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Archives for the Tag: fuel-efficiency

If you’re a commuter, these cars are for you

Posted by admin on January 9th, 2015 in Category Auto Industry (no responses)

When you’re commuting to work or school daily, your car is an essential tools, just as a saw is an essential tool for a carpenter. When it comes to a saw, you’d consider sharpness, efficiency, reliability, cost and ergonomics. When it comes to a commuter car, you’d be wise to consider price, comfort, reliability and fuel economy.

At this moment, gas prices are falling. The average price at the pump has dipped below $2.00 per gallon in some parts of the country. The mountain range graph of retail fuel prices in the United States over the last decade featured a steep incline from $1.03 per gallon on December 17, 2001to a peak of $4.10 per gallon on July16, 2008, then fell off a cliff to bottom out at $1.59 per gallon on December 29, 2008, according to data gathered by GasBuddy.com, a provider of retail fuel pricing information and data. Patrick DeHaan, a Senior Petroleum Analyst at GasBuddy.com, noted that “consumers are already buying vehicles with lower fuel economy.” He stated that average fuel efficiency for new cars bought in December 2014 was 25.1 mpg, down from 25.8 mpg in August 2014. A similar phenomenon occurred during the last price decline, though the recession muted car buying in general. The GasBuddy Fuel Price Outlook 2015 predicts that the national average will be $2.642 per gallon over 2015, with a peak average of $3.00 and a low average of $2.36 per gallon during the year. “2015 should present a much more temperate gasoline price background than 2012, 2013 and 2014,” according to the report. Still, consumers should avoid complacency. “Avoid making a long-term commitment to a gas-guzzler,” advises DeHaan. “Consider the long-term volatility of unpredictable gas prices.”

To help you avoid complacency, we have put together a list of The Best Cars For Commuters 2015. Our selection is drawn from the Consumer Reports list of Recommended Cars. To be recommended, cars must deliver high scores in the Consumer Union’s “more than 50 tests, have average or better predicted reliability; and perform adequately if included in a government or insurance industry crash test.” Cars are rated on a scale of 1 – 100, with higher scores being best. Next, we examined gas mileage, as reported on the official source for fuel economy, fueleconomy.gov. Better fuel economy equates to bigger savings for commuters. Then we considered fuel capacity and range. Great efficiency without adequate range means more stops to refuel (or recharge) and lost time. We did not factor in purchase price into our selection. The base price range of vehicles this year was from $21,345 all the way to $89,650, with drivetrains ranging from conventional gasoline to hybrid gasoline/electric to pure electric.

Read the full story here.

Could plunging oil prices be a problem for the auto industry?

Posted by admin on November 10th, 2014 in Category Auto Industry, Going Green (no responses)

While plunging oil prices are receiving a warm welcome by U.S. airlines, auto makers, and corn farmers, a persistent decline does carries risks for corporate America.

Crude oil prices have dropped about 25% in just over four months, hitting a three-year low of $77.19 a barrel on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, they nudged up to $78.65.

The plunge is causing pain in a U.S. oil patch that has expanded substantially in recent years, and figures to hurt manufacturers that supply the energy sector. But the oil slump also is shrinking fuel bills for transportation companies and for consumers, who are likely to spend at least some of the savings, giving a boost to the economy.

Perhaps the biggest direct beneficiary is the airline industry. Fuel is its No. 1 expense, costing U.S. carriers a combined $51 billion last year. Airlines for America, the industry’s leading trade group, estimates that every penny per gallon change up or down equates to $190 million in the U.S. industry’s annual fuel expense at current consumption rates.

Spot jet-fuel prices have slid about 16% from early September, which analysts said shaves about $5 billion off 2015 fuel-bill projections for the industry made before oil began its latest slide. In the near term, those savings “will go straight to the bottom line,” said Scott Kirby, president of American Airlines Group Inc., the largest U.S. carrier by traffic.

For similar reasons, express delivery companies FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. stand to benefit, as does the trucking industry—which carries 69% of all U.S. freight tonnage. For them, lower fuel costs are helping offset higher wages stemming from a driver shortage.

The express delivery companies generally pass on fuel savings to customers, but not immediately—which means those savings can show up in their bottom lines. “Certainly if prices stay as low as they are, that would be a benefit for the fourth quarter,” UPS Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn said in an interview last month.

Cheaper oil also benefits farmers, and not only because they spend less on tractor fuel. If lower gasoline prices encourage Americans to pump more into their vehicles, that could stimulate demand for ethanol, a fuel additive whose production is one of the biggest users of U.S. corn.

Low gasoline prices also help U.S. auto makers by emboldening consumers to buy more pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, which generally yield higher profits than small cars. Sales of Detroit-brand large SUVs such as General Motors Co. ’s Chevrolet Suburban are up 16% so far this year, and sales of big pickups like Ford Motor Co. ’s F-150 rose 9.5% in October.

But an oil-price slump can cut both ways for U.S. industry.

In the case of auto makers, the government requires them to boost the average fuel economy of their U.S. car and light trucks every year to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Hitting that target entails selling lots of small cars, electric vehicles, and larger vehicles made with costly lightweight materials and other fuel-saving hardware.

Ford executives warned last month that consumers, lulled by low pump prices, may not opt for vehicles that hold down greenhouse-gas emissions, sometimes with more costly technology. At GM, Chevy dealers have only 59 days’ supply of Suburbans on their lots, but are sitting on more than three months’ worth of unsold Sonic and Spark subcompacts and Volt plug-in hybrids, according to Autodata Corp.

“It’s turning into a stampede away from fuel-efficiency,” says Mike Jackson, head of AutoNation Inc., the No. 1 auto dealership chain in the U.S.

Read the full story here.