My friend, who prefers to be known on the web as “Dr. Klahn”, is an avowed expert on vehicle technology and a serious car person. Earlier todayhe sent me the following comments on trends in next generation fuel efficient vehicles–
I was just catching up on my MyYahoo homepage news and came across your various posts on the smartcar. If you’re looking for another interesting angle to engage readers on, diving into a conversation about fuel economy relative to weight is interesting. Much of the Smart car efficiency gains are due to the fact that it weighs a diminimous amount and can get by on 70 hp. The new turbo minis are the same – they weigh less than 2500 lbs and even the Prius gets a lot of gains from relatively light weight (~2900 lbs). In general, cars weigh too much these days. The Lexus Hybrid SUV actually gets pretty darn good MPG considering the damn car weighs 4400-4500 lbs. Imagine the MPG if you knocked 1000 lbs out of it. Unfortunately, Americans want features – electronics gadgets and safety features that weight a ton. In contrast, Ferrari has gone so far as to say their next cars will probably not have a whole lot more HP, but will in fact just be lighter. They have a concept car called the Mille Chili, which is targeting 1000 kilo weight. Power-to-weight is really the key factor here.
Also, worth noting is that the national highway organization revised down all MPG ratings for 2008. The 2007 and prior ratings were based on unrealistic speeds in cities and highways. The 2008 ratings are much more accurate. Every car’s numbers were revised down.
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