Fuel economy no image

Published on November 9th, 2008 | by Nick Chambers

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"150 MPG" Hybrid SUV Company Claims it is Being "Muzzled"

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Just weeks before the 2008 LA Auto Show, hybrid car and powertrain maker AFS Trinity is pulling out after saying that show management “muzzled” them by disallowing claims that their highly modified Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids can achieve 150 mpg.

In a statement, AFS Trinity said that “carmakers continue to seek tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, ostensibly to develop fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, but their conduct is evidence they are reluctant to embrace solutions they didn’t invent.”

In the show management’s defense, AFS Trinity’s 150 mpg claim is associated with a specific driving pattern which may or may not represent average driving conditions. If their hybrids are driven 40 miles per day for 6 days and then 80 miles on one day of the week, they use about 2 gallons to go 300 miles — which equals 150 mpg.

Because plug-in hybrids are such new technology, there is no agreed upon method to estimate fuel economy. Typically, a plug-in hybrid can drive up to 40 miles per day without needing to use any fuel, and beyond 40 miles the engine kicks in and charges a battery which then powers the car. If you only drive more than 40 miles once in a blue moon, you could have a rather ridiculous fuel economy of several thousand miles per gallon.

What, then, is an appropriate way to rate the fuel economy of these new types of cars? An email from LA Auto Show management to AFS Trinity states:

“We cannot approve this content . . . the mileage claim is of primary concern to us. Manufacturers are forced to quote EPA verified mpg numbers in their advertising, and . . . [your] 150-MPG figure is an estimation. A banner like this one in the lobby is likely to generate unfavorable reactions from manufacturers, which is something we will take action to avoid.”

AFS countered that no concept or prototype car at the auto show has its fuel economy certified by EPA prior to being exhibited, and told show management they would change their promotional materials to say that the 150 mpg claim is an “estimate.” In response, AFS Trinity was told that no materials would be accepted in any form that made a claim of 150 mpg and that the issue was “no longer a topic for further discussion.”

EPA has been struggling with how to rate the fuel economy of plug-in hybrids — the most recent being a spat between EPA and GM about how to rate the upcoming Chevy Volt. So, for the LA Auto Show management to claim that AFS Trinity is not using approved EPA methods to estimate fuel economy, they’re kind of off base, because even the EPA doesn’t really know how to rate fuel economy with some of the new alternative powered vehicles.

AFS Trinity says they will be exhibiting their extreme hybrids elsewhere in downtown LA during the auto show. I’ll be sure to go check their cars out while I’m down there to see what all the hoopla’s about.

Image Credit and Source: AFS Trinity Power Corporation



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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • Some Guy

    The claim to getting 150 MPG is bogus. They admit themselves that they plug the vehicle in to recharge. That power isn’t coming from the gasoline, it’s coming from the electric power grid.

  • Some Guy

    The claim to getting 150 MPG is bogus. They admit themselves that they plug the vehicle in to recharge. That power isn’t coming from the gasoline, it’s coming from the electric power grid.

  • Some Guy

    The claim to getting 150 MPG is bogus. They admit themselves that they plug the vehicle in to recharge. That power isn’t coming from the gasoline, it’s coming from the electric power grid.

  • Nick Chambers

    Some guy,

    I can see both sides of the argument… the point still being, what’s the best way to measure MPG for these types of vehicles?

  • Nate

    I’ve voiced a proposal that’s something like:

    PHEVXX→YY mpg

    Or even more accurate long form:

    PHEVXX/NN kWh→YY mpg

    So, for the Volt, that would be

    PHEV40→50 mpg, or the long form: PHEV40/16 kWh→50 mpg

    For the Aptera Typ-1h, that would be:

    PHEV60/5 kWh→130 mpg

    For the Fisker Karma, that would be:

    PHEV50/?? kWh→40 mpg

    And so on… I think that accurately reflects visually how the vehicle will perform in the real world.

  • Nate

    I’ve voiced a proposal that’s something like:

    PHEVXX→YY mpg

    Or even more accurate long form:

    PHEVXX/NN kWh→YY mpg

    So, for the Volt, that would be

    PHEV40→50 mpg, or the long form: PHEV40/16 kWh→50 mpg

    For the Aptera Typ-1h, that would be:

    PHEV60/5 kWh→130 mpg

    For the Fisker Karma, that would be:

    PHEV50/?? kWh→40 mpg

    And so on… I think that accurately reflects visually how the vehicle will perform in the real world.

  • originalgeek

    They prohibit all vendors from displaying non-EPA certified mileage ratings at the auto show. There were no signs on the Chevy Volt nor the Jetta TDI at last year’s L.A. auto show.

  • originalgeek

    They prohibit all vendors from displaying non-EPA certified mileage ratings at the auto show. There were no signs on the Chevy Volt nor the Jetta TDI at last year’s L.A. auto show.

  • Bill

    Miles per gallon doesn’t make sense if the car runs part of the time on all electric (infinite mpg). The EPA needs to develop a system that either takes into consideration both mpg and total range, or move away from mpg altogether. They could fill the fuel tank, fully charge the battery and see how far the car goes under some standard test conditions. Then divide the distance traveled by the gallons of fuel consumed. Or, they could develop a standard that gives total fuel cost per 1,000 miles city and highway. Neither of these methods would reflect an individual’s actual experience. Rather, they would be used for comparison purposes only.

    BTW, the link to the EPA, GM spat doesn’t work.

  • Bill

    Miles per gallon doesn’t make sense if the car runs part of the time on all electric (infinite mpg). The EPA needs to develop a system that either takes into consideration both mpg and total range, or move away from mpg altogether. They could fill the fuel tank, fully charge the battery and see how far the car goes under some standard test conditions. Then divide the distance traveled by the gallons of fuel consumed. Or, they could develop a standard that gives total fuel cost per 1,000 miles city and highway. Neither of these methods would reflect an individual’s actual experience. Rather, they would be used for comparison purposes only.

    BTW, the link to the EPA, GM spat doesn’t work.

  • Bill

    Miles per gallon doesn’t make sense if the car runs part of the time on all electric (infinite mpg). The EPA needs to develop a system that either takes into consideration both mpg and total range, or move away from mpg altogether. They could fill the fuel tank, fully charge the battery and see how far the car goes under some standard test conditions. Then divide the distance traveled by the gallons of fuel consumed. Or, they could develop a standard that gives total fuel cost per 1,000 miles city and highway. Neither of these methods would reflect an individual’s actual experience. Rather, they would be used for comparison purposes only.

    BTW, the link to the EPA, GM spat doesn’t work.

  • David

    Ironically I drive less than 40 miles a day, including getting to work and stopping by the market. Sundays are not planned but sometimes we drive a few miles and sometimes we stay at home. My point being, the claims of AFS Trinity would apply to my lifestyle and I would herald the claim that freed me from crippling trip to the fuel pump.

  • David

    Ironically I drive less than 40 miles a day, including getting to work and stopping by the market. Sundays are not planned but sometimes we drive a few miles and sometimes we stay at home. My point being, the claims of AFS Trinity would apply to my lifestyle and I would herald the claim that freed me from crippling trip to the fuel pump.

  • David

    Ironically I drive less than 40 miles a day, including getting to work and stopping by the market. Sundays are not planned but sometimes we drive a few miles and sometimes we stay at home. My point being, the claims of AFS Trinity would apply to my lifestyle and I would herald the claim that freed me from crippling trip to the fuel pump.

  • John

    If you use the average price for kw/hr nationally and the mileage achieved versus gasoline it’s hard to compete with a hybrid that “plugs in”. Even at the lower gas prices that we now enjoy over what it has been just a couple of months ago, any plug-in hybrid makes the best gasoline only vehicle look piggish. It’s obvious why the AFS Trinity was “muzzled” at the LA auto show. The only fair EPA estimation for any motor vehicle has to be cents/mile based on a national average for gasoline and electricity and or hydrogen or whatever.That should be based only average American’s driving habits. Personally, I drive 15 miles per day and AFS’s hybrid would save me a small fortune in gasoline and I would love to see their technology come to mass market. We shouldn’t stand for posturing by the major auto companies or the energy companies,their representatives at auto shows or their lobbyist!

  • John

    If you use the average price for kw/hr nationally and the mileage achieved versus gasoline it’s hard to compete with a hybrid that “plugs in”. Even at the lower gas prices that we now enjoy over what it has been just a couple of months ago, any plug-in hybrid makes the best gasoline only vehicle look piggish. It’s obvious why the AFS Trinity was “muzzled” at the LA auto show. The only fair EPA estimation for any motor vehicle has to be cents/mile based on a national average for gasoline and electricity and or hydrogen or whatever.That should be based only average American’s driving habits. Personally, I drive 15 miles per day and AFS’s hybrid would save me a small fortune in gasoline and I would love to see their technology come to mass market. We shouldn’t stand for posturing by the major auto companies or the energy companies,their representatives at auto shows or their lobbyist!

  • peter

    thanks Nick! Bill is on the right track…just calculate a ‘cost per mile’ using periodically-updated general prices for a gallon of gas AND/OR a kwh.

    The epa.gov website already gives a cars ‘annual fuel cost’…being: “Based on 45% highway driving, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and the price of fuel..”.

    So to know any average ‘cost per mile’ just apportion for the mechanics.

    What AFS is after is a high ‘eco-rating’. This can be accomplished by simply listing the average % that CAN come from renewable sources.

  • peter

    thanks Nick! Bill is on the right track…just calculate a ‘cost per mile’ using periodically-updated general prices for a gallon of gas AND/OR a kwh.

    The epa.gov website already gives a cars ‘annual fuel cost’…being: “Based on 45% highway driving, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and the price of fuel..”.

    So to know any average ‘cost per mile’ just apportion for the mechanics.

    What AFS is after is a high ‘eco-rating’. This can be accomplished by simply listing the average % that CAN come from renewable sources.

  • Nick Chambers

    @Bill,

    I think you’re on to something too. Btw, fixed the link… too many http’s in there. Sorry.

  • kent beuchert

    I’m amazed at the ignorance of practically everyone when it comes to calculating gas used mileage for a plug-in, such as the Chevy Volt. It’s really quite simple – simply collect data of trip distances between recharge points and their frequency. There is simply no other method of determining how much gasoline a representative fleet of such a plug-in will consume. The only data available at this point are commuting trip distances compiled by the Feds. Do the third grade level math and you will see that if you assume NO recharging at the workplace, a fleet of Volts (40 miles electric range and 50 MPG running on the range extender) wil achieve 260 MPG while commuting. While we don’t have data for non-commuting

    trips, we do know that : 1) commuting accounts for about half of private transportation gas usage, and 2) the Volt can achieve 50 MPG – thus, even if the fleet of Volts ran all their non-commuting mileage on gas alone, the overall average would top 165 MPG; thus we can safely assume an overall MPG of more than 220. That’s also assuming no recharges away from home, which is totally unrealistic. Assume 1/3rd can recharge at work and the commuting MPG jumps to over

    400. The EOa is embarrasingly ignorant of what’s required and providing an MPG on the sticker is total nonsense – that depdends not so much on the car, but the driver’s trip profile. The sticker should tell the truth – the Volt can travel 40 miles on afully charged battery and when runing on the range extender, can achieve 50 MPG. THAT is what the consumer needs to be told – not some fleet average, which is virtually guaranteed to be very diifferent from anything he will achieve. The folks at the EPA have embarrased this country by their absurd actions on this point.

  • kent beuchert

    I’m amazed at the ignorance of practically everyone when it comes to calculating gas used mileage for a plug-in, such as the Chevy Volt. It’s really quite simple – simply collect data of trip distances between recharge points and their frequency. There is simply no other method of determining how much gasoline a representative fleet of such a plug-in will consume. The only data available at this point are commuting trip distances compiled by the Feds. Do the third grade level math and you will see that if you assume NO recharging at the workplace, a fleet of Volts (40 miles electric range and 50 MPG running on the range extender) wil achieve 260 MPG while commuting. While we don’t have data for non-commuting

    trips, we do know that : 1) commuting accounts for about half of private transportation gas usage, and 2) the Volt can achieve 50 MPG – thus, even if the fleet of Volts ran all their non-commuting mileage on gas alone, the overall average would top 165 MPG; thus we can safely assume an overall MPG of more than 220. That’s also assuming no recharges away from home, which is totally unrealistic. Assume 1/3rd can recharge at work and the commuting MPG jumps to over

    400. The EOa is embarrasingly ignorant of what’s required and providing an MPG on the sticker is total nonsense – that depdends not so much on the car, but the driver’s trip profile. The sticker should tell the truth – the Volt can travel 40 miles on afully charged battery and when runing on the range extender, can achieve 50 MPG. THAT is what the consumer needs to be told – not some fleet average, which is virtually guaranteed to be very diifferent from anything he will achieve. The folks at the EPA have embarrased this country by their absurd actions on this point.

  • kent beuchert

    I’m amazed at the ignorance of practically everyone when it comes to calculating gas used mileage for a plug-in, such as the Chevy Volt. It’s really quite simple – simply collect data of trip distances between recharge points and their frequency. There is simply no other method of determining how much gasoline a representative fleet of such a plug-in will consume. The only data available at this point are commuting trip distances compiled by the Feds. Do the third grade level math and you will see that if you assume NO recharging at the workplace, a fleet of Volts (40 miles electric range and 50 MPG running on the range extender) wil achieve 260 MPG while commuting. While we don’t have data for non-commuting

    trips, we do know that : 1) commuting accounts for about half of private transportation gas usage, and 2) the Volt can achieve 50 MPG – thus, even if the fleet of Volts ran all their non-commuting mileage on gas alone, the overall average would top 165 MPG; thus we can safely assume an overall MPG of more than 220. That’s also assuming no recharges away from home, which is totally unrealistic. Assume 1/3rd can recharge at work and the commuting MPG jumps to over

    400. The EOa is embarrasingly ignorant of what’s required and providing an MPG on the sticker is total nonsense – that depdends not so much on the car, but the driver’s trip profile. The sticker should tell the truth – the Volt can travel 40 miles on afully charged battery and when runing on the range extender, can achieve 50 MPG. THAT is what the consumer needs to be told – not some fleet average, which is virtually guaranteed to be very diifferent from anything he will achieve. The folks at the EPA have embarrased this country by their absurd actions on this point.

  • http://americanenergysolver.com Austin

    Cost per mile is one way, yes. Better yet is Energy per mile, which won’t change day-to-day, and gives an excellent measure of the efficiency of a car. I detail both here: http://www.americanenergysolver.com/wordpress/?p=44

  • http://americanenergysolver.com Austin

    Cost per mile is one way, yes. Better yet is Energy per mile, which won’t change day-to-day, and gives an excellent measure of the efficiency of a car. I detail both here: http://www.americanenergysolver.com/wordpress/?p=44

  • Technomage

    When Honda, began selling the Insight, the first hybrid-car ever to market, the EPA rated it as 80mpg I believe.

    Honda objected to this number, saying it was too high. They wanted to put a more realistic number that matched their internal testing of roughly 60mpg, but the EPA prevented them from using non-EPA numbers.

    So, Honda had to post the 80MPG numbers knowing and telling people that it was not accurate.

    Such is the insanity of government sometimes.

  • Technomage

    When Honda, began selling the Insight, the first hybrid-car ever to market, the EPA rated it as 80mpg I believe.

    Honda objected to this number, saying it was too high. They wanted to put a more realistic number that matched their internal testing of roughly 60mpg, but the EPA prevented them from using non-EPA numbers.

    So, Honda had to post the 80MPG numbers knowing and telling people that it was not accurate.

    Such is the insanity of government sometimes.

  • Technomage

    When Honda, began selling the Insight, the first hybrid-car ever to market, the EPA rated it as 80mpg I believe.

    Honda objected to this number, saying it was too high. They wanted to put a more realistic number that matched their internal testing of roughly 60mpg, but the EPA prevented them from using non-EPA numbers.

    So, Honda had to post the 80MPG numbers knowing and telling people that it was not accurate.

    Such is the insanity of government sometimes.

  • Erk

    “the engine kicks in and charges a battery which then powers the car”

    This DEPENDS on if it’s a SERIAL or PARALLEL hybrid.

    A parallel hybrid will mechanicly work EXACTLY as a normal gas-powered car if the battery is empty.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain

  • Erk

    “the engine kicks in and charges a battery which then powers the car”

    This DEPENDS on if it’s a SERIAL or PARALLEL hybrid.

    A parallel hybrid will mechanicly work EXACTLY as a normal gas-powered car if the battery is empty.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain

  • Erk

    “the engine kicks in and charges a battery which then powers the car”

    This DEPENDS on if it’s a SERIAL or PARALLEL hybrid.

    A parallel hybrid will mechanicly work EXACTLY as a normal gas-powered car if the battery is empty.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain

  • steve shurts

    Actually, the whole concept of miles per gallon is outdated. With the emission standards being what they are, if one where to assume that all vehicles (including SUV’s and pickups) must meet the same emission standard, then cost of operation is the redflag item. What do I care if I get 1 mpg if my fuel source is plentiful and cost only .02 per gallon?

    If the fuel cost of operation is $0.16 per mile to drive a mid-size sedan on gasoline (assuming a 25 mpg vehicle and $4.00 gasoline), or, if it cost less than .03 per mile in gasoline cost, but an additional $0.15-0.40 per mile (depending on electricty rates) in electrical power consumption seems to be a much more consumer-friendly measurement of energy cost.

    But like most governmental agencies and large masses, inertia is a bummer…

  • steve shurts

    Actually, the whole concept of miles per gallon is outdated. With the emission standards being what they are, if one where to assume that all vehicles (including SUV’s and pickups) must meet the same emission standard, then cost of operation is the redflag item. What do I care if I get 1 mpg if my fuel source is plentiful and cost only .02 per gallon?

    If the fuel cost of operation is $0.16 per mile to drive a mid-size sedan on gasoline (assuming a 25 mpg vehicle and $4.00 gasoline), or, if it cost less than .03 per mile in gasoline cost, but an additional $0.15-0.40 per mile (depending on electricty rates) in electrical power consumption seems to be a much more consumer-friendly measurement of energy cost.

    But like most governmental agencies and large masses, inertia is a bummer…

  • James

    Who is in charge of the LA Auto Show that we can email to explain the error of their ways, and call them to task in front of the media spotlights if they refuse to repent?

  • James

    Who is in charge of the LA Auto Show that we can email to explain the error of their ways, and call them to task in front of the media spotlights if they refuse to repent?

  • James

    Who is in charge of the LA Auto Show that we can email to explain the error of their ways, and call them to task in front of the media spotlights if they refuse to repent?

  • MII

    … just do what the article did, tell us when the engine kicks in to recharge the batteries… we know our driving patterns and can then decide if the car fits our needs… the issue is that people would rather be told that a car fits some criteria from some agency instead of being given actual information about it. people discount their own ability to judge for themselves when given all the information available. please demand all the information so you can think for yourselves, dont accept some “agreed upon” standard handed down from some agency. you can think, you are capable, just give it a try, youll see, i promise!

  • MII

    … just do what the article did, tell us when the engine kicks in to recharge the batteries… we know our driving patterns and can then decide if the car fits our needs… the issue is that people would rather be told that a car fits some criteria from some agency instead of being given actual information about it. people discount their own ability to judge for themselves when given all the information available. please demand all the information so you can think for yourselves, dont accept some “agreed upon” standard handed down from some agency. you can think, you are capable, just give it a try, youll see, i promise!

  • John Palys

    AFS Trinity’s claims are not just claims. Anyone who disputes the efficacy of their MPG has simply not done therir research. Go to their website. They have a raft of detailed information on how they arrived at their 150mpgclaim. Very convincing. They USED to have their site for their Xtreme hybrid a corolla sized car that heir claim was 250mpg. They changed to the Saturn Vue hybrid for three reasons:

    1. Easy to obtain hybrid vehicle for conversion for demonstration purposes.

    2. Many drivers prefer SUV’s but are worried about $$$ economy.

    3. Shows that if an SUV can get that sort of mileage, then it’s a mute point about the smaller vehicles. Says it all right there with the SUV mpg.

    I’m signed up for one when they produce them. We can help force the issue by giving them incentive to go into production for themseleves at least by converting Saturn Vue;s et al…

    My money says that the big 3 shouldn’y get ANY bailout $$$ unless they license this technology. They are still foot dragging.

    Chico, CA

  • John Palys

    AFS Trinity’s claims are not just claims. Anyone who disputes the efficacy of their MPG has simply not done therir research. Go to their website. They have a raft of detailed information on how they arrived at their 150mpgclaim. Very convincing. They USED to have their site for their Xtreme hybrid a corolla sized car that heir claim was 250mpg. They changed to the Saturn Vue hybrid for three reasons:

    1. Easy to obtain hybrid vehicle for conversion for demonstration purposes.

    2. Many drivers prefer SUV’s but are worried about $$$ economy.

    3. Shows that if an SUV can get that sort of mileage, then it’s a mute point about the smaller vehicles. Says it all right there with the SUV mpg.

    I’m signed up for one when they produce them. We can help force the issue by giving them incentive to go into production for themseleves at least by converting Saturn Vue;s et al…

    My money says that the big 3 shouldn’y get ANY bailout $$$ unless they license this technology. They are still foot dragging.

    Chico, CA

  • John Palys

    AFS Trinity’s claims are not just claims. Anyone who disputes the efficacy of their MPG has simply not done therir research. Go to their website. They have a raft of detailed information on how they arrived at their 150mpgclaim. Very convincing. They USED to have their site for their Xtreme hybrid a corolla sized car that heir claim was 250mpg. They changed to the Saturn Vue hybrid for three reasons:

    1. Easy to obtain hybrid vehicle for conversion for demonstration purposes.

    2. Many drivers prefer SUV’s but are worried about $$$ economy.

    3. Shows that if an SUV can get that sort of mileage, then it’s a mute point about the smaller vehicles. Says it all right there with the SUV mpg.

    I’m signed up for one when they produce them. We can help force the issue by giving them incentive to go into production for themseleves at least by converting Saturn Vue;s et al…

    My money says that the big 3 shouldn’y get ANY bailout $$$ unless they license this technology. They are still foot dragging.

    Chico, CA

  • Bill Brand

    The problem with all of the above discussion is no one is asking WHY we should want to know a fuel usage rating. I can see three, maybe there are more. First is for consumer information in purchasing to determine COST of operation. Here a statement of range per charge (40 miles) and cost of charge or KW/mile plus the liquid fuel component (50 mpg or something) would work well. This is of course not the concern of EPA. The second is the need to fulfill some “mandated fleet milage”, CAFE standard based on an old technology. Count on the government to create problems for itself. Third is some reference to the vehicles carbon footprint. This is becoming more important with global warming concerns and is not simple to track. Basic results might shock some electric vehicle boosters.

    To note the obvious, the bigger the vehicle and the bigger the payload the more energy is needed. Total energy efficiency needs to be over laid on the vehicle type. For equivalent vehicles, consider the following: Dedicated ethanol vehicles such as those used by Scania in Sweden achieve 44% thermal efficiency. An electric vehicle will have a motor efficiency of 90%, a charge/discharge efficiency of 90% and an electric line transmission efficiency of 90% for a total efficiency of 73% (.90x.90x.90). Now where is that electricity coming from? If it is a typical coal fired plant with an efficiency of 60%, the total thermal efficiency of that electric vehicle is 44%. How about that! And you are driving your car on dirty coal rather than clean renewable ethanol. Most light weight vehicles will eventually be electric but they are not the immediate answer.

  • Bill Brand

    The problem with all of the above discussion is no one is asking WHY we should want to know a fuel usage rating. I can see three, maybe there are more. First is for consumer information in purchasing to determine COST of operation. Here a statement of range per charge (40 miles) and cost of charge or KW/mile plus the liquid fuel component (50 mpg or something) would work well. This is of course not the concern of EPA. The second is the need to fulfill some “mandated fleet milage”, CAFE standard based on an old technology. Count on the government to create problems for itself. Third is some reference to the vehicles carbon footprint. This is becoming more important with global warming concerns and is not simple to track. Basic results might shock some electric vehicle boosters.

    To note the obvious, the bigger the vehicle and the bigger the payload the more energy is needed. Total energy efficiency needs to be over laid on the vehicle type. For equivalent vehicles, consider the following: Dedicated ethanol vehicles such as those used by Scania in Sweden achieve 44% thermal efficiency. An electric vehicle will have a motor efficiency of 90%, a charge/discharge efficiency of 90% and an electric line transmission efficiency of 90% for a total efficiency of 73% (.90x.90x.90). Now where is that electricity coming from? If it is a typical coal fired plant with an efficiency of 60%, the total thermal efficiency of that electric vehicle is 44%. How about that! And you are driving your car on dirty coal rather than clean renewable ethanol. Most light weight vehicles will eventually be electric but they are not the immediate answer.

  • Bill Brand

    The problem with all of the above discussion is no one is asking WHY we should want to know a fuel usage rating. I can see three, maybe there are more. First is for consumer information in purchasing to determine COST of operation. Here a statement of range per charge (40 miles) and cost of charge or KW/mile plus the liquid fuel component (50 mpg or something) would work well. This is of course not the concern of EPA. The second is the need to fulfill some “mandated fleet milage”, CAFE standard based on an old technology. Count on the government to create problems for itself. Third is some reference to the vehicles carbon footprint. This is becoming more important with global warming concerns and is not simple to track. Basic results might shock some electric vehicle boosters.

    To note the obvious, the bigger the vehicle and the bigger the payload the more energy is needed. Total energy efficiency needs to be over laid on the vehicle type. For equivalent vehicles, consider the following: Dedicated ethanol vehicles such as those used by Scania in Sweden achieve 44% thermal efficiency. An electric vehicle will have a motor efficiency of 90%, a charge/discharge efficiency of 90% and an electric line transmission efficiency of 90% for a total efficiency of 73% (.90x.90x.90). Now where is that electricity coming from? If it is a typical coal fired plant with an efficiency of 60%, the total thermal efficiency of that electric vehicle is 44%. How about that! And you are driving your car on dirty coal rather than clean renewable ethanol. Most light weight vehicles will eventually be electric but they are not the immediate answer.

  • http://ixquick john ashton

    Xyz should just get over the rejection of their mpg claims and reword their ad literature to show Miles per Unit of Energy. Currently as I read the blog, the two opposing groups are comparing apples to oranges. A car using gasoline for its energy input can, for example, travel 30 miles on one gallon of gas. This means that 115000 btu’s of energy content has been used to go that far. Propane as a fuel source has approximitly 91,500 btu’s per gallon, so theoretically the car should travel 78 % less far. In practice, most users report a 2 to 3 mpg drop in actual mileage. Some cars are more efficient in handling propane than others. So, lets just deal with gasoline and electricity as an energy source. Electricity energy equivalency in thermal output is 3.14 btu’s per watt. There are 36,624 watts (36.62 kilowatts) of energy in that gallon of gasoline So, let’s look at miles traveled per energy unit i.e. kilowatts. If the xyz car can travel 300 miles using both of its gas and battery energy sources until depleted, then mpg is not the appropriate term to use for fuel economy for that particular car. Btu’s or kilowatts is indeed the more appropriate term for both the hybrid car and the purely gasoline driven car. Some European car manufacturers rate their engines in kilowatts, not horsepower. To summarize, if xyz car can travel 300 miles using only, for example, 73 kilowatts, then indeed it is far more fuel efficient than the purely gasoline powered car.

    However we know that the xyz car must stop along the way to get a plug in recharge for the batteries. There are obviously more kilowatts going into the energy system than pure gasoline. The real test of the two types of vehicles would be to put 2 gallons of gasoline in each vehicle, drive them non stop until completely out of an energy source and record the distance. Next refuel the vehicles and drive the return trip. For the xyz vehicle, be sure to add the gasoline kilowatts used and the electric recharge kilowatts used because we are going to chart distance traveled to kilowatts used regardless of energy source. Record the return mileage and tally up the results. The longest distance RT wins.

  • Marty Flick

    Nick sez: “If you only drive more than 40 miles once in a blue moon, you could have a rather ridiculous fuel economy of several thousand MPG.” – However, there are ways to calculate the difference in cost, both to the consumer and the environment. It’s been done, plenty of times. Somehow, it doesn’t sound as ‘sexy’ as an MPG estimate. Too bad.

    BTW, Some Guy – probably the only way to produce energy that doesn’t burn something (even we burn calories) – would be the perpetual motion machine. I’ve heard there’s something called The Orion Project which claims to come closer than anyone anticipated to that dream. Do we have any updates?

  • Marty Flick

    Nick sez: “If you only drive more than 40 miles once in a blue moon, you could have a rather ridiculous fuel economy of several thousand MPG.” – However, there are ways to calculate the difference in cost, both to the consumer and the environment. It’s been done, plenty of times. Somehow, it doesn’t sound as ‘sexy’ as an MPG estimate. Too bad.

    BTW, Some Guy – probably the only way to produce energy that doesn’t burn something (even we burn calories) – would be the perpetual motion machine. I’ve heard there’s something called The Orion Project which claims to come closer than anyone anticipated to that dream. Do we have any updates?

  • Marty Flick

    Nick sez: “If you only drive more than 40 miles once in a blue moon, you could have a rather ridiculous fuel economy of several thousand MPG.” – However, there are ways to calculate the difference in cost, both to the consumer and the environment. It’s been done, plenty of times. Somehow, it doesn’t sound as ‘sexy’ as an MPG estimate. Too bad.

    BTW, Some Guy – probably the only way to produce energy that doesn’t burn something (even we burn calories) – would be the perpetual motion machine. I’ve heard there’s something called The Orion Project which claims to come closer than anyone anticipated to that dream. Do we have any updates?

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