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Old 05-08-2009, 07:10 PM   #11 (permalink)
Big Dave
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Steppes of Central Indiana
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The Red Baron - '00 Ford F-350 XLT
90 day: 27.99 mpg (US)

Impala Phase Zero - '96 Chevrolet Impala SS
90 day: 21.03 mpg (US)
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A few comments (in no particular order) from the official site Grinch:

1.You are looking to improve the average MPG to a figure that is a third better than the fleet leaders in 20 years. A bridge too far?
2.To get to a fleet average of 55 MPG, you’ll have to be selling a lot of (slightly) powered street luges even if the new minivans and pickups get 30-35 MPG.
3.Neil has the aero angle covered. Aptera/VW 1L/Pillbug shapes will have to predominate. Tandem arrangements will have to become the “normal” vehicle to cut frontal area.
4.Federal crash standards will have to be relaxed in order to reduce vehicle weight and still be of reasonable cost. The way the regs are written today, the heavier vehicle is more likely to comply. Yes, you can make your car out of superunobtainium and pass the crash tests and still be light but what have you gained if nobody can afford it?
5.We have to get some cooperation from the government on aero issues like side mirrors and on engine requirements like Tier II on diesels. Heat engines are a fairly mature technology. Barring a materials breakthrough, I would not look for much in the way of improved engine efficiency.
6.A big item, nobody else has mentioned: The torque converter automatic has to go. Maybe the dual-clutch transmissions will supplant it. Maybe not – the jury is still out on that one. We all know the manual is king of MPG, but few people want them. I like a stick but am considered an oddball for that preference.
7.I concur with superchow in that driver education & motivation will probably be more important than you think. There is a yawning gap between the performance of a Wayne Gerdes and my texting-while-driving niece. The importance of the nut behind the wheel is an article of faith on this site.
8.The cars of this brave new world will have to be designed to be fairly comfortable and accessible. One thing that designers have found is that people strongly prefer to sit fairly upright rather than reclining. You do have to sell the things to people who are NOT Olympic gymnasts.
9.The history of the auto industry shows that (for some reason) people do not like aero vehicles. People tell me my (slightly) modified truck looks “gay.” The basjoos-mobile would probably trip all their breakers. It seems dumb to me, but automotive history is full of aero cars that people didn’t want.
10.A mandated jump in MPG this big, this fast carries a high risk of political backlash. Maybe a better way to reduce air emissions is to take some intermediate steps toward an electrified ground transportation system. That takes the propulsion of ground transportation away from inherently dirtier mobile power plants and toward inherently cleaner stationary power sources. You cannot get cleaner than nuclear power. The first step would be to subsidize/encourage electrification of America’s freight railroad mainlines. Railroads consume about a quarter million barrels a day of diesel fuel. If that is shifted to nuclear or even stationary coal power there would be big net reduction in air emissions. Once that is accomplished you then put electrified lanes on the Interstates for trucks and busses. This would bring an even larger reduction in air emissions.
11.Low rolling resistance tires carry a big downside. Generally “low rolling resistance” equals “poor traction.” One reason tire manufacturers don’t publish crr to the general public is that they are afraid that in a period of high fuel costs, people will mindlessly buy the low-crr tires and ignore the trade-offs made. They will have accidents and will litigate against the tire manufacturers for making “unsafe” tires. It won’t take but a couple of gullible juries and “lottery” awards and low-crr tires will disappear from the market. I would not bet on low rolling resistance tires being around very long in a highly litigious society.
12.Energy recovery from potholes is a seductive idea, but at what price in terms of cost and complexity?

Remember that whatever is done will still have to pass muster with the consumer.

2000 Ford F-350 SC 4x2 6 Speed Manual
4" Slam
3.08:1 gears and Gear Vendor Overdrive
Rubber Conveyor Belt Air Dam
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