of around $2.00 a gallon (YMMV depending on where you live).

    If you’re in Oklahoma you’re liking going “$2.00 a gallon, ha, what a ripoff, you’re stupid, I haven’t seen $2 a gallon in months,” as if you live in California you’re probably going, “$2.00 a gallon, ha, in your dreams buddy, try $2.75, you’re stupid, it has never been that cheap!”

    Keywords are, “national average,” and that is based on unleaded.

    Seattle area seemed to bottom out around $1.60 – we’ve seen a sharp jump in the last couple of weeks to where the basement is $1.80 to $1.90. Again YMMV depending on where you live and drive.

    There is really no reason to believe that there will be any sharp change into the foreseeable future.

    China is slowing down. Russia is in deep recession. India and Brazil are not growing as predicted as all the BRIC countries hit reality. OPEC talks about slowing production but so far it is just talk, Russia is still pumping and dumping, the US producers are just turning it up more, Canada isn’t blinking, and storage facilities like Cushing are still darn close to tank top.

    There is also a “shadow inventory” of over 3,000 capped wells that are near production ready. They are “last mile” wells that could be brought on mile in 3 days to 3 weeks. All of these producers are waiting to see $45 to $50 WTI a barrel WTI to start pumping and dumping.

    • 0 avatar

      In my neck of the woods we’re up about 30 cents from the recently low, but still well below $2. Between the fall in gas prices and the career success my wife and I are enjoying, gas has become a nearly trivial expense. Hell, energy in general. Combine super low nat-gas prices with a warm winter and my utility bills are half what they were last year. I got a gut feeling we might have a hot summer though.

    • 0 avatar

      I assume the recent rise is no more than a production slowdown due to spring maintenance followed by the switch back to summer blends? Like you said, the tank farms are near tank top, and while there are wells being shut down, there are others that can be brought online in a matter of days.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Taxes play a much bigger role now that gas is cheaper.

      Here in PA, we pay the highest gas tax in the country at 68.9 cents per gallon, so I doubt the pump price of gas can get much lower than it has.

  • avatar

    RUG was $1.39 today in NJ premium was $1.75 full serve great while it last buto would buy a car or truck counting on that. Glad to see the vw workers get a bonus since none of vw troubles are their fault. I am sure OT has stopped now unless they are building cars for a buy back and need supply.

  • avatar

    It’s been very obvious, that other than electrics and hybrids, typical vehicles aren’t as fuel efficient as some vehicles from the 1980’s. One exception seems to be trucks, they seem to get better mileage as the technology improves. The old Saturns would regularly turn in over 40 MPG, no similar, (non-hybrid, non-electric), car today does that, and my Chevette diesel easily gets 45-50 MPG at 5000 feet, the old Datsun 210’s were over 40 MPG as well.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is true only from a MPG perspective.

      However, those wheezing 75 HP cars didn’t go 0-60 in 7 seconds, weigh 3500 lbs, or have the safety features of today’s cars. And they polluted much, much more than today’s cars.

      We’re reaching diminishing returns as far as what technology can achieve with the internal combustion engine.

  • avatar

    Google car hits bus. RX350 I think, not the puddle jumper shown.

    No police report filed. Of course not! The official record is still clean. Like the guy with insurance probs, who pays cash for the damage. What a cynic I am.

    The car was reprogrammed so now is afraid of its own shadow, particularly at sunrise and sunset when it’s really BIG. Like a bus, or that guy boinging along in a front-end loader moving to a new site.

  • avatar

    The major oil producing countries can drive crude oil prices down enough to shut down the frackers but they can’t uninvent the technology. That genie is out of the bottle. As soon as prices rise, the frackers will be back in business. That puts a long term cap on gasoline and diesel prices. Unless there is a political decision to ban fracking, we won’t see $5 a gallon for decades.

  • avatar

    @truckduken – thanks for the pure-gas site.. I was sure that regular 87 octane Esso in Ontario ( Esso owned by ExxonMobil ) may have been. Ethanol free… I see it doesn’t.. but we always use Essa for my wife’s 06 vue with 3.5 liter Honda Motor. , as it runs the best with esso.( and I’ve talked with other Honda owners, and they say the same about Esso. — but don’t know why? )

  • avatar

    Ethanol is evil.
    Burning corn Elevates all grain prices. Elevates meat prices.
    Food is more expensive.
    People in poor countries can buy less.
    People die.

  • avatar

    Pumps that dispense ethanol-laced fuel should be labeled “Adulterated Gasoline”.

    And “denatured alcohol” should be labeled “Made Deadly by US Government Mandate”. The feds have been waging war on untaxed ‘shine since Washington was president.

    • 0 avatar

      Bingo. Not just distilled ethanol, either – try distilling your own gasoline from petroleum and selling it to your buddy without the federal and state taxes….. If you need a still to produce it, it’s probably illegal for you to sell it in the USA.

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