I am a road-test editor by trade. Testing fuel-efficiency is a key part of my job. It seems odd that the EPA, NHTSA and CARB have teamed up on TAR, but that the DOE and USDA have been left out.
The Oak Ridge National Labs work on this topic is crucial. The world’s largest automobile manufacturers are all turning to highly-efficient downsized, down-speeded small displacement forced-induction engines. They produce more power with less weight.
Modern forced induction small-displacement engines LOVE high-octane low-carbon fuel. The most cost-effective way to achieve high-octane is with ethanol.
I have begun fuel efficiency testing with E15 fuel. My first E10 vs E15 test with a turbocharged 1.4-liter 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco produced remarkable results:
The 2016 BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid without compromise.
It’s equipped with a 2.0-liter Twin Power turbocharged inline four, paired with a lithium-ion powered electric motor and mated to an eight speed automatic transmission. The combined hybrid system output is 248 horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque, which delivers a respectable 0-60 mile per hour time of 5.9 seconds.
I hailed an Uber when I was in Charlotte a while back. When the car arrived, I was surprised to see that it was a Dodge Caravan. The Uber driver explained that he bought his Caravan because Minivans are eligible for UberXL which can generate more revenue. He also wanted to provide the most comfortable and convenient ride for his customers.
Some Uber drivers will tell you that the Toyota Prius is the best car to use. But that’s largely because it’s so good on gas, not because it’s the best ride for their customers.
The Dodge Caravan and the new Chrysler Pacifica are Flex Fuel vehicles. They can run ethanol blends up to E85. Ethanol burns cleaner and is 100% domestic. Department of Energy (DOE) Research says an E30 blend – 30 percent ethanol – may deliver the optimal price/performance ratio.
This past week marked a tipping point in automotive history. According to media reports, Tesla Motors has rolled up over 325,000 “preorders” for the Model 3 Sedan, the company’s least expensive vehicle to date. There’s never been anything quite like it. This is an unprecedented validation that the world is eager for an electrified sedan with 200+ miles of range. It was a brilliantly executed Kickstart that saw the first hundred thousand customers plunk down their $1,000 refundable deposits without ever seeing the car.
As the week progressed, I thought it would be interesting to run a livestream on YouTube to gauge the MPGomatic community’s reaction. I vlogged every day for five days straight, on a variety of topics. The most popular being the second installment, Tesla Model 3: Does the Chevy Bolt Have a Huge Advantage?
We’ve never seen anything like Volkswagen’s massive deception on NOx emissions. Automobile manufacturers can do some questionable things, but this ranks among the most puzzling. It’s a huge slap in the face for diesel advocates. The current buzz indicates that VW will “fix” the effected TDI diesel-powered vehicles that exceed federal emissions standards. Exactly how this will play out, remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, legal firms are circling Volkswagen like vultures. There are a number of lawsuits in the works, aiming to score a settlement with Volkswagen. Is this really about TDI owners getting restitution or is it simply a big payday for the attorneys? The fix will surely lower performance and fuel efficiency. How much can Jetta, Golf, and Passat owners expect to recieve? If I owned one of these vehicles, I wouldn’t want it “fixed” … I’d want to swap it for a brand new version that delivered the performance and MPGs that I was promised.
With the spotlight on Volkswagen, the media is ignoring the larger issue. If we are serious about reducing emissions, whether it’s particulates, NOx, carbon, or other pollutants, we must move past our addiction to petroleum. The biggest problem isn’t diesel engines. It’s the fuel.