Newswise — The auto industry has received its marching orders—to save fuel and greenhouse gas emission. Now it has to figure out how to obey them. This year, IEEE Spectrum’s annual review of the top technology cars suggests that manufacturers are hedging their bets.
In August, the Obama administration finalized standards that would nearly double the fuel mileage of cars and trucks by 2025. By thus slicing greenhouse gas emissions in half, the rule would bring the giant U.S. auto market in line with other developed countries. The technology required would add from US $1,800 to $3,000 to the price of a new 2025 car, depending on your assumptions. On the other hand, drivers would pocket something like $8,000 in fuel savings over the car’s life. But to meet the standard requires either moving to electric cars and plug-in hybrids or to wring much greater efficiency out of internal-combustion engines.
Electric drive has so far fizzled with consumers, due to high cost, short driving ranges and long recharging times. However, among this year’s reviewed cars, one electric model made a bold attempt to change all that: California’s groundbreaking Tesla Model S, with an unprecedented driving range of 300 miles.
Wringing more from internal combustion involves better engine controls and a tactic called lightweighting, which attempts to reverse decades of bloat caused by modern crash protections and deluxe amenities. As cars finally hold the line on weight, drivers are discovering that downsized, hyper-efficient engines with more transmission speeds can provide all the power they need.
The brainpower of cars is also rapidly expanding, with a Japanese sport sedan taking the next step toward automated cars that can take over the morning commute.
Contact: Philip E. Ross, 212-419-7562, [email protected].
For a faxed copy of the article ("Top 10 Tech Cars: Slenderized," by Lawrence Ulrich, IEEE Spectrum, April 2013) or to arrange an interview, contact: Nancy T. Hantman, 212-419-7561, [email protected].