By 2025, every automaker will need to boost its corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) to 54.5mpg. That's not an easy task, so most manufacturers are already working with suppliers on products to help squeeze the most out of every gallon of gas. The obvious way to do that is to use electrified powertrains. But not all vehicles can do that, so automakers are building new engines, and vendors are dreaming up fuel-stingy components.
From fuel injectors and air conditioning compressors to tires and power steering systems, we offer a potpourri of technologies aimed at boosting CAFE to 54.5mpg.
Click the image below for a slideshow of 19 lesser-known mileage boosters.
Low-rolling resistance tires, like those on the Chevy Cruze Eco, use a silica compound and a revised tread design to provide a solid road feel and improved fuel efficiency. (Source: GM)
Absalom: A heavy safety cage does not make a vehicle safer, but makes it more likely to lose control. And safety is from being able to maneuver and avoid collisions, not being able to withstand semi truck crushing. Smaller vehicles are inheretly stronger per weight, and therefore safer.
I believe the future CAFE standards are more sophisticated, nuanced, and less draconian than appears at first look. The innovations discussed in the article will be refined, expanded, and integrated over time to become lower cost, more effective, and more widely applied. Not discussed were such possibilities as low friction coatings, further improvements in streamlining, lower friction piston rings, and the deSaxe offset cylinder technology which is already in use for some engines. Ceramic rollers can reduce mass and friction in roller tappets. The auto industry has yet to develop low cost, low mass, engine piston pins but they are conceptually feasible and many patents exist for various approaches. Still to come are merged computerized management systems to optimize driving efficiency. These would build on fuel economy techniques already used by so-called "hypermiler" drivers who seek maximum fuel efficiency, while avoiding the extremes of slow acceleration. Turbocharging and supercharging (exhaust gas and mechanical driven alternatives) have still further developments, aided by knowledge gained from the intense ongoing aircraft engine research programs. Low friction lubricants exist now and can be further optimized and developed. Body mass is being reduced with no ultimate limit yet in sight. Fully controlled valve movement will be refined and further adopted. The future CAFE standards can be met without destroying driving pleasure.
Of the various mechanisms presented, probably the one that is able to deliver the very most improvement for the very least effort is the combination alternator-starter shown in frame 4. Engine shutoff coupled with engine disengagement, all under driver control, or possibly driver plus computer control, could easily allow a doubling of the miles per gallon during city driving. It would not offer much improvement for constant speed driving, but in the case of suburban and urban driving, the ability to shut off and coast can provide a large reduction in fuel consumption. So why hasn't anybody else proposed such a system?
Looking at the picture of the air conditioning compressor it becomes clear that very early in the process automotive air cooling must be eliminated altogether. Not only does it not contribute anything towards moving the car down the road, but it also adds to the weight of the vehicle. In addition it does a whole lot toward encouraging folks to use their cars more than they really need to use them.
"As long as the safety cage is strong enough" works for me but what can it be made of to survive being squeezed between a row of cars and an one or two 100,000 pound trucks in a typical chain reaction accident? The impact speeds may not be real high but the crushing forces are.
I wonder how safe the Datona 500 would be if they had 30 cars and 6 double trailer trucks racing around with loads scrap metal and wood chips at the same time? In real life the truckers are always racing against time and money and both their following distances and tempers can be pretty short.
I think that anything smaller than my 4x4 pickup is just a metal coffin looking for a spot to be buried. Even a 7000 pound truck is probably a bit light for safe road use. I should probably consider installing a 500 pound safety cage.
My 1982 Ford Escort Wagon got 40 MPG and I never had a complaint about its accelleration or responsiveness. It took a pretty steep hill to bog it down (I did know one such). Then again, I am a pretty conservative driver. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the "stomp-stomp" drivers would complain.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.