Posts Tagged ‘fuel-efficiency’
CONNECTICUT, US: Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut, US, is developing a new method of automotive propulsion with thorium, one of the most dense materials known in nature. Thorium is so dense that it has the potential to produce tremendous amounts of heat. The company has been experimenting with small bits of thorium, creating a laser that heats water, produces steam and powers a mini turbine.
According to Charles Stevens, CEO, LPS, just one gram of the substance yields more energy than 7,396 gallons (28,000 L) of gasoline and 8 grams would power the typical car for a century.
“Low or non- carbon dioxide (CO2)emitting energy sources must be cheaper than coal or will ultimately fail to displace fossil fuels. The United States uses 20 per cent of the world’s energy today and, if it cut its CO2 emissions to zero, 80 per cent produced by other countries would still be a problem. With CO2 emissions climbing seemingly beyond all bounds, pessimism is rampant and bold ideas are needed,” said Robert Hargraves, LPS.
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The Elio is technically a motorcycle, but is a whole lot easier and safer to drive.
Most Americans–about 93%–drive to work alone. So why use a car that’s big enough for four? A new vehicle that’s half-motorcycle and half-car is designed to replace sedans and SUVs on morning commutes and help save money and emissions in the process: The Elio costs $6,800 and gets 84 miles to the gallon. It’s possible to drive 672 miles on a single tank of gas. That’s the distance from New York City to Detroit.
“The premise behind the concept is that most households have at least one vehicle that’s single occupant,” says Paul Elio, founder of Elio Motors. “Even if you have kids, you probably have an SUV or minivan, and then a small sedan with dust on the backseat. We can be that car.”
The Elio actually has two seats, set front to back for ideal aerodynamics, in case the driver needs to give someone a ride. Inside, it looks and acts pretty much like a car; it’s fully enclosed and has car seats and seatbelts, air bags, and options for manual or automatic transmission. It’s more like a car than this somewhat similar vehicle from Lit Motors. But because it has three wheels, it’s classified under law as a motorcycle.
The motorcycle classification leads to some strange consequences–in a few states, under current law, you’d have to wear a helmet even though the vehicle is enclosed. But it also has benefits. “As a motorcycle, you can go in the HOV lane by yourself,” Elio says. It also meant the vehicle can come to market more quickly, since there’s less red tape involved in manufacturing a motorcycle.
Even though regulations don’t require it, the company plans to comply with all standards for cars that apply. “We’re engineering to achieve a 5-star crash rating in all directions,” Elio says. “We’re going way beyond the minimum.” Still, there are a few idiosyncrasies–the headlights, for example, can’t comply with car standards because motorcycle lights are required to be brighter by law.
Because the vehicle is so lightweight–about half the weight of a typical small car–the company can save on materials costs. Elio has also tried to optimize other steps in manufacturing to keep costs down. “We get all 34 of our suppliers together once every four to six weeks and we work on the vehicle as a group. That’s never been done before. All of these things add up to a lower price.”
When the vehicle comes to market next year, the Elio plans to have innovative financing to make the vehicle even easier to buy. “It’s actually cheaper to drive a brand new Elio than a clunker,” Elio says. The company will offer the option to buy the car with nothing but a special credit card for gas; every time someone buys gas, they’ll pay extra to make a car payment.
“If you buy $10 of gas, it will show up as a $30 charge on your statement–that $20 extra is your vehicle payment,” Elio explains. “As long as you drove into the dealership with something that gets 27 miles per gallon or less–and we know there are 100 million of those cars out there–you’ll be paying less, and you’ll have a brand new vehicle under warranty.”
You’ll also be helping reduce pollution. “If you drive it 20,000 miles per year, an Elio produces less emissions than one cow’s flatulence during the same time,” Elio says. “We’re cleaner than a cow. After 10 years of sales, we expect to save 8 billion gallons of gas.”
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My nose would shoot to about six feet in length if I exclaimed that gas mileage was an important feature to me when purchasing a car. However, I’m very much in the minority on this one.
Fuel economy has grown to become an increasingly important factor which sways car buyers when making their decisions. One reason this has come to be is that gasoline price growth, adjusted for inflation, is handily outpacing wage growth, also adjusted for inflation, since 1980. This means the real cost of gasoline is rising faster than consumers’ wages, so consumers are having to look toward improved fuel economy when they purchase vehicles.
Another reason we see fuel economy in the spotlight is the negative sentiment built up against the world’s largest oil producers. A number of consumers believe that big oil is evil and are looking for vehicles that run solely on electricity, a mixture of gas and electricity, or on gasoline, but that sip rather than guzzle fuel.
Finally, we’re also seeing beefed-up pressure from individual states and the federal government to improve mile-per-gallon, or mpg, standards, as well as reducing noxious emissions. In August 2012, the Obama administration announced new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards that would require U.S. auto fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which was up dramatically from its previous target of 34.5 miles per gallon due to hit in 2016. The goal, of course, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also reducing oil consumption with presumably even more cars on the road.
But, here’s the good news: automakers are listening! In fact, according to a recent Consumer Reports study, nine automakers have managed to build vehicles capable of delivering 50 mpg (mpg equivalent, or mpge, for the ones that don’t burn gas) on the highway or better, leaving their peers decidedly in the dust.
Today, we’re going to look at those nine vehicles and their manufacturers to see what they’re doing right, and determine if these vehicles and automakers truly do have an edge over their peers.
9. Honda Civic Hybrid – 50 mpg
Interested in jumping into a hybrid capable of getting you a cruise-a-licious 50 mpg on the highway for less than $30,000 MSRP? Then the Honda (NYSE: HMC ) Civic Hybrid could be your car of choice. Honda combines its two best attributes with the Civic hybrid – top-notch dependability which we’ve come to expect from Honda and its subsidiary Acura, as well as impressive fuel economy with an electric motor powering the car at lower speeds and kicking over to the gasoline engine at higher speeds. It may not be among the top five, but the Civic Hybrid has attributes that should keep it selling well in the U.S.
8. Volkswagen Passat TDI SE – 51 mpg
No folks, that’s not a misprint – that’s 51 mpg on the highway from a fossil-fuel-burning engine. In this case Volkswagen has turned to its highly reliable diesel-engine technology to get even more impressive gas mileage than the Civic Hybrid. Volkswagen’s U.S. sales have been stagnant for years, and the Passat TDI SE could be the first step in the right direction for the company in the U.S. market. With a base price just north of $26,000, this is vehicle worth keeping an eye on.
7. (tied with six) Toyota Prius Plug-in Advanced – 55 mpg (composite of electricity and gas)
Believe it or not, Toyota (NYSE: TM ) doesn’t dominate this list, but you will see two of its vehicles lined up in the next two spots. The Prius Plug-in Advanced allows for a nice go-between of the electric-gas-hybrid vehicles and solely electric vehicles by giving consumers the option to plug their Prius in to get up to 15 miles of all-electric range at 62 mph or less. A more efficient and higher capacity lithium-ion-battery pack is what allows the Prius Plug-in Advanced to achieve this superior electric range. In other words, for those with short commutes, this could be a smart choice! However, at a price point north of $34,000, the Prius Plug-in Advanced, even with its reduced price for 2014, may not offer enough fuel efficiency based on its price.
6. (tied with seven) Toyota Prius Four – 55 mpg
Now the Toyota Prius Four certainly hits a perfect chord with consumers looking for the iconic Prius styling and impressive fuel efficiency which topped out at 55 mpg on the highway. With a base MSRP of $28,435 for the Prius Four, which comes with a few premium upgrades, including the solar roof package, navigation, and head-up display, it’s right in line with the price point of the Honda Civic Hybrid while providing superior fuel economy.
5. Chevrolet Volt – 76 mpg (composite of electricity and gas)
Similar to the Prius Plug-in Advanced, the Chevy Volt, which is manufactured by General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , allows consumers to travel an EPA-estimated 38 miles before its gas-powered generator kicks in and allows the car to go an estimated 380 miles on a full tank. Simply put, if you have a relatively short commute, it’s incredibly likely you could go weeks or months between a gas fill-up. On the flipside, the Volt has also been associated with a number of battery issues and recalls, and even with a reduced price point for 2014 still appears a bit pricey. It may be a few more years before General Motors and Chevy have a success on their hands with the Volt.
4. Tesla Model S (base, 85 kWh) – 102 mpge
No list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on an mpg or mpge basis would be complete without including America’s most vaunted electric vehicle, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) Model S (in this case with the superior 85-kWh-battery package). The advantage of the Model S is that it provides the most comparable all-electric driving range to gas-powered vehicles, but it does come with a hefty price point that’s north of $60,000 and will price most consumers out of the market. Furthermore, with the Model S being so new, there’s no used market, so leasing isn’t an option at the moment. The car certainly could be called exclusionary, but there is undeniable demand for the Model S in the U.S. which could translate to big profits for Tesla moving forward.
3. Ford Focus Electric – 107 mpge
If you absolutely don’t want to leave a carbon footprint, but can’t stand the high price point of the Tesla Model S, Ford‘s (NYSE: F ) all-electric Focus could be the answer. The Electric Focus will only run about half the price of the Model S, but it still comes with some hefty drawbacks, including a driving range estimated to be only 76 miles, and a top speed that caps out at 82 mph. In addition, the same exclusions apply for Focus Electric owners in that they’ll need a plug for overnight charging, meaning condo owners and apartment renters probably need not apply.
2. Mitsubishi i SE – 116 mpge
Someone had to produce the cheapest electric vehicle; and why not Mitsubishi! The subcompact Mitsubishi i SE is an all-electric vehicle with absolutely no frills attached. Its stodgy interior can fit four people and the car itself can get an EPA-rated 62 miles on a single charge for an MSRP of less than $29,000 before tax breaks. Of course, this cheaper price comes with some drawbacks as well. The car has top speed of just 81 mph (perhaps with the wind at its back), but more importantly has just a 62-mile range and can take 21 hours on a standard 110-volt charger to reach a full charge. If you pony up for the 240-volt charger (which I strongly suggest you do), the charge time dips to an expected six to seven hours.
But the No. 1 most “fuel-efficient” vehicle on the highway is…
1. Nissan Leaf SL – 118 mpge
Taking the top spot in terms of highway fuel-efficiency is Nissan‘s Leaf SL which gets an average of 84 miles per each full charge. Although the Nissan Leaf costs a few thousand more than the Mitsubishi i SE, it comfortably seats five people, offers a respectable 107 horsepower, and the SL model comes with upgrades such as 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and leather-appointed seats. Long story short, with the exception of price point, the Nissan Leaf SL appears to be superior in every way to the closely rated Mitsubishi i SE. It may not compared with the Tesla Model S driving range by any means, but it gives cost conscious and carbon footprint aware consumers a perfect vehicle to turn to in the U.S.
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At 430 horsepower and with a huge V8 engine, the 2014 Audi R8 will go from 0-60mph in just over four seconds and hit nearly 200 miles per hour. It also gets 11 miles to the gallon in the city–not exactly the ideal model for maximizing range (and beach time!) during a spring weekend away.
But there are a few luxury cars that get exemplary gas mileage. The $39,500 Lexus ES 300h, for instance, gets 40 miles to the gallon in city/highway averaged driving and provides luxurious amenities like leather interiors, bamboo trim and an extended rear seat. It pairs a plush ride with Lexus’s most fuel-friendly version to date of the newly revamped midsize sedan.
The same goes for the $32,050 Lexus CT 200h, which gets a whopping 42mph in combined city/highway driving and is the least expensive—and most fuel-efficient—vehicle Lexus offers.
And Cadillac, Detroit’s luxury darling, offers a $75,000 ELR plug-in hybrid car that gets 82mpg for its first 37 miles of driving and 33mpg after that. That’s not bad considering the brand’s big, bad, gas-guzzling image of years past.
“People who buy luxury cars are typically not cash-strapped to begin with, so they may not be particularly concerned with saving money on fuel, but there are other areas of appeal beyond the EPA number–especially with range,” says Jack Nerad, the executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book.
In fact, you might think that well-apportioned, powerful luxury sedans always get worse gas mileage than their more mainstream cousins, but premium automakers like Acura and Lincoln are focusing more than ever on making everything super efficient, super clean, and super lightweight (Exhibit A: carbon fiber everything). They’ve realized that more often than not, buyers these days who can afford to pick from plenty of options are routinely choosing the most efficient of the lot.
Read on to see other brands on our list of this year’s luxury cars with the best gas mileage. You’ll be surprised what makes the cut.
Behind the Numbers
The experts at Kelley Blue Book compiled this year’s data, which evaluated all 2014 model-year vehicles that promise a combined city/highway rate of 35 mpg or more. Hybrids and plug-ins, diesels, pure electric vehicles and even some gas-only entries made the cut.
The diversity is a good thing, Nerad says, as long as it’s managed well.
“More choices sometimes make the choice difficult–but that’s a good problem to have,” he says.
Still, there is much room for growth when it comes to efficiency, since most of the vehicles in the luxury segment fall woefully behind the ones enumerated here in terms of efficiency. Engine size, vehicle weight and aerodynamics all affect how many miles a car or truck will suck from its tank, and those factors are largely driven by market demands rather than environmental altruism. (One interesting note pertaining to expensive cars: Drag is the dominant player in efficiency on long straight roads like Interstates, and vehicle length has a huge effect on drag, and shorter cars have more drag than longer ones, so in some cases a big luxury car – which can better approximate the aerodynamically superior teardrop shape than a tiny econo-box – might get superior highway efficiency to a smaller one.)
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors TSLA +2.65%, has led the charge in improving efficiency by creating a 100-percent electric luxury sedan, the Model S, for a competitive price, and his similarly-fueled Model X SUV is due out later this year.
The South African billionaire said when he founded the company that it’s up to automakers to push for sustainably fueled and efficient cars.
“The overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution,” Musk says. “Critical to making that happen is an electric car without compromises.”
With the cars on this list, at least, so far so good.
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The Volkswagen XL1 will be expensive (roughly $145,000 US, if reports are to be believed) but that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t interested in the sleek, hyper-efficient machine. InAutoNews reports that more people are telling VW they want to buy the 261-mpg car than VW plans to make.
We asked VW’s Carsten Krebs about the situation, and he said there has been no decision regarding increasing production beyond the 250 VW is panning to build. VW has no comment on how it will deal with too-high demand, but Krebs told AutoblogGreen, “We are figuring out the best process, because we have huge interest in potential XL1 buyers.” As far as we can tell, the company has three options if it doesn’t want to hand-make enough cars: first come, first served, offering the cars to whoever will pay the most or make it a random lottery. We wonder where the people who won’t get their mitts on an XL1 will spend their money instead. Any ideas?
The diesel-electric plug-in hybrid XL1 uses less than a liter of fuel to go 100 kilometers (burning one liter would equal 235 mpg). The plans call for the limited run of 250 to be finished by the spring of 2014.
According to CNNMoney.com, auto industry results show the First Quarter of 2012 to be the best quarter for auto sales in the U.S. since early 2008. “Available credit, an improvement in the economy, pent-up demand, and even high gas prices are encouraging people to buy newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles — helping to drive industry sales,” according to Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler.
Along with the demand for new cars comes demand for add-ons and upgrades, including energy-efficient Auto Tint. Strong First Quarter auto sales, coupled with unseasonably warm weather in March, created the largest customer demand for auto tint in the past several years, according to Shaun Schultz, owner of Midwest Glass Tinters in Deer Park, IL. ”New car owners want to do everything possible to increase the energy efficiency of their cars, and adding Auto Tint really helps. Shaun gave us a complete list of the benefits of Auto Glass Tinting:
Energy Savings – Acting as a layer of insulation between your car’s interior and the heat and sunlight outside, auto tint allows you to see energy savings year round. Maintaining a consistent interior temperature means you don’t have to use your climate control (air conditioning or heat) as much, reducing energy use.
Glare – Auto tint greatly diminishes the amount of bright sunlight and glare coming into your car, protecting your eyes from damage.
Protection - The sun’s harmful UV rays are more intense during spring and summer. As a result, the sunshine coming into your car can also be very damaging to your skin. Those same UV rays can also fade your upholstery, carpet and dash, making your vehicle look old before its time. Auto Tint filters out up to 99% of these harmful rays, protecting both you and your car’s interior.
Security– In the event of an accident, Auto Tint stops shattered glass from flying and injuring you or your passengers. Additionally, Tinted Windows make it harder for thieves to break into your car.
Finally, in addition to all of these benefits, Auto Glass Tinting makes your new car look sleeker and more sophisticated and can give your older model an updated look. Since we’re heading into the summer months, Auto Glass Tint is a a great energy-efficient idea you might want to consider.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR AUTO GLASS TINTING, CALL SHAUN AT MIDWEST GLASS TINTERS OF DEER PARK – (847) 438-1133.