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Fuel Economy Hasn’t Much Changed Since 1923

Or has it? Federal data leaves some big gaps open.

by on Aug.20, 2015

New study suggests that today's auto fleet isn't getting much better mileage than it did 90 years ago.

Federal guidelines are calling for some big increases in fuel economy over the next decade, with the average vehicle required to deliver 54.5 mpg by 2025.

But a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, adds a cautionary note to that push, noting that from 1923 to 2013, the average mileage of the American automotive fleet rose a meager 3.6 miles per gallon, to just 17.6 mpg.

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In fact, fuel economy actually tumbled for a number of years, only starting to rebound in 1974, in the wake of the first Mideast oil shock as Washington enacted the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard.

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Ram, Nissan, Ford Show Mileage Matters, Even to Pickup Buyers

Who will be the first to top 30 mpg?

by on Jan.19, 2015

The new 2015 Ram 1500 Express equipped with the maker’s EcoDiesel delivers an impressive 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

It wasn’t all that long ago when light duty pickup buyers would have celebrated seeing fuel economy numbers approaching the high teens. Now, however, that’s something even heavy-duty models often deliver.

But can manufacturers crack the mileage ceiling with a truck that would get 30 mpg or better? Several makers are coming tantalizingly close.

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There’s been “a lot of noise around” fuel economy in the light truck segment, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said during an appearance at the Detroit Auto Show. Indeed, his own company has been crowing loudly about an updated version of its own full-size model, the new 2015 Ram 1500 Express. (more…)

Pres. Obama Pushes for More Fuel-Efficient Trucks

Cites cost benefits for consumers, along with impact on climate change.

by on Feb.18, 2014

Trucks like these will be getting significantly better fuel economy in the years ahead.

President Barack Obama wants to markedly improve the fuel-efficiency of both medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a move that he says will address global climate change even while reducing costs for consumers.

The president announced the new move during an appearance today at a grocery distribution center in suburban Washington, a map of the U.S. behind him.  It is one of a series of steps Obama plans to take, with or without the support of a divided Congress.

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“Improving gas mileage for these trucks is going to drive down our oil imports even further,” the president said during his visit to a Safeway facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers. So it’s not just a win-win. It’s a win-win-win.”

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Truck Sales Boom Driving Down US Fuel Economy

But strong small car sales minimize the decline.

by on Jul.09, 2013

Low-mileage trucks like the Ford Raptor have regained momentum as the housing market and overall economy revive.

If you’re focused on the revival of the U.S. car market and the profitability of automotive manufacturers, then the recent surge in sales of full-size pickups is great news.  If your focus is fuel economy, well, the headlines might come as a disappointment.

That’s because the upturn in the truck market is driving down the fuel economy of the typical vehicle sold in the U.S., according to the latest report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI.

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The gap isn’t much, a decline of a tenth of a mile per gallon in June — to 24.7 mpg — but it is a rare reversal of the upward trend that had seen fuel economy so far increase 1.1 mpg during the 2013 model-year.

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Chrysler Promises 20% Better Fuel Economy with New Ram 1500

Mileage wars roil the big truck market.

by on Aug.24, 2012

The 2013 Ram 1500's new 3.6-liter V-6 is rated at 25 mpg highway.

Full-size truck buyers are a tough yet loyal lot.  They seldom switch brands but when they do it’s traditional because of factors like horsepower, payload or towing capacity.  But Chrysler’s Ram division is betting there’s another reason why some folks will be willing to make the move in the years ahead: fuel economy.

With prices again hovering at nearly $4 a gallon in much of the country, the Detroit maker’s timing probably couldn’t be better for rolling out the all-new 2013 Ram 1500 pickup, the truck delivering up to 20% better mileage than before thanks to a new V-6 engine option and other improvements.

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With fuel prices again on the rise, the timing couldn’t be better, according to Ram brand director Robert Hegbloom, who declared, “We are delivering what customers are looking for.”

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White House to Issue First-Ever Mileage Standards for Big Trucks

Semis, heavy-duty pickups and even fire trucks will be covered.

by on Aug.09, 2011

Semis, like this Navistar rig, will be targeted for a 23% improvement in fuel economy.

Having reached a compromise that will nearly double the fuel economy of the typical passenger vehicle over the next 14 years, the Obama Administration is now taking aim at some of the nation’s biggest gas-guzzlers.

The White House is scheduled to announce first-ever fuel economy standards for big trucks – which could mean cutting gas consumption by as much as 23% by 2018.  The rules, which will be announced later today, will cover everything from 18-wheel semis to garbage and fire trucks – as well as the heav-duty versions of pickups like the Ford F550, which aren’t included in the mileage rules announced late last month.

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Administration officials expect the new rules to more than pay off in terms of reduced fuel bills – while also slashing the production of greenhouse gases and other noxious emissions.  Preliminary estimates indicate vehicles meeting the new standards will ultimately save about 530 million barrels of oil which, at anticipated prices after the current economic downturn, could be worth more than $50 billion.

The new standards, which will cover the years 2014 through 2018, will impact three categories of vehicles: (more…)

Unofficial Details Leak out About Next-Gen Ford and GM Pickup Powertrains

Horsepower matters but mileage is the mandate.

by on Jul.29, 2011

Ford's F-150 EcoBoost engine shows there's a lot of room to improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance and payload.

The pickup market, though barely half the size of its one-time peak, is still a viable – and profitable – force in the U.S. automotive market.  So, expect to see Detroit makers, in particular, do everything they can to retain the segment’s viability – though that won’t be easy, especially in light of today’s announcement outlining tough new mileage standards set to reach more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

Next-generation full-size pickup trucks from Ford and General Motors will have to balance towing and hauling capability with unprecedented frugality to meet the tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

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That has some folks worrying it may be too much of a challenge to pull off, at least not without sacrificing the functionality American truck buyers expect.  But don’t plan on holding onto your big rig ad infinitum.  As we’ve begun seeing with such innovations as the turbo-powered EcoBoost V6 on the 2011 Ford F-150, there are some promising ways to reach mileage never seen before.

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Feds Set To Raise Truck Mileage Standards

Final Ruling Due Today.

by on Oct.25, 2010

Truck prices will likely go up - but fuel savings could reach $20,000 annually.

While federal authorities continue debating a massive jump in fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks, a big increase in mileage requirements for heavy-duty vehicles is set to be formally announced as early as today.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are reportedly set to require increases of anywhere from 10% to 20% in fuel economy, depending on the size of the truck.  The new standards would cover everything from 18-wheelers to school buses, garbage trucks to heavy-duty pickups.

The new rules, which would go into effect in 2014 and extend through 2018, would require a 20% increase in the mileage of the long-haul trucks that handle a huge percentage of America’s freight shipments.

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Such trucks are routinely driven 150,000 miles or more annually, and average between 5 and 8 mpg.  That means the proposed increase might save as much as 6,000 of fuel per long-haul truck – the equivalent of what a dozen automobiles consumer annually.

In all, medium and heavy-duty trucks consume about 20% of the transportation fuel used in the United States.

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Ford F-150 To Reign As Fuel Economy King

New engine boosting pickup mileage to 23 mpg.

by on Oct.14, 2010

Ford will deliver up to 23 mpg with a 2011 F-150 equipped with the new 3.7-liter V6.

Good fuel economy is not something normally associated with a pickup truck – one reason the truck market crashed when gas prices spiked past $4 a gallon in 2008.  But Ford Motor Co. is betting that a new array of powertrains, including a high-mileage V6, will help revive demand among personal users as well as those watching their budget at work.

The compact 3.7-liter six is one of four powertrains that will be offered with the 2011 Ford F-150, a list that also includes a new truck-based application of the maker’s EcoBoost engine, a premium offering that is designed to pair both fuel economy and performance in one package.

But the V6 is the 2011 F-150’s mileage king, delivering 16 mpg on the EPA City cycle and 23 on the highway.  By comparison, the Chevrolet Silverado gets, at best 14/19 mpg with its current base engine, a 4.8-liter V8.  And while the Silverado Hybrid is rated at 21 City, it still delivers only 22 on the Highway cycle.

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Overall, Ford claims its new F-Series powertrain line-up is 20% more efficient than the engine offerings from the 2010 model-year, meeting what truck marketing manager Doug Scott calls, “the number one unmet need in the segment.”

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