MPGs matter, it turns out, even to pickup buyers. Or, perhaps especially to pickup truck buyers.
Just four months after Ford launched a version of its top-selling 2011 F-150 pickup truck, the company reports that fully 35 percent of that model's sales are fitted with the more fuel-efficient 3.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine.
"The No. 1 unmet need for full-size pickup truck owners has been fuel economy," said Doug Scott, marketing manager for the Ford Truck Group. He said the 2011 Ford F-150 now has "best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class capability and power, and more powertrain choices."
When the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid goes on sale about this time next year, it will be the first mass-production vehicle from Toyota that plugs in. Yet, despite that, the Plug-In feels more like a value-added version of the Prius than a model that will be itself iconic or radically new.
It's value-added, because owners will have some of the benefits of an electric vehicle, without the worry that they won't make it back on a charge. After a relatively short three-hour charge on standard 110V household power, you can drive approximately 12 to 15 miles without the gasoline engine contributing to propulsion. After that, it's just a standard Prius and gets about the same mileage as the standard-issue model (which has an EPA-rated 51 mpg city, 48 highway).
The study looks at the future of suburban Australia, which has evolved in patterns very much like suburban America: sprawling, low-density, auto-dependent residential enclaves miles away from commercial areas and office parks.
"Urban sprawl is finished," Newman told The Age. "If we continue to roll out new land releases and suburbs that are car-dependent, they will become the slums of the future.''
Homes vs stores vs offices & factories
Following World War II, with the rise of affordable automobiles, cheap fuel, and an increasingly affluent society, the brand-new suburban house on its own half- or full-acre plot was the American dream.
Zoning codes adopted in the U.S. isolated residences from any commercial and industrial activities, often in curving cul-de-sacs sans sidewalks. Many developments could be entered only from a single point off high-speed arterial roads.
According to the Department of Energy, the average U.S. household will pay $700 more for gasoline this year than it did in 2010.
In a weekly review of the oil market, the department's Energy Information Administration noted that prices will rise at least 10 cents more over the current national average of $3.50 a gallon, due to the lag in wholesale price rises reaching the pump.
It also projected that peak gas prices, which historically occur over the summer, will reach $3.71 a gallon. That's a full dollar higher than the average price at the same time last year.
And the DoE says the chance that gas prices will soar above $4 a gallon this year is higher (25 percent) than the likelihood they'll fall below $3 (10 percent).
The current price rise is driven by uncertainty over the impact of political unrest in several oil-producing countries, most notably Libya.
Sweden has, for several years, led the world in per-capita green-car ownership. And it's managed to strengthen economically without increasing industrial carbon emissions.
But it's emitting more from its tailpipes. Swedes are driving more--enough to wipe away any the gains from greener cars--and overall vehicle emissions have risen in this land of sustainability and forward thinking.
Thanks to greener new cars--a combination of clean-diesel, bi-fuel (E85), and biogas (mostly compressed natural gas) vehicles--along with an aggressive program to scrap older guzzlers, the country has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 165,000 tons.
Power, efficiency, luxury--you can have it all, and the entry price is just $53,700. That's the price of the 2012 Infiniti M35 Hybrid, announced today ahead of the start of retail sales March 16.
Infiniti bills the M Hybrid as the only car in America to offer 350 horsepower in combination with a 30-plus highway mpg rating, and it looks secure in that title for the present. Only Porsche's brand-new Panamera S Hybrid looks poised to challenge it in the near future, and it costs about $40,000 more than the M.
Hyundai is no friend to cheating spouses, that's for sure. Of course, neither is Congress (despite the recent Craigslist antics of former Representative Chris Lee).
But perhaps we should start at the beginning.
'Vast defect' ?!?!?
We've gotten several notes over the past few weeks from Colorado reader Bob A, saying:
Hyundai Sonata HYBRID again delays release of HYBRID cars in U.S. - vast defect suspected - Hyundai has NO hybrid Sonata cars at U.S. dealers - what's going on?
We are usually skeptical of "vast defects," but our suspicions grew when Hyundai refused to give Sonata Hybrid sales for January. It said only that it had sold 4,792 vehicles with EPA highway ratings of 40 mpg or better, which includes the high-volume new 2011 Elantra as well as the Sonata Hybrid.
As it turns out, there was indeed a last-minute delay, although Hyundai Motors America CEO John Krafcik says the first 2011 Sonata Hybrid was delivered by Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, California, in January.
But a last-minute specification change made "amazingly late in the process," in November--with production scheduled to start in December--meant that Hyundai "ended up losing a couple of weeks of production timing," Krafcik said.
I have a 1997 Saturn that, remarkably, is still running. It probably has the book value of a large watermelon, so if anything major goes wrong with it, that's the end of that.
If that Saturn were a hybrid, I'm guessing the battery pack would have died about four years ago, give or take. But replacing a battery pack would be a huge expense, no? And the older the car gets, the less incentive there is to incur this huge expense.
So it seems to me that hybrids have a significant built-in obsolescence factor--while at the same time their higher up-front cost means you need to hold on to them longer to recoup the cost.
What, then, is the logic behind buying a hybrid...or an electric, for that matter...over an efficient gasoline or diesel vehicle?