Ford has unveiled a GTDI (gasoline turbocharged direct injection) 3 cylinder engine, which they brand Ecoboost. The 1.0L inline 3 will power the Fiesta and Focus C-Max in Europe in 2012, and will be competitive in power to the 1.6L I4 Ford currently offers, according to Ford's PR. That means HP and torque numbers around 100-120HP and 110-120 ft-lb of torque. Due to reduced weight and the variable-displacement effect of turbo charging, fuel economy numbers will be big.
|Reduce Mass: downsize||+1||-2||-2||0||+1||-2||Americans like big roomy cars.
Safety suffers due to interface with older cars.
|Reduce Mass: materials||-1||-1||0||0||+1||-1||Al, Mg, carbon fiber cost more.|
|Reduce Engine Output||+1||0||-2||0||+1||0||Americans like powerful cars.|
|Mild Hybrid Powertrain||-1||0||0||-1||+1||-1||More complexity (batteries,
generator) hurts durability.
|Full Hybrid Powertrain||-2||0||-1||-1||+2||-2||Even more complexity.|
|Gas Turbo Direct Injection||-1||0||0||-1||+1||-1||More complexity.|
|Flex Fuel (Ethanol)||0||0||-1||0||+1*||0 (-1)||Fuel availability problems; less
gas used, but nearly same carbon output.
|Passenger Car Diesel||-1||0||0||-1||+2||0||More complexity due to emissions
|Hydrogen Fuel Cells||-1||0||0||+1||+3||+3||Still a research project.|
How do you compare the different ways to increase fuel economy? If you are an engineer, you might make a table which assigns weights to different characteristics and then levels for each one. Combine the numbers, and you have a handy way to compare different choices.
Here is a swag at the fuel economy trade off game, according to my near-expert opinion. The method is to equally weight Cost, Safety, Convenience, Durability, and Fuel Economy. -2 means big decline (more cost, less safety, less convenience, less durability), while a +2 means a big improvement (less cost, more safety, more convenience, etc.). Minus bad, plus good.
So, the way I see it, for a modest fuel savings, the best all around technique is to reduce power, followed by gas turbo direct injection. For large fuel savings, the light diesel seems best. The Holy Grail, as always, is the hydrogen fuel cell.
What is inevitable is that you can’t have everything–this is a law of engineering, where physics and economics meet. Want lots of power? Lose weight (and safety). Want safety and fuel economy? Gain cost.
We Americans need to have a serious discussion about what it is we really want, and we need to tell our legislators. What are we willing to give up?
OK, Edmunds just posted a great article which assigns grades to the various fuel saving technologies. You may not believe me, but in fact I was working on the same type of post. I was trying to figure out how to make the table work right.
NYC has finally had enough of the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Zuccotti park. A judge has denied a lawsuit for a restraining order against NYPD, on the grounds that
To the extent that City law prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other
combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places,
enforcement of the law and the owner's rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its
space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or others
for violations of law, or in tort. It also permits public access by those who live and work in the area
who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus.
The movants have not demonst rated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in
Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion
of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access
of others who might wish to use the space safely. Neither have the applicants shown a right to a
temporary restraining order that would restrict the City's enforcement of law so as to promote public
health and safety.
- Simple, effective
- Seems durable
- Unknown country of origin (not on packaging)
- $ 20+shipping is a little steep for what is basically a stuffed fabric tube
- Limited distribution (Can’t buy it on Amazon, etc.)
- Adds firmness to right seat cushion side
I got an email from an outfit called LemonFree, which is an upstart auto classified service. Lemonfree’s method is to offer free auto ads, and to make money from advertising. They have a nice, uncluttered web site. A very nice feature is that they offer free hosting of up to 10 photos with your ad. They don’t have many ads yet, though, so if you try to actually search for a car, you will probably get a list of eBay motors auctions. Hopefully they will do better than that in the future. I’m also concerned about their name–it implies that they check the quality of the vehicles that are listed, but in fact, they do not. So it is possible to get a lemon. I wish them luck–the 800lb gorilla in this business is Craig’s list.
Some time ago, say 6 months or so, my wife got me a nice looking Kenneth Cole “Reaction” belt. It was soft brown Italian leather, and appeared to be well made.
After a few months of use, the leather split near the buckle. Since I didn’t keep the receipt and tag, I couldn’t return it to Kohl’s or wherever my wife bought it, so I called Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. on the phone and asked if I could have the belt exchanged. The customer service lady took my information, and told me to send it in.
I sent the belt in. And waited. A long time. Then, after about a month, I get a box from Kenneth Cole. And what did they send me? A wide, black, “bluejeans” type belt. Nothing like the soft, brown “business casual” dress belt that I sent in.
You’d think Kenneth Cole’s people could tell the difference between a brown dress belt and a black casual belt.
I also discovered that Kenneth Cole supports a slew of liberal causes, including being aggressively anti-gun.
So, I have learned my lesson. No more Kenneth Cole junk for me.
Saw this suggestion for a practical joke making the rounds.
My mom’s last two cars were Buicks, and both turned junky before their time. The latest, a Century, started to rust through the rocker panels and lower doors, and had a drivers seat cushion that had completely collapsed, at the early age of 90,000 miles. The last straw came last week, when the Buick was whacked by an inattentive driver on Southfield road, and was unceremoniously totaled by the insurance company.
I started looking around at what was available. Historically a GM family, my parents told me they would be open to a Ford product as well, but please no Chrysler. The requirements: a soft riding mid or full sized sedan, less than 24,000 miles, around $ 15,000. We looked at Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu, Mercury Milan, Ford Five Hundred.
My mom decided she liked the Five Hundred the best, because it had a very high seating position compared to the others. I think she was sick of Buick, also, after the qualify fiasco of her Century. She also was amused at the size of the trunk–”we could go camping in there!”
The Five Hundreds we found depreciated so badly that we got a pretty good deal: a 2006 with 20,000 miles, certified pre-owned, with side airbags, leather, automatic climate control, and adjustable pedals for about $ 15,000. It is a lot of car for the money.
Things I like about the Ford Five Hundred:
- Huge interior but a moderately sized exterior, huge trunk
- High seating position
- Depreciation means lots of features for not much money
- High safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
- Adjustable pedals
- Good looking 18″ wheels
- Good NVH, even over railroad crossing
- Good ride/handling balance, not too firm or too squishy
- Decent fuel economy for such a large car
- Six speed transmission
- Real rear seat headrests
- Smooth sided, understated exterior (but most say much too understated)
- Four wheel disc brakes with traction control
- Good overall quality record so far
Things I don’t:
- Noticeable body roll when cornering
- Weak sounding radio
- A bit underpowered
- Gear selector only has D and L gear choices
- Bland interior design
- According to Consumer Reports, the brake system is less reliable than average
If you don’t mind sleepy styling and modest acceleration, used Five Hundreds/Montegos are hard to beat in value for comfortable, roomy, safe transportation.
If you have been following the sorry saga of Mahindra's attempt to import Indian built compact diesel pickups into the U.S., here's more bad news. The EPA mileage rating of the crew cab automatic has come in at 19/21 MPG. Compare this with a Ford Ranger 4×2 with a 4.0L V6, which gets 15/21 MPG, or a Nissan Frontier with a 4.0L v6 at 15/19 MPG.