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)
The consumers have always wanted better mileage, but they don't have enough influence on manufacturers because the profit margins are much thinner on inexpensive cars. The makers sell fewer luxury cars, but the luxury cars set the standards because their profit margins are better than 5 good mileage cars.
So market pressures never work. The car makers have failed to adapt to better mileage cars 3 times now, and each time the tax payers had to bail out the car makers. That neither works nor is fair. So regulation to make them produce better mileage is the only alternative. If we let the car makers keep failing, the whole country will fail.
Car makers are not making what people want, but what is most profitable in the short term, for them. And they ignore the long term, cyclic gas shortages, and the fact the short lived, delicate stuff they pack new cars with, are going to anger buyer is about 5 year when it all starts to break.
The higher voltage systems for trucks and the 24 volt DC systems for military vehicles are for special uses. Military vehicles often had radio transmitterts and receivers, and the radio equipment in the tube type era could not run reliably on a 6 volt system. The 24 volt systems were for performance as much as anything else. In the trucks, the larger engines, especially the diesels, take a lot of power to crank. Also, trucks have a lot more lights than cars do.
There certainly was a push for the preheated catalytic converters about a year before the 42 volt systems were announced, so I see some cause and effect there. WE are all very fortunate that the preheated catalyst idea never took hold, since it would have been a functional disaster of embarrasing proportions. Just think about drawing 1500 to 2000 watts from your car battery for two minutes before you were allowed to crank the engine. With a new battery and a good electrical charging system it might work most of the time, but just try it on a cold winter night with a year old battery.
Fortunately rational thinking prevailed, and the beast was repelled.
Of course, there did turn out to be quite a few other challenges to making a 36 volt system work on common passenger vehicles. There were problems with light bulbs, switches, solenoids, and relays and some other components.
I think the approach automakers are using is definitely supported by the need; i.e. looking at each component and improving that component's efficiency while evaluating what contribution can be made to reaching the CAFÉ standard. I don't really see how the standard can be achieved without significant improvement in technology and/or going to hybrid vehicles. With that being the case, the days of the shade tree mechanic are pretty much over. Growing up as a kid, my first lessons as a budding engineer came from working on cars. I suppose that will still be the case, but we could actually fix them back then. I'm not too sure a kid will be able to accomplish the same result with the new technology. In a way, this is sad evitable but sad.
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.
"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.
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.
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?
A recently released government report has raised the hopes of automakers looking for a break on future fuel economy regulations, despite the warnings of an Environmental Protection Agency official who said the agency is unlikely to back down on its goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
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.