We all understand that the European market was the first to really get nailed with high gas prices. They were paying over $5 per gallon while the U.S. market still was just cresting the $2 per gallon mark. This forced the European market to start accepting smaller and less desirable vehicles in hopes of getting better economy, while folks in the States continued to drive Hummers and other large SUVs.
Now that gas is hitting $4 per gallon, the U.S. buyers are starting to become more receptive to smaller cars with upwards of 40 mpg capabilities and hybrids cresting the 50 mpg mark. However, we are still left out in one market, the ultra economic clean diesels. The latest one is the 2012 Chevrolet Aveo , which is known as the Sonic in the U.S.
In the U.S., the highest mpg available on the Sonic is 40 mpg and that is the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, which we have our doubts if any normal driver can actually hit 40 mpg in this car. In the U.K., the Aveo has several four-cylinder engine options, including a 1.2-liter gasoline, 1.3-liter diesel, 1.3-liter Eco Diesel, and a 1.4-liter. The highway fuel economy on these engines is 68.9 mpg, 83.1 mpg, 85.6 mpg, and 62.7 mpg, respectively.
None of these engines would make the Sonic a speed demon, like the relatively quick Sonic LTZ and its 1.4-liter turbo engine, but will Chevy ever bring these engine options to the U.S. market? We understand that diesel fuel is not as readily available as regular gasoline, but they certainly give the U.S. buyer an option other than hybrid or electric, which have technologies that could end up requiring rather pricy repairs in the future.
We’re not singling out Chevy here, as Ford has its ECOnetic system getting 65+ mpg in a Ford Fiesta . Our best Fiesta gets an arguable 40 mpg on the highway. Seemingly every car company has a super-Eco diesel engine in its European lineup, but we have yet to see one in the U.S. We think the time has come for one to show up.
With fuel economy in the forefront of most drivers’ minds, Ford has announced that a new fuel sipper has gone into production. Strangely enough, Ford’s newest fuel miser is not a hybrid car; it is a diesel-powered Ford Fiesta . This diesel engine, which Ford of Europe dubbed the Duratorq TDCi engine, uses ECOnetic Technology – a series of modifications to reduce both emissions and fuel consumption. These modifications allow this Fiesta to reach new heights as the most fuel-efficient Ford car ever built, getting 3.3 liters per 100km, which equals out to 86.5 mpg.
The driving force of the ECOnetic Fiesta is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It cranks out an acceptable 95ps (94 horsepower) and 205 Nm of torque (151 pound-feet). The Fiesta ECOnetic is definitely not a speed demon, but that is more than enough power to tinker around on any American road.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta ECOnetic is set to debut later this year, as Ford of Europe continues to lower CO2 production from its vehicles and increase fuel economy. Ford also states that about half of its European models will have ECOnetic Technology by year-end and they are committed to increasing that to two-thirds in 2013.
There is no anticipated release of ECOnetic technology in the U.S. to date, but we hope that it eventually makes its way across the pond. It’s safe to say that with the increasing price of gas, it is only a matter of time before Americans are clamoring for an 86.5 mpg Fiesta that does not have the future cost risks of a hybrid or electric car.
Click below to read more about the Fiesta’s ECOnetic Technology and Ford’s official press release.
Trying to get gas at reasonable prices is becoming one of the world’s major problems these days, so it seemed only natural that people would look for alternative sources to power their vehicles. There has been an onslaught of hybrid and full electric vehicles introduced to the market as of late, but there have also been unconventional methods as well, like that whiskey-powered model over in Scotland. It is the unconventional that has just broken the land speed record for vehicles running on organic waste. Engineer, Martin Bacon, and a group of volunteers from Teesdale Conservation in England have managed to make a car run on coffee.
Their project is based on a modified Rover SD1 which managed to hit a top speed of 77.5 mph and an average speed of 66.5 mph after many modifications, all with the help of the sole reason I get up in the morning. This java-powered rocket broke the previous speed record in this category of 47.7 mph, set by the wood-burning Beaver XR7 in 2010.
In this coffee-powered car, the fuel is sent to the V6 engine through an on board wood gas generator (gasification) system, which in this case burns wood and coffee grounds at a high temperature (more than 1292 F). The result is carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane, or the exact gas an internal combustion engine needs.
"Some of the clean gas is also being compressed to 150 PSI and injected directly into the manifold to achieve top speed. The cooling system is configured using an intercooler with two 12-volt fans attached."
To meet upcoming fuel economy requirements, automakers are expected to embrace turbocharging as a cost-effective way to maintain performance and increase fuel efficiency. In 2009, only five percent of vehicles offered for sale in the United States came with turbocharged engines. By 2020, an automotive industry executive expects that number to reach 82 percent, thanks to increasing fuel economy standards agreed to between the EPA, automakers, and the state of California. By 2025, automakers must achieve a Corporate Average Fuel Economy of 54.5 miles per gallon, fleet-wide. Producing smaller displacement, turbocharged engines is a cost-effective way of reducing fuel consumption, while maintaining expected levels of horsepower and performance.
There are a limited number of ways to achieve significantly better fuel economy from today’s cars. Going the hybrid drivetrain route adds expense, weight, and complexity, and using lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, composites, or aluminum usually have a significant increase in cost. Downsizing the engine is a one time-honored method, but American consumers are only willing to sacrifice so much performance in the name of better fuel economy.
Many families choose to take road trips over long weekends, and with Memorial Day being this weekend, more people than ever will take to the open road. This can be quite the scary notion for two distinct reasons. For starters, gasoline is spiking at $4.00 per gallon which makes travel expensive even just across town. The second reason is that more and more drivers on the road seem to be getting their drivers license without having taken the test. I drive roughly 20 minutes each way to and from work in Southern California and to be honest, I fear for my life nearly every time. Between cell phones, eating, passengers, and plenty of other distractions, it is a very dangerous world. Hopefully these tips can help keep you be safe and thrifty over the holiday weekend.
One way to temporarily increase fuel economy is by coasting to a stop. If you notice a light turn red in the distance - do not speed up just to stop short at the end. By letting the car coast as if it were in neutral you can boost gas mileage and save your brakes. The brakes on your car will ultimately bring you to a halt and keep your car from moving, but up until they are needed all they do is waste kinetic energy. Allowing your car to coast in stop and go traffic situations will allow the engine to work less, the brakes to work less, and will most likely cut down on those irritating false starts.
Audi has turned the corner on their new "Audi balanced mobility" moto with the launch of a new project called the TCNG e-gas project. The e-gas project will go into production starting 2013 and is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to set up an entire portfolio of sustainable sources of energy.
The TCNG e-gas project will use wind-generated electricity to manufacture hydrogen by means of electrolysis. Hydrogen can be used in the future as a source of energy for fuel-cell vehicles or, in an additional step, can be used to manufacture methane. Such methane is known as Audi as e-gas. It is chemically identical to natural gas and can power combustion engines. More important, it is completely CO2-neutral.
"Ecology and economy in unison: that is the greatest challenge of the future. To attain this we must bring mobility completely into equilibrium – with people and their new values and with the environment. CO2-neutral mobility is our goal," says Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler. He continues: "On the way to achieving this we are systematically using clean power. We are producing climate-friendly fuels and forming a new mindset for which our entire company stands. That’s the objective of Audi balanced mobility."
A few days ago, we were introduced to a pair of concept race cars for the upcoming IndyCar seasons courtesy of its builder, Dallara. Today, we’re introduced to the Formulec EF01, the first of what appears to be a new generation of single-seater electric race cars that will participate in the upcoming Formulec World Series in 2012.
And who said that automotive competitions aren’t safe from the electric revolution?
The Formulec EF01 was designed and created by South African firm Formulec and its partner, SEGULA Technologies and was built with the intention of combining speed and efficiency with sustainability and an eye towards environmental responsibility. Despite its electric nature, the EF01 is still capable of posting a north-to-60 mph time of just three seconds and a top speed of 150 mph.
This electric race car differentiates itself from the rest of its gas-emitting brethren through a technology that puts importance on hi-performance connectors that are used for the high current and high voltage - 250A/400-800V - DC connection for the battery, junction box, and the inverter.
The EF01 is scheduled to participate in the Formulec World Series in 2012 in an effort to establish the series as the first electric single-seater competition in the world. For the 2012 season, 10 races are expected to take place with the target for 2013 allowing world class drivers to test their racing know-how on board an EF01.
The end result – or goal – is to create the 2014 Formulec World Championship, which will be participated in by automakers and their newly built and developed electric racers.
The future of electric single-seater racing has arrived. Whether it shapes up to be the future of automotive racing remains to be seen.
Similar to how Henry Ford set out to make the automobile accessible for everyone in America; a small start-up company based in Santa Monica, CA intends to make the electric car affordable to all. Coda Automotive has been developing what they call a revolutionary new compact, full-electric car for less money than the competition. The past several years have been a struggle, but as with any start-up company, there are growing pains.
At the beginning of 2011, the company had already raised $76 million dollars and is looking to end with a total of $200 million. Past CEOs of this fledgling carmaker are former Goldman Sachs executives that should have no problem finding the last chunk of capital. This year, Phil Murtaugh became the new CEO and can back up his credentials with former stints at Chrysler and General Motors. “We’re getting our production tooling in order now. It all takes about six weeks to ship them over to the United States, so sometime in the fourth quarter, probably the late fourth quarter, we’ll see cars going on sale in California,” said Murtaugh.
The car itself is less than stunning on the outside, but with fuel efficiency being at the forefront of many Californian’s minds, this car could be the easy answer. It should achieve 90 to 120 miles on a single charge and charge faster than its major competition.
As Royal wedding fever was about to wear off, the Prince had one last surprise in store. For many years his Father has been the owner of an Aston Martin DB6 Mark II that was converted to run on biofuel. The car was decorated in traditional wedding fashion complete with ribbons, balloons, and a trick license plate reading Ju5t Wed. The dark blue Volante convertible was driven by the Prince through the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace on his way to a reception party. The car traveled down the procession route with top down and minimal security. A lone Range Rover followed the Aston and a RAF Rescue helicopter, much like the ones flown by the Prince, flew above with a flag waving below.
The Royals clearly have access to many things including the various Rolls Royce models and Carriages used today, but an Aston Martine DB6 Volante is rare even for them. This legendary car was the longest running production model that Aston Martin ever produced, but only 140 Volante versions were built. Furthermore, this may be the only one in the world running off biofuel made from excess British wine product.
Originally made famous by the James Bond films, these Aston Martin models have been coveted by collectors for years. Very rarely do they come up for sale or auction and the Prince’s will most likely never leave the Royal collection. The DB6 was a major improvement over the previous DB5 model and turned the car into a proper Grand Touring model. Performance for these models was increased through the Vantage edition which raised output to 325hp, but there is no word on the specific power output from the biofuel model.
Hit the jump for more details on the Aston Martin DB6.
Ten years ago there was very little discussion about electric or hybrid vehicles. The technology was far from perfected and no low level consumer was able to purchase it. Throughout this past decade our economy, natural resources, and priorities have shifted towards conserving the environment and our funds. This has helped the renewable and green energy proponents to make large discoveries that are moving the industry forward faster than ever.
Americans tend to be very stubborn and change can rub us the wrong way all too easily. Most of the negative sentiments about electric and hybrid vehicles are based around ignorance. Quite simply, most people could not tell you the difference between a hybrid car and a full electric vehicle. Come to think of it, most people could not tell the difference between a diesel and a petrol engine besides the fact that they would have to use the green pump at the gas station. For the hybrid automakers to start selling these vehicles in larger quantities, the public must be educated about their benefits and potential pitfalls.
Several basic types of low emissions vehicles exist and are currently being marketed by the major auto manufacturers. The biggest seller of these is Toyota with their Prius model, which is a hybrid vehicle. Making distinctions between the different cars available will be helpful to a potential buyer by allowing them to get a vehicle that best suits their respective uses and needs.