Stronger federal rules will promote vehicles that will be 40% more fuel efficient by 2016. These national standards will bring the US in line with other countries that are already making fuel-efficient cars. Starting in 2012, automakers will have achieved fuel efficiency for their products ranging from 37.8 mpg for passenger cars to 28.8 mpg for pickup trucks, SUVs, and pickup trucks.
Such changes can save millions of barrels of oil while reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the life of vehicles manufactured under the new regulations.
Energy-efficient compact and subcompact cars like Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta or Fiat 500 are already an option for buyers, along with electric cars like Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf.
A feature of fuel-efficient cars is the direct injection engine, a system that can produce maximum power by using high pressure to pump gasoline into individual cylinders. Turbocharging is another feature that enables small engines to perform similarly to larger ones.
The design and weight will improve the aerodynamics of the cars of the future with the use of aluminum and carbon fiber for the car body and low rolling resistance tires to further increase fuel economy. Although these cars will cost more, long-term savings can be achieved by reducing fuel consumption.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has also proposed a change to the fuel economy rating system for vehicles. There are two proposals to reflect the purchase of vehicles with lower emissions and better fuel economy.
One is a letter grade from A to D, to reflect both fuel economy and tailpipe emissions efficiency. The other is an MPG rating that compares vehicles for tailpipe emissions efficiency.
The current label, in the form of a window decal, is required for all new cars or light trucks sold in the US – on hybrid and conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles.
Some of the most fuel efficient cars on the market are 2010 Toyota Prius, 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid, 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid, 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, 2010 Honda Insight, 2010 Lexus HS 250h, 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid, 2010 Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Ford 2011 Escape Hybrid and 2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The fact that most are hybrids is an indicator of where green technology is heading in the automotive industry.
Ford F-150 has been the best-selling car for 17 years, but in 2008 it was overtaken by Honda Civic and Accord or Toyota Corolla and Camry due to high fuel costs. American companies have reconfigured their lineups to stay ahead of the need for more fuel-efficient models.
Hybrid technologies and lighter mass have proven to be the most cost-effective strategies for achieving better fuel economy. The next-generation Prius and a plug-in version will further increase fuel economy in 2011.