Gas Mileage & Technology: Why Haven’t They Kept Pace With Each Other?

Posted Posted by AAMCO Colorado in Blog, Colorado Automotive Advice     Comments No comments
May
10

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Gas Efficiency in Vehicles Has Not Kept Pace With Other Automobile Advances

Colorado Auto Mechanic

Here’s an odd thought. Take into consideration all of the technological advances that have occurred  over the past 30 years in automobiles for safety, comfort, appeal, enjoyment, and performance. This consideration would no doubt take a while as the number of advancements that have occurred in each category are staggering.

But when you consider this, why then has the fuel efficiency of of our vehicles not also improved dramatically. Granted, for hybrids they certainly have, but I am meaning from model to model, not a new vehicle that has been specifically created to be efficient. Why have not all vehicles been made more efficient over time, where technological improvements in that realm kept pace with those in others?

When you look at many of the models of vehicles that existed 30 years ago, everything has improved greatly save for fuel efficiency. It only makes you wonder why technology could advance so rapidly in everything else revolving around cars, save for that which propels it. Let’s break this down a little to explain this point further.

Technology Has Improved Many Aspects Of Automobiles Tremendously

It should really take little thought to realize that over the last 30 years, technological improvements have made vehicles of all shapes and sizes better. Safety has no doubt improved by leaps and bounds what with air bags being relatively standard, motion sensors, cameras, anti-lock brakes, orientating headlights, and a slew of other structural safety improvements. Comfort has improved through a better use of ergonomic design in cabins, better suspension, heated seats, and the like. Cars nowadays, mostly at least, have great designs as we no longer drive square boxes down the road. Vehicles are, if anything, stylish. I would assume automobiles are more enjoyable these days what with the countless offerings and options of movies, internet, gps, a slew of music choices, and even voice recognition. And finally performance, which increases and becomes better with every model that is released.

Again, to keep this brief, that is only to name a few of the most basic. And to keep it in perspective, keep in mind the options that were available in vehicles during the early and mid- 80s. Strangely, when you think of the vehicles being released then, they seem archaic. Essentially a motorized box on wheels, while the same went for every other vehicle before them. Now this is not to say that old vehicles are not great… far from it. There is definite style and character in these vehicles. But as far as what was being offered, there was not much compared to today. That is of course, you’re speaking of gas mileage, because oddly, those numbers are similar.

Fuel Efficiency Rarely Becomes Better With Time For Many Vehicle Models

When you compare the various makes and models of automobiles today to their predecessors 30 years prior, the first noticeable thing is everything that was mentioned above. The improvements in safety, comfort, appeal, enjoyment, and performance are all stark and obvious. However, the one area where little ground has been covered is that for fuel efficiency. Matter of fact, over 30 years, fuel efficiency has been relatively stagnant overall. Meanwhile, the cost of gas has risen nearly 4-fold since the late 90s. So obviously, of all conveniences for automobile makers to throw our way, of all the gadgets and enjoyments they’ve included, does it stand that they never considered doing us a favor by allowing us to save money at the pump? Or is it that we reached the pinnacle of technological improvements that could be found for increasing fuel efficiency?

Oddly I think the latter to be foolish, as there may be a breaking point, but we’ve certainly not realized or reached it. For example, the world record in 1973 for the total distance traveled on a single gallon of gas in an automobile went to a modified 1959 Opel, which traveled 376.59 miles. That record was set 40 years ago and in a 54 year old car. Currently, the world record for distance traveled on a single gallon of gas was 12,665 miles. It was set in 2005 by the PAC-Car II. Now over the course of around 40 years, that’s a noteworthy improvement, 377 miles to 12,665. That is how technology can be used to make drastic improvements.

But when we look at everyday automobiles, no one is expecting 12, or 10, or 5, or even 1 thousand miles to the gallon. Nowadays, many newer vehicles are pulling in under 20 mpg. 20 mpg!?! Then there are those claiming to be efficient at around 30-40 mpg. 30-40 mpg?!? 30 years ago vehicles were getting a little less if not the same gas mileage as vehicles today. And anyone who would argue there have been improvements would no doubt be correct, but are the improvements such that their even worth mentioning. I mean, in 2005 a vehicle drove nearly 13 thousand miles on a single gallon of gasoline. That is no doubt due to an extremely light weight body, flawless aerodynamics, and the coast/burn technique often employed by those competing. But however it’s done, it is impressive, and only makes everyone watching salivate in pure want as they soon realize they’re spending hundreds of dollars a month on gasoline.

There is most definitely a demand from people for more fuel efficient vehicles, but oddly, we don’t find those willing to offer a supply. Rather, we are left chasing the carrot over our heads as we’re told an extra 5, 10, or 15 extra miles to the gallon will make the difference. Technology advances like a snowball falling down a hill, getting bigger and faster as it gets bigger and faster. This is of course unless it is impeded, which can be the only explanation as to why everything about automobiles has been made better over the years, save for the distance we can travel on a full tank. Simply some food for thought and to stoke the fire.

 

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