Texas says "hit the gas pedal", and with recent drastic improvements in technology in vehicles, new cars today will likely get better fuel economy than yesterday's cars at the previous lower speed limits. Read yesterday's blog to read on how Texas is raising some speed limits to 85mph.
So- what gives? Well, thanks in part to Obama's CAFE standards, new (and old) technology is finally being developed into a significant portion of vehicles- many more than it used to. Manufacturer lineups must average 54.5mpg by 2025, and already today we're seeing companies like Ford and Chevy incorporate new and old technology into more of their vehicles.
Transmissions with more gears, turbochargers, superchargers, carbon fiber- it's all on the table, and its a recipe for drastic improvements in fuel economy. ZF Technologies, for example, introduced a 9-speed automatic transmission with the potential for double digit gains in fuel economy. Chrysler plans to be one of the manufacturers planning to equip some of its minivans with the new transmission. ZF plans to cease production of its 6-speed transmission in upcoming years, replacing them with advanced units, such as the 9-speed gearbox.
And it's not just Chrysler that's looking at transmissions for fuel savings. The 2013 Ford Escape contains both a 6-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharger, and claims 33mpg highway. Things don't stop there- Mazda has brought SkyActiv technology to market, and promises 35mpg highway in its new CX-5 SUV. 35 miles per gallon! Sure, the engine is smaller, but with technology of today, it still has a responsive throttle that won't set you back your firstborn at the pump.
Turbochargers (and superchargers) have long been only used in performance vehicles, but auto enthusiasts have often beat manufactureres by adding custom turbocharging kits to vehicles. Even I did such a thing- boosting power on my old 2001 Mazda Protege from 140hp to nearly 400hp. I also saw gains in highway fuel economy because of the increase efficiency of the turbo on my engine. If you'd like to read up more on how turbochargers and superchargers work (its called forced induction), check out
The last thing I hadn't yet covered that's leading to better fuel economy? You may have heard this one- something the airline industry has been doing at an insane pace- building new planes with the incredible strength but lightweight of carbon fiber- also something auto enthusiasts have been doing to shave off pounds. Telsa has been utilizing carbon fiber in their fleet of electric vehicles, touting on their website "the advantageous strength to weight ratio of carbon fiber means using about 30% less material (by mass) than steel to build a light, strong, and safe body."
Combine all the newly utilized technology- carbon fiber, 8 or 9 speed transmissions, and turbochargers, and you can easily see double digit gains in fuel economy, and that my friends, will help your next car get better fuel economy at 85mph than yesterday's cars did at 70mph.