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Are V-8 Engines From Infiniti The First Victims Of The New CAFE Rules? 4
Sep
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, CAFE Standards, Infiniti, Kurt, News, V-8 Engine on 09 4th, 2012

2013 Infiniti M56 – Image: Infiniti

Last week, the White House approved proposed fuel economy regulations that require automakers achieve a fleet-wide Corporate Average Fuel Economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Along the way, graduated steps ensure that automakers are improving fuel economy by year, and one of the first victims of the new enviro-jihad is likely to be the V-8 engine (at least among mainstream automakers).

CarSales, via Motor Authority, reports that Infiniti may be the first automaker to officially pronounce the V-8 dead. Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti’s global president, was quoted as saying, “I don’t think that any car that is on Infiniti drawing boards from here onward we should expect a V-8 to be included in that plan.”

Infiniti’s strength has always been in V-6 engines, with V-8s going into relatively few products (only the QX56, FX50 SUVs and the M56 sedan come to mind). Its decision, then, comes as no big surprise, since V-8 power isn’t a hallmark of the Infiniti brand. More ominous, however, was de Nysschen’s prediction that German automakers such as Audi (his former company) and BMW will also be abandoning the V-8 in the very near future.

We’re not sure what that translates to in terms of model years, but it’s very clear that the writing is on the wall. If you’ve been looking to buy a sedan or coupe with V-8 power, we don’t suggest you put it off too much longer.



White House Approves New Fuel Economy Rules, But What Does It Mean? 29
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, CAFE Standards, Fuel Economy, Kurt, News on 08 29th, 2012

The White House – image: Matt Wade Photography

It’s now official: by the year 2025, automakers must deliver average fuel economy of 54.4 miles per gallon across all passenger models sold. When you compare that to the current standard of 29.7 mpg, this much is clear: a lot of things will need to change, and cars are going to get more expensive.

According to government studies cited in The Detroit News, the average price of a new car will rise by $1,726, while the average price of a new truck will increase by $2,059. This will easily be offset by fuel savings, according to the same research; in fact, the buyer of a new car in 2025 will save as much as $5,000 on fuel over the life of the vehicle, even after the higher purchase price is factored in. That sounds good on paper (except the part about paying more up front for savings potentially realized later), but let us ask you this: when was the last time that the government was correct about anything involving financial projections?

Cars will need to get smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient, so expect to see more low-horsepower choices, along with more hybrids and (hopefully) more clean diesels, although the new rules seem to shun diesels for hybrids. As of 2014, the U.S. and Europe share common (or near common) rules for diesel emissions, meaning that automakers will have one less excuse for not offering diesel models worldwide. If our choices are an oil-burner or a hybrid, we’ll take the diesel almost every time.

It’s also important to understand that a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 54.5 mpg doesn’t necessarily translate to 54.5 mpg fuel economy in the real world. Since CAFE is a lab-generated number involving lots of fuzzy math and obscure variables, consumers are likely to see an average fuel economy of around 40 mpg, still a big jump from today’s numbers.

There are provisions for interim reviews along the way as well, which is a good thing when you’re trying to implement technology that doesn’t currently exist at a reasonable price point. While most automakers and the UAW support the plan (since it will effectively mean more new car sales), the National Automobile Dealers Association opposes it on the grounds that it will exclude some 7 million buyers from the new car market due to increased prices.

If the U.S. economy remains in the toilet, it’s clear to us that even more buyers will be avoiding new and more expensive cars, regardless of how much fuel they save.

Image credit: Matt Wade Photography, licensed under CC 2.0



Feds Want CAFE Of 56.2 MPG In 14 Years 27
Jun
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, CAFE Standards, Fuel Efficiency Standards, Kurt, News on 06 27th, 2011

Meet the affordable car of the future.

This much is certain: the cars we’ll be driving in 2025 will bear little resemblance to the cars we’re driving today, especially if the current administration moves forward with their proposed fleetwide fuel economy standard of 56.2 mpg. That’s not just for cars (which would have to achieve an even higher standard), but an average for both cars and light trucks. Put another way, Americans will have to forget their love of pickups, SUVs and full size sedans, since downsizing appears to be the order of the day.

Expect that downsizing to impact horsepower as well. We’re already seeing it on vehicles from various manufacturers; in 2010, GM offered a 2.4 liter, four cylinder engine as the standard powerplant for the Buick LaCrosse. To call the car “underpowered” was a gross understatement; in fact, “horrifically slow” was a much better description. In fairness, their new “mild hybrid” eAssist engine design should make the car more drivable, but the writing is on the wall: it’s not likely that we’ll ever again see cars producing the same horsepower as they do today.

Automakers, of course, oppose the proposed numbers and have requested some leniency in achieving them (like “back-loading” higher efficiency into the regulations instead of making the gains linear). Automakers dispute government claims that the monumental fuel efficiency gains will only add $2,100 to $2,600 to the cost of a new car, since technologies required to achieve higher fuel economy (supplemental electric drivetrains, lightweight materials, etc.) are expensive. Worse, they’re projecting significant job losses as new car sales tank; if Detroit learned nothing else in the 1970s, they learned this: if you don’t build the cars Americans want, you won’t capture their business.

Fourteen years is still a long way off, and the NHTSA will have to conduct a full-scale review of the standard in 2017 to determine if it’s really achievable. That seems a bit backwards to me; instead of regulating product based on technology that doesn’t exist (or is too expensive to implement) today, why not work with existing technology to improve the product. Does the dog wag its tail, or is the tail wagging the dog?

Source: Detroit News



Automakers Not Selling Enough ‘Green’ Cars To Meet Looming CAFE Standards 5
Apr
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







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