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Squeezing more out of cars without squeezing into them
By Doug Abrahms
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON -- Americans don't have to drive tiny cars to save big amounts of gasoline.
A sport utility vehicle that today gets about 18 miles per gallon could get twice that by using better technology under the hood, lighter body materials and an upgraded electrical system that allows the engine to shut off while standing still.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group, used current technology to draw up a blueprint for a more fuel-efficient SUV. But for now, the idea remains on paper.
With gas prices around $2 a gallon nationwide, environmental groups want to force U.S. automakers to build more efficient vehicles. But the energy bills being debated in Congress contain no provisions to substantially boost fuel efficiency either through mandates or incentives.
"Consumers do want fuel economy, but they just can't get it," Friedman said.
U.S. automakers, pressured more by foreign competition than by consumer demand, have started adding technology to increase fuel efficiency. But significant improvements could add a few thousand dollars to the price of a car.
Would consumers be willing to pay more for better gas mileage?
"I'd pay a couple thousand dollars extra to get 36 miles per gallon," said John Poole of Cherry Valley, Calif., who drives a Chevrolet Blazer. "I don't get bad mileage now, but it's not good either. With gas prices how they are, I would love better mileage."
The Big Three domestic automakers are caught in a place where consumers aren't calling for higher fuel efficiency, yet competitors are starting to deliver it, Smith said.
Detroit has made some improvements. Ford will offer a hybrid SUV this summer. General Motors plans to bring out full-size hybrid SUVs in 2007 that will get 30 percent better fuel mileage.
GM will put out a five-cylinder engine this year that uses less fuel and another that shuts off some cylinders when the engine is not accelerating. GM also is working on six-speed transmissions, electronic valve control and other technologies to improve mileage.

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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Originally posted by surferdude00711@Jun 20 2004, 08:55 PM
Why did you post a pic of the Malibu Maxx? And I won'd DOD now!
The Maxx is a good example of SUV cargo carrying ability and sedan-like fuel economy. Plus it should get DOD. :)
 
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