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Americans Opt for 4-Cylinder Engines over V6s and V8s 26
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in auto news, Automotive, News on 07 26th, 2011

In my book nothing beats a well-tuned V8 engine with a throaty sound and enough horsepower and torque to make the seat seem like a temporary implant on your body. Granted now days V8 equipped cars make up the fastest and best performing vehicles ever on the road, they are also some of the thirstiest vehicles when it comes to fuel consumption.

Americans have taken heed to the recent high prices of gasoline and opted for smaller displacement fuel sipping 4 cylinder engines. Recent studies will reveal that Americans have chosen to replace the past dominance of 6-cylinder engines (and even 8-cylinder) with 4-cylinders. According to IHS Automotive, 4-cylinder engines have replaced 6-cylinders as American’s most popular choice.

Just this year, more than half of the vehicles sold to retail consumers were equipped with 4-cylinder engines. This figure excludes fleet vehicles which are hardly ever equipped with 4-cylinder engines because they mostly consist of large vehicles in the form of Vans, SUVs and contractor pickups.

The shift in engine choice comes from two main factors. Buyers are conscious of the high gas prices and opting to downsize to the vehicle with the smaller engine choice while manufacturers are shrinking engines to meet future federal fuel economy standards.

Forced induction is a major contributor to swaying the American public to choose new advanced 4-cylinder engines. As a prime example, Chevrolet’s new Cruze Eco version has a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder getting an EPA estimated 42mpg while a Hyundai Sonata 2.0 Turbo produces 274 horsepower yet still manages to get up to 33mpg. These figures were unheard of just a few years ago especially considering the low base price point of these new vehicles.

Hybrid cars are a sure bet when it comes to saving the most fuel but conventional gas engines are much cheaper. Michael Omotoso, J.D. Power’s senior manager of global powertrain forecasting said, “If you can get 40 mpg from a sub-$20,000 car, why buy a hybrid for a lot more money?”

When it comes to horsepower there is an old saying, “there is no replacement for displacement.” That saying still rings true but only to a certain point especially if you want to save fuel. Today’s new engines incorporate advanced technologies making them lighter, more powerful and ultimately more efficient. A new turbocharged 4-cylinder can outdo many older V6s in just about every aspect. The same goes for newer V6 engines compared to older V8s. Continental North America powertrain division forecasts that 3.4 million engines installed in North American-built vehicles will have a displacement of less than 2 liters, up from 1.2 million in 2010. That means eventually one in five vehicles manufactured would have a 2.0-liter or smaller engine by 2017.

Engines’ share of the U.S. light-vehicle market
Type 2005 2007 2009 1st half 2011
4-cylinder 26% 31% 40% 43%
6-cylinder 43% 40% 36% 37%
8-cylinder 29% 26% 23% 18%
Other 2% 3% 1% 2%
Source: IHS

What is your take on smaller displacement engines being the new choice for Americans? Are you happy with a 4-cylinder or will we have to pry that big V8 from your lifeless fingers?

[source: Autonews]

Automakers Not Selling Enough ‘Green’ Cars To Meet Looming CAFE Standards 5
Posted by Kurt Ernst in auto news, Automotive, CAFE Standards, Car Buying, Fuel Economy, hybrid, News on 04 5th, 2011

Toyota's Prius is the only hybrid whose demand exceeds supply. Image: Toyota

By 2016, automakers who sell their wares in the United States have to achieve a CAFE average of 35.5 miles per gallon. To put that number in perspective, the average fuel economy of a vehicle sold in 2010 was 22.2 miles per gallon; in other words, in the next five years, fuel economy has to increase by an average of nearly 61% per vehicle sold. That’s not even remotely possible, especially when you consider that the average fuel economy per vehicle sold declined from 2009 to 2010. One reason is that sales of trucks, minivans and SUVs rose by 3% last year; in other words, Americans like big vehicles, and as long as gas prices don’t stay at current levels, we’ll continue to buy trucks. That’s bad news for automakers, who face stiff financial penalties if they can’t achieve the ridiculously optimistic CAFE goals. So what happens next?

First, it’s unlikely that Americans will change their vehicle buying habits unless they’re convinced high fuel prices are here to stay. Even then, downsizing is likely to mean buying a smaller truck or SUV, not jumping all the way down to a fuel efficient compact hybrid. In fact, hybrid market share shrank from 2.9% of vehicles sold in 2009 to 2.4% of vehicles sold in 2010. The only hybrids I know that are selling well are the Toyota Prius (bought by the minority of Americans who are truly concerned about global warming, fuel prices and the environment) and the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, which costs the exact same amount as its non-hybrid sibling. Despite the best attempt by automaker to change our buying habits, this much should be obvious: Americans don’t like hybrids, because they’re still too “different” than the cars we’re used to.

So what options do automakers really have? One, as far as I can tell: petition the government to relax the implementation of CAFE standards, at least until the technology catches up with the legislation. The only alternative I can see is slapping huge surcharges on trucks, to encourage buyers to downsize to more sensible transportation. I can’t think of a politician stupid enough to promote that agenda, which would cetainly be political suicide.

Source: Autoblog

US Government and carmakers to create technology to stop drunk driving 6
Posted by Vervoering in auto news, Car News, drunk driving on 03 6th, 2011

Drunk-DrivingThe U.S. Department of Transportation is eager in its announcement that they have reached a “new frontier in the fight against drunk driving.” The government office has shared its plans to install a state-of-the-art technology that would detect alcohol in several vehicles sometime in the next eight to ten years.

This new technology, aptly called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, would come with a system called the Tissue Spectrometry, a touch-base system that would be able to detect the presence of alcohol in ones blood concentration. Another option would be to use the Distant Spectrometry device that would detect the alcohol presence in the driver’s breath. Once the system detects that the driver is intoxicated, the car would go into self-disabling mode. Pretty ambitious indeed, thought it might pose a great deal of a problem for those who work in bars and places where they serve alcohol.

At present time, a five-year $10 million cooperative budget effort has been made between car makers and the government in order to make these technologies available. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the project will start with actual demonstrations of these technologies to the public towards the end of this year. Here are some of the car makers that have joined the project: Mitsubishi, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, Porsche, BMW, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai/Kia, Mazda, GM, Jaguar/Land Rover, Nissan, Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Clearly, this looks like a promising effort being made by the car companies themselves and the federal government to lessen the number of drunk drinking incidents in the US.