Saturday, August 20, 2011

EcoCAR Challenge Results

USA Today has an interesting summary of a 3-year EcoCAR competition sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors.  The article says:

The teams focused on design during the first year, when Ohio State University placed first. They emphasized implementing that design in the second year, when Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS.,won top honors.
In this final year, they focused on refinements to make the vehicle 98% consumer acceptable, says DeClark, adding it's nearly impossible to satisfy 100% of consumers. She says the cars won't be commercially produced but there are "many applications for these technologies."
A team from Virginia Tech won. They "started with a GM-donated Saturn Vue and swapped out the engine with one from a 2009 Chevy HHR engine. It then added a battery and electric motor and made other tweaks such as eliminating engine idle."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hypermiling, Hypoconsuming.

Avoiding jack rabbit starts and coasting into stop signs can greatly improve the MPG your car gets.  These are among a long list of hypermiling techniques that, when carefully applied, have enabled attentive drivers to achieve MPG levels that greatly exceed their car's official MPG rating.

What sorts of levels can be achieved?

An Australian couple is driving across the US in an Eco Cruze with the goal of squeezing "2,000 miles from each fill-up of the car’s 12.6-gallon tank. That comes to 158.7 mpg and seems implausible, but if anyone can do it, the Taylors can."  

Or consider the performance of "Hypermiling king Wayne Gerdes and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards" who  "averaged 81.5 mpg during a three-day run that started Saturday and saw them double the 700-mile range Ford claims for the Fusion Hybrid."

Or, "Our hypermiling friends at took home three trophies at the Green Grand Prix, including top honors for an astonishing 99.7 mpg.  Darin Cosgrove, who founded the hypermiling site in November, 2007, tells us he used the “pulse and glide” technique “almost exclusively” to achieve that impressive figure during Saturday’s fifth annual event, which celebrates all things fuel-effient and alt-fueled. Four Ecomodders entered the event, held in Watkins Glen, NY."
Check out the large community of hypermilers at,, and (More on hypermiling at Mother Jones and Wired.  These articles also discuss the dangers of coasting, turning off engines at stoplights, etc.)
Let's look at these hypermiling numbers from a GPM perspective.  How much gas do these MPG improvements save?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Update on Heavy Duty Trucks has an article summarizing fuel economy standards for heavy duty trucks.  Here are some excerpts.

A key takeaway:  New trucks are expected to cost $6,220 more because of the rule; total fuel savings over the life of the truck are expected to be $73,000.

  Access the full article here. 

New emissions rule to drive truck prices higher

The first-ever regulation for truck fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, announced Aug. 9, is expected to cut diesel use by 4 gallons per 100 miles traveled by the time 2018 models are sold. New trucks are expected to cost $6,220 more because of the rule.

President Obama announced the new standard would yield a total fuel savings of $73,000 over a truck’s life. Heavy-duty trucks should expect a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018 under a new Heavy-Duty National Program.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association criticized the development, saying there are cheaper ways to achieve the same goals. But many organizations applauded the move.

Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks issued generally supportive statements.
“Certainly the regulation will challenge the industry,” said Mack President and CEO Denny Slagle, “but our past success gives us confidence we’ll meet the challenge.  Our focus now is on doing so in a way that minimizes any negative consequences for our customers.”