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08/14/2018

Yes, Fuel Efficiency Will Continue Improving

Despite the White House administration's efforts to cancel nearly every regulatory safeguard approved by the US government between 2008 and 2016, automakers are pressing forward with fuel efficiency standards. Researchers predict growing sales for electric cars, hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.

GM's vice president of propulsion systems said the US should do what the EU is doing, which is to make 95-grade fuel the new "regular." The VP said even though premium fuel is more expensive than regular fuel, the efficiency associated with premium fuel would help consumers save money. However, engines built for regular fuel would need to be phased out and high-compression engines would need to replace them.

You might be wondering why we're even worrying about gasoline efficiency. Everyone's driving a Tesla now! You can drive a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in California. Let's just move on, right? Well, you make a fair point. Bloomberg says the decreasing cost of batteries will bring the total cost of EV (electric vehicle) ownership below that of conventional-fuel vehicles by 2025.

As for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, they're slowly and steadily expanding. The state of California has been their testing grounds for a few years. HFC vehicles such as the Honda Clarity FC and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell could only be fueled at one of 30 stations in mid-2017. That number will increase to 100 by 2020, according to The New York Times. The next step is to expand to other states and eventually begin the push to go mainstream. Fuel cells, which are extremely efficient and only emit water vapor, also have an opportunity in public transportation. Toyota is developing a fuel-cell-powered bus.

Regardless how alternative fuel is gaining market share, all vehicles will continue gaining efficiency. The days of 8 mpg are over. Efficiency is now a key initiative for every automaker. Consumers also put emphasis on efficiency when searching for vehicles. Automotive innovation has been stagnant for many years, in some ways, but don't expect it to sit still from now on.

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