Study compares Costs and Benefits of Fuel Economy Technologies
What will consumers find acceptable for Cost of Better Fuel Economy?
A three year-long study estimating the costs vs. benefits of over 40 commercially applicable or soon to be available fuel economy technologies has been released by the National Research Council (NRC). The study verifies that new technologies can reduce fuel consumption – but consumers may not like the pinch to their pocketbooks that improving fuel economy will cause.
The study, "Assessing Fuel Economy Technologies for Light Duty Vehicles," includes educated estimates of fuel consumption costs vs. benefits for fuel economy measures available now or able to be implemented within five years, such as use of low viscosity lubricants, low-rolling resistance tires, and engine friction reduction. A gasoline engine that utilizes a portfolio of advanced fuel economy techniques can reduce fuel consumption by approximately 29%, but will cost the consumer an additional $2,200. A full hybrid can reduce fuel consumption by 44% but will cost a hefty $6,000 to achieve that goal. While buyers have made it clear that they want improvements, what they will find acceptable for the cost of better fuel economy is the subject of much speculation at this point.
The NRC study committee focused on improving the traditional gasoline-fueled engine, since industry experts believe it will take 10 to 15 years for electric vehicles to become widely adopted. With federal CAFE requirements increasing over the next several years, automakers will need to balance the costs and benefits of the fuel economy measures mandated by the government as they choose from the menu of available choices.