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Old 06-30-2011, 09:49 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Stretched "aerocivic" type car with 4 doors, gas lean burn, tall gears, and a hybrid drivetrain. Done.

or diesel hybrid instead.

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Old 06-30-2011, 10:08 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
...just goes to illustrate that the car manufacturers COULD have produced cars with much better MPG numbers years ago, if they'd just wanted to do so!
The big problem, as already mentioned is that it costs more to make more efficient vehicles that give the same performance as what the buyer is used to. Because buyers won't buy something that sacrifices.

I have a 1990's diesel truck that seats seven and can do 40 mpg in a pinch. But it takes nearly 30 seconds to hit 60 mph and emits enough smoke to kill a small dog every time you back out of the driveway. Nowadays, you can buy seven seater diesels that hit 40 mpg on the highway and 60 mph in seven or eight seconds, with emissions that meet even stringent EURO IV levels. But those things cost twice as much as my old smoker (even inflation adjusted) did.

Today's Tucson is a pretty sweet car... and if you want excellent fuel economy, you can have it in 2.0, a 2.0 Tucson with the 6-speed can match a 1.8-2.0 compact car in terms of economy. So why don't you get it in America? Because there's no market demand.

Manufacturers DO and HAVE made cars with excellent economy over the years. They needed to in order to make it in markets with high gasoline prices and tax restrictions on engine size. But in America, there was no market demand (too slow), so they didn't bother importing them... not in great numbers. Too bad you never got the 1.2 liter Honda Fit, which could, on the highway, even tweak 60-70 mpg...

Reminds me of the old "Who killed the electric car" brouhaha... GM-bashers only need to look at other ultra-high tech fuel saving cars of the time, like the late, lamented Audi A2... a fantastic car that used high technology, efficient engines and extensive use of aluminum to achieve nearly 100 mpg. Yet sales were relatively dismal. People weren't willing to pay a lot of money just for fuel economy.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:47 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Kodak View Post
It's out there, but I don't blame companies for not producing a vehicle that [they believe] would certainly fail in the market. Doing so would be a travesty for workers, execs and stockholders alike.
...sometimes (often?) they have to MAKE the market exist, such as Toyota has done with their Prius...at first, there was NO market, but they built it anyway; for awhile they weren't making ANY money on them; now, they are, plus they're EXPANDING the hither-to-before non-existant EV market with new models!

...sometimes, you have to INVEST today for TOMORROW's returns; obviously, something GM apparently isn't good at doing, to wit: EV1 down the tubes; bankruptcy; Volt gets 246 MPG (B.S.!), etc..
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:01 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I already cited examples... Audi pushed the A2 for years without success. Honda has been pushing and pushing to keep their engine sizes low. The Fit is an economical car, and yet sales are suffering as people go on to bigger, more powerful ones.

The only way to make people buy is to take a hit on profit for the initial batch (or batches) to get them interested. And even then, with the Prius, they still needed government incentives to sweeten the deal before it finally went mainstream.

GM tried, and failed. Most pure electrics of the time failed because of the high cost of the battery systems of the time. The EV1 would have cost over $100k... over a decade ago. It's only with better battery life and controllers that we are seeing pure electrics dip under the $40k barrier.

Not that I'm accusing GM of being ultra-efficient at self-sabotage (and there are many that claim that the EV1 program was one big self-sabotaged publicity stunt embarked upon by GM as a way of forcing the removal of the ZEV CARB mandate), but really, there are easier ways to lobby against legislation than spending over a billion dollars on a handful of cars...
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:45 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
...sometimes (often?) they have to MAKE the market exist, such as Toyota has done with their Prius...
It doesn't even need to go that far. Look at the US auto industry: 50 years ago it had over 95% of the domestic auto market. It has spent almost all of that half-century insisting that Americans don't want smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Nowadays it has IIRC less than a 50% market share. The rest was lost to foreign manufacturers who built - guess what? - mostly smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

PS: Now that I think on it, I just have to ask a dumb question. If Americans have always wanted big cars, where'd all the Metros, Civic/CRXs, VW Rabbits, and the other cars you guys like to pick up used come from?

Last edited by jamesqf; 07-01-2011 at 01:15 PM..
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:49 AM   #26 (permalink)
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The wife averages right at 28 in her Rogue, while I average 34 in my Altima. Both weigh about the same (around 3200) and both have the 2.5 with CVT transmission. On a hot fill the Altima will push 40 MPG at 55 MPH (best case scenario) while the Rogue will push 34 MPG.

You should have seen my step daughters face when I was getting 35MPG at 60MPH in her Murano .

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:59 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Mechanic View Post
The wife averages right at 28 in her Rogue, while I average 34 in my Altima. Both weigh about the same (around 3200) and both have the 2.5 with CVT transmission. On a hot fill the Altima will push 40 MPG at 55 MPH (best case scenario) while the Rogue will push 34 MPG.

You should have seen my step daughters face when I was getting 35MPG at 60MPH in her Murano .

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...yes, I agree 100% that the BEST way to raise MPG is to TRAIN the NUT behind the steering wheel...unfortunately, there are too many Darwin candidates and the like with Drivers' Licenses for that to ever become a National Policy (ha,ha).
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:26 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
...sometimes (often?) they have to MAKE the market exist, such as Toyota has done with their Prius...at first, there was NO market, but they built it anyway; for awhile they weren't making ANY money on them; now, they are, plus they're EXPANDING the hither-to-before non-existant EV market with new models!

...sometimes, you have to INVEST today for TOMORROW's returns; obviously, something GM apparently isn't good at doing, to wit: EV1 down the tubes; bankruptcy; Volt gets 246 MPG (B.S.!), etc..

I can see what you're saying, but sometimes certain sacrifices are made in order for vehicles to be more marketable. What if automakers decided to add stock boattails to their fuel sipper models? Certainly some potential buyers would be turned off by the appearance - even despite the FE gains.

"Perfect is the enemy of good" - Voltaire.

Automakers can't forcibly make markets, but through styling, effective marketing and the naturally shifting consumer interest in fuel economy (I don't claim to be an expert, just generalizing), sometimes markets do develop.

With that said, your Prius example is an excellent illustration of [potentially] high risk, resulting in high reward. I agree with you that an influence was made on that front.
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:39 PM   #29 (permalink)
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...instead of a single model, they could/should make variants:

economy model: stripped down, lowest weight, manual trans, best aerodynamics, highest fuel-economy.
entry model: sound-proofing, manual or auto, A/C available, people-hauler.
upscale model: fully loaded w/ all the bells & whistles.
sporty model: performance is goal, economy isn't.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:15 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Old Tele man -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
...instead of a single model, they could/should make variants:

economy model: stripped down, lowest weight, manual trans, best aerodynamics, highest fuel-economy.
entry model: sound-proofing, manual or auto, A/C available, people-hauler.
upscale model: fully loaded w/ all the bells & whistles.
sporty model: performance is goal, economy isn't.
From a factory POV, more model differentiation raises the UMC (Unit Manufacturing Cost), so that's "bad". But on the whole I agree with what you are saying.

In a way Honda is doing something like this with their eco/normal/sport button on the Honda CRZ. I think having a button like that is a no-brainer on almost all models. It won't change the options in the way you describe, but having a low-cost button + differentiating the software should keep the UMC under control.

Have the ECU/PCM help you get good MPG, not fight you.

CarloSW2

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