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Reducing Carbon Emissions and Improving Fuel Economy Through Retrofits

The Ain’t Fuelin’ project is radical in its simplicity. There are no batteries involved. The technological improvements aren’t glitzy. There’s little visible difference between a modified and unmodified vehicle … unless you know where to look. Most folks will never notice a bit of plastic protruding from a wheel well or a tire sidewall that differs from the original. Inquiring minds never think to check the dipstick in the quest to determine whether that fluid is conventional or synthetic. Folks never crawl under a car to gaze at its bellypan. A small aftermarket gauge nestled on the dashboard is easily overlooked by those more apt to be looking for a port to plug in their smartphone.

Improving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions through mindful maintenance, simple bolt-ons and driving technique might not be glamorous or a flight of fancy, but it is common sense. If you could get better gas mileage and spend less at the service station every month, without making a major investment, why wouldn’t you do it?

Yet, this concept hasn’t been sold that way. It hasn’t been sold at all. There’s been no concerted effort by an industry lobby to influence politicians to attack the carbon issue by retrofitting older vehicles with modern technology. Electric vehicles (EVs) are hailed as a savior by many and a demon by others. While EVs have significant potential for carbon reduction, a measurable impact won’t be felt for well over a decade, because the adoption rate is simply too low. By that point, we may have reached the point of irreversibility. That’s why we need to address the issue now, not just with new cars, but with much of the same technology from new cars, retrofitted to older cars. Tesla can’t make a dent in it fast enough. This program can.

Every time I pitch the Ain’t Fuelin’ project to an automotive industry executive or engineer, they get it. I see their eyes light up when I explain the process. They know it works. They’ve been up to their eyeballs in it. They’ve been going after this low-hanging fruit over the past few years.

Swapping in low-rolling-resistance tires and synthetic fluids, bolting on undercar tire spats, tweaking front air dams, and adding real-time fuel economy displays … it’s all been done now. These are all products that can be added to older vehicles – either by their owners or as part of the resale process.

For Ain’t Fuelin’ to have maximum impact, we need to go after the largest selling vehicles first – the Ford F-150, Fusion, Focus and Escape; Chevrolet Silverado, Impala and Malibu, Honda Accord, Civic, and CR-V; Toyota Camry, Corolla, and RAV4, Nissan Altima, Ram 1500, and Hyundai Sonata.

Getting things rolling with the Kickstarter campaign was just the first phase. If we can keep the tank full of gas and the bills paid over the next few months, we stand to make a real difference.

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2 comments ↓

#1 Dan Green on 04.07.14 at 7:39 am

How do you get more specific info for:
2003 Mitsibishi Galant GTZ
2007 Buick LaCrosse

#2 mpg-o-editor on 04.10.14 at 3:44 am

@Dan – If your Galant and LaCrosse do not have Instant MPG gauges, you can plug an inexpensive aftermarket device into the OBDII port. We recommend both the AutoMeter EcoMeter and ScanGaugeE. Consider switching to synthetic fluids (oil and transmission) on your next service, but note that high mileage engines may consume more (slippery!) synthetic oil. You can use TireRack to check to see which low-rolling-resistance tires fit your cars.

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