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Autonomous Driving May Help Save Fuel

U-M teaming with two labs to conduct study.

by on Nov.19, 2015

By 2017, the Cadillac CTS will be equipped with V2V technology. Might that technology not only improve safety, but also save fuel?

Adding autonomous driving and vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability is expected to make driving safer and shorten commuting times.

But now the University of Michigan and the Argonne National Laboratories outside of Chicago and Idaho National Laboratory are teaming up to see if the V2V technology also can help motorists save fuel.

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The university and two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories plan to collaborate on a study to determine if connected and automated vehicles could help people drive more efficiently. (more…)

U.S. Fuel Economy Sets Record for 2013

Electrics, hybrids help push toward new high-water mark.

by on Jan.09, 2014

U.S. fuel economy is higher than ever, in part, because of increasing sales of hybrids and electric vehicles.

Despite plunging fuel prices that helped drive a sharp increase in sales of pickup trucks and utility vehicles last year, the fuel economy of the typical new vehicle sold in the U.S. hit an all-time record in 2013.

The average window sticker of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in December was 24.8 mpg – down 0.2 mpg from the revised value in November, but up 4.7 mpg from the value in October 2007, the first month of monitoring by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute.

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The average fuel economy of all vehicles sold during the 2013 calendar year was 24.8 miles per gallon, which was up 1 mile per gallon from the average fuel economy posted for 2012 and 3.9 mpg from 2008, according to the U-M survey. For the 2013 model year, which ended October 1, U-M reports the fuel economy rating for all vehicles is 24.7 mpg, which is the highest level ever. (more…)

Three in Four Motorists Ready to “Consider” Alt-Fuel Vehicles

New study confirms fuel economy now the most important factor for U.S. car buyers.

by on May.22, 2012

Motorists say they're very open to alternative powertrain technology. Will that bode well for the new Toyota RAV4-EV?

This year’s near-record run-up in fuel prices has clearly had an impact on the choices American motorists are making when it’s time to buy a new vehicle – in fact, three in four U.S. drivers now say they’re ready to consider an alternative-fuel vehicle, according to a new study.

While many motorists still aren’t ready to trade in their roomy SUVs for high-mileage subcompacts — at least if recent sales are considered — there’s little doubt that there are significant changes underway in the American car market, with fuel economy now a much more important factor than vehicle quality or safety, according to research by the non-profit Consumer Reports.

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“These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. “While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump.”

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Reports Says Obama’s Fuel Economy Increase to Save $69 bil Annually

NRDC notes surge in high-mileage models already on the road.

by on Apr.20, 2012

With its high-mileage EcoBoost engine, a new study says the 2012 Ford Explorer is already savings owners $1000s on gas.

The recently-enacted 54.5 mile per gallon fuel economy standards will save American motorists an estimated $69 billion annually, according to a new report that suggests the Obama Administration’s push for improved fuel economy is already saving many drivers thousands of dollars.

With a big jump in fuel economy scheduled for 2016 and another by 2025, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, stressed that the auto industry is already rolling out a substantial number of new, higher-mileage products that are not only saving consumers money but reducing dependence upon foreign oil.

The report, titled, “Relieving Pain at the Pump: Thanks to Stronger Standards, Consumers Have More Fuel-Efficient Choices”, noted that the number of subcompact cars sold in the U.S. market getting at least 30 mpg has tripled since 2009, to 15.

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The number of midsize models rated 25 mpg jumped from just six in 2009 to 10 during the 2012 model-year.  Meanwhile, the count of crossovers getting at least 20 mpg, meanwhile, has doubled, to 32.  And the report stresses that fuel economy is rising rapidly across the automotive market.

“Drivers today have twice the fuel-efficient car options than just three years ago,” said Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The technology — and fuel savings — are only going to improve thanks to even stronger efficiency standards.”

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Saving Gas Over the Memorial Day Holiday

It’s easier than you think to stretch out a tank-full.

by on May.26, 2011

A few simple steps and you'll save enough on fuel to pay for a nice family meal.

An estimate 30.9 million families will head out on the highway over the long Memorial Day holiday, the traditional start of the U.S. summer season.

The figure is down about 100,000 for last year, according to a survey by AAA – and that’s no surprise considering the current, near-record price of gas, which the organization pegs at around $3.91 a gallon.  A full 40% of those who might consider a trip of at least 50 miles say that fuel prices are influencing their plans for the long weekend, though nine in 10 who will be going somewhere say they are planning to travel by car.

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If you’re among the many who’ll be heading out on the highway, you can rein in your fuel costs with some surprisingly simple steps that will also help when you’re back home and commuting to work.

Indeed, Chevrolet just completed a test to see just how much it could improve the mileage of its Cruze LT.  The compact sedan is rated by the EPA at 24 City, 36 Highway.  But one fuel economy engineer, Ann Wenzlick, was able to squeeze out an average 37 mpg, while her colleague, Beth Nunning, only managed to get 21 mpg.

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Finding America’s Most Fuel-Efficient Automobiles

No, they aren’t all hybrids.

by on Mar.11, 2011

America's most fuel-efficient vehicle, the Toyota Prius.

The following story has been revised to include the Ford Fusion Hybrid in the Top 10 list.

If recent weeks are any indication, many American motorists are rethinking what to drive.  Last month’s sales numbers saw a spike in demand for small cars and hybrids (though there was also a bump in demand for pickups and bigger SUVs, despite rising fuel prices).

While there’s a law of diminishing returns, increasing your fuel economy from, say, 20 to 30 mpg can add up to savings of hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year, no wonder why so many motorists are thinking about downsizing or at least opting for alternative powertrains.

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The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to switch to a battery car or hybrid to achieve big improvements in your fuel economy.  Nor do you need to swap that family van for a minicar.

True, vehicles relying on at least some form of battery power – whether hybrids, plug-ins or pure battery-electric vehicles – top the latest mileage charts, the latest crop of internal combustion engines are yielding respectable numbers – often at substantially lower sticker prices.

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