Why advancements in fuel efficiency aren’t all that efficient

Courtesy of TreeHugger comes a report about vehicle fuel efficiency. This article, entitled ‘No wonder fuel economy is stagnant, cars ballooned up since 1980′, talks about how gains in the size, weight and horsepower in passenger cars have more than overcompensated for recent improvements in fuel efficiency.

We found this excerpt to be most telling, sourced from a report by Christopher R.Knittel of the Institute of Transportation Studies:

From 1980 to 2004 the average fuel economy of the US new passenger automobile fleet increased by less than 6.5 percent. During this time, the average horsepower of new passenger cars increased by 80 percent, while the average curb weight increased by 12 percent. Changes in light duty trucks have been even more pronounced. Average horsepower increased by 99 percent and average weight increased by 26 percent from 1984 to 2004. The change within passenger cars and light trucks hides much of the story. In 1980 light trucks sales were roughly 20 percent of total passenger vehicles sales; in 2004, they were over 51 percent.

Fuel for thought…?

Read the full article, ‘No wonder fuel economy is stagnant, cars ballooned up since 1980′ or Christopher R. Knittel’s report, ‘Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector’.

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