The gas-powered Chevy Cruze gets hybrid-like mileage at a much lower price.
To highlight how much fuel-economy improvements automotive design engineers are still wringing out of internal combustion engines, just spend some time in the Eco version of Chevy's Cruze compact car.
I had a week with the car, equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, and in nearly 500 miles of Interstate and mountain driving I logged 37 mpg on the car's trip computer—right on the EPA highway mileage number (26 mpg, city). The 6-speed manual transmission version is listed as 28 mpg (city) and 42 mpg (hwy). The engine in both versions is a 1.4-L (138 hp, 148 ft-lb torque) four cylinder.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Automotive Traveler magazine's Richard Truesdell drove the manual version (I assume) from California to New Jersey and achieved 40 mpg for the trip.
Base price for the Eco on the sticker I have is $18,175. Add a $525 connectivity package (cruise control, USB interface, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel and shifter, etc.), automatic transmission ($925), compact spare tire ($100), and destination charge ($720) and the total is $20,445.
Previously, I had driven the luxury LTZ model (nice stitched leather, sport suspension) of the Cruze with the automatic and pulled 30 mpg in limited suburban driving. I was impressed with the handling and pickup for a compact car, with similar performance in the Eco.
As an ex-aero engineer, I was impressed with the aerodynamic and other features the GM engineers have designed into the Eco to improve mileage from the standard Cruze. These include:
Lower front grille air shutters to regulate engine airflow to cut cooling drag
Front fascia air dam
Mid-body aero panels
Low rolling resistance tires, also used on the Chevy Volt range-enhanced electric vehicle
Engine-wise, there is variable valve timing (four valves/cylinder) and the air conditioner is decoupled from the engine for less load when not in use
Here's a video of GM engineers explaining some of these features:
The Eco also had one of the best manually adjusting seats I've seen. It is movable eight ways, including front and rear tilt, and height adjustment. The car is fairly quiet and the body style allows a deep trunk. All in all, the Cruze is a fun, economical, and practical package.
(In case you're not familiar with the Cruze, it's the car that our favorite ex-Cylon, Grace Park'scharacter, Kono, in the new Hawaii Five-0 TV series drives with some aplomb.)
I paid less than $22K for my 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback a year ago, with bluetooth and all that. Much nicer and roomier car than the Cruze, and normal long-wearing tires too. This month I did a Portland / Salt Lake City round trip of 1600 miles at 70-75 mph on the cruise control, no hypermiling, and got 48 mpg. Beats flying.
Yes, but aside from current acquisition costs, a hybrid would get vastly superior city driving fuel economy. Hybrids typically get higher fuel economy in city driving than they do on the open road, which is actually logical, if you think about it.
I do NOT like the idea of having to lug around two power trains. I also do not like the idea of battery-powered electrics potentially creating a lot more demand on the power grid. But it's very hard to deny that for city driving, where non-hybrids waste a huge amount of energy in brake heat and idling at red lights, having a battery to recylce the energy makes a whole lot of sense. Very slow stop and go traffic should not be where most of the gasoline gets used, in an ideal world.
I agree that the hybrid theoretically would give more during city driving because of regenerative braking. However, the efficiency of the internal combustion engine goes down compared to highway driving.
The Cruze Eco is a bigger threat to the Jetta/Golf TDI diesels. It has nearly identical passenger and cargo space and mileage that all but matches the TDI diesels. But another contender is the Hyundai Elantra which has similar, impressive numbers.
These newer designs are still burning so much fuel that on the highway, the Prius has roughly 75-80% lower fuel costs. In city and traffic jammed freeways, the Prius burns less than 50% of these new designs. But they are competitive with the hybrid sedans like the Ford Fusion and Camry Hybrid.
In contrast, the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight have awesome mileage and the new Honda Civic Hybrid looks to have similar fuel efficiency improvements.
2005 Jetta (last Mark IV year), $15,500 out the door, taxes, title, registration. Lifetime fuel mileage 29.1 MPG (as of last month 103,666 miles, 3556.672 gallons, $9,408.60). Highway mileage @ 75 MPH = 31-32 MPG
@ 65 MPH = 34-35 MPG. Yes, I am anal. I have every receipt(or at least written record when the machine was broken) and an Excel spreadsheet. Compared to the hybrids, I'm still driving for FREE !!
I have a 2005 Mark IV Golf TDI (BEW engine, a.k.a. PD) and typically get over 40mpg in suburban driving, including two daily 10 mile 75mph stretches on the tollway. I am definitely a leadfoot. Even in fairly cold Chicago winter weather, I rarely get under 35mpg.
I bought the diesel because I own two trailers. Last time I checked, towing a trailer will void the warranty of both the Prius and the Civic Hybrid.
OTOH, VWs are pretty expensive to maintain. Still, I'd rather give the money to my local mechanic than one of the oil tyrants.
My wife and test drove an '05 TDI before we bought the gas one. Loved it. Lots of scoot off the line, didn't stink or smoke, and didn't rattle like a handful of marbles in a coffee can. The killer: TDI = $21,000+ to the Gas = 15,500 out the door, taxes, tags, et al. The maintenance on my V-dub consisted of a set of Michelin Hydroedges at about 35K miles and oil changes. That's it. The OEM Goodyears sucked.
Sadly what you say sounds true, I guess the question we all have to ask ourselves is not what is the cost to our pockets directly, but rather what is the cost to the planet as a whole divided by the number of people on it?
That's an interesting question, all I know is that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere IS increasing, and that largest percentage of that IS being put there by human activity. The only thing we need to show is that increased CO2 does or doesn't cause the warming that they claim. A friend of mine did an experiment with a bottle of CO2 and a bottle of air and saw significant differences in internal temperatures, but how valid a test that is I'm not sure. One thing is sure though, the levels in CO2 increase since 1975 have resulted in increased cyanide levels in some food crops resulting in the appearance of serious illness in some groups of people that have a diet based on those foods. This is some 20-30% of Africans for example. Interesting consequences for some so we can feel good about our drive to work :-(
Increase of CO2 causes an increase in cyanide levels in plants? Wow, that's a new one. Please lets us know the source of that information. That is a mechanism I do not understand at this juncture. I am interested in being educated, so by all means give us the knowledge.
CO2 is a small component of air. You would need to experiment with one bottle containing air with 350ppm CO2 and another with 250ppm for a valid comparison in that experiment. You will find that the thermodynamics does not support the supposed relationship between rising CO2 and AGW. In fact it is the opposite, the rise in CO2 follows warming due to outgassing of the oceans and increased biological activity due to temperature increase. Hybrids are not worth it. Does any of these assessments take into account the cost of battery replacement and upfront money for the hybrid in the cost per mile calculations?
The ~$20K difference in cost between the Eco CRUZE and the VOLT could pay for a lot of gas! Or...you could pay an additional ~$30K and put up solar panels to charge the Volt and eliminate the use of gas altogether. I'd like to see a financial analysis of these 3 scenarios: super-efficient conventional car, hybrid, solar-charged EV. Sadly, the ROI break-even of the solar-charged EV will be 30-50 years...assuming the car lasts that long.
Many cities will give you net meter usage credit - so if you pump power into the grid during the day, you can suck power back into the car at night and still benefit from the daytime electricity generation. (And, someday, it will be possible to generate higher priced electricity during the day, and buy back cheaper evening electricity.)
There are already many areas that pay preferential rates for daytime production.
Sure this method works fine when there are very few EVs out there, but is not a viable model for really high % of EVs.
The reality is that if EVs ever become a significant player in transport,the night time generation capacity would soon max out, meaning either building more power stations or rolling blackouts - the latter of course leaving you with an uncharged car.
There is no renewable energy that can provide on-demand power.
Pure electric cars like the Leaf are early-adopter products just like the latest smartphones, tablets, or any other electronic product. They are at the beginning of the cost-volume curve. Early adopters buy EVs because of the exciting technology and the desire to participate in its arrival.
Are you expecting me to be impressed? My Ford Galaxy (large 7-seater like a Chrysler Voyager) has been giving me 50mpg from a regular 1.8l diesel engine for the last four years. (That's 40mpg for your smaller US gallons). I'm just in the process of ordering a smaller 7-seater (VW Touran), which based on the emmisions figures, should return about 70mpg from a 1.6l fancy diesel engine (56m per US g).
Thing I find odd is that GM is now presenting vehicles in the US market that it has had in the European market for 10 years! There are also some very respectable diesel engines from Ford, GM, BMW, Audi, etc. that have as much acceleration as a gas engine, are as quiet as a gas engine, drive just like a gas engine, and give 25% more 'gas' mileage per gallon.
Why don't we have those here?
Apparently that is a feature of EPA regulations. For years we could not get the TDI vehicles because we did not have low-sulphur diesel. Now that we have the right fuel, I hear that the NOx emissions are too high when the TDI runs at its best fuel efficiency; when tuned to pass the NOx testing, fuel efficiency drops to the same level as a gas engine. I would love to know if these rumors are true. If they are, then there should be some discussion about whether the EPA rules need adjustment!
I'll repeat that I am no fan of hybrids, just from a kludge design point of view. HOWEVER,
If you make that fuel efficient diesel a diesel hybrid, then in city driving anyway, it should beat out the non-hybrid diesel for fuel economy. Simply because much of the energy wasted in stop and go traffic can be recycled in the battery. That should more than offset the extra weight.
The other point is, although cost is an issue in practice, that equation changes quickly, if costs are apportioned as they should be. For example, to consider recycling of garbage a worthwhile endeavor, should we assume that recycling garbage should cost less than just throwing garbage in the dump? That depends. I'd contend that by paying more for recycling garbage, we could created less of an accumulating garbage problem over time. Which is worth something all by itself.
Saving fuel won't necessarily be cheaper, unless ALL the costs of wanton waste of natural resources are reflected in its price. Environmental, medical, infrastrucure maintenance, etc.
To which you must also add the cost of recycling and remanufacturing batteries.
Far too many EV (and hybrid) cost breakdowns ignore the cost and environmental impact of manufacturing and replacing the battery. Too many EV stories will tell you it only costs a few pennies of electricity to drive x miles, but when you add the amortised cost of replacing the battery and the cost of road taxes etc then the numbers don't look to great.
My 2006 Prius ($22k) gets 50 to 55 mpg with air con on all the time.
And all my driving is city driving with top speed of 45mph, all stop and go!
Sorry, but with gasoline currently $4.72 per gallon for regular, I will take my Prius over your Chevy anytime.
A diesel hybrid would undoubtedly be a very good choice to get the best fuel economy. Battery replacement cost is indeed one big concern, not only because of the non-competitive nature of EV battery packs, but also because of the completely unknown "disposal charges", which nobody at all has mentioned. We get them for tires, which are much safer to deal with than a battery pack that is both toxic and dangerous. My vehicle of choice presently is a bicycle, although it is fairly unsafe to ride in the greater Detroit area.
Hybrids and electrics are conceptually nice, but the real world is different. I live in Colorado, at 7400 feet, and winter temps often go below 0 F, or even to -30 F. A car is not always garaged.
The battery powered cars tend to die in this environment, and at $5-6K for a replacement pack, that's pathetic. On the other hand, altitude doesn't bother an electric.
Then, throw in that AWD or 4WD on demand is a *requirement*. This is *NOT* Denver, we are higher, with more severe weather. And going into the mountains in the winter is a requirement.
I don't see anything doing this well, yet.
Add that most commuting for a group of us here is 20-50 miles of highway as fast as possible - 70-90+ mph, with merge speeds more than that, and then 3 miles of city.
So the electrics don't cut it yet. The TDIs are the best now, but the initial cost is high.
It's a lot more cost effective to buy a 10 year old Subaru that is AWD, gets 30 mpg even the way I drive, and not worry about it.
A bicycle or motorcycle is a deathtrap here - and unusable most of the year, anyway, from my home.
Bert and cdh mention the total lifecycle costs - well, if I am not paying all of those, do I care? Is it a hidden cost in taxes that I am going to end up paying anyway? That cheap car with medium mpg and AWD is a better economic outcome for me.
In a large metro environment, some other solutions do make better sense, maybe. Run the lifecycle costs for *you* first.
If you want social conscience costs, an engineering forum is not the place to make that argument. ;-)
I think that comments here tend to fall into two categories: (a) my hybrid gets 2000 mpg, and that's all I care about, since I don't trailer anything, don't have 4 kids, don't live where it gets to be -15 degrees, or gets lot of snow. The other take is this: my needs preclude the use of a hybrid, and in any event, the up-front is horrendous. I'm in the second group. I trailer stuff from time to time, I change 200' altitude over a quarter mile in my driveway every day, and I have two kids, a wife, and a dog. Someone else's dream commuting car just doesn't work for me. And, I suspect, it doesn't work for them, either, if you did the math the right way. But if someone can use, and wants to pay for a Prius, that's their business, I suppose. Solid numbers are nice, self-righteous or sanctimonious "environmentally-holier-than-thou" isn't of much use to anyone. RalphSH, you have a point: if you aren't paying the environmental cost directly or indirectly, then why care what that cost is? Let's hope that you and I aren't paying the environmental cost of producing and disposing of the batteries in hybrids...
"... well, if I am not paying all of those, do I care? Is it a hidden cost in taxes that I am going to end up paying anyway?"
We do all pay for those "hidden" costs, and right there are two of the problems. Having everyone paying irrespective of their contribution to the problem, and having people be unaware of the costs created by their behaviors.
People would care a lot more if they saw the costs directly, and furthermore, people would behave much more responsibly if they were made to pay in proportion to the damage they cause.
How are these points justifed in an engineering forum? Because they rebut the points made, to the effect of, "my 1965 Nova gets 15 mpg in the city but it cost me next to nothing to buy" (or similar). I'm simply suggesting that we are likely to have to pay more for cars in the future. Because we'll be paying for their greater fuel efficiency. That extra cost is justifiable, and it keeps in check costs that we now pay, e.g. via taxation, and are oblivious about.
Here's the rub: we only see the visible, immediate costs very well. The invisible costs are a problem, and are the subject of a lot of informed study as well as idealistic hot air. How much of the cost of manufacturing a hybrid's battery is borne by China, in the form of acknowledged environmental damage? I certainly don't know, but then, it affects me a lot less than it affects the poor souls near the plant in China. You need a line drawn somewhere if you are going to compare costs, and you want the line to cross tangible, visible costs, not environmental fears or feel-good notions. I'll pay something to keep my neighbor down the road from acid rain; I won't pay anything to make them feel good about alternate energy. And I don't care to be taxed to subsidize some wind generator on their farm. Tangible issues I can address; intangibles, things without definable cost: that's environmental science fiction. And hybrid cars are all about environmental concerns: their financial pay-off is too far down the road if it exists at all.
ECO cars are good alternate to expensive hybrids. Reducing engine size, road and air drag definitely helps achieve quite surprising consumption in many modern ECO cars. The ECOs perform even better in terms of cost per mile when run on natural gas.
A related point is this: When I was a kid, I could easily walk to school - and did. Everything you needed on a day to day basis was available from the four or five small 'mom and pop' stores within about 1/4 mile, and everything else was available in the town center shopping area about 1 mile away. There was a bus every 15 min. Few people had a car - they were not needed.
Since then the 'big is beautiful' mentality has closed most of those stores and concentrated them in a shopping center 3 or 4 miles out of the town center; the schools have consolidated - a walk to school is no longer practicable. So the search for cost savings has now forced every family to have a car.
What's a 10% saving on your shopping compared with having to run a car?
Amen to that brother, that would probably do more to addressing climate change than forcing hybrids on everyone. When I was growing up in southern Germany I lived in a town of about 30,000 with small stores scattered along the main street and I walked everywhere or rode my bike when the whether was bad to reduce exposure to it my car was only for going to another town or on holidays and I clocked up maybe 5000km per year. Now I live in Southern Australia which is styled very much on the US idea of far is better (???) and do about 20,000km per year even though I work from home. This is where the biggest environmental dividend will be recovered.
Walk? You are not West of the Mississippi, are you? I've never been able to do that in Colorado.
Then see if you want to to that with a bag of groceries in the South when its 100 F with 95% humidity. Then add a couple more bags, and a couple more miles.
The NE is not the entire US. Been there, not interested in living in a rat warren. Too many people. Far too many people.
What's a bus? No, really, we have some, but only the extremely poor use them. They don't go anywhere anyone wants to go. Ditto light rail in Denver. Great, one gets downtown. It's still 5 miles to an office. You want to spend 2 hours on that mass transit, when a car is 40 minutes? Knock yourself out.
Solutions for major metro areas are not the same across the country. And an earlier suggestion to live closer to work - get real - we have no idea if our work next week is going to be 5 miles or 50 miles away. You should know the reality of the work market.
I've been getting recruiting ads for senior engineers with all kinds of certifications [CISSP, CCIE], for NYC, for $180K. NYC? for that? Insane. And then they want one to live there?
No thanks. Oh, and telecommuting? That's dead - if you can telecommute, it goes to India. Or the office is the sole justification to keep mgt, so they keep one.
The flip side of what you are talking about is Singapore where humidity is 95% and it's 100F at times and a small car costs you $150,000 to acquire and then there's a permission slip to be allowed to drive a car which costs somewhere around 90k to 120k (they're auctioned and a limited number available) and have to be renewed every 10 years so they have buses and light rail that go everywhere you want to (almost) and cheap taxi's for the other places and people survive. Most don't have a car. The thing is that the US public transport system has evolved in an environment where gas and cars are cheap and therefore favoured so all other systems structure themselves around it. I know it's a bit like chickens and eggs, but I think eventually the clock will be rewound for some things else something is gonna give.
Not a comment on what we should do, but rather a comment on how our life styles have changed over my lifetime from not needing a car to the point where we must have cars - or in my case a Silverado truck.
Wait a minute, where's the engineering here guys, is this just about "mileage" or is it about cutting the cost of transportation energy? If it's the latter then CNG has GOT to be at the absolute top of the list, and the Honda Civic GX is made right here in the USA in Indiana! The price right near me is $2.30 per gge (gasoline gallon equivalent) and available nearby for as low as $1.99. Unfortunately I happen to live in California, because I would prefer a somewhat larger engine than the Civic, which means if I were in a "normal" state I'd just go down and get a conversion kit for my current vehicle, but in this state we live under the tyranny of this fascist organization known as CARB, and so even though CNG tends to have much lower emission levels than gasoline, CARB has seen to it that there are NO "CARB-approved" kits for any vehicles with smaller displacements than commercial trucks (because these "illiberals" have a political goal of driving UP the cost of ALL carbon-based fuels so we'll all HAVE to use something else in the long run). I envy those of you in the other 49 though and am looking forward to getting out of "Hotel California" someday soon!
In New Zealand there are a lot of cars that have been converted from gasoline to CNG, so yes it's possible. I worked on a project where diesel trucks were converted to LNG so probably CNG is a possibility for them too.
Sure, here's a link to a list of EPA-approved CNG conversion kits:
There's also a few other "factory-ready" models available in the used market, I believe Ford was making CNG Crown Victorias at least through model year 2004 (mostly for use as municipal police cars so the mileage tends to be high), I believe there are some small trucks available as well.
Yes, there are CNG kits. It would be great, but there are no CNG stations here.
The things everyone are ignoring are:
1) Some of us don't want to live packed in a small area
2) Commuting is required, as your work may be 5 miles away today, and 50 next week
3) if you can telecommute, your position has gone, or is going, overseas to some one a lot cheaper
4) California and Singapore are using the coercive force of government for social engineering
5) The best engineering solutions are the ones that provide the individual with maximum flexibility, with the best use of limited funds
6) No one is going to pay for the global impact - if country A allows itself to be a dump for e-waste, old batteries, or whatever, it's not an issue for Country B - that is political reality 7) the best engineering solution may not be the best economic solution or political solution, or in fact, the best solution for individual freedom
8) What we will end up with with be the equation of factors in (7) either forced on the society, or decided on by the society. Singapore and California made their choices - and some people refuse to live there.
@Work To Ride Ride To Work here are some articles on cyanide in plants & CO2:
There are many more.
@Nick 1000 your suggestion that Hybrids don't make financial sense all factor considered may be true, but I believe you are getting the warming argument backwards. The mechanism you elude to is one of the important tipping points that will happen if things warm too much. Sadly we don't each have our own world where we can experiment with cause and effect of global warming resulting in our demise (or not), instead we all affect each other ad need to take heed the warnings of those that spend their working life studying the cause and effect relationships of CO2 and AGW. What the test my friend did DOES prove, is that increased CO2 causes increased warming. It doesn't show the actual amount correctly but does show that more CO2 = more warming rather than warming = more CO2
Now the discussion has veered to wondering whether man-made CO2 can actually contribute significantly to global warming. Even assuming that levels are going up (which seems to be fact), and that increased CO2 causes global warming (more debatable), why all the alarmism?
It, and several other sources I have found, all seem to agree that our contribution to CO2 annual production is on the order of 3.1 to 3.3 percent of the total, depending what source you read. So I have to wonder why all the fuss. This is, after all, a self-regulating ecosystem. Human contribution just isn't big enough to be a credible destabilizer.
Still, reducing unnecessary and uncalled for waste should be a good thing, considering the other negative aspects of producing these fuels, and the fact that petroleum is practically a non-renewable resource.
Bert22306, I couldn't agree more. (In my next reply, I'm going to disagree with you, so I'm "comment neutral" ;-). Concern over CO2 seems to be purely hysteria, if you assume the hysterics are stupid. But I don't think so, and I believe that the hysteria has an ulterior motive: the Environmental Persecution Agency is hard on the job of raining on the hydrocarbon fuel parade. You are also correct in your position on unnecessary and uncalled for waste: any engineer should be dissatisfied with uselessly wasteful systems. For support of my suspicions about the EPA, have a look at Willie Soon's article on mercury levels in power plant outputs.
Another comment. I have often wondered why we are subjected to all of the butt-ugly SUV and crossover vehicles out there, and there thirst for this precious stuff. While there is no accounting for taste, and there is an obesity epidemic in the US and other countries that make such ugly vehicles almost a "necessity," there is another problem.
I grew up in a family of 6, mom, dad, and four kids, and we managed just fine with a single mid-sized sedan. Vacations and all. But the feds don't even allow us to do this anymore. You literally aren't ALLOWED to have four kids in a regular sedan. The parents would be thrown in jail, most likely, if they attempted such an overt act of child abuse.
So yeah, if you have more than two kids, or even just one child and a dog, these days you are forced to drive some obscene behemoth, like it or not.
Bert, now I take issue: four kids in the back of a mid-sized sedan doesn't seem to be a good idea, particularly since those old bench seats didn't have 4 seatbelts, or any in old enough vehicles. The beauty of lack thereof of an SUV is in the eye of the beholder, of course. I drive an FJ Cruiser that few would consider sleek; still, it meets my needs even if I can only get 5 people in it. For more, you are indeed stuck. Now, if your take is that accident safety is your own responsibility, that's certainly a point of view, but it isn't widely held these days. And those old mid-sized sedans, by the way, didn't get great gas mileage either. My '74 Chevy Impala got about 17 mpg, and my FJ beats that any day. So perhaps "progress" has taken away with one hand, but given some back with the other.
Hi Bob. I was talking about the days when you COULD buy a family sedan with column shifter, and with bench seats front and back. So, dad and two kids up front, mom and two kids in back. In principle, seat belts could be made available to everyone. This would land you in jail these days.
As to fuel economy, no matter how hard the SUV apologigists like to pretend and rationalise, SUVs are woefully inefficient in that regard. Most of the fuel economy improvements in cars, during the past 40 years, have had no impact on SUV design. Crossovers, maybe yes, at least partially. But SUVs? I'm talking about integral frame and body, low aspect ratio tires, low frontal area and other aerodynamic enhancements, and so on. SUVs are still stone age designs, no better than cars of the 1920s and 1930s.
In my view, the EPA and politicians should quit their silly games and adopt the same fuel economy rules for all personal transportation vehicles.
Bert, well, agreed, the regulators (who don't design much, I'd bet) aren't going to abandon various and sundry safety improvements, as they are called. But isn't SUV mileage also a function of size and weight? They aren't particularly aerodynamic; they can be quite heavy, and the result is poor mileage compared to passenger cars. My FJ Cruiser weighs 4500 lb, but one of the reasons I have it is that it will tow 5000 lb, and still climb the hill to my house. It also carries 5 in more comfort than a cab and a half pickup. Still, I don't claim that it's particularly efficient; it just suits the work I ask of it. Could it benefit from more modern design elements? Very likely. But then, it cost less than $30,000, which is half of the price of some of the SUVs out there which are really thinly disguised Buick station wagons.
Bob, I'll move this back to the left, even though responding to your latest. Yes, of course, the excessive weight, partly brought on by antique design practices. Also the fact that SUV bodies sit up on top of frames, instead of being wrapped around the drive train efficiently, as cars started doing way back in the 1940s or maybe earlier. And the heavy truck-like axles, huge heavy wheels, humongous truck-like tires, and on and on and on. This increases drag a lot, both wind resistance and drivetrain drag.
In essence, SUVs are a huge step backwards in design. They can't help but waste natural resources. And the politicians of both parties, in spite of their rhetoric, have allowed this to go on. Even while waxing eloquent about their "concern for the environment."
Bert: I never move left. ;-) More seriously though: why don't car manufacturers build their light trucks like their cars? I'm an EE, not an automotive type, so that's a real question. That is, what could be done to my FJ, or my neigbor's big Ford or Dodge, to make a vehicle with clearance, weight carry capability, tow capability, and something like rational fuel use? The vehicle will still be heavy. Do you need a frame for towing and carrying purposes, or can a unibody construction be made to work? What about transfer cases and locking differentials? They add weight that mostly isn't needed (until you NEED it). Is there an example out there of an SUV or light truck designed to more modern engineering practice?
Hi Bob, I loathe SUV's but they do have to be built like a brick to survive the stresses of of-road. They regularly have the vehicle weight supported by the diagonally opposite wheels which twists any but the stiffest of bodies. I've seen a lot of metal fatigue cracks in the body of sedans used on rough roads, yet a good SUV won't have that on worse off-road conditions. That said, SUV's are not safer in a lot of situations. proper Airbag deployment is a real issue and the lack of crumple zones make SUV-to-SUV, SUV to wall or tree and SUV to truck crashes far worse to the occupants than an equivalent sedan in less than 48kph crashes which is most of them. They are also more likely to do a roll over which is often deadly. Look at racing cars, all crash zone and drivers walk away from 100mph crashes. They are only safe (mostly) when they get to benefit from someone else's crumple zone. Sorry it's off the hybrid topic, but it had to be said with where this has been going.
It depends on your requirements: my wife specced her truck - after a bad car wreck in a small car. She wants lots of steel around her; the ability to put on a huge cabover camper; 4WD for where we live; Absolute lux in whatever model.
It's an 11,500 dualie. Her position is screw the gas mileage, her and the kids are safe from anything less than a semi. Any car will go under it. A Ford Explorer hit the back end, and died on the tow hitch, without hitting the truck itself. Yes, this means anyone she hits is toast, but that was not part of her requirements. Given the large number of semis we see skipping weigh stations with alt routes, and the relatively few caught by random weigh stations, safety is not a real priority for society, either, regardless of what is said. That would cost money for corporations and truckers.
It costs more, but it is worth it to her. If she is happy, my life is much better. That is priceless.
Ralph, all I can say is, if anyone in the government or in the public is truly interested in solving this waste of natural resources problem, it won't be by allowing the waste to spiral out of control.
People always come up with good excuses for buying behemoths. We live in a more is more society. But if vehicles were more evenly matched, bumpers more evenly matched, the safety problem would be much better solved than just getting the hugest tank you can afford.
My wife was rear-ended by just such a behemoth. The result was that a lot of damage was done on the car, because the behemoths bumper was like a battering ram, lined up perfectly with the trunk lid. But she was unhurt. Cars are very safe, what with high back seats and airbags, crush zones, etc.
Bert, just one point. Your observation "if vehicles were more evenly matched" is sensible and pretty much correct. But the problem is that since people select their own vehicles, your statement is equivalent to "if pigs had wings they could fly." People only behave in certain ways. Expecting them to change in fundamental ways is just not realistic. This is why the bright and shining promise of Communism, Socialism, Collectivism (take your choice) just don't work in practice. People seem to make good Capitalists, they make poor Communists. That's the way people are made. Politics aside, we won't ever reach the point of all driving identically-matched safety coordinated cars.
That's a swell thing, but a friend was in a new Honda Fit, hit by a small sedan, and died when it hit her passenger side door, and ruptured her spleen [she was the passenger]. It all depends on the exact car you are talking about. A MB or a Volvo, sure. Honda Fit - NOT.
Waste is in the eye of the beholder. Many of us would start filling Yucca Flats with nuclear materials in a heartbeat, but politics drives that decision.
And you are right, "more is more". If I wanted to live in like a peasant, I would. If people want to live in a 500 sq ft hut, feel free. I prefer 5,000 sq ft.
You should probably note, the biggest proponents of the smaller is better lifestyle don't live that lifestyle themselves. It's for the rest of us. Not.Going.To.Happen. With nanotech, biotech, AI, etc, [GRIN or NBIC, take your pick], there is no reason to live small. Figure out the tech, and make it happen. The biggest obstacles won't be engineering, but political. Just think about rebuilding our electrical infrastructure, with massive solar arrays in the SW, and geothermal, with DC to carry it across the continent. Between some endangered desert tortoise, flowers, and fears of "DC EM", we won't get squat done. Already, the Bay Area wind turbines are under scrutiny because endangered Golden Eagles fly into them and get killed. They are not the only birds, there are other birds, and someone told me bats Tuesday [not sure on the bats]. Are we going to go back to the Stone Age? Not a chance. The Chinese, Russians and Indians certainly won't, and neither will Brazil. We can lead, follow or perish.
There is no inevitable reason based on the laws of physics why a heavier vehicle should use more gas.
What happens is that when a vehicle travels at a speed it has kinetic energy given by
1/2 * mass * (velocity) squared
The heavier the vehicle the more kinetic energy (more mass). But, if that energy were fully recovered when braking, instead of being dissipated as heat, the weight of the vehicle would no longer matter to a first approximation.
It follows from that that the worst thing for fuel efficiency is putting the brakes on. Hence using phased traffic lights coupled with dynamic advisory speed limits can greatly improve matters. In fact I wonder if a part of the reason that Europeans generally have better gas mileage is because relatively few intersections have stop signs.
I agree that having a battery to recycle energy wasted in city driving would benefit any vehicle, in terms of fuel economy. But hybrid technology doesn't change the waste caused by large frontal areas, inefficient tires, and drive trains with loads of internal drag. All of these conspire to waste energy that will be really tough to recycle.
One of the more intractable problems is personal taste. People like the overbearing obesity of SUVs and trucks, and expect this to be accompanied by huge reserves of engine power, to move the gargantuan mass. I suppose it makes them feel more powerful, somehow. So if anyone wants to get beyond the make-believe, when it comes to easing the waste of natural resources, I'm afraid we have a heck of a challenge on our hands.
You will note how, in the "common wisdom," people have a way of dismissing this by saying that "more efficient engines" are the solution. Must be comforting to think that way.
You still do not understand. We don't live in LA, SF, NYC. We get two feet of snow. We haul wood, dead elk, loads of rock, and damned near anything else one can think of, besides using it as a passenger vehicle.
We also fail to note that those race cars with crumple zones and such cost about what, $200K apiece?
One’s view of “waste” depends on how much you are willing to let government dictate what you may own.
A mini Coopers is nice. They also won't work in 6 inches of snow, and you can't get to ski area with one, at least not in the Rocky Mountains. You sure as heck are not going to put an elk in one, or a mule deer.
Your very terminology "overbearing obesity" show you've made this a very emotional decision on your part, as well as political.
The engineering discussion should be on what the end user wants - what sells. One can actually use a Segway in SF. They are useless in the West and midWest The world is not only the major metro areas, and the rest of the world should not be damned to follow the fiat of politicians dominating from the metro areas. The answer is simply cost effective electric vehicles with AWD independent drive, that one may charge at home off a 220v outlet at 50 amps in a few hours, or some substitutable battery/capacitor system - and the vehicle is tailored for the area and use. We don't currently have reconfigurable vehicles, where we can add and subtract components as needed. Daily commute? Sedan setup. Ski trip? giant SUV setup. Add compartments, power coupling, power systems and extra wheels as required. If you live in SF, you have the smallest component. If you live elsewhere, you have all of what you need. In the summer in the mountains, you may only need room for 6 people and plenty of ground clearance. Electric is the only thing that scales and makes sense; we already have the basis for the distribution infrastructure. I just don't see us growing enough algae to replace all the gasoline we use.
Ralph, I think we are talking about two different things. We used to live in West Africa, where occasionally we really did drive "offroad," in Land Rovers (with no floor mats). Of course there is a place for such vehicles.
But in the US, according to Car and Driver, about 50 percent of new "car" sales are SUVs, trucks, or vans. Are you telling me that we need so many behemoths because we are all hauling elk around? Just how many Cadillac Escalades and Ford Excursion or Expeditions have you seen out in the bush, lately? They clutter up the roadways constantly, but I very much doubt they have ever seen dirt in their existence.
Any car can be designed to have 4WD. All Subarus do, matter of fact. You don't need 6000 lb mass and the frontal area and rolling resistance of a Mack truck, to have 4WD.
I've already given my suggestion for a truly useful all-electric vehicle, and even gave a URL to support it. The suggestion was, use a liquid hydrocarbon fuel of some sort (could even be biofuel), have an on-board H2 separator, run a fuel cell with the H2, and an all-electric drive train. No problem charging a battery, no problem distributing the fuel, no problem with long term idle, no problem with having to create more power grid capacity, no problem with cold weather starting. And to save energy in city driving, you can even make it into a mild hybrid, where a reasonably sized batter is used to recycle energy otherwise wasted as heat.
Oh, I forgot to add, if you do occasionally require a much bigger vehicle, maybe for a move, or to take your kid to college, there's always UHaul. I've done this more than once. You don't need to haul around all that useless mass in your daily commute, for a task you might do once every few years. Or even months. Next thing you know, someone will try to justify why he should use an RV in his daily commute.
Bert: UHaul is a pretty mediocre solution. Their equipment has been known to leak. Translation: on two dozen uses over 20 years, I've had three leaks, and there's nothing you can do except have your belongings wetted. UHaul is ok for some things, not all. And someone is going to justify using his RV for a commute maybe sooner than you think. Right now. Me. Why? It's all I have. You see, I totalled my Corolla on my snow covered hillside driveway, and I don't have my small car anymore, and I can't afford to run out and buy another. But basically, although we agree on some points, there's one looming that I suspect can't be resolved. And that is: if someone wants to drive a cement truck to and from work, that's his privilege. That other people regard this as waste (which it may very well be) or anti-social (it will reduce those Cadillac Escalades to Coke cans) or merely ugly: that doesn't matter. This is still, to a great extent a capitalistic society, and if you can afford something, folly or not, and it's legal, you can have it. All this, and I agree with you on esthetics, waste and a few other points. But basically, the fellow whose wife wants a lot of steel around her can have it.
OK, I think we are coming together on this one. I do own a Subaru, just for the reasons you state. It's all I need for my commute. Since my wife is a FT mom, the truck is perfect for her - she's got what she needs for short trips, has the biggest honking trunk around, and they walk to school, whether permitting. We do use it for the big things, which is far more than occasional for us.
As far as everyone else's choices - we cannot dictate that people can't have them. Well, you can, but you won't be in office very long, or have a govt agency for long. No, 90% of the SUVs even out here never see dirt, but they do see snow. Hauling kids needs a minivan, which is horrid in snow. Only Toyota makes an AWD minivan, that I know of.
I am afraid I'm going to disagree on the liquid fuel. I do not think there is any way to grow our way to that in any scale. I still think electric is the way to go, and the new Cambridge battery may get us there.
Going back to SUVs, people make the same arguments against sports cars - but it's a free country. Kinda. We can still own Porsche's, Maserati, MB, BMW and even a Corvette. Are those still legal in California ;-)
There's also an entirely cultural issue, beyond the engineering arguments. Americans like bigger is better. We are not a European or Asian culture. We are not going to change that over night, and most of us would refuse to do so anyway.
It's a huge part of the urban/suburban cultural clash. Recycling is mandatory in some places - here, one has to pay to recycle, quite often. And there's no return on the time and effort of recycling. Yeah, it takes X minutes a day - but it's *our* X, and then it's just another tax. That's the mindset here. We have even made it part of our state constitution that that any govt entity in the state can't raise taxes without voter approval. We *really* like that - the politicians and progressives, not at all.
This is a digression from engineering, but it's part of the problem statement and solution parameters.
Yes, I think Ralph has certainly hit on one of the important aspects of this. Hence the term, the ugly American. Almost sounds like defending rape, because you know, we enjoy it.
It shouldn't take federal mandates like CAFE to make people behave responsibly, but it does. Who needs a hybrid? The car companies do, if they are hoping to meet the upcoming CAFE requirements. In part, to make up for the low figures of the behemoths we lust after.
It might help if all of the costs of being this wasteful, including the billions we are spending EACH WEEK in certain middle east wars, were put in the price of gasoline where they belong. Maybe then we wouldn't need so much prodding from the nannies in government to behave responsibly.
My daughter has an AWD Honda CRV which I would call a minivan. It's OK in light snow but lacks the ground clearance for heavier snowfalls. Say anything over eight inches.
That's why I have a Silverado - you need the FWD and the ground clearance. My relatives in the UK were very critical until they came here and experienced the snow for themselves. We have told them many times, but they don't seem to understand what it means since they rarely get any snow accumulation there.
It's simply a different set of cultural values, and the fact that the *true* costs are hidden, as you point out. An electric vehicle need not be a pig. The Tesla has a very impressive 0-60 time. That's a lot more important than you might think, if you are passing in the mountains. Air breathing engines take a big hit at 10K feet, in ground vehicles.
We need to be careful in a free society about defining "waste". Do you really want govt or society dictating you to follow a certain lifestyle? Putting all the costs in place, absolutely. Dictating what we may have, no. The "reasonableness" doctrine promulgated by some courts is utter nonsense in a free society. I consider pro sports a complete waste of time and money - think about the water and land wasted on golf courses alone. Should my "reasonableness" be used? No.
A lot of these arguments are now falling in the realm of politics and ideology, best determined by one's placement on the Nolan Chart. http://www.nolanchart.com/ For those who are still here, and not screaming at us.
Have a great weekend.
Leaving aside possible matters of personal taste, and ostentatious demonstations of wretched excess, I'm with you 100 percent on your points.
It would be far preferable to let the price of the commodity reflect its true cost, and convince people that way to do what's right. Rather than having to cram CAFE or other mandates down their throats.
And certainly electric vehicles need not be pigs. I can't wait for truly useful electrics that do NOT have to rely on battery power, or piston engines, or H2 bottles, become available. This is doable. Think of how easy it would be to offer 4WD, for example, when you can dedicate an electric motor to each wheel. Think of the weight savings when you can do the job of a transmission, a transfer case, and two differentials, all electronically.
I bought a TOYOTA PRIUS 2004. After 6 years, I reach in a combined city - road drive 56mpg. Now, on summer, performance increase to 60mpg, 590 miles for 10 gallons!!! Really a very good vehicle, I haven't get any trouble on hybrid system.
I luv the Cheve Volt and cars like it. When I do plan on getting a new car, I will be getting a Volt/Prius or something like it. The cheaper the electronics become the prices of hybrid is going to come down even more.
I purchase a Honda City car in 2006.Its mileage is awesome.....!! I just love my car...I have never faced any problem with hybrid system...I just love to drive my car..!!
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I purchase a Honda City car in 2006.Its mileage is awesome.....!! I just love my car...I have never faced any problem with hybrid system...I just love to drive my car..!!
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HYbrids are a waste! Fuel Cells are better, and should receive the subsidy instead - 1 power plant not two - cheaper and better. Air powered cars are coming too. Hydrogen is easy to make and can be done efficiently with todays technology.. if anyone is interested - I am looking to work in the field with a known workable solution .
You had me convinced that I need one myself, and hence checked out some car accessories to see if I could make some changes to a hybrid to have it the way I want it. Great job you have!
Melanie - http://www.carid.com
The people who would have bought a Yaris or a Fortwo, but have a small child or two.
Sedan or hatchback, four doors or five, the Ford Fiesta comes with more options and bit more oomph than its high-mileage, low-size competitors. The 1.6-liter engine gives you 120 horsepower, and it claims to be able to sit five, although Ford never specifies just how big—or small—those five are supposed to be.
Nancy - http://www.houseincity.com
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