The January 2009 Car Update

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The January 2009 Car Update

  • I'm based in the UK, so all mpgs below are in UK gallons....

    I used to drive a Hyundai Coupe (Tiburon in the US). However, the ride was a little poor on UK roads and we wanted something a little more economical - we were getting about 25mpg on the motorway (cruising at 70 mph). So, we changed to the new Ford Fiesta and stepped down to a 1.4 litre engine. The mpg at 70 is about 50mpg. Slightly better...

    I was driving downhill over the weekend at 40 in 5th gear and reset the mpg meter. For the next quarter of a mile, the it showed 99.9mpg. OK, so the sample size was a little small, but still it was nice to see!

    The only problem is that I'm still used to being able to accelerate in the Coupe and the Fiesta feels a lot slower past 30mph.

    There is no problem so great that it can not be solved by caffeine and chocolate.
  • I was driving downhill over the weekend at 40 in 5th gear and reset the mpg meter. For the next quarter of a mile, the it showed 99.9mpg. OK, so the sample size was a little small, but still it was nice to see!

    Most modern cars should automatically cut the fuel to the engine when you coast in gear without touching the accelerator (unless your rpm drops below a certain point). Basically, if you want to keep your mpg up make sure you keep in gear any time you're going downhill or slowing down - once you take it out of gear the fuel has to cut back in to keep the engine turning.

    There can be something of a tradeoff when going downhill though - if you keep in gear your fuel consumption is zero, but engine braking may slow you down to the point where you need to blip the accelerator again, whereas if you come out of gear you have to consume some fuel to keep the engine ticking over, but should coast much further (& will usually gain speed). I'm sure some of the dedicated hypermilers out there can give some much better details of the pros & cons of each approach.

    The really dedicated ones turn off their engines altogether downhill, which is fine so long as you don't mind losing the power assist on your steering & brakes :w00t:

  • The really dedicated ones turn off their engines altogether downhill, which is fine so long as you don't mind losing the power assist on your steering & brakes :w00t:

    Just as long as they don't reach a bend and find they've engaged the steering lock:D

    There is no problem so great that it can not be solved by caffeine and chocolate.
  • I have a relative that has a Highlander Hybrid - and my big American sedan gets close to 10mpg better in the winter than his "hybrid". And his car only costs a small fortune more!

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  • These days most cars ARE fairly modular.

    When the manufacturer introduces a new bodyshell, the running gear remains the same as the last model.

    A year or two later the engines get an upgrade, and they are common to the whole range, so a 1.25 in a Ka is the same as a 1.25 in a Fiesta, (don't think Ka's come with a 2.0, but it is the same 2.0 in a Puma as in a Mondeo, etc...)

    VW, SEAT and Skoda all use the same basic designs, just a slight tweak to the bodywork and spec, and a different badge.

    There is just as much 're-use' going on with the smaller companies: the Tesla is based on a Lotus Elise(?), while Lotus design the suspension for half the european car makers. Buy a Caterham or similar, and only the chassis / bodyshell comes from them - the rest always comes from a larger manufacturer or two.

    At a lower level still, the lights, wheels, switchgear, audio kit, batteries, alternators, starters, pumps and wiring all come from third-party suppliers, who naturally do their best to ensure the minimum possible number of variations.

    Really, I don't see how things could sensibly get much more modular than they are now - quite the reverse: things like the Tesla need to be bleeding edge to have a chance, and that means that all of the novel stuff has to be custom-built.

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  • It's interesting that you posted a picture of the Think City car from Norway. The company just filed for bankruptcy:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123292783557913869.html

  • Author, you are one lucky dog getting to board up there. I used to have a place in Silverthorne and I miss it terribly.... We used to see on our deck and watch i-70 down the mountain.... I don't envy you driving.... Interesting concept.... An entire block renting a car to each other....

    Is this going on in any other countries??

    bwieland@biforbiz.com

  • I'm still up in the air about all this hybrid stuff...

    I was at a dealer for car inspection and there was a Prius idling in the parking lot for over an hour. I went to a sales rep and mentioned it and he said they had to charge it. I guess you can't plug them in.

    If you've got to let it idle to charge now and then, what's the point of having a hybrid?

    Can you imagine a world where tens of thousands Prius's are in driveways idling away to charge thier batteries??....that's not saving our resources. I'd like to know if the MPG computer conveniently forgets idle time.

    It all seems shady to me, like the hybrid is the bone the car companies throw to appease the environmentalists.

  • Scott Anderson (1/27/2009)


    I'm still up in the air about all this hybrid stuff...

    I was at a dealer for car inspection and there was a Prius idling in the parking lot for over an hour. I went to a sales rep and mentioned it and he said they had to charge it. I guess you can't plug them in.

    If you've got to let it idle to charge now and then, what's the point of having a hybrid?

    Can you imagine a world where tens of thousands Prius's are in driveways idling away to charge thier batteries??....that's not saving our resources. I'd like to know if the MPG computer conveniently forgets idle time.

    It all seems shady to me, like the hybrid is the bone the car companies throw to appease the environmentalists.

    They are that. Creating the batteries and such for modern hybrids actually has more negative effect on the environment than the expected lifetime reduction in air pollution.

    And I'm not talking about the replacement of the batteries, I'm talking about mining the metals, manufacting and shipping the batteries, etc.

    There are plug-in kits for hybrids that avoid the idling thing. I don't believe they are in common use at this time.

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  • Steve,

    I liked your update on the Prius. Have you tried Hypermiling to increase your MPG. CleanMPG.com has some good tips on how to increase your MPG. There are many articles on the site about how to Hypermile in a Prius.

    Good Luck!

  • If you've got to let it idle to charge now and then, what's the point of having a hybrid?

    Can you imagine a world where tens of thousands Prius's are in driveways idling away to charge thier batteries??....that's not saving our resources. I'd like to know if the MPG computer conveniently forgets idle time.

    I'm not sure about idling to charge the battery; sounds to me more like they were a bit clueless. Perhaps a Prius owner can confirm or deny this...

    The advantage of hybrid or electric cars in general is not so much that they're inherently more efficient in providing power; in fact they're usually much less efficient once you take into account the losses in electricity generation, transmission, storage etc. or that the petrol engine sometimes burns fuel to generate electricity instead of being used directly for propulsion. The advantage comes more from the fact that in stop-start traffic, they use much less energy than petrol/diesel-driven vehicles by virtue of the fact that when they're stopped, they're not uselessly burning fuel. An additional advantage is gained by regenerative braking.

    For this reason they're ideally suited to city environments. On the open road however, hybrid efficiency is usually worse than standard cars - the petrol consumption is hit by having to cart the dead weight of the batteries around.

  • Ian Brown (1/27/2009)


    So, we changed to the new Ford Fiesta and stepped down to a 1.4 litre engine. The mpg at 70 is about 50mpg. Slightly better...

    Ian - Is this the Diesel Fiesta? If so, then us poor Americans can't get that one as it is not being released here. Apparently no one wants to buy diesel here. πŸ˜‰

    Curious if that is the case. Thanks.

    David

    @SQLTentmaker

    β€œHe is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” - Jim Elliot

  • A few thoughts on comments here:

    More diesels are being introduced in the US. I think there are some companies trying to get them going again. The issues at least around here is that while you get 20-30% more mpg, diesel costs sometimes 30-40% more. It's a weird tradeoff. Maybe as we get more biodiesel of some form this will change.

    Charging the Prius batteries. If it's really low, the engine will run more to charge the hybrid batteries, and I'm sure that dealerships deal with this issue. They might have cars sitting for months, and in cold weather, the hybrid can run down. But it charges as you drive, so I don't think there's a need to idle them up. might be a sales tactic (and a poor one) to get the battery reading in the green rather than the blue (mid) or purple (low).

    2010 is supposed to see a plug in Prius come (and maybe some others). I've had my Prius idle for 2 weeks, we start it up and the hybrid is low, but it charges right up as we drive.

    Hypermiling - I've tried it a bit. It gets hard to do in places in CO with the hills. Especially when other drivers don't want to hypermile with you! πŸ˜› I worked a tank at the end of the summer, some mixed city/highway that was longer trips (couple hours) and had about 400 miles into a tank at 57mpg. Blew it back down to 55 with a few errands at the end of the tank, but got to about 535 mi on 9.xx gal of gas.

    Batteries - I've read a bunch of conflicting reports on this. There are definitely things done with mining batteries that we might pay for later with the heavy metals. No idea if its' worse than computers and their circuit boards or a lot other stuff humans build. However Toyota has tried to really make these recycleable in a lot of ways. They offer payments for recycling and they've done design work to try and reduce the environmental impact of the the car overall. There's no lead in the battery, either. That Hummer v Prius article has been debunked fairly well as a sensationalistic piece.

    The car definitely does better in the city. Sustained 70mph rides result in lower (40-45mpg) mileage than stop and go in the city. However constant acceleration really kills mileage as well. you want sustained speeds, 40mph seems to be a sweet spot, where you can get 80-90 mpg.

    My drive from home to the grocery store is hilly, 10mi, but falling 4-500 ft in altitude. I can average 80mpg on that drive, which is mostly 40mph. The return trip drops to about 40mpg, mostly on the couple large climbs that go up 3-400 ft.

  • Scott Anderson (1/27/2009)


    I'm still up in the air about all this hybrid stuff...

    I was at a dealer for car inspection and there was a Prius idling in the parking lot for over an hour. I went to a sales rep and mentioned it and he said they had to charge it. I guess you can't plug them in.

    If you've got to let it idle to charge now and then, what's the point of having a hybrid?

    Can you imagine a world where tens of thousands Prius's are in driveways idling away to charge thier batteries??....that's not saving our resources. I'd like to know if the MPG computer conveniently forgets idle time.

    It all seems shady to me, like the hybrid is the bone the car companies throw to appease the environmentalists.

    The one issue I have had with the Prius is the battery does run down if you are only creeping along between gridlock sites. However, that just makes the gas engine kick in (what the dealer was doing with the idling), and you get 20+ mpg while the gas engine is running alone. The dealer must have run down the battery while doing test drives.

    In normal city driving, even stop and go, there is no problem with the battery recharging.

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