Fuel Efficiency: Everything You Need to Know

Fuel Efficiency: Everything You Need to Know

Fuel efficiency measures the distance a motor vehicle can travel on a single gallon of gas. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Removable Energy, the MIT School of Engineering, and HowStuffWorks, the environment and economy of the United States can significantly benefit from improvements in fuel efficiency. These sources note that cars, trucks, and other on-road motor vehicles account for almost 60 percent of oil consumption and more than 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. As a result, boosting the efficiency of these vehicles can help limit the impact on climate change.

Measuring Fuel Efficiency

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Removable Energy, the MIT School of Engineering, and HowStuffWorks, U.S. auto manufacturers express fuel economy as miles per gallon (MPG). Although the United Kingdom also uses mpg, in this case, ‘G’ stands for an imperial gallon, which is about 20 percent larger than a standard gallon. Countries using the metric system express fuel efficiency as kilometers per liter (km/L) or as liters per 100 kilometers (L/100 km).

Fuel economy varies depending on the vehicle’s tire design, transmission structure, and engine, according to Wikipedia and the MIT School of Engineering. Fuel efficiency measures the effort required to convert chemical energy from fuel into the kinetic energy your car needs to move. Although the terms fuel economy and fuel efficiency are often used interchangeably, efficiency is a broader term that encompasses how a specific vehicle uses fuel. The latter source notes that both terms are important when developing strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption in the U.S. and worldwide.

Defining Fuel Consumption

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Removable Energy, the MIT School of Engineering, and HowStuffWorks, fuel economy measures do not show a completely accurate picture of changes and improvements in a vehicle’s efficiency. Fuel consumption, which illustrates a linear relationship, is a much more precise measurement. Fuel consumption is notated as gallons per mile (GPM) rather than miles per gallon, so it indicates how many gallons of gas you will use when you drive 100 miles.

These sources note that GPM is the most important metric to review for the purpose of efficiency improvements. The MIT School of Engineering notes that using MPG to illustrate fuel economy can make small improvements seem outsized. For example, boosting a car’s gas mileage from 40 to 60 MPG makes a much smaller impact than boosting an SUV’s gas mileage from 10 to 15 MPG, even though the first scenario seems more advantageous at first glance. That’s because more fuel is saved by improving the SUV MPG than the car MPG in this example. MIT recommends that auto manufacturers begin reporting a car’s GPM for 100 miles as well as its MPG.

Understanding Improvements in Fuel Economy

According to the MIT School of Engineering and HowStuff Works, gas prices are expected to rise exponentially over the next 10 to 15 years as India, China, and other developing nations have an increased demand for fuel. For this reason, taking steps in the U.S. to reduce consumption and improve economy are more important than ever before.

HowStuffWorks reports that switching to battery-powered vehicles can significantly improve the overall fuel economy in the U.S. Many hybrid vehicles features a system that keeps the car running on battery power when the engine turns off. However, currently only 2 percent of North American cars include this type of fuel-saving technology.

All-electric cars are available in the U.S., including the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Tesla Roadster. New fuel sources can also limit or eliminate oil dependency to improve efficiency. Examples include liquefied petroleum gas, ethanol, and natural gas.

Reducing motor vehicle weight can also improve efficiency, since heavier cars use more fuel than lighter cars do. Most manufacturers now incorporate lightweight materials , such as aluminum, in their car designs. They also take advantage of small but effective changes, such as improved aerodynamics, lubricants to reduce friction, and updated tires.

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Removable Energy, its Vehicle Technologies Office is dedicated to research focused on emissions reduction and fuel efficiency improvement. This division also maintains fueleconomy.gov, a database of vehicle fuel economy for all makes and models dating to 1984.

The agency has established technical goals that, if adopted by most Americans, can reduce petroleum use by nearly 2 million barrels a day. By 2025, light-duty vehicles manufactured new must average 54.5 MPG. Key research areas focus on plug-in electric vehicles, alternative sources of fuel, and internal combustion technology, including these and other initiatives:

  • More efficient combustion engines with limited greenhouse gas emissions
  • Treatment technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from exhaust and software to measure these emissions more accurately
  • The impact of new fuel sources on new combustion systems
  • New lubricants that reduce friction and enhance fuel efficiency
  • Eliminating emissions from unnecessary vehicle idling
  • Developing lightweight vehicle materials such as carbon fiber, magnesium, aluminum, and high-strength steel
  • Improving aerodynamics by limiting auxiliary loads, rolling resistance, braking, and drag, factors known as parasitic loss

    Choosing a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

    According to Chevrolet, several models in their lineup provide at least 30 MPG as estimated by the EPA. Some of the current options for Chevy drivers who want to save fuel include:

    • The Bolt EV, a completely electric vehicle that can travel up to 238 miles on a single battery charge
    • The hybrid Volt, which can travel 420 miles on a single battery charge combined with a single tank of gas
    • The Sonic sedan, a traditional gas model that gets 38 highway MPG when equipped with the manual transmission and turbocharged engine
    • The Malibu sedan, a traditional gas model that gets 36 highway MPG when equipped with the turbocharged engine, which is equipped with stop-start technology, direct injection, and variable valve timing
    • The Trax crossover, which gets 31 highway MPG with its standard turbocharged engine
    • Any Chevy truck with the available Duramax® 2.8L Turbo-Diesel engine, which provides 30 MPG

      Choosing one of these cars or any other fuel-efficient vehicle will help reduce your carbon footprint. The more Americans that switch to alternative fuel and electric options, the more we will be able to limit fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.

      Sources Used:


      What’s the difference between fuel efficiency and fuel economy?



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      Published at Thu, 11 Jun 2020 02:03:00 +0000