Tag Archive | "fuel economy"

Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors Aim to Raise Fuel Economy by 25 Percent by 2020

Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors said on Thursday they aim to raise the average fuel economy of their vehicles by 25 percent by 2020 to meet emissions regulations in South Korea, the United States and Europe, reported Reuters.

The announcement came after the South Korean duo on Monday agreed to pay $350 million in penalties to the U.S. government for overstating fuel economy ratings.

At home, they have also struggled to fend off imported rivals which have surged in popularity thanks to their fuel-efficient, diesel-powered engines.

In a statement, the South Korean automakers said they would develop next-generation engines and transmissions, reduce the weight of key models and expand their line-up of environmentally friendly vehicles to reach the target.

“In the first half of this year, group chairman Chung Mong-koo ordered to secure world-leading competitiveness in fuel economy by 2020,” Hyundai said in a statement.

Hyundai and Kia, which share key components, said they will replace 70 percent of their 10 gasoline and diesel engines with next-generation engines, while expanding the use of turbo-charged gasoline engines.

They also will develop more advanced transmissions.

The companies, which have steel making affiliate Hyundai Steel, said they will also expand use of advanced, high-strength steel to make vehicles lighter.

Hyundai and Kia, which together rank fifth in global vehicle sales, plan to launch a compact, hybrid-dedicated vehicle and the plug-in hybrid version of the Sonata sedan next year as part of efforts to beef up its eco-friendly cars.

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EPA Asks Car Makers to Road Test Fuel-Economy Claims

The Environmental Protection Agency wants auto makers to road test the mileage claims they submit after a rash of recent inflated fuel-economy claims based on wind tunnel and other laboratory measurements, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The proposal, which would require a public comment period, comes after several high profile cases in which estimates provided by Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. were inflated and triggered complaints to regulators and auto makers. The EPA has adjusted the test over the years—most recently in 2008—to better match new-car window stickers to actual results

“Some auto makers already do this, but we are establishing a regulatory requirement for all auto makers,” said Chris Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. The proposal would make it difficult to manipulate lab results to achieve higher mileage ratings.

Generally, window stickers have better conformed with drivers’ experience since the test was changed in 2008, Mr. Grundler said. In fact, a Wall Street Journal comparison of auto makers’ estimates against driver-provided reports posted on a government website shows many owners should get slightly better mileage than the car makers estimate.

For instance, drivers of the 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact reported an average of 37 miles on a gallon of gasoline, compared with the 33 mpg window sticker. A total of 17 different drivers entered results for that car.

The analysis of nearly 1,000 vehicle models from 2012 through 2015 model years found that fuel economy reported by drivers to the government’s fueleconomy.gov website was 1.2 mpg better than the EPA label. The analysis excludes electric and plug-in electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt

Some experts say the fueleconomy.gov estimates may be higher than the general population because of driver pride. Rick Goeltz, a researcher in the Center for Transportation Analysis at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which maintains the data, said consumers most likely to take time to record their mileage, are more likely to be focused on getting good mileage and therefore drive more economically.

All car makers run fuel economy tests in real-world driving, but the type of real-world test the EPA is looking for is different. They want companies to measure air-resistance and rolling friction on a test track and not just a computer model. These data can dramatically affect fuel economy, particularly in very efficient vehicles like hybrids, which is what happened to Ford on its incorrect labeling.

“We’ve continued to work constructively with the EPA to regularly audit real-world performance and cooperatively establish testing protocols that reflect how people drive today,” said The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the lobbying group that represents most auto makers in the U.S.

In 2012, the EPA forced the South Korean companies to lower EPA label figures on much of their lineups. This came after customer complaints about the variance. The companies agreed to pay drivers for the difference based on how many miles they drove. Later, following a class-action lawsuit, owners received one-time cash payouts.

Ford last month said it overstated the mileage of six 2013 and 2014 models, mostly gasoline-electric hybrids. Ford said it would pay owners of the cars up to $1,050 to compensate them for the failure to deliver advertised fuel savings. Ford made the change after a real-world driving audit found mistakes in the testing it had used.

Ford’s problems were with very efficient cars, mostly hybrids, and that is where variances from the real world and test results often appear. Small changes to the formula used to test the car can have a big impact, Mr. Grundler said.

It isn’t well known, but the EPA doesn’t test every new car. Most lab testing for fuel economy is performed by auto makers and the data is vetted by the agency.

The EPA currently requires a five-part lab test that simulates driving under conditions that are repeatable from one car to another. Because of the number of vehicles on the road, the agency runs tests on only about 15% of the industry’s models each year to check the accuracy of mileage claims.

In real world use, hybrids for many auto makers tended to underperform the lab results. Meanwhile, diesel engines tend to perform much better than the label—by almost 5 miles a gallon, according to The Journal’s analysis. The spread is so significant that Mr. Grundler has asked engineers to look into why the testing of diesels doesn’t reflect real-world results more closely.

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Ford Lowers Fuel Economy Rating for Six Vehicles

Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it was lowering the fuel economy ratings on six of its models, including a number of hybrids, and would reimburse owners for the difference, reported Reuters.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker said the ratings would be cut on its 2013 and 2014 model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as most 2014 Fiesta cars. It was the second time Ford cut fuel ratings for the C-Max hybrid in under a year.

“We apologize to our customers and will provide goodwill payments to affected owners,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement. “We also are taking steps to improve our processes and prevent issues like this from happening again.”

The restatement of mileage estimates is nothing new in the auto industry.

Last August, Ford – which has touted its superior fuel efficiency in the past – cut the ratings for the C-Max hybrid by up to 7 miles per gallon following complaints from consumers and experts that the model’s actual mileage fell short of claims.

In 2012, an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that both Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS) overstated fuel economy by at least a mile per gallon. The South Korean carmakers last December agreed to pay $395 million to settle lawsuits related to the matter.

“Ford isn’t the first manufacturer to admit that it was optimistic in its EPA fuel economy ratings, and it might not be the last,” said Jack R. Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.

“The broad implications of this might spur EPA to be more restrictive in how its fuel economy rules and ratings are administered,” he added. “This will gain attention in Congress as well.”

In the latest case, Ford said it identified an error through internal testing and notified the U.S. environmental regulator. No adjustments on other vehicles are planned after review of the entire lineup, the company said.

The EPA said it conducted independent tests to confirm Ford’s results and ordered the company to correct fuel economy labels on the cars within 15 days.

Ford estimated about 200,000 of the affected vehicles had been sold or leased in the United States, and affected owners would receive a “goodwill payment” of up to $1,050 for the estimated difference in fuel costs. Cars in dealer lots will be relabeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected estimates.

Owners outside the country will be contacted by the automaker.

The largest change is for Ford’s Lincoln MKZ hybrid, which saw its combined city and highway fuel economy value reduced by 7 miles per gallon. Other affected models include four versions of the Fiesta, the hybrid and Energi versions of the Fusion, and the C-Max hybrid and Energi.

Ford shares were off 2.3 percent at $16.51 in late New York trading.

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U.S Fuel Economy on the Rise

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Despite U.S. population growth, fuel consumption by American drivers of light-duty vehicles is now lower than it was 15 years ago, said a University of Michigan (UM) researcher.

In a follow-up to a series of reports released last year, Michael Sivak of the UM Transportation Research Institute examined recent trends in fuel consumption by cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and vans in the U.S. fleet from 1984 to 2012.

His findings show that 123.6 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed in 2012, down 11% from a peak of 138.8 billion gallons in 2004 and less than the 125.9 billion gallons used in 1999.

“The decline of 11% since 2004 reflects the decline in distance driven and the improvement in vehicle fuel economy,” said Sivak, a research professor and director of the Sustainable Worldwide Transportation research consortium.

In addition to total fuel consumption, Sivak examined fuel-consumption rates per person, per licensed driver, per household and per registered vehicle. He found that all four rates were 13% to 18% lower in 2012 than in their peak years (2003 for registered vehicles, 2004 for the other three measures).

Annual fuel-consumption rates for 2012 were about 394 gallons per person, 584 gallons per licensed driver, 1,021 gallons per household and 529 gallons per registered vehicle.

In addition to examining changes in fuel consumption, the latest study also analyzed changes in the number of vehicles and distance driven. The corresponding rates per person, per driver and per household each reached their maximum around 2004. Given that the reductions in these rates began to occur several years prior to the onset of the economic downturn that started in 2008, Sivak believes the maximum in the rates have a good chance to be long-term peaks.

Although economic factors have likely contributed to declining rates since the economic downturn, other societal changes have influenced the need for personal transportation, such as increased telecommuting, increased use of public transportation, increased urbanization of the population and changes in the age composition of drivers, he said.

“The combined evidence from this and the previous studies indicates that — per person, per driver and per household — we now have fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less and we consume less fuel than in the past,” Sivak said. “There is no evidence in the 2012 data that the peaks in the rates that we experienced about 10 years ago were temporary.”

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’13 Chevrolet Malibu Eco priced at $25,995

DETROIT – The all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco will start at $25,995 when it arrives at U.S. dealerships early next year, General Motors Co. said Tuesday morning.

The new midsize sedan — a fuel-efficient variant of the next-generation Malibu — features GM’s new e-Assist technology, which uses a small, shoe-box-size battery to aid the engine in certain driving conditions. The Eco version gets a GM-estimated 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. GM plans to roll out the rest of the redesigned 2013 Malibu lineup next year, reported The Detroit News.

GM has priced the new Malibu Eco just under many segment rivals that use hybrid or diesel technology to improve fuel economy.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid, for instance, boasts slightly better gas mileage — an EPA-estimated 41 mpg city and 39 mpg highway — but costs $665 more.

“General Motors is touting the Chevy Malibu Eco in the same breath as midsize hybrids, but the Eco’s combined fuel economy is simply not in the same class,” Edmunds.com analyst Ivan Dury said. “It takes years worth of gas station fill-ups to recover the price premium of a hybrid, and this Eco trim level carries the same type of premium but less efficiency than a hybrid.”

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EPA Lists Cars with Best Fuel Economy, Past and Present

The federal fueleconomy.gov site that carries information from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency about fuel economy, fuel prices and related topics released its annual list of cars with the best fuel economy.

One notable development is that all of the vehicles on the top-10 list for the 2012 model year have pure electric or hybrid powertrains. The results reflect the growing range of these vehicles available as well as their overall efficiency, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The site also named the top-10 cars in fuel-economy rankings dating to 1984. While half of the all-time greats on this year’s list are 2012 models, it is still worth noting that cars like a mid-1980s Chevy Sprint, a mid-1990s Honda Civic and the 2000 Honda Insight hybrid make the cut despite their advanced age. Older, relatively low-tech vehicles apparently still have a few lessons for modern automotive engineers.

The following charts show which cars lead the pack in fuel economy today, and which older models are still among the all-time leaders.

Top Ten Fuel Economy: Vehicles with Internal Combustion Engines, 1984 to Present*

Rank Vehicle Model and Configuration EPA Rating (mpge)*
Combined City Highway
1 Chevrolet Volt (2011–12)Plug-in hybrid, 4 cyl, 1.4 L, auto (variable gear ratios), premium gasoline 60** 58 62
2 Honda Insight (2000)3 cyl, 1.0L, manual 5-speed, regular gasoline 53 49 61
3 ToyotaPrius (2010–12)4 cyl, 1.8L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 50 51 48
4 Chevrolet Sprint ER (1986)3 cyl, 1.0L, manual 5-speed, regular gasoline 48 44 53
5 Geo Metro (1986)3 cyl, 1.0L, manual 5-speed, regular gasoline 47 43 52
6 Honda Civic CRX HF (1986–87)4 cyl, 1.5L, manual 5-speed, regular 46 42 51
7 Honda Civic Hybrid (2012)4 cyl, 1.5L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 44 44 44
8 Honda Civic HB VX (1994–95)4 cyl, 1.5L, manual 5-speed, regular gasoline 43 39 50
9 ToyotaPrius v (2012)4 cyl, 1.8L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 42 44 40
10 Lexus CT 200h (2011–12)4 cyl, 1.8L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 42 43 40

* MPGe is miles per gasoline gallon equivalent, assuming 33.7 kwh equals the amount of energy in 1 gallon of gasoline.


Top Ten Fuel-Economy: All-Electric Vehicles, 1984 to Present

Rank Vehicle Model and Configuration EPA Rating (mpge)*
Combined City Highway
1 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (2012) 112 126 99
2 Nissan Leaf (2011–12) 99 106 92
3 MINI Mini E (2008) 98 102 94
4 smart fortwo electric drive cabriolet (2011) 87 94 79
smart fortwo electric drive coupe (2011)
5 Nissan Altra EV (2000) 85 81 91
6 GMC EV1 (1999) 85 79 84
7 Toyota RAV4 EV (2002–03) 78 87 69
8 Nissan Hyper-Mini (2001) 75 84 66
9 Ford Th!nk (2001) 65 74 58
10 Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Wagon (2012) 62 62 62
Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Van (2012)

The list of top ten fuel economy vehicles for the 2012 model year is comprised solely of hybrids, all-electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids.

Top Ten Fuel Economy: 2012 Model Year Vehicles, All Types

Rank Vehicle Model and Configuration EPA Rating (mpge)*
Combined City Highway
1 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric vehicle 112 126 99
2 Nissan Leaf Electric vehicle 99 106 92
3 Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Van Electric vehicle 62 62 62
Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Wagon Electric vehicle
4 Chevrolet VoltPlug-in hybrid, 4 cyl, 1.4 L, auto (variable gear ratios), premium gasoline 60** 58 62
5 ToyotaPrius4 cyl, 1.8L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 50 51 48
6 Honda Civic Hybrid4 cyl, 1.5L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 44 44 44
7 ToyotaPrius v4 cyl, 1.8L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 42 44 40
8 Lexus CT 200h4 cyl, 1.8 L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 42 43 40
9 Honda Insight4 cyl, 1.3 L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 42 41 44
Honda Insight4 cyl, 1.3 L, automatic (AV-S7), regular gasoline
10 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE4 cyl, 2.5 L, automatic (variable gear ratios), regular gasoline 41 43 39

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