The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 September 2005

Believing the guesstimates

Consumer Reports (October) is in a snit about fuel economy, specifically about the government-mandated mpg numbers that appear on the window sticker of new cars. According to CR, 90 percent of vehicles they tested failed to deliver the numbers on the sticker.

One reasonable complaint is that the EPA's test procedure, adopted in the 1970s, hasn't been updated to reflect changing driving conditions: combined fuel-economy ratings are still calculated on a 55-percent city, 45-percent highway mix, which is not always achievable in today's heavier traffic.

On the other hand, a couple pages into the story, they give away the game:

The mpg inflation has allowed automakers to trade fuel economy for performance features that draw buyers. Between 1987 and 2005, car and light-truck manufacturers slashed 0-60 acceleration times by 24 percent and bulked up average vehicle weight by 27 percent. Consequently, these vehicles got 1.1 fewer miles per gallon than they did in 1987.

"Draw buyers"? How dare they.

And if I got 24 percent faster from 0-60 in a car that weighed 27 percent more and it cost me only 1.1 mpg, I'd be delighted.

It gets better:

Automakers have lobbied against tougher standards, saying that higher mpg is technologically difficult to achieve and that they're making vehicles the public wants. If consumer demand were not a consideration, light trucks could be getting 28 mpg and cars, 38, says John German, manager of Honda's environmental and energy analysis. "The role of government is to create mandates or incentives so some of the ongoing engine-technology efficiency gains go to fuel economy and not just more horsepower."

Again with those damned customers.

Elsewhere in this issue, they seemed impressed with their Corvette, which returned "a respectable" 21 mpg. (EPA numbers are 18 city/28 highway with the 6-speed stick; they recorded 14/31.)

Two things:

  1. When you can get 21 mpg out of four hundred horsepower, you probably ought not to complain;

  2. Underpowered cars will not necessarily reward you with greater mileage, inasmuch as you have to rev the living whee out of them to get them motivated.

Then again, I have an underpowered car, out of which I routinely rev the living whee, and I still beat the government numbers. Maybe I should test the farging cars.

Posted at 6:23 PM to Driver's Seat , Family Joules


Chaz, that's what Engine of the Future was originally destined for (and will be eventually).

I've had things in my mind for 20 years that would turn fuel mileage numbers on their head.

Goal: Fullsize Chevy Truck - 300+hp, 40mpg highway, two-stroke four cyclinder (a 2 stroke 4 will sound like a V-8!

I couldn't get traction with anybody *cough* Tom Cole R-OK among others *cough*, so I decided to make the ideas public and see what happens.

Then came Katrina ...

After the bulk is done with EOTF and it is turned into the site it was meant to be, the ideas will go up.

I gotta get that scratchy throat looked at.

Posted by: Mel at 9:50 PM on 1 September 2005

Uh, Mel, a two-stroke, four-cylinder engine won't sound like anything remotely like a four-stroke, eight-cylinder engine. Never.

For example: A few years back, Kawasaki had several models of two-stroke, three-cylinder engines and they sound nothing like ANY four-stroke, six-cylinder engine made by anyone (my example "works" the same as you tried to make yours "work" and neither of them will ever -work- as you describe).

Posted by: unimpressed at 3:53 PM on 2 September 2005