One of my recent pieces about Washington wanting to bump up fuel efficiency standards to 62 mpg by 2025 drew a lot of negative comments. Much of it along the line of “the government shouldn’t make automakers do anything” and “it’s impossible to get 60 mpg out of a real car!”
Now I don’t know about you, but I was born in America. This is the country that put a man on the moon, split the atom, and has a higher standard of living than anywhere else in the world. So why is it that the distance record for a single tank of gas now belongs to a Volkswagen Passat?
This isn’t the kind of Passat you can buy in America. It’s one of those fancy “BlueMotion” diesels we hear so much about. Loaded with all sorts of gas-saving technologies, like Start/Stop, low-rolling resistance tires, and a lower ride height, VW took their Passat from Kent, England to Southern France… and back again on a single tank. Total distance? 1,527 miles, at an average speed of 45 mph. I know that isn’t exactly “highway speeds,” but it also isn’t crawling along either. The 1.6 liter TDI diesel engine can reach 62 mph in about 12 seconds, and has a top speed of 120 mph. Again, not fast, but not slow either.
Now in fairness, the Passat has an exceptionally large gas tank, and it went through 77.25 liters, or 20.4 gallons of diesel on this trip. At its Euro-mpg rating of 64 mpg (which is more generous than the US standards) that is good for almost 1,300 miles. The crew driving the Passat however, were able to eek out 1,527 miles, or more like 74 mpg, which is a certified world record (as Guinness was on hand to verify the whole trip). VW claims it is more like 89 mpg… but again, that is using Euro standards. Basic math (1,527/20.4) says they got 74 mpg. Which is still awesome.
So don’t tell me it isn’t possible to get 62 mpg out of cars in the next 15 years. We’re already doing it today, in full-size sedans no less!