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Old 09-17-2003, 01:37 AM   #1
SUBE555
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Lightbulb Interesting twist on fuel inefficient vehicles

I picked this up on Yahoo news.

Safer, More Fuel-Efficient SUV Developed (AP-News)

Engineers opposed to gas-guzzling SUVs say they have developed a safer, more fuel efficient version using off-the-shelf technology.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says the SUV, dubbed the "UCS Guardian," uses the same amount of gas as a car and is significantly safer than current SUVs, while maintaining the power and size that motorists covet.

Don't look for this SUV at your nearest dealership it exists in concept form only. But the Guardian's designers say it could be produced now because the safety features and fuel-efficient engine in the Guardian already exist.

"Families deserve to know that they can get a better SUV, one that is safer, saves lives and saves them money at the gas pump," David Friedman, an engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-designer of the Guardian, told a news conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

SUVs are notorious gas guzzlers and critics have claimed for years that they're unsafe. In January, Jeffrey Runge, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (news - web sites), said SUVs' rollover fatality rate is triple that for passenger cars.

But automakers insist sport utility vehicles are safer than passenger cars in the vast majority of crashes. And SUVs' popularity hasn't been dented a bit by the critics: They now comprise up to 25 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales.

Industry spokesman Eron Shosteck derided the Guardian concept as a one-size-fits-all approach, saying that some consumers want an SUV with safety features and are willing to pay for them, while others prefer less expensive models.

"If they can build this Guardian, why don't they do it?" said Shosteck, with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "It's nice to put something in blueprint form, but we have to build vehicles that go on pavement."

The Guardian comes with a unibody steel frame, a stronger, crumple-resistant roof, seat belts that cinch automatically in a rollover, lower bumpers to protect other drivers in a crash, and a seat-belt reminder that emits a noise until all passengers are belted. It also has a six-cylinder, fuel-efficient engine.

A more expensive model, the Guardian XSE, has electronic stability control to reduce the threat of rollovers and side curtain air bags for all passengers. A six-speed automatic transmission helps the engine run more efficiently.

At $29,935, the base Guardian would be $735 more expensive than the 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, the model on which the Guardian was based, and the Guardian XSE would cost nearly $3,000 more than the Explorer. However, designers claim that both Guardian models would be less expensive than the Explorer in the long run because of their superior gas mileage the base Guardian would get 27.8 miles per gallon, the XSE model 36.3, while the Explorer is rated at 21.2 miles per gallon.
___

On the Net:

Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: http://www.autoalliance.org

*****

I know this sounds a little off-topic as it isn't specifically Subaru, but I find this interesting to show, that some companies/groups are breaking the mold on ordinary design and concepts like Subaru has done for years. It will be interesting to see how this is taken throughout the industry. Sort of like REVETEC and their revolutionary steps being taken.

I have yet to look in-depth into this, but I find it nice they put safety just as up front as economy, using lower bumpers and crumple zones like cars but being able to do the hauling of an SUV. Sounds like a good break, too bad nobody pounced on this idea before. Maybe it will become more popular with fuel prices rising a good percentage this year.
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Old 09-17-2003, 03:23 AM   #2
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If the American auto industry had this kind of innovative thinking, they wouldn't be in the mess they are in right now.


It's time for the big three dinosaurs to collapse and companies like the UCS to take their place.
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Old 09-17-2003, 07:10 AM   #3
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If they can do it for SUVs, why don't they make a more fuel efficient car? People who buy SUVs don't care about gas mileage. They should introduce whatever new ideas or technology they have into an economy car first - since those buyers may actually care.
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Old 09-17-2003, 07:45 AM   #4
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Since no Subaru is in the 30mgg range I'd love to some of the same ideology there. If they can hit near those figures with I'd imagine at least a 1000lb heavier and I'm sure more powerful 4WD vehicle, can't get get more economy out of a 3000Lb AWD car? We've already got the safety factor, would be sweet to average 32-35 on highway (thinking really optimistically.)
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Old 09-17-2003, 10:04 AM   #5
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Don't take this for more than it is, but you'll *never* see these being made...it's just not profitable.

Sticking with the status quo is...joy of our system which rewards only doing the most minimal thing possible, and never anything more.
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Old 09-17-2003, 11:25 AM   #6
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The reason it is likely not to succeed is the fact it's not by one of the big 3. That's the unfortunate part. Oh well, always interesting to hear what CAN be done.
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Old 09-17-2003, 11:47 AM   #7
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I hear that each 2004 Hummer H2 comes free-of-charge with an Iraqi orphan who lives in the trunk, coming out to fill the tank when you stop for gas. Now Americans don't have to make the difficult climb out of the metal cocoon for the 15 minutes it takes to fill the H2's 300 gallon tank. And the Iraqi boy is surely better off living under your spare tire than he was living under Saddam's reign. With the 2004 Hummer H2, you get 15 minutes more a day to eat hamburgers!

Really, what's the obsession with mileage? A little $300+ billion war, an American life or two per day...The problem is taken care of. Seems reasonable for all of us who don't have family in the military or pay taxes.


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Old 09-17-2003, 12:55 PM   #8
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Somewhat related: The new issue of CAR has a nice piece about upcoming hybrid concepts and models. The most realistic highlight is the upcoming Lexus RX330 hybrid, said to offer a 200hp V6 with electric motor, 0-60 of 7.5s, and 35mpg. Quite impressive as the regular gasser is quoted at 20mpg, and may not be as fast.

I'm very pro-diesel, don't care for SUVs and don't like that Americans are being brainwashed that hybrid is the way to go for fuel economy, and that 50mpg is impressive, but this sounds like a major improvement to me.

I also agree with the sentiment above that similar technology could/should be used to make a very fuel efficient 'normal' car. I'm thinking the direction of Polo TDI that could net an easy 60mpg on minimal exotic technology.

The day of reckoning for the Big Three's reliance on lumbering, 6.0L, ancient-tech junkers doing 13mpg is coming.

blahblahblah

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Old 09-17-2003, 01:31 PM   #9
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I'd like to see more diesel in the US too. Americans have been so turned off of diesel by the horrible GM experience in the 80's it will be hard to bring them back. Also the eco-terrorists have convinced everyone that the only acceptable diesel resides in a mass transportation vehicle and that cars (if they exist at all) shouldn't be powered by anything other than a battery. A small displacement diesel, say 2.5 Liter TDI making 180 to 200 hp, would do fine in most vehicles with reasonable performance (gobbs of torque) and probably great mileage compaired to an equal gas engine. VW already makes a 150 hp diesel for Europe that gets well into the mid 30's for mpg.

Hybrids may have their place, they can be very fuel efficent in the short run, but what is the cost ($ and eco.) in replacing the battery packs when they wear out?

It's interesting that the aim for the XSE model in the original post is over 36 mpg. I think it will be a difficult time getting someone out of their Ford Exposition, Chevy Suburb or Cadillac Excapade into something that gets 36 mpg with todays technology. It may be possible, but what is the reliability, and will it still run when it's 20 below 0 ? Hope I'm wrong, I'd like to see it built.

Hey Subaru..how about a TDI Forester?
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Old 09-18-2003, 05:41 AM   #10
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Here's is a little intresting info on engineering solutions toward a better engine design. CSRV eliminates all linear motion in an engine enabling better fuel economy and more power.The cool thing is it can be easily adapted to current engines eliminating current cylinder head design.I think it kind of fuses the best of pistion and rotary engines. Supossedly he is being backed by a major automotive maker to incorperate it in a future engine design.

http://www.coatesengine.com/index1.html

As far as everyone slamming the big 3 you are all just nieve fools. Necessity is the mother of all invention. We went to the moon because JFK motivated the whole nation that we would not be beat in the space race, and so it was. The big 3 and any (including Subaru) other auto manufactures are business which are required to make money.They build, market, and sell a product to the general population(now worldwide). The U.S. population doesn't want gas sippers,econo-box pos's, they want big, power and bling-bling status symbols. Why? Because we can.
The population decides what will be.So yes innovation is stifeled because it would raise prices. Just as it did in the 70's it will take a gas crisis to bring out of this fuel effiecient innovation from the cracks because for automakers to due so would make your car more expensive.
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Old 09-18-2003, 11:42 AM   #11
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Diesels are freakin cool. drop the compression and crank the boost, geared properly they can easliy whoop on gasoline powered motors of equivalent size.

As for electrics and hybrids, this one cracks me up. I grew up in WNY so I'm used to hydro power but no I live in Texas... no sign of waterfalls or dams so where do we get our electricity from... COAL?!?! The eco-nazis are pushing cars that run on batteries or battery/gasoline hybrids that cause more polution than gasoline. Ugh!

I'd like to see biodiesel, direct injection, etc before we push electricity or, heaven forbid, hydogen fuel cells... come on people, who are we fooling (other than the gov't?).
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Old 09-18-2003, 01:13 PM   #12
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The fact of the matter is that hybrids aren't all that bad if designed right, though for the performance driver, it's on the same thing as say an STi, it would weigh more and have to be tuned like mad to perform similarly. For what most SUV's/commuters do, hybrid would do not too bad. I also think pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a bad idea. Takes way more energy to make these 'efficient' vehicles fuel/power than what you can get out of gas.

Weemus, I know we rag on the big 3, but I mostly see what they do as a lack of innovation in most areas. Granted every now and then they come up with some good ideas, but every now and then is very few and far between. Most of the vehicles could be designed lighter, stronger, with better CG, a better CD, and have better fuel economy. It's not an illusion, it CAN happen. Look at the new Legacy for instance. They made it stronger while reducing around 200Lbs give/take. I know a few dimensions are a hair bit less, but the prelimenary package was more than before for strength which made them innovate and look for good alternatives to the norm. They did and succeeded. Just interesting to see how output and fuel efficiency works in the new GT. I feel if the 3 big automakers put less effort into more brands and more effort into quality of each product, there would be much better engineered vehicles with the volume/cost factor being better. I am not working to sway anyone's vote, I just think they need to rethink their stradegy. More doesn't always mean better.
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Old 09-18-2003, 02:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by SUBE555
Since no Subaru is in the 30mgg range I'd love to some of the same ideology there. If they can hit near those figures with I'd imagine at least a 1000lb heavier and I'm sure more powerful 4WD vehicle, can't get get more economy out of a 3000Lb AWD car? We've already got the safety factor, would be sweet to average 32-35 on highway (thinking really optimistically.)
Some occasionally do better than 30mpg already. We have a 2002 Legacy L SE wagon (5spd), and I've calculated as good as 33mpg (just shy of that actually) and routinely get around 31mpg. These are of course hwy numbers, but doing between 115kph and 125kph. Our elevation is around 670m (2200 ft) if you're interested, and we run 97 octane most of the time. I have no idea what our city mileage is.
Incidentally my 2 2.5RSs never managed mileage that good. I think the best I ever made with them was 29ish. My XT (2wd) 1.8L definitely did better than 35mpg, and I think the XT6 (AWD) managed in the 30s as well.

I agree Subaru could be doing better though.
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Old 09-19-2003, 10:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Weemus
As far as everyone slamming the big 3 you are all just nieve fools. Necessity is the mother of all invention. We went to the moon because JFK motivated the whole nation that we would not be beat in the space race, and so it was. The big 3 and any (including Subaru) other auto manufactures are business which are required to make money.They build, market, and sell a product to the general population(now worldwide). The U.S. population doesn't want gas sippers,econo-box pos's, they want big, power and bling-bling status symbols. Why? Because we can.
The population decides what will be.So yes innovation is stifeled because it would raise prices. Just as it did in the 70's it will take a gas crisis to bring out of this fuel effiecient innovation from the cracks because for automakers to due so would make your car more expensive.

The Big 3 can't do jack with any of their car lines. People want better sedans (Camry, Accord) and America could not give it to them. People want crossover SUVs and America answered with the Aztek. And if they're so bent on profit, how come every one of them is losing sales?

And if the American car companies are so great, how come they can't make a compact car on par with a Civic or a Corolla?
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Old 09-19-2003, 02:03 PM   #15
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I think Babyvox is on to something there. The U.S. automakers may have the best selling trucks because until now, there was zero competition. As for cars, wasn't the Camry the top selling car the past couple years? Only reason domestics look decent is fleet sales.

Oh, and Brandon, I'm talking about listed EPA mileage figures. Their top vehicle right now lists for I think 28mpg average. I've seen 29.5 in my GT (would have been like 32.5, but a nice back road stint cut into my mileage bigtime.) I'm just saying EPA mileage figures would bode rather well with those looking for 30mpg capable vehicles. On the sales sticker it gives a range what the vehicles CAN do, but most people are oblivious to that fact.
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Old 09-20-2003, 02:46 AM   #16
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Just to weigh in a wee bit

Diesel is getting slammed here after repeated evidence that particulate emissions are deadly (contain some of the most highly carcinogenic compounds known to man, among other things).

Sure petrol power is less fuel efficient, but there is far less particulate, and the newer models (yes, even Subes) are getting some very impressive numbers indeed.

The new Prius is a real head turner IMHO, with decent space, pace and comfort. The looks may not get you, but if life cost of ownership is taken into account, the hybrid tech may actually pay for itself. Here the Prius is a few grand more than a corolla, and a whole lot more fuel efficent to boot. The more mileage you do, the better the bottom line will look.

Back to diesel, I was reading that Germany is taking a long hard look at the diesel after their health department flagged health issues connected with diesel emissions. The rising cost of treatment/suffering vs. ecological arguments is never going to end, but it seems they may accelerate regulations (Euro 5 and 6 it seems) to tighten up diesel emissions. Tokyo is about to start the ball rolling here at last after decades of dirty diesels killing the health of the population.

The thing that cracks me up here is seeing Mitsu Pajeros spewing black soot with "Love the earth, the great outdoors" covers on the spare wheel

OK, that's my 5 cents worth.

Cheers
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Old 09-21-2003, 01:29 AM   #17
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Default A little OT, but...

On the subject of diesel emissions, there are people running recycled cooking oil instead of diesel fuel. From the initial things I've heard, they claim it burns extremely clean and actually provides marginally better power with no detremental effects to the engine (so far).

Two issues I've heard of with this: cooking oil will coagulate if temps get very much below freezing, but there is some kind of modification someone's worked out that you can get to prevent that. The other thing is, if you use the recycled stuff, you could end up smelling like the local Fish N' Chips joint driving down the road (no joke, some guy from Sweden was complaining about "fishy smelling cars" in an interview I heard recently on the topic).

At the very least, it seems like an interesting alternative.
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Old 09-21-2003, 12:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: A little OT, but...

Quote:
Originally posted by GaryS
On the subject of diesel emissions, there are people running recycled cooking oil instead of diesel fuel. From the initial things I've heard, they claim it burns extremely clean and actually provides marginally better power with no detremental effects to the engine (so far).

Two issues I've heard of with this: cooking oil will coagulate if temps get very much below freezing, but there is some kind of modification someone's worked out that you can get to prevent that. The other thing is, if you use the recycled stuff, you could end up smelling like the local Fish N' Chips joint driving down the road (no joke, some guy from Sweden was complaining about "fishy smelling cars" in an interview I heard recently on the topic).

At the very least, it seems like an interesting alternative.
People were getting arrested in the UK for using cooking oil from fish n chips places, something on the order of tax evasion
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Old 09-21-2003, 12:38 PM   #19
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Default Re: A little OT, but...

Quote:
Originally posted by GaryS
On the subject of diesel emissions, there are people running recycled cooking oil instead of diesel fuel. From the initial things I've heard, they claim it burns extremely clean and actually provides marginally better power with no detremental effects to the engine (so far).

Two issues I've heard of with this: cooking oil will coagulate if temps get very much below freezing, but there is some kind of modification someone's worked out that you can get to prevent that. The other thing is, if you use the recycled stuff, you could end up smelling like the local Fish N' Chips joint driving down the road (no joke, some guy from Sweden was complaining about "fishy smelling cars" in an interview I heard recently on the topic).

At the very least, it seems like an interesting alternative.
People have actually been doing this since the late 40s, so it's nothing new.
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Old 09-21-2003, 02:28 PM   #20
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Default Re: Re: A little OT, but...

Quote:
Originally posted by brandon
People have actually been doing this since the late 40s, so it's nothing new.
Interesting. Thanks for the clarification.

Quote:
Originally posted by slack20123


People were getting arrested in the UK for using cooking oil from fish n chips places, something on the order of tax evasion
Yeah, I think I heard that as well. Typical, ain't it?
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Old 09-28-2003, 01:07 PM   #21
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As an aftermarket accessory designer (I design running boards for trucks) who knows a little about the industry, I'll chime in.

If Ford was making an explorer, and I came to them with a new design that says, let's build the explorer, but it'll cost 3 grand more. Some bean counter somewhere will cut the project. It doesn't make a bit of difference if it could end world hunger, and stop terrorism, they wouldn't do it. The auto industry is all about making the numbers they dont' give a crap about the customers.

Know why companies give vendors the run around when paying bills?? Money in the bank. period...if it's in your pocket, it's not in mine making ME money.

The large corporations even have clauses that say you won't be paid until 90 days after delivery of the product. WHY? Maximum interest for that quarter. it guarantees that whatever fiscal quarter you're in will end, and you'll make a boat load of cash. you'll be lucky if you get it in 120 days...

OWN an SUV?? Never. pickup truck maybe, but NEVER an SUV.

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