Driving Green(er): Energy Saving Technology in Cars

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The Environmental and Energy Study Institute identified some way to increase vehicle fuel efficiency even if you’re not driving a green car. Through a mixture of technology, driving behaviors and proper maintenance, drivers can look for certain things in their next vehicles (or make modifications to their current ones) in order to get the best fuel efficiency possible. Because who doesn’t want to get the most out of every fill up? 

Engine Technology 

Probably the most significant improvements come from turbochargers, which not only increase engine power, but also create the ability to install smaller engines in vehicles without having to sacrifice performance. In “Cost, Effectiveness, and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles,” the National Academy of Sciences estimated an efficiency boost of 8% in if a downsized engine is used in a vehicle compared to a larger sized one. Though, this also considers that any weight reduction made to a vehicle will enhance its fuel efficiency.  

The same publication also cited additional engine technologies such as cylinder deactivation, valve timing and lift technologies and gasoline direct injection. A combination of these technologies could potentially have an aggregate efficiency increase of about 9-10% due to performance optimization.  

Transmission Technology 

Typically, the more gears you add to your car increases the efficiency of your speed (and therefore your fuel efficiency). The U.S. Department of Energy reported that there was a noticeable improvement between the efficiency of having only six gears (2% efficiency) compared to eight gears (3-4% efficiency) for an estimated total savings of up to $700 over the lifetime of the vehicle.  

In addition to the number of gears impacting the fuel efficiency, a Continuously Variable Transmission or Dual Clutch Transition can also increase fuel efficiency by and estimated 3-4% due to easing the tension of changing gears.  

Hybrid Technology   

Thankfully you can do more than alter your engine or change out your transmission to increase fuel efficiency. Hybrid vehicles use a type of stop-start system, regenerative braking and larger batteries to optimize the usage of fuel, which can increase efficiency by up to 35%. Larger electric motors will obviously reduce the dependence on fuel as well but come with their own challenges and may not be practical for drivers in rural areas.  

Other Methods 

As mentioned above, reducing the vehicle weight could improve fuel efficiency. This isn’t always feasible, depending on how you use your vehicle, but let’s say that you’re not utilizing a mounted rack on the top—you could remove it until you need it for additional efficiency. The discovery of lighter metals and materials will also help this issue over time. As technology continues to development, the process by which vehicles are manufactured will continue to be refined and improved.  

If you’re inspired by some of the ideas in this blog, in might be time to consider looking for a more energy-efficient vehicle (or vehicle parts).  

Want to be green? Recycle a car from Copart.com

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