The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 June 2006

Swirling controversy

The title gives this one away:

Holy Vortex Valve! Dealership Retrofits Hummers with Dubious Mileage Booster

How dubious is it?

The modification uses a device manufactured by Air Synergy Labs Inc., one of hundreds of aftermarket parts companies across the country that are using homegrown methods to try to boost fuel efficiency. Spencer Robley, chairman and president of the Las Vegas-based company says his company's product — which it calls a "Vortex Valve" — can help drivers increase fuel efficiency as much as 30%, though he concedes there's no official verification of that claim. "Federal, state, local [government agencies], nobody will certify anything that has to do with us," Mr. Robley says. "Nobody wants to hang their hat on it and certify anything that has to do with mileage." The company says it has sold 120,000 valves since they launched the product in 1998; the Detroit area stores are the first car dealers to feature it.

But this is what gets me:

[T]he promotion has helped ignite H2 and H3 sales at ... two Detroit area locations, says Gary Krupa, general manager of Hummer of Novi. The dealerships are charging customers $189.95 for the "Mileage Maximizer." Mr. Krupa says they sold about a dozen modified Hummers in the first three weeks of the promotion. The chain is now considering modifying vehicles at other Detroit-area Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge stores it owns "within the next month or so," according to Russ Reimer, the service director who runs the service shops at both Hummer dealerships.

I spoke with an actual Vortex user, and he says the retail price of this contraption is around seventy bucks. (Ah, dealer markups.) He also says he's getting 1.5 to 2 mpg better from his aircraft carrier Chevy Avalanche.

Posted at 11:11 AM to Driver's Seat


He also says he's getting 1.5 to 2 mpg better from his Chevy Avalanche.

I swear to God I am not being snarky when I say that I have seen that much improvement from adjusting the air pressure in my tires.

Posted by: McGehee at 5:21 PM on 28 June 2006

Oh boy, let's put magnets on the fuel lines too!

Supposedly, the Vortex "tumbles" the fuel/air mix so that it atomizes the fuel more thoroughly, so it combusts more completely. When I see Nascar teams start using these things to gain extra power and mileage, then I'll get one. Until then, I'll continue thinking the factory designed the intake runners and the fuel delivery with a bit of knowledge about the flow of air.

Posted by: Jeffro at 9:07 PM on 28 June 2006

I'm just now getting used to the joys of actual dual intake runners, a standard feature of the Nissan VQ-series engines since 2000.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:22 PM on 28 June 2006

Supposedly, the Vortex "tumbles" the fuel/air mix so that it atomizes the fuel more thoroughly, so it combusts more completely.

That reminds me of an ad my wife got in snail-mail the other day, touting a device that creates "hexagonal water." It looks like a low-speed blender, and swirls the water around for you.

And I thought e-mail spam was shameless.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:31 PM on 28 June 2006

Now that's a trick: getting dihydrogen monoxide to conform to the benzene ring.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:49 PM on 28 June 2006