Fuel efficient

Top Ten Most Fuel Efficient Cars

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

With May 2007 sales numbers showing 21% of auto purchases being for compact cars, and the Toyota Prius being the best-selling car in San Jose, California last month, it is obvious that more and more consumers are looking at fuel economy as a primary factor when choosing a car.

It’s helpful, then, that the Environmental Protection Agency puts out a list of the most fuel-efficient cars each year. The list for the 2007 model year isn’t new - it came out last October - but it bears repeating.

Ranked in order from highest fuel efficiency to lowest, here is the 2007 list:

  1. Toyota Prius (60 city/51 highway): It’s not surprising that this is the front runner, with it’s hybrid-electric engine, as it’s still the poster-child of hybrids. What surprised me was the greater difference between the city and highway numbers. (It’s normal for hybrids to do better in stop-and-go driving, however.)
  2. Honda Civic Hybrid (49/51): The Civic has long been Honda’s best seller, and the hybrid version is living up to the name.
  3. Toyota Camry Hybrid (40/38): It comes in three different trim levels, but the EPA list doesn’t specify which one they’re referring to.
  4. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD (36/31): Proof that a car doesn’t have to be a small sedan, or carry a Japanese label, to be fuel efficient. This is the hybrid version of Ford’s popular compact SUV.
  5. Toyota Yaris (34/40): The Yaris is actually listed twice, these numbers are for the manual transmission, while the automatic comes in just a bit less efficient in freeway driving. See below.
  6. Toyota Yaris (34/39): And here we have the numbers for the automatic transmission version.
  7. Honda Fit (33/38): These numbers are for the manual transmission version of the Fit. The automatic transmission model didn’t make the 2007 top-ten list.
  8. Toyota Corolla (32/41): Again, the manual version of a car makes the list while the automatic version does not.
  9. Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio(32/35): The manual version of Hyundai’s Accent actually tied with the Kia Rio (also manual), which isn’t surprising at all since they’re twin cars. We listed Hyundai first just to keep them in alphabetical order.
  10. Mercury Mariner Hybrid (also the Ford Escape Hybrid, again) (32/29): These are essentially the same vehicle with different badging, and as such share one entry. Numbers are for the 4WD versions.

While reviews and pricing for 2008 model year cars are making appearances on manufacturer websites, and elsewhere on the ‘net, the EPA will not be releasing their top ten for that year until October 2007. When that comes out, be prepared for numbers that may be lower than this year’s. Why? Because the EPA has also revised the way they compute fuel efficiency, making the numbers more reflective of real-world conditions.

The green oil rush?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

It’s weird to think about Texas oil men type guys getting all excited about biofuels, but according to this article, that’s exactly what’s happening.

I lean a bit more politically left than most of the people who enjoy my hobby, but I’m practical enough to realize that what will drive the impending (in my opinion) biofuel revolution will be capitalism. Capitalism is the reason Rudolf Diesel’s namesake engine runs on diesel fuel, as opposed to the peanut oil he envisioned.

I have no problem with venture capitalists, or “wildcatters”, when it comes to advancing this technology. Personally, big oil companies would do a lot in my eyes to get involved in non-carbon-emitting technologies sooner rather than when they are forced by the government or the market.

First one to algae based biodiesel available at the pump wins!

–Will

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Google hooks up those who develop hybrid cars

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

According to USA Today, Google is pledging $10 million to people or technologies to those who show promise in bringing plug-in hybrid automobiles to market.

Not to sound crass, because it’s not like I have $10 million laying around to give to someone, but whoopdee-farking-do. Ten million doesn’t buy a whole lot of car manufacturing facilities.

This reminds me of a story from my navy days. We’d just gotten a new division officer, Lt. McNeese, who was obviously in charge of his first thing ever. On an aircraft carrier, officers eat in the different (and most likely better) mess/galley/line of food/etc. On his first night in charge, he went to go eat, and came back with a 8 oz paper cup full of cashews. He walked into the room where we sat around most of the time, set them on a workbench, and said “For the troops!”. He’d gone out of his way to bring us eight friggin ounces of cashews to split among twenty of us.

Um, thanks….

–Will

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Rent a hybrid at Hertz and Avis

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I dunno about you guys, but I’m a big fan of renting cars I’m curious about when I go on vacation or have another need to get a rental. I’ve bought more than one car after renting it in a different city. I’ve also determined quite a few cars I won’t buy.

That being said, Hertz and Avis both announced that they will be adding the ever-popular Toyota Prius to their rental fleets beginning now. Both say they’ll initially add 1,000 units, with more coming into their fleet later in the year.

Hertz plans to offer the Prius for rent in Manhattan and select airport locations around the country, and Avis is sticking to the west coast.

All of this comes on the heels of a public relations initiative (pdf) from Enterprise Rent-A-Car last week touting its “unparalleled fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles”. Enterprise claims that 47% of its fleet - almost 334,000 vehicles - average at least 28 miles per gallon and that 28% of its fleet - almost 200,000 vehicles - average 32 miles per gallon.

Well done, Hertz and Avis. You too, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

–Will

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VW hyping up diesel sales

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Volkswagen of America is running a contest to find the oldest and highest-mileage diesel-powered VWs still running on their original engines. The competition is more than a publicity stunt. It has kicked off one of the most ambitious campaigns to persuade American motorists that their cars will last longer and use far less fuel if they switch to diesel. The German carmaker needs to generate interest ahead of next February’s planned launch of its diesel-powered Jetta TDI, which VW hopes will not only revive the group’s flagging US sales but put it in pole position to capture growing demand for diesels in the world’s biggest car market. The Jetta is expected to be the first diesel to comply with increasingly stringent emission standards in all 50 states.

In spite of its headstart over rivals such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Nissan, Volkswagen faces a Herculean task. It is not only promoting a vehicle but trying to change a mindset. “The US image of diesel today is like Europe 20 years ago,” says Adrian Hallmark, head of VW of America. “It’s got a dirty, noisy, smoky reputation.”

Still, the German carmaker is confident it can show Americans that their perception of diesel lags reality. VW aims to spread the message that diesel, as Mr. Hallmark puts it, is “a guilt-free way of having fun in a car”.

The coming campaign will prefix any mention of diesel with the word “clean”. Performance will also be a big part of VW’s message. Because diesel engines require more compression to ignite the fuel, they also provide more torque, and thus more powerful acceleration.

Americans are “hungry for innovative, efficient and well-made products”, Mr Hallmark says, comparing the new Jetta TDI (short for turbo-charged direct injection) to the success of Toyota’s Prius hybrid hatchback.

“We’re not going to do a lot of different things,” Mr Hallmark adds. “We want to do one or two things really well.”

VW plans to appeal to a relatively narrow group of buyers, mainly on the east and west coasts, who are environmentally aware but also want some fun from their cars. “We’re probably not going to sell too many in Nebraska,” he says.

VW’s long-life diesel car contest could provide another boost. Of the 115-plus cars entered so far, at least 20 have more than half a million miles under their belt. One has clocked almost 900,000. VW hopes this could draw oohs and aahs for diesel when the winner is announced later this year.

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800 HP, 25 MPG and zero fossil fuels in a 65 Impala SS

Monday, May 21st, 2007

I just saw a re-run of MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Let me tell you, I’m pretty impressed.

I used to love this show, but then I got a little tired of these guys seeing how many monitors they could fit in a car. This episode, however, was a bit different. Instead of just dubs and 20 million video monitors, there was dubs, 20 million video monitors, and an 800 horsepower engine with 1400 lb-ft of torque that gets 25 MPG in a 1965 Impala SS. This engine pushed the heavy Impala to a 0-60 time of around 3.5 seconds. That’s gol-darned fast, son.

The kicker? All this was done using zero fossil fuels.

These amazing numbers were reached by using a turbocharged Chevy Duramax diesel engine with a few standard diesel go-fast goodies backed by an Allison tranny and a Currie rear end. All this was done specifically for the Impala to use 100% biodiesel (B100) as it’s fuel. All of this was done by MTV as part of their Break the Addiction campaign for Earth Day. In addition to Xzibit, Mad Mike, and Beau; the unveiling was done by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Galpin Auto Sports (G.A.S.).

Check out the episodes on MTV.com, where there’s a nice drag race between the Impala and a Lamborghini Gallardo. Be sure to keep an eye on Gov. Schwarzenegger when they explain the upholstery to him.

Here’s a link to the episode (there are three videos playing in order so keep watching), and here’s a link to the Impala’s gallery at G.A.S.

Nice!
–Will

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Cars.com reports an increase in fuel-efficient vehicle searches

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

If Cars.com is any indicator, Americans are looking more closely at fuel-efficient vehicles.

This really isn’t an incredible surprise, but it seems to the casual observer that the tipping point for Americans to consider fuel efficiency in vehicle choice may have been reached. Does this spell the end to the American love affair with behemoth SUVs pumped out by Detroit’s Big 3 automakers? Only time will tell, but such would appear to be the case.

New Cars With Largest Increase
in Searches for April 2007
Rank Vehicle Percentage
1. Honda Civic Hybrid 15%
2. Volkswagen Jetta 9%
3. Toyota Yaris 9%
4. Jeep Patriot 8%
5. Mercedes C-Class 7%
6. Toyota Prius 7%
7. BMW 335 7%
8. Ford Mustang 7%
9. Toyota Corolla 5%
10. Chevrolet Cobalt 4%

–Will Thompson

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Department of the obvious reports hybrid vehicle sales increasing

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

According to recently released sales data from The R.L. Polk Co., 1.5M alternative fuel autos were sold throughout the country last year, or 50% more than forecast in the period. In Colorado, alternative-fuel-auto sales in the state climbed 17% in 2006 from 2005, according to the data. The survey showed that “Sales exceeded our expectations,” said Monica Sakala of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in Washington, D.C.

Some of the appeal clearly stems from the miles per gallon a hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle can deliver. “Certainly, some of it is because of gas prices. But the government is also playing a role,” Sakala said of the incentives offered by state and federal government. Other motivating factors include being able to drive in high-occupancy-vehicle or HOV lanes. Increased sales of hybrids can also be attributed to some companies leasing hybrids for their sales force.

I wonder if these numbers will continue to increase once the new 2008 EPA estimated mileages go into effect. All of a sudden a Prius and a Civic hybrid have comparable mileage to a TDI(diesel) Jetta or Beetle.

Want to see if the new EPA mileage estimates for your vehicle are closer to what you actually get? Kiplinger created a tool to help you out.

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150 HP 50 MPG two cylinder engine

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

The late Smokey Yunick (1923-2001) was one of the greatest automotive engineering minds the world has known. Smokey was also notorious for cheating and being so full of BS in NASCAR that stories about him are legendary. One of Smokey’s most legendary engineering feats (and rule violations) was building a 7/8 scale Chevelle and racing it in a NASCAR race.

It’s no surprise then, that one of his most significant accomplishments has people who doubt it’s very existence. The adiabatic engine project by Smokey was an engine design that promised unreal feats from a carbureted gasoline engine. The claims of a 150 horsepower, 50 miles-per-gallon, two cylinder engine are enough to set the tin-foil hat brigade chattering about a possible government-big oil conspiracy to keep Smokey’s invention out of the hands of Joe Consumer.

After a few Google searches and a few days looking around to see what I could find, I didn’t come up with much beyond theory and anecdotal evidence. I did notice a few patents, with this one being most likely the one that sets everyone’s brain gears a-whirring. Here’s the only diagram of anything remotely related to an adiabatic engine:

dia1.png

It seems this guy probably did more research than just about anyone, but most of the links are broken now, and the site’s a bit hard to read due to a language barrier.

Nearly every Smokey Yunick historian remembers the adiabatic Fiero, but no one can find evidence of it’s existence or an actual guide to the technology it possessed.

After reading a few days about Smokey, it seems to me that he would have enjoyed the controversy.

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About Automotive Blogger

Some people use their automobiles only to get from Point A to Point B. You know there's more than that. You get mad when someone makes a remark about your car that's less than flattering. You get riled when a cool car is destroyed in a straight-to-video movie. You realize when a new car doesn't deserve it's name of a great car of the past. When you see someone driving a boring vehicle, you feel sorry for them. You know it's not the destination that counts - it's the journey. Welcome home gearheads. Welcome home, car freaks. Welcome to the site that fuels your automotive obsession - AutomotiveBlogger.net

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    » Mike-Mayder

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