You may have just read that the Obama administration has finalized new fuel efficiency standards that virtually double miles-per-gallon by 2025. A few years ago that number might not have seemed credible but now, hardly anyone seems to think it can't be done.
But how? Total Car Score, an automotive Website, reports carmakers have been focused on improving fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance for much of the last decade.
"Fuel efficient technology, and the impact it has on EPA ratings for current and future models, is a critical component in the design of today's cars," said Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief of Total Car Score. "Gas prices and miles-per-gallon claims are now top consideration points for new car shoppers when buying a car, playing a much bigger role than they did 10 years ago. Given the average car on the road is 11 years old, many consumers will be encountering all-new fuel-efficient technology when they research their next vehicle purchase."
And many automakers are not waiting to either incorporate or offer fuel-saving technologies on the cars they sell. Some of these fuel efficiency innovations have been around for several years on hybrids or compact cars while others are just coming to market, but all of them are becoming increasingly common on modern vehicles.
Consumers who want to control their fuel costs might consider these features as they prepare to make their next new-car purchase.
- Start-Stop Engines – Once reserved for hybrids, start-stop technology now improves fuel efficiency in non-hybrids by shutting the engine down when the vehicle is stopped. Seen on: BMW 3 Series, Kia Rio, Porsche Cayenne
- Variable Valve Control – Variable valve control maximizes fuel efficiency and performance by altering the opening and closing of an engine's valvetrain based on RPM and throttle input. Seen on: Mazda CX-5, SRT Viper, Volkswagen Golf
- Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) – These transmissions have an infinitely variable gear ratio that keeps an engine in its most fuel-efficient operating zone across a wide range of speeds. Seen on: Infiniti JX, Nissan Altima, Subaru Outback
- Active Aerodynamics – Modern cars are taking traditional aerodynamics a step further by actively altering their coefficient of drag according to vehicle speed and driving conditions. Seen on: Cadillac ATS, Dodge Dart, Ford Escape
- Lightweight Materials – Using high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum allows automakers to create lighter cars without sacrificing safety and less weight means lower fuel consumption. Seen on: Acura RDX, Hyundai Santa Fe, Scion FR-S
- 1. 7+ Transmission Gears – A conventional automatic transmission with seven or more gears reduces fuel consumption by keeping the engine operating at peak efficiency at any speed. Seen on: Bentley Continental GT Speed, Dodge Ram, Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- Direct Injection – An evolution of fuel injection, this method injects fuel directly into the combustion chamber in extremely precise amounts to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Seen on: Buick Encore, Fiat 500, Lincoln MKZ
- Cylinder Deactivation – Shutting down one or more engine cylinders when a car is coasting, or cruising under a light load, reduces fuel consumption without impacting performance. Seen on: Audi S8, Dodge Challenger, Lamborghini Aventador
- Plug-In Hybrids – Hybrids have evolved from charging their battery packs while driving to charging their battery packs while plugged into either a standard wall outlet or high voltage "quick charger." Seen on: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Prius
- Mild/Light Hybrids – By using a smaller motor and battery pack than traditional hybrids, a mild hybrid can increase fuel efficiency with a minimal increase in vehicle cost or weight. Seen on: Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda CR-Z