Make us your home page
Instagram

Fuel economy push goes mainstream

On one stage of the Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW shows off "the cars of tomorrow," concepts powered by electricity. On another, Audi touts four new diesels. Ford, meanwhile, displays a tiny gasoline motor with an unprecedented mix of power and economy.

With consumers and the government demanding ever-higher fuel economy, automakers are tripping over one another at this year's auto show to trumpet technologies that squeeze more miles out of a fuel tank or an electric charge.

Until recently, peak fuel efficiency demanded a trade-off in performance and comfort. But the increasingly varied entrants in the miles-per-gallon race now offer substantial power and comfort.

"Instead of having a couple of electric vehicles, which are really only suited for a few people, you have mainstream vehicles that get you what you want and have the fuel efficiency you need," said Jake Fisher, automotive test director for Consumer Reports.

With gasoline prices above $3.50 a gallon in much of the nation, auto companies now market themselves more on fuel economy than horsepower, but their engineers are getting better at combining healthy doses of both.

Fuel economy has taken on greater importance with President Barack Obama's re-election, which automakers believe will cement federal regulations that require nearly doubling the average gas mileage for passenger vehicles to 54.5 mpg by 2025. If there's a lesson about fuel economy emanating from the auto show, it's that there are many roads to the new fuel economy standards.

At the L.A. Auto Show, Audi showed off a line of vehicles equipped with turbocharged V-6 diesel engines that are expected to achieve as much as 30 percent better fuel efficiency than the gasoline counterparts the German automaker now sells.

Ford unveiled a gas-sipping, turbocharged, three-cylinder engine that packs more punch than the base four-cylinder now standard in its small cars. Depending on fuel economy tests, the Fiesta equipped with this engine may become the first nonhybrid gasoline vehicle to meet the 2025 gas mileage standards.

Chevrolet introduced the electric version of its Spark that it will bring to market next year, hoping to attract customers with an electric car priced at less than $25,000, after a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Some of the cars on display, including the Ford Fusion hybrid, already meet the 2025 standards. The 54.5 mpg standard is based on a technical regulatory formula; in real-life driving, it's expected to translate to 37 mpg to 40 mpg.

The new technologies go well beyond engine types. They include eight- to 10-speed transmissions; improved aerodynamic body shapes; lighter-weight body panels and chassis components; tires with lower rolling resistance; start-stop systems that shut off the engine at red lights; and turbocharging, which creates a denser air-fuel mixture in the engine's cylinders.

Fuel economy push goes mainstream 12/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  3. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo

    Health

    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]