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Every automaker that sells cars in the US was handed a challenge last year from the President, tasked to cut the average fuel economy of their entire fleet to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
With the new fuel standards to hit a nominal average of 54.5 mpg by 2025, automakers are working hard to improve the fuel efficiency across their lineups.
In response to these trends, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has conducted a study revealing the proposed 54.5 mpg CAFE standards for 2025 will cause a significant increase in the technology as well as the cost required to build vehicles and, in turn, increase the price for each vehicle. As a result, many potential new-car buyers will be forced out of the market.
According to estimates calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency and NHTSA, the efficiency standards will cause the average retail price of passenger cars and light trucks to increase by nearly $3,000 by 2025. NADA’s study, “The Effect of Proposed MY 2017-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards on the New Vehicle Market Population,” states that the price hike may be too much for approximately 7 million lower income consumers, such as college students and working families, as they may no longer qualify for auto financing to purchase the more expensive vehicles.
Regarding the 2025 CAFE requirements, Ford dealership owner Don Chalmers said during the NADA press briefing, ”To work, fuel economy improvements must be affordable. While you can mandate what automakers must build, you can’t dictate what customers will buy, nor can you dictate if a bank will make a loan.”
Chalmers continued, “If my customers can’t buy what I’ve got to sell, there are no savings at the gas pump and there is no environmental benefit. If car and truck buyers do not purchase these new products, we all lose.”
Doug Greenhaus, NADA chief regulatory counsel for environment, health, and safety, summed up the sentiment and suggested that the government must better understand the impact of the proposed CAFE regulations on consumers and auto lending before proposing the lofty mpg mandates. Greenhaus urged, “Disregarding vehicle affordability will undermine the environmental and national security benefits the administration is seeking. The proposed MY 2017-2025 fuel economy rules should be deleted until there is a more accurate picture of how prospective buyers will react.”
As it aims to meet ever stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy Targets, Ford Motor Company continues with its march to introduce still more smaller displacement, turbocharged and direct injected EcoBoost engines into its North American product lineup.
From seven models available with EcoBoost technology last year, the number will increase to 11 for 2012, with the Focus, 2013 Ford Escape and Fusion as well as Ford’s new Police Interceptor joining the ranks.
For the Escape and the Fusion, which currently represent the volume segments, Ford will offer both 1.6 and 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, with a 2.0-liter unit also set aside for the compact Focus.
The Taurus based Interceptor meanwhile, will receive a version of the 365 horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, currently doing duty in the SHO.
“Ford is committed to delivering class-leading fuel economy for our customers, which benefits the environment and helps the U.S. move toward greater energy independence,” declared Sue Cischke, Ford’s group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering in response to EcoBoost expansion.
“Availability in high-volume nameplates such as the all-new Ford Escape and Fusion will take this affordable, fuel-saving technology to the heart of the market,” she said.
The proliferation of EcoBoost engines in 2012 should help Ford to deliver EPA fuel mileage targets of 40 miles per gallon or more across nine different models by the end of the year, certainly helping its chances of meeting tough CAFE regs of 35.5 mpg for both passenger cars and light trucks.
With the push toward electric vehicles appearing to gather momentum, General Motors has announced that it’s partnering up with Korean electronics giant LG Corporation to develop a new range of EVs. This expands an existing relationship between the two companies, whereby LG has been involved on battery development for the Chevy Volt and its Euro market counterpart the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.
“Many solutions for tomorrow’s transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy,” declared GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. ”Consumers benefit by getting the latest fuel-saving technology faster if we work with the best suppliers and we save time and money in the development process.”
LG’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Juno Cho, added, “this is a strategic development for LG and we fully support GM’s goal to lead the industry in the electrification of the automobile.”
The need to develop thriftier, cleaner vehicles has been largely driven by impending tough fuel economy and emissions standards, primarily in Europe and the US, the latter of which has proposed a Corporate Average Fuel Economy target of 54.5 mpg for all cars sold here by 2025.
EVs which have no tailpipe emissions, nor gasoline consumption, are expected by many to play a significant role in enabling many automakers to meet the proposed targets.
In order to meet upcoming US fuel efficiency targets, many of automobiles will have to go on serious diet plans.
Land Rover, is no exception. Currently fielding a lineup of vehicles that’s among the heaviest out there, the iconic British brand plans to take drastic steps to cut the pounds. Launching the Range Rover Evoque has been the first step, with the second rumored to be the new, ‘lightened’ Defender, a concept of which is scheduled for introduction at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
This next generation of the ‘proper’ Land Rover, besides being lighter has also been apparently conceived with the North American market in mind. If it does indeed come here, it will mark the first time since 1997 that we’ve been able to officially buy a Defender on these shores.
Beyond that, Land Rover has committed to a goal of reducing curb weights of its SUVs by as much as 1100 lbs over the next 10 years, via the use of lighter materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber instead of traditional steel.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
Not too long ago, four-cylinder engines in most North American market vehicles were seen as an afterthought, something to give the rental fleets and entry-level buyers.
Today however, that perception appears to have changed, certainly among volume brands like Chevrolet. So far this year, GM has reported that four-cylinder powered vehicles are representing approximately 46 percent of total Chevy retail sales, contrasting with just 23 percent in 2007. Higher fuel prices and environmental ‘awareness’ likely play a part, but so does technology.
Today’s four-cylinder engines are much more refined and powerful, to the point that the old adage ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’ doesn’t really apply any more.
GM has spent a huge amount of R&D and engineering on improving its four-cylinder engines, via such technologies as direct injection and turbocharging and according to Rick Scheidt, US Chevrolet Vice President this has resulted in “performance and refinement drivers expect from Chevy in smaller engines that deliver the fuel efficiency they want.”
Efforts toward meeting stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards is also likely a major reason why four-cylinder engines are becoming more popular in the US.
[Source: egm Car Tech]
As gas prices to rise and automakers develop more fuel efficient vehicles, spurred on by CAFE requirements, all kinds of new developments are underway.
At MINI, one proposal is to bring a diesel version of the Cooper S across the pond, powered by BMW’s 141 hp 2.0-liter oil burning four. However, stricter emissions requirements, mandating the need for Urea injection, soon nixed the idea on the grounds of cost.
Now, it would appear that instead, future U.S. bound MINI will get a line of 1.5-liter three-cylinder engines and possibly a plug-in hybrid powertrain. As far the latter is concerned, MINI will partner up with Getrag to produce it and this will likely be a plug-in system, designed to extend the vehicle’s range on electric power alone.
According to Bimmerfile.com, if it does materialize at all, the hybrid driveline will be relegated MINI’s larger models, such as the Countryman (shown above), where the benefits of hybrid technology will likely reap the greatest rewards in terms of fuel economy savings. The hybrid driveline will also probably be shared with BMW‘s smaller SUVs, such as the X1 and possibly the X3 to maximize return on development costs.
With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 30 miles per gallon for light trucks looming ever closer, Ford is looking at ways to meet these targets without sacrificing performance on its bread winning F-series pickups.
One method, hinted by CEO Alan Mullaly is in shaving weight. The current F-150 uses a fully-boxed steel frame, which is strong, but heavy, so for the next generation truck an option being considered is a chassis made from magnesium alloy.
There’s a good deal of logic to this. Magnesium is currently one of the most abundant elements on earth and is 36 percent lighter than aluminum. It’s also being increasingly adopted by automakers, primarily on suspension components and engine blocks, but also body panels. In fact Ford managed to shave some 22 lbs off the Lincoln MKT crossover utility vehicle by using separate aluminum and magnesium panels for the rear lift gate instead of ordinary stamped steel.
Along with the frame, Ford is also exploring the possibilities of using aluminum body panels on the next F-150, though for strength and durability a steel skin will likely remain. As for powertrain options, there’s no official word on what might be offered down the road, though expect a next generation EcoBoost V6 and possibly an inline-five cylinder engine, maybe a turbo diesel.
As the impending CAFE 35 mpg standards loom ever closer, automakers are doing everything they can to improve fuel efficiency in their vehicles. One option is to utilize a new type of engine oil.
General Motors will pour Dexos 1 (a version of the new GF-5 or SN), into the crankcase of every engine in it’s 2011 U.S. vehicle fleet. This new oil replaces the previous GF-4 standard and is designed to improve protection and reduce wear, as well as extending intervals between oil changes. According to Mark Ferner, manager of the Lubricants technology group at Shell, “GF-5 and Dexos1 oils have a more robust formulation that should give you better contributions to fuel economy, cleanliness and fuel emissions.”
That robust formulation is also designed to improve heat resistance and reduce the risk of thermal breakdown under high heat situations – i.e. turbocharged and supercharged engines – which GM and other automakers are increasingly adopting in order to maximize power, while at the same enabling smaller displacements to improve fuel economy.
However, what’s interesting is that Dexos 1 and GF-5 use slightly different testing methods, the former using a European standard to gain market approval,while GF-5 was tested by the American Petroleum Institute. Dexos 1, which is a GM licensed brand of oil, is only available as a synthetic oil, whereas GF-5 can be formulated from mineral deposits or synthetically.
GM began work on Dexos 1 back in 2006 and this new oil was conceived as a lube that could meet the requirements of powertrains in all GM vehicles around the world. In addition, the company has also developed Dexos2 an oil designed for light-duty diesel engines, which was launched in Europe earlier this year.
In response to recent rumors that Toyota‘s full-size truck-based SUV, the Sequoia, might be nearing the end of its shelf life, the Japanese automaker issued a statement, aiming to quell the issue. The statement reads as follows:
“Toyota denies any reports of the discontinuation of the Sequoia. For obvious competitive reasons; Toyota does not discuss future product plans. Sequoia continues to be a profitable, high quality vehicle and several years remain in the life of the current generation. Our focus remains on building our vehicles, including Sequoia, with the highest possible quality.”
However, from our observations, the tone of the wording in this statement indicates that perhaps, the rumors might just have some traction, especially in light of upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 35.5 mpg (42 mpg for cars and 26 mpg for light trucks), which will make it tough for large, V8 engined, body-on-frame SUVs like the current Sequoia to meet. Stay tuned for further developments.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
Smaller, more fuel-efficient engines likely needed to meet new fuel-economy regulations
BMW is looking at bringing back for-cylinder engines to the U.S. in order to meet tough new fuel-economy regulations. BMW’s engineering boss, Tom Baloga, told Bloomberg that the smaller and more fuel-efficient engines were likely needed in order to meet the Obama Administration’s 2016 CAFE regulations, which call for a new fleet average of 35.5 mpg – up from 27.3 mpg for 2011.
Last year BMW’s fleet-wide average was 26.5 mpg.
Currently BMW sells the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series and X3 with four-cylinder engines overseas, where fuel-efficient diesel options are also popular. In fact, Baloga says that due to the high volume of diesel sales in Europe, the automaker’s current European fleet average would already meet the 2016 CAFE regulations.
BMW currently offers a high-performance 3 Series diesel, the 335d, in the U.S., but Baloga says BMW will not rely on diesels to offset less fuel-efficient models as demand for diesels in the U.S. isn’t high enough to make a difference.
The real issue in bringing over four-cylinder engines, says Baloga, is keeping the focus on performance. That being said, the four-cylinder models are likely to either be turbocharged or used in significantly lighter models.
BMW is also looking at growing its offering of 1 Series models in the U.S., with numerous new models planned. The higher sales volumes of the more efficient engines will also help to increase BMW’s fuel-efficiency fleet average.
Suppliers tout necessity of diesel engines at Clean Transportation conference, while Ford CEO comes to the defense of electric, hybrid cars
The CEO of auto parts supplier Bosch today told a crowd at the National Summit for Clean Transportation that U.S. automakers must adopt diesel technology in order to meet the strict new CAFE standards the Obama Administration has laid out. The new legislation will see fleet averages for passenger cars rise to 35.5 mpg for 2016, up significantly from 27.3 mpg for 2011.
The words of Bosch CEO Peter Marks were echoed by Borg Warner CEO Tim Manganello, who noted that diesel engines get 30 percent better fuel economy over gasoline engines, with 50 percent more torque, while emitting 25 percent fewer emissions.
Marks then called on General Motors, Chrysler and Ford to act now to bring diesels to the U.S.
Both men, whose companies make parts for fuel-efficient cars like the Volkswagen TDI (pictured above), also expressed their lack of optimism in both the electric car and hybrids, noting that there are still several roadblocks in getting the electric car to the mass market and that hybrids don’t often deliver the fuel-economy they are touted to.
Manganello said that, “hybrids are not as attractive as the PR hype,” noting that 72 percent of hybrid owners choose not to purchase a second one.
Of the Big Three, Ford Chairman Bill Ford was in attendance and came to the defense of both hybrids and electric vehicles, noting the critical acclaim that the 2010 Fusion Hybrid has achieved – not to mention its fuel-economy. And to rebuff the suppliers skepticism about bringing electric vehicles to market, Bill Ford stated that the Ford Motor Company has a pure electric vehicle coming out this year and an electric Focus the year afterward.
Using the opportunity to promote Ford’s EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged V6 that gets V6 fuel economy and V8 power, Bill Ford did say that FoMoCo was ready with diesels if the North American market was open to them.
Ford is the second largest producer of diesel engines in Europe, he told the audience, before stating that if there was demand FoMoCo could easily bring them over for use in U.S. vehicles.