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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…)

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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Should You Downsize?

Saving gas isn’t everything - especially if you don't get the vehicle you need.

by on Mar.10, 2011

How small is too small? The Mini Rocketman concept.

With fuel prices spiking — and some markets are now reporting figures of more than $4 a gallon — plenty of folks are rethinking how small they should go.

Even before the latest crisis in Libya sent global petroleum markets into turmoil, American motorists were starting to downsize.  February sales numbers showed a significant spike in demand for compacts and subcompacts.

But last month also saw a surge in sales of big pickups and SUVs, as well.  Old habits die hard, especially in a market where bigger is generally seen as better.

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But the figures also suggest that for many American motorists, downsizing is downright difficult.  Trading in that big SUV for a compact sedan just might not work for many buyers, especially those with large families, or for those who might need to tow or carry lots of “stuff” for business or pleasure.

Is downsizing right for you?  The question isn’t as easy as it might seem.  For one thing, there are both practical and emotional factors to consider.

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An Eco-Driving Primer

Squeezing every mile out of a gallon.

by on Apr.22, 2009

It doesn't take much work to save several mpg and turn yourself into an Eco-Driver.

It doesn't take much work to save several mpg and turn yourself into an Eco-Driver.

It’s not easy getting 30 mpg.  Especially not if you’re driving the new 2010 Toyota Prius, which is rated at a combined 50 miles to the gallon.  But with my afternoon driving partner, that’s precisely what we set out to do, breaking just about every rule you could think of to ensure poor mileage.

In other words, we drove the way many folks do every single day, racing up to stoplights, then slamming on the brakes, revving the engines while we waited.  We used every opportunity to pass, tailgated almost constantly and launched off each light with the accelerator pedal pressed flat to the floor.

Even that yielded what most folks would consider great fuel economy in the Prius – but we got only a little more than half what the hybrid-electric vehicle was rated to deliver.  Several colleagues, driving with the intent to maximize their mileage, on the other hand, turned in fuel economy numbers of more than 70 mpg, at the end of the afternoon.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comEvery car is rated by the federal government as to what mileage you can expect, both in the city and on the highway.  Changes to the testing process, in 2008, made the Munroney sticker, on the side of each new vehicle, more accurate than ever.  Even so, as they say, “mileage may vary.”  All sorts of factors can come into play: the fuel you use, traffic conditions, even the altitude you live at.  But the most important factor of all is you, the driver.

Even the most mild-mannered motorist can pick up a few miles a gallon by learning some basic eco-driving tips.  And for more aggressive drivers – notice me raising my own hand – the impact can be as much as 30 to 40 percent or more.

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