Earlier this summer, the White House announced new fuel economy standards. Within 14 years, we can expect to get 54.5 miles per gallon from cars and light trucks built in America.
This is an important step forward, because ordinary combustion engines harness only one-fifth of the energy stored in gasoline. That's according to Clean Energy Nation, a new book by Congressman Jerry McNerney PhD and journalist Martin Cheek. They point out that 80 percent of the energy stored in gasoline is ultimately lost as heat from the engine, friction loss, and idling.
McNerney and Cheek assert that consumer resistance to fuel-efficient vehicles is largely unfounded:
"One reason that Americans feel highly reluctant to part with their big cars is that many of us believe fuel-efficient vehicles are less safe than the gas-guzzlers. This perception has been perpetuated by the American automakers and their marketing agencies because selling SUVs and large trucks provides higher profit margins compared with sales of small cars."
The authors point to research showing that SUVs are as safe as the average midsize or large car. Plus, studies from Honda, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the University of Michigan reveal that vehicle quality, design, and technology are far more critical in fuel economy than weight.
Consider another relevant factor in fuel efficiency -- the speed at which we drive. If you've got a heavy foot on the gas pedal, you're costing yourself money and reducing fuel efficiency. See the diagram above for details.
Are you ready to step up and drive toward greater fuel efficiency?
Graphic (c) www.in.gov