Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 7, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Diesel becomes the 'norm' and other auto news

Niagara Gazette — By most accounts, the conventional gasoline engine’s days are numbered. Long before electric cars become commonplace, automakers expect to wean themselves from gas-powered engines, replacing them with fuel-efficient alternatives. A few weeks back, Ford’s Joe Bakaj said the time is coming when most Ford vehicles will come with either a diesel or an EcoBoost engine, the latter of which relies on turbo-charging, direct injection, and other innovations to wring high mileage from every drop of gas or diesel fuel. Then on the heels of Ford, Volkswagen said essentially the same thing, claiming that within three or four years, every vehicle in VW’s lineup will be either a turbo-charged gas or a diesel powered vehicle. 

This trend has been developing across the industry for quite some time now. Have you looked for a V8 lately? The shift toward smaller, tech-heavy engines is playing out in family cars, luxury rides, and even performance models.

Gas mileage is up! up! up!

With average gas prices in America still hovering above $3.50 a gallon, fuel economy remains a major concern for new-car shoppers. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, that’s having a profound effect on the vehicles consumers buy (or, more specifically, the fuel economy of the cars they buy). UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle say that the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold reached a record high in August: 24.9 mpg. That’s up 0.1 mpg from July 2013 and up 4.8 mpg since UMTRI began monitoring such stats in October 2007.

Just as impressive, the average fuel economy of all model-year 2013 vehicles sold to-date clocks in at 24.7 mpg. That’s an improvement of 1.2 mpg over models from 2012. Fuel economy of new cars sold has climbed steadily over the past six years. Spikes in efficiency typically occur in springtime, perhaps because that’s when gasoline gets expensive, because refineries squeeze off supply prior to the summer-blend changeover. That, in turn, makes shoppers more sensitive to the fuel rating of their new ride.

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