New Mileage Standards Fuel Changing Technology

With newly-announced fuel standards of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 in the U.S. for autos and light-duty trucks, automakers are devoting more energy to improving their products’ efficiency. Consumers, too, are becoming more interested in the environmental impact of their vehicles. The increased interest in the environmental effects of driving is motivating manufacturers to increase their green credentials.

Start-Stop Technology
Start-stop technology automatically shuts off a vehicle’s engine when it stops. The technology is already in limited use in the U.S., mainly in hybrids. However, an estimated eight million North American autos will be equipped with start-stop capability by 2017, according to Lux Research. In Europe and Japan 40 percent of new cars are already sold with start-stop technology.

The technology can increase fuel efficiency by 12 percent. Beginning with the 2013 model year, consumers can expect to see more makes and models equipped with the technology. Ford will offer it on the Focus for an additional fee while Lamborghini Aventador will also feature start-stop. Numerous other manufacturers, including Kia, Hyundai and Honda, already offer versions.

Carbon Fiber Bodies
Because steel is heavy, automakers are investing heavily in developing lightweight counterparts. One substance that shows great promise for lightening car weights and increasing mileage is carbon fiber. Along with being much lighter than steel, carbon fiber is stronger. Carbon fiber has been in limited use for years in some special-edition sports and race cars.

Improvements in carbon fiber production techniques have decreased its cost. As a result, carbon fiber is being increasingly used in auto bodies and parts. Lamborghini, BMW and GM are among the manufacturers that are adapting the material to some models.

Hybrids and Gasoline Alternatives
National standards for fuel efficiency apply to all the covered vehicles that are created by a manufacturer, with mileage averaged over all units. Since hybrids usually have significantly better fuel economy than the standards require, they can compensate for standard models that don’t quite make the grade.

As customers demand more choices of fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles, manufacturers have an additional incentive to increase their offerings. The combination of these two factors has led to improved technology and a variety of hybrid and alternate fuel options.

Electric and electric-gas hybrids are the best known. The Toyota Prius was an early leader in hybrid technology, but it is being challenged by the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Fusion and other models.
Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines. Volkswagen’s Passat, Golf and Jetta all have mileage ratings in the mid-30s. Improved diesel formulas and exhaust scrub technologies make diesel engines comparable to gas engines in producing harmful emissions.

Natural gas vehicles are another option that is being developed. Honda’s Civic is already available.
Stringent global mileage standards are forcing manufacturers to adapt their product lines. Environmentally-aware consumers in the market for a new or used vehicle can do a car price comparison with TrueCar to find the fuel-efficient, hybrid or electric model that best suits their needs.