If you’re about to visit some of the new car dealers listed on the DexKnows site, there’s good news in store. The latest cars and trucks incorporate more fuel-saving technologies than ever before, meaning gas mileage numbers are improving.
Driven by a combination of market demand and ever stricter CAFE regulations (those are the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules the government sets), car makers are working hard to ensure that a gallon of gas takes you farther than ever before. To do this, they’re finding ways to take weight out of the vehicles, they’re improving the efficiency of the gasoline engine and they’re adopting new electric technologies.
Let’s take a look at five of the most interesting fuel-saving innovations we can expect to see in our cars and trucks.
City driving inevitably means burning gas while the car is stationary. “Stop/Start” technology prevents this waste by turning the engine off. When the light changes to green, pressing down on the gas or releasing the clutch restarts it almost instantly. At present, this is used mostly on European vehicles, even performance machines such as the Porsche Panamera. Because it doesn’t improve the mileage numbers on EPA testing, manufacturers have little incentive to add it to cars sold in the U.S., but it will come.
2. Electrically-assisted steering
Since the dawn of power steering, cars have used an engine-driven hydraulic pump to help turn the wheels. That’s now being replaced by an electric system that only provides assistance when needed. This means less load on the engine — and less weight too — because there’s no need for power steering fluid or the various pipes that feed it to the steering rack.
3. Hybrid technologies
Hybrid cars have become pretty common, but did you know there are different types? To start with, there are “mild” and “strong” hybrids. A “mild” hybrid gets assistance from an electric motor assist but can’t run under electric power alone. A “strong” hybrid can. And now there are “plug-in” hybrids. These are strong hybrids that can be recharged from an electrical supply in your garage or at a charging point. That means the gasoline engine is only there as an emergency generator. The Chevy Volt may be the best-known example.
4. Active aerodynamics
It sounds like science fiction, but carmakers are working on vehicles that can alter their shape slightly. Porsches have spoilers that extend for high-speed stability and for fuel-saving, Ford has “active” shutters in the grille that open and close to only allow air through the radiator when needed.
5. Regenerative brakes
Press the brake pedal and friction converts kinetic energy into heat. With regenerative braking, an electric generator absorbs that energy, slowing the car and putting power back into the electrical system. This is common on hybrids, but manufacturers are looking at incorporating it on other vehicles, too.
No one wants to spend more on gas than they need to, which is why carmakers are eager to boast about the gas mileage improvements they are making. If you’re about to buy a new car, make sure to ask the salesperson which fuel-saving technologies are incorporated. And if you don’t know where your nearest car dealer is, jump on DexKnows and find out.