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Government Hardware Science Technology

How We'll Get To 54.5 Mpg By 2025 717

concealment writes "At the end of August this year, the US Department of Transport's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new standards to significantly improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks by 2025. Last week, we took a look at a range of recent engine technologies that car companies have been deploying in aid of better fuel efficiency today. But what about the cars of tomorrow, or next week? What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?"
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How We'll Get To 54.5 Mpg By 2025

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  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:12AM (#41585519)

    cars suitable for average daily use by more than half the people with that kind of fuel efficiency have been available for decades.

  • the easiest way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Picardo85 ( 1408929 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:13AM (#41585533)
    Start importing cars made for the european market. We have loads of those cars here. [autoblog.com]
  • by seinman ( 463076 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#41585623) Homepage Journal
    Safety standards, or lack thereof. Cars have to be heavy now to pass the government-required safety tests. Lighter materials don't hold up as well in an accident.
  • by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#41585761)

    Your 1985 Civic would probably fail today's crash tests and emissions checks (in the areas that require them), and likely lacked features most consumers prefer these days.

    -Higher crash standards demand more structure and additional equipment like airbags
    -Higher emissions standards dictate more additional equipment (catalytic converters, etc.) and different combustion profiles
    -Consumer expectations for performance (acceleration/handling), size, and comfort (features, sound insulation, etc) have gone up

    All of the above add weight to the vehicle (making for inefficiency) Oh, and the mandated use of ethanol reduces mileage even further.

  • by ciderbrew ( 1860166 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:38AM (#41585901)
    53mpg whilst not trying as I recall.
    The boys race from Switzerland to Blackpool on one tank of fuel part 1 (series 12, episode 4)
    http://www.topgear.com/uk/videos/the-one-tank-challenge-1 [topgear.com]
  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a il.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:39AM (#41585919)

    As far as I know, there aren't ant european diesels than can pass our current emission standards, regardless of the milage.

    This is not true any more. Euro diesels since about 05 and above have exceeded the US emissions standards. The only thing holding it back now is misinformation and the stigma of diesel as something only for big rigs and tractors.

  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:50AM (#41586079) Homepage

    What a crock. I live in london , I'm over 6 foot and 210lbs and I've never had any trouble fitting in any car. Unless you're the height of a basket ball player or you're a 400 lb ball of sweaty lard because you can't leave off the donuts then there's no reason you can't either.

  • by akboss ( 823334 ) <akboss&suddenlink,net> on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:53AM (#41586121)
    The only reason why we don't have Hummers and Semi's getting 150mpg is because we don't have the courage to pass a law demanding it.

    I take it your not a driver of a semi nor the O/O of one. They are already turbo charged, they already have to meet air quality standards that make the exhaust cleaner than the air the engine takes in. All of that pollution control makes for a 8 MPG vehicle when it is pulling 48,000 pounds of goods.

    Demand that semi's get better mileage is admirable but really short sighted. Force the trucking companies and O/O to meet unrealistic goals just means they WILL pass that cost onto each and every bit of freight they haul

    care for $10 pound ground beef? Milk costing $7 or $8 a gallon? That is what will happen if laws like that are passed.

    And yes I am a truck driver hauling Cattle for your dinner

  • Re:EV, obviously (Score:5, Informative)

    by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:59AM (#41586211)

    The real question is going to be what that does to the electric grid. No way we are ready for even 10% of the cars to be EV today - we simply do not have the generation capacity. Oh, and such cars are going to charge at home at night, so any solar PV system is useless. I do not see suburbs putting up wind turbines between houses, so we are going to have a real electric supply problem.

    Electric vehicles do not use as much power off the grid as people think. To put it in perspective, a 20 mile per day commute uses the same electricity monthly as leaving four CRT monitors on all the time. They use only 25% of the consumption of a 4-TON AC unit during June, July and August (typical household AC) They use the same power monthly as a single 8000 BTU window air conditioner... Converting all of the private commuter vehicles to EVs today would only increase electricity consumption by 20%. While this would require some increase in infrastructure, it is not the end-of-the-world scenario that everyone keeps claiming. It is well within what we could achieve within the scope of normal market supply and demand. The introduction of the television had a much more profound impact on our electricity consumption...


  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:01PM (#41586249)
    You don't need a V6 to merge quickly. Hell, even a whimpy 80s econobox can merge quickly if you have a good driver and manual transmission.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:06PM (#41586321)

    Except that the F150 will not have to get 54.5MPG by 2025. It will only need to hit 30MPG by then due to the cluster fuck of regulations that CAFE is. That 30MPG only translates to about 23MPG in real world driving. Part of the problem is that a lot of the CAFE standards are based around the footprint of the vehicle. This provides the car manufacturers with no incentive to give the US small cars since they have to meet much tougher efficiency standards. Go read the link for more information.

  • Re:Not anti American (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sez Zero ( 586611 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:21PM (#41586511) Journal

    The car is central to life in the US. The fuel munching car has no real future in this.

    Not the car. The truck.

    The Ford F-150 has been the best selling vehicle (car or truck) in the US for the past 35 years. In 2011 here are the ranks (from this source [msn.com]):

    1. Ford F-150 (584,917 sold)
    2. Chevrolet Silverado (415,130)
    3. Toyota Camry (308,510)
    4. Nissan Altima (268,981)
    5. Ford Escape (254,293)
    6. Ford Fusion (248,067)
    7. Ram Pickups (244,763)
    8. Toyota Corolla (240,259)
    9. Honda Accord (235,625)
    10. Chevrolet Cruze (231,732)

    For all the people complaining about Suburbans, Escalades and Expeditions, it is trucks, not SUVs that sell in the US.

    Of the top 10: 1,533,174 cars (51%); 1,244,810 trucks (41%); 254,293 SUVs (8%)

    How many trucks sold in Europe?

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:31PM (#41586659)
    Diesel cars are not a panacea.

    1) European (UK) gallons are 20% bigger than US gallons.

    2) European fuel mileage is determined using a different test than U.S. EPA mileage. There's less stop-and-go in the EU tests.

    Consequently it's not unusual for models which hit 50+ MPG in the EU to not even break 40 MPG in the EPA tests. CAFE uses a different test than EPA though. I'm not sure how CAFE mileage stacks up to EU mileage.

    3) Diesel contains about 12%-15% more mass and energy per gallon. Consequently it also puts out about 12%-15% more pollutants per gallon. So unless you're comparing on price or range on same sized fuel tank, you need to tweak diesel's MPG down to draw a fair comparison with gasoline MPG.

    4) When you distil a barrel of oil, some of it will naturally distil into diesel, some into gasoline. It's relatively easy to convert heavy fuels like diesel into gasoline. It's very difficult and expensive to convert light fuels like gasoline and kerosene into diesel. Consequently the most energy-efficient approach is to just take the fractions of diesel and gasoline which comes out naturally from the distillation process. The next-most energy-efficient approach is to favor gasoline.

    So for consumption you want to err on the side which favors gasoline consumption. Diesel is only a cost-effective fuel competitor to gasoline because there are lots of gas-consuming cars. If you lower gasoline consumption below the production from natural distillation, diesel starts to become much more expensive. Whereas if gasoline consumption rises above natural production fractions, you can simply cook diesel a bit to break it down and make more gasoline.
  • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:43PM (#41586857)

    I live in Austin, and my family has a wimpy car (16-year-old Miata with a manual transmission) and newer cars (BMWs with both manual and automatic transmission).

    Getting the Miata up to highway speeds can be a challenge. I have to merge onto Mopac north and south every day, including taking the north-bound Mopac on-ramp from 2222, where the on ramp is a tight loop. I can wind out the transmission but if people don't get over I'm not going to merge successfully. The 645 can merge wherever because I can meet and beat highway speeds to find a safe gap.

    Honestly though, I think the problem with wimpy engine cars is the poor quality of turbochargers. My wife used to have a few Jettas and the turbo lag was atrocious. I recently saw though that there was new turbocharger technology that can "pre-charge" them or somesuch, effectively eliminating the lag. If those become standard, then turbochargers are great and smaller engines will be significantly more successful. (Also, as I see someone else mention, hybrids can solve this easily as well, as electric motors can provide the merge boost too.)

  • by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:02PM (#41587239) Homepage

    Yea, afaik all of the modern VW/Audi turbos are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable-geometry_turbocharger [wikipedia.org]. This lets them engage at lower RPM eliminating the turbo lag.

    Most of the time I find people complain about turbo lag I find that they are shifting too soon which keeps the turbo spooled down. Small 4-cyl engines like to be above 2000+rpm compared to 1500rpm that you find in V8/V6 engines.

  • Re:the easiest way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:08PM (#41587329)

    Those are in English gallons, not U.S. gallons.

    When your gallons are 20% larger it's easier to get high MPG numbers.

    The car would get 61 MPG in US gallons. Still great, but not as great as 73 sounds.

  • Re:the easiest way (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:14PM (#41587419)

    There's nothing legal preventing American cars from having amber turn signals. My 90s Acura has them from the factory. Many/most American-made cars have red signals simply because the law allows it, and it's cheaper from a manufacturing perspective (they just use the same lens color as the brake lights).

    The problem with turn signals is as "Convector" here says: it's un-American to actually use them properly. Either you don't use them, or you leave them on for your entire drive, or if you're in Mississippi, you use them to signal that people in front of you are turning, even though you intend to continue straight.

  • Re:Incorrect (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:29PM (#41587643)

    Nope. Lighter materials could be as safe as heavier materials; you could use advanced aluminum honeycomb structures for instance to absorb energy (didn't the McLaren F1 have a chassis with this stuff?). However, doing so is much more expensive than using the same stamped-and-welded steel that cars have been using since the early 1900s.

  • by evilandi ( 2800 ) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:36PM (#41587793) Homepage

    Blimey. Just had a look at the Ford F-150. To provide an overview for my fellow Britons:

    That thing (F-150) is five and a half metres long, two metres wide and one point nine metres tall. Even if you're really, really tall, you still wouldn't be able to see over the roof, you'd still be able to lie down in it sideways, and it would take six paces to walk from the front bumper to the rear. It won't fit into a standard European parking space through the two horizontal dimensions, and won't fit vertically through most multi-storey car park "Max Headroom" barriers either. It weighs over two tonnes even before you put anyone or anything inside it.

    For comparison, a massive gas-guzzling British car such as the Vauxhall Zafira 7-seater has a maximum engine size of 1.9 litres, produces only 148hp and weighs 1.5 tonnes.

    The F-150's smallest engine is 3.5 litres and produces 350hp. That is roughly the same as a high-end BMW 5-series. Yup, their smallest engine is the same as a top-end BMW engine. That 3.5 litre, 350hp engine is branded the "eco" version.

    I could understand this if Americans drove everywhere. But from my repeated and frequent trips to the USA, my experience is - they don't. They drive hardly anywhere - they generally just drive to the shops or to work, plus a few outings to nearby towns and parks within a couple of hundred miles. Sure, Americans make a lot of journies, but they don't tend to be very long ones. Anywhere much further, they FLY and get a hire car. They don't generally, for example, take their cars on long-distance holidays like Europeans do. They don't ever get in their car in, say, New York and drive all the way to Charleston; they fly. Whereas lots of Europeans would think nothing of getting in our cars in, say, Manchester, and driving all the way to Bordeaux, or starting a journey in Rome and driving to Zurich.

    So I'm mystified by what Americans use an F-150 for.

  • by fridaynightsmoke ( 1589903 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:49PM (#41588853) Homepage

    Because the truth is that American cars are much bigger, heavier, and generally safer than European cars. Numerous, (rather popular!) European cars that get excellent fuel economy (better than 40 MPG) simply cannot be imported because they'd miserably fail the crash tests.

    To be sold in America, new cars must have a crash cage around the passenger compartment, around which are various crumple zones that absorb impact and improve passenger safety. Crash cages, by design, must be very strong in order to prevent passengers from getting crushed by stupid amounts of energy. This makes them heavy, and that makes it darn hard to get decent fuel economy, especially in stop & go traffic. (weight isn't nearly as much of a penalty on freeways, particularly on flat ground, though hills steep enough to require braking on the downhill runs can get rather inefficient rather quickly)

    Bullshit. All cars sold in Europe follow safety standards equivalent to those in North America, and have had 'crash cages' for nearly 50 years.

    The main difference is cultural expectations about car size. As an example, the Ford Focus, what Americans consider to be a 'small' car, has 2 models smaller than it in Europe (the Ka and the Fiesta), and the Focus is considered here in the UK to be a 'medium' sized family car. The Ford Mondeo, very similar to the Fusion in the USA, is considered to be 'large'. Ford do not sell a larger car than the Mondeo in Europe.

    Engine size expectations are similar. Here a 2.0L I4 is considered a normal, reasonably powerful engine. An 'economy' car would have a 1.4 or a 1.6. A 3.0L V6 would be considered a 'fast car' here. V8s are almost unheard of.

    Amusingly European cars generally have faster top speeds than American cars, despite the smaller engines. Some years ago I took an American on a road trip (along with other people) and he was amazed that my 1.8L Ford Escort could achieve 135mph. Here if a V6 can't get to at least 150mph it's considered to be a bit crap.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay