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Episode 1098 – MPG Tech That Works, New CNG Fuel Tanks, Mopar Building Raptor Killer?

March 25th, 2013 at 11:51am

Runtime: 8:15

The latest generations of hybrids and small displacement engines with turbos fall well short of the fuel economy they’re supposed to deliver. So that begs the question, what technology does improve fuel efficiency? Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory develop a new lightweight, space-saving CNG fuel tank. Mopar is considering building a version of the Ram pick-up based on the concept vehicles it showed off at Moab last week. All that and more, plus host John McElroy gives his insight on why commercial truck fleets in the U.S. are real interested in natural gas and propane.

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Welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily, and now let’s get to the news.

CAR SALES STRONG IN U.S.
Car sales in the U.S. are still going strong. Wards Auto World forecasts that automakers will sell over 1.4 million vehicles in the American market this month, which is up nearly 8 percent from a year ago. That translates to a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR of 15.3 million units. We’ll get the official results next week.

FORD CUTS WATER USE
The auto industry consumes a lot of natural resources but one that doesn’t get talked about much is water. H20 is needed for things like cooling towers at car plants, parts washing and for painting cars. A little over a year ago Ford announced plans to cut the amount of water it uses by 30 percent by 2015. And it’s almost there. It’s already cut its per vehicle water use by 25 percent. Since 2000 its total use is down over 60 percent. Ford wants to use an average of 1,056 gallons to build each vehicle globally. That’s 3,997 liters.

MPG TECHNOLOGY THAT WORKS
As we reported here before Consumer Reports did, the latest generations of hybrids seem to fall well short of the fuel economy they’re supposed to deliver. The same goes for small displacement engines with turbos. So what technology does improve fuel efficiency? We’ve been saying that continuously variable transmissions deliver terrific real world fuel economy. Consumer Reports agrees. It also adds direct fuel injection, conventional transmissions with more gears and electric power steering. And when you combine these technologies together, cars get noticeably better fuel economy.

LESS FILLING CNG TANKS
One of the major draw-backs of using a compressed natural gas fuel system is the amount of room that the fuel tanks take up. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a new lightweight, space-saving CNG fuel tank. They are made using superplastic forming technology along with friction air welding, which fuses metal sheets together at specific points to form internal air chambers. The tanks can be made to fit under a vehicle, they weigh less than traditional cylinders and will cost under $1500. And we have more about CNG coming up in the second part of the show.

MOPAR TO BUILD RAPTOR KILLER?
As we said last week after Mopar unveiled six concept models at Moab, that it sometimes comes out with a package based on one of the vehicles. It looks like it could be a Ram pick-up that could take on Ford’s SVT Raptor. Mopar says they want to do more research, but if it makes sense they’ll do it.

R.I.P. BOBBY SMITH
As many of you might’ve seen on our Autoline Twitter feed, Bobby Smith, from the ’70s soul group The Spinners died last week. In addition to singing hits like “Could it be I’m Falling in Love,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” and “I’ll Be Around ,” Mr. Smith, who grew up in Ferndale, Michigan, was also a life-long car buff. In fact, he credits the way his friends customized their cars with chrome Cadillac hub caps for giving him the inspiration to come up with the group’s name — The Detroit Spinners, which they later shortened to “The Spinners.” In case you’ve never experienced Bobby Smith’s singing or the group at its absolute peak, you can’t go wrong with their classic 1972 album called simply “The Spinners.”

Coming up next, a look the how commercial truck fleets in the U.S. are getting real interested in natural gas and propane.

Commercial truck fleets in the United States are getting very interested in converting to natural gas or propane because prices are so low. Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner and Thomas Built Bus have jumped into the market. International has a cost calculator on its website that shows how a Class 8 semi that runs on CNG can save over $150,000 over the life of the truck.

Unfortunately, for now, LPG and CNG don’t make much sense for you and me. There simply aren’t enough fueling stations to accommodate us. But for truck fleets that run the same routes and return to the same yard every night, it makes a lot of sense. Today’s natural gas prices are typically $1.50 a gallon-equivalent cheaper than gasoline and $2 cheaper than diesel.

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all offer CNG or LPG trucks. Ford has 10 different models. It charges $325 to add harder valves and valve seats, but a customer must spend an additional $10,000 or so to add the tanks and fuel system. However, for many fleets, which easily put 100,000 miles on a truck a year, the payback is only two years. Ford says its sales of these vehicles, while still small, have shot up 350 percent since 2009.

Natural gas and propane in gaseous form hold less energy than gasoline or diesel, but by using liquid natural gas or liquid propane, trucks can pack much more fuel into a tank. Also, new fuel injection systems inject the fuel into the engine in liquid form, not gaseous, providing similar power and driveability to gasoline or diesel. LPG has a 105 octane rating, CNG is at 130. So far none of the OEM’s are modifying their engines to take advantage of this octane boost, so there could be further efficiencies to come. Depending the on duty cycle these trucks emit 20-30 percent fewer greenhouse gasses.

Outside the U.S. liquid propane, commonly called autogas, is the most popular. It is the third most common fuel in the world, after gasoline and diesel. There are roughly 17 million vehicles running on LPG worldwide, mainly in Poland, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and Europe.

But fracking is an American innovation. This is where natural gas prices have fallen the most and are likely to stay under petroleum prices for decades to come. So the U.S. is likely to catch up quickly with the rest of the world because the savings are simply too big to ignore.

Anyway that’s how I see it, and that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

81 Comments to “Episode 1098 – MPG Tech That Works, New CNG Fuel Tanks, Mopar Building Raptor Killer?”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    CNG – The one single and most critical question no one is asking when it comes to using CNG for transportation usage is again…

    ….. Where’s it all supposed to come from ?

    Fracking is at best a questionable technology ( USGS ) …. and all bets are ….. that by increasing the demand using CNG ( and LPG for that matter ) in cars in trucks will rapidly increase the prices of CNG/LPG … thereby increasing some 60% of the countries home heating costs …. which…… in case no one’s noticed … most of the country’s population cannot afford

    ;-)

  2. David Sprowl Says:

    I have to wonder if diesel locomotive should be converted to LPG or CNG?

  3. ColoradoKid Says:

    ALD and tech support

    The system is running slower than molasses in January as well as blocking some folks from posting at all ….

    Not complaining mind you …. just informing

  4. Bradley Says:

    I wonder how a CVT compares to a manual transmission. A manual should have less friction and benefits from the inputted driver’s energy to shift gears.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    2,
    For an engine to run on CNG or LPG, it needs spark ignition, or it needs to use some diesel fuel along with the gas. There are spark ignition “conversions” of diesels for large trucks, but I don’t know of any large enough for locomotives. Locomotives would seem to be a good application, though. You can just add more “tender” cars to carry the high volume of fuel needed.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here are the primary natural gas truck/bus engines that I’m aware of:

    http://www.cumminswestport.com

  7. rick Says:

    what credibility does consumer reports have? last time i was in europe i rented a renault with a 1.2L engine. which is the replacement for the 1.4L in the renault i rented time before last. and was very impressed with fuel efficiency of both these vehicles. small displacement engines can and do provide great fuel efficiency. 1.2L in most recent renault scenic is unbelievably efficient.

  8. Mike Says:

    As to what works for fuel economy, you might include on your list light duty Diesels. It is also true that there is a practical limit to the number of gears that are useful. 7 or 8 is the max number I have heard. Of course the CVT is an infinite number of gears, but that have been limitations as to how much torque they can handle. Even though displacements have as a trend been getting smaller, Torque outputs, especially with GDI, have been rising.

    Mike

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #4,
    These days, even a conventional automatic matches, or nearly matches a manual in mpg.

    Yeah, it would seem that CVT’s would have more friction loss, but there must not be much actual loss, because they seem to get very good mpg. The CVT-equipped 4 cylinder Accord and Altima get the best mpg in their class in CR’s tests, and in EPA numbers. The Camry and Fusion hybrids and Passat TDI, of course, do substantially better.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    From every report I’ve read, the mileage diff between manual and auto transmissions is almost nil and in some cases the auto gets even better numbers, possibly due to the way most manual drivers abuse the throttle compared to auto drivers.

  11. ColoradoKid Says:

    CVT’s

    I’ve got to be honest here … having driven a couple of cars with them I’m not impressed regardless of any possible mpg claims … not to mention they feel downright odd , counterintuitive …. as well as just a bit …. HAL creepy ……. at least IMHO … so I can say without hesitation I’d avoid buying any car that had one

  12. Bradley Says:

    #9

    Yea, that probably is true. I like how a manual transmission lets me shift to neutral before a stop light or begin the downshift process. Maybe once cars are autonomous, the benefits of hyper-miling can be automated.

  13. chuck @ GM Says:

    @ CK #1 I don’t know about fracking altering the price of LPG or CNG significantly, at least for awhile. The price of natural gas dropped so much recently, my son who wrenches those “fracking” trucks in Pennsylvania, he got by, but his company laid off a bunch of mechanics because there is/was so much gas on the market they are waiting for the supply to go down and the price to go up. They closed down an entire garage.

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    System now seems to be running fine …. Molto Grazie ALD ….

    8)

  15. ColoradoKid Says:

    #13

    You misunderstood my post Chuck . I said that increased ‘ Demand ‘ would raise the price of CNG & LPG …. not ‘ Fracking ‘

    Fracking will just raise the price of your homeowners insurance – repairs – maintenance – property taxes ( to pay for the damage caused by fracking ) as well as …….. health costs ( USGS )

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    Certain Chrysler workers have also been saving H20 by only drinking C2H50H at breaks and lunch.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    #16 – :o

  18. W L Simpson Says:

    When gaseous fuels become high usage , the price will rise accordingly.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that the Chinese authorities are blaming German cars for poisoning the air in China. The nerve of these Commies!!

  20. HtG Says:

    gasbags

    Of course, when supply and demand meet, markets clear. There’s a huge gas field off the coast of Israel, and here’s an article on the implications of Israel’s recent apology to Turkey. Here comes gas.

    http://www.cyprus-mail.com/cyprus/turkey-and-israel-change-gas-game/20130325

  21. HtG Says:

    Xi

    Chinese premier Xi was in Russia last week talking about improving relations. They talked about a gas pipeline to China among other things.

    The Great Game, anyone?

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    #19 – Yeah …. don’t you just love the irony of that !

    The Chinese having the nerve to accuse anyone of anything poisoning their population ….. while the Chinese government literally and figuratively gasses them to death with their copious amounts of pollution from their factories , utility providers , congested traffic , refineries …etc

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Between the Russkies and the Commie-Chinamen, they got more money than they know what to do with, are we gonna see more America and Europe for sale signs in the future?

  24. GM Veteran Says:

    For once I have to wholeheartedly agree with CK (#11). I would take any car off of my consideration list if it came with a CVT. I was surprised that Honda and Nissan equipped their volume carlines with this type of transmission. Then again, the type of people that buy Accords and Altimas wouldn’t even notice the difference between a CVT and any other type of trans. They are “appliance shoppers” and only care about reliably getting from A to B.

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the dual clutch automatics. Porsche has been able to realize significant increases in their MPG numbers while also lowering 0-60 times in their cars equipped with this type of transmission. I really expected to see more of this type of transmission become available in other brands of cars, but it seems to be favored by the Germans almost exclusively (Ford is one exception with the Focus). The horrible track record of reliability and warranty expense associated with CVT’s should also convince automakers to look elsewhere for efficiency increases.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    I much prefer a 5 or 6 speed normal auto over these CVT or double clutch jobs, I am always thinking long range reliability and durability when it comes to all things automotive, and frankly I just don’t trust these new-fangled trannies and small displacement turbo engines.

  26. ColoradoKid Says:

    #24

    +1 …. on all counts

    ——

    Pedro – #23 – The UK’s already been there … done that .. what with Aunt Maggie’s ” Selling England by the Pound ” tactics of the past … continuing on to the present day . Truthfully … we’re not far behind them at the present rate we’re going either .

  27. HtG Says:

    24 You got that right, GMVet. Here’s a ‘startup’(cue the ooooohs and aaaaahs) hoping to get people playing trivia games while they drive. Links to AllthingsD.

    http://allthingsd.com/video/?video_id=3E84402D-7FC2-4A47-A63E-0A245878D2AB

    One new thing I see these days is passengers in cars with their faces buried in their phones. They don’t look outside.

  28. David Says:

    “MPG that works” The premise of this article seems a little disingenuous. It is a big jump to say that cars that are missing their sticker ratings 5-10% but are still 30-40 % more efficient than a conventional counterpart are somehow “not working”. I think people want to plug it down the highway at 75 and get the same mileage as rated at some lower speed/drive cycle. There used to be so many other losses on the car that the mileage difference wasn’t as large and was also fewer MPG digits since a 5% improvement is 1 MPG in the 20s, but > 2 MPG in the 40s.
    This is also noticeable with creature comforts. It is possible for consumers to measure the MPG impact of A/C and other auxiliary systems. And plugins, these even feel the effects of heating the cabin.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24,
    As far as “not liking” CVT’s, it seems that people who drive one for a few minutes don’t like them, but people who drive them regularly like them just fine. Really, what is there not to like, as long as they don’t break? With proper programming, they just “do the right thing” all the time, as far as selecting the correct gear ratio. You tell the car how fast you want to accelerate with your right foot, and the throttle/CVT management selects the gear ratio and throttle position to do it most efficiently.

    Also, GM Veteran, I’m not sure where you get “The horrible track record of reliability and warranty expense associated with CVT’s should also convince automakers to look elsewhere for efficiency increases,” but Nissan has been using a lot of CVT’s for years, with a very good track record. The Toyota and Ford hybrids have been reliable, but their “CVT” is nothing but gears, with no actual change in ratio, so are extremely simple mechanically, and are reliable.

    VW seems to have the best dual clutch transmissions used in “mainstream” cars. At least they work very well, with smooth, quick, rev-matched shifts, both up and down. I’m not sure about their reliability, though.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s a Ford that sounds like a lot of fun:

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130325/CARREVIEWS/130329881?utm_source=DailyDrive20130325&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=image3&utm_content=20130325–2014-Ford-Fiesta-ST-drive-review&utm_campaign=awdailydrive

  31. ColoradoKid Says:

    #28 I drove my old neighbor in KC’s Murano for a day when making Decision 2011 ….. suffice it to say I hated the CVT …. with a passion ( the rest of the car was …. fine )

    The ‘ right thing ‘ according to the computer programing many times is not what you really > need < at that point in time regardless of how complex or sophisticated the programing may be .

    I heard a great quote last week used in a business context that IMO fits the CVT( and autonomous ) thing as well ;

    " Too much of life now tries to run on formula's and equations . The problem being Life rarely if ever fits into those formulas and equations as Life in general is pretty messy and unpredictable "

    —–

    Bradley – Not to be rude , insulting or anything … but seeing as how you've consistently been a major advocate here for Autonomous Cars …. I've got to ask the question ;

    Just what the heck is it in your life that is so gawd awful important that you're so unwilling to take a few minutes or hours even out of your day to actually … Drive …. a car ?

    My guess is ( in fact I know ) if you were being completely honest with yourself … the answer would be … absolutely nothing . Oh you might try to answer say … Tweeting – Texting – Cell conversations – watching videos etc ….. but … if you're being truly honest …. you're going to have to admit in the overall scheme of things those things are absolutely … meaningless .

    So put aside the ephemeral for an hour or two a day …. and … Enjoy the Drive 8)

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    This should make a dent in the Fiat 500 Abarth sales numbers, at least the basic platform is a lot more sound and so is the engine.

  33. ColoradoKid Says:

    ALD – System failure again I’m afraid ( a semi long post keeps getting obliterated … HtG had the same this morning )

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    According to Reuters, automakers are donating $8 million to Detroit so they can buy emergency vehicles for the almost bankrupt city, I hope they don’t use it to buy Mexican or Chinese made vehicles.

  35. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit – #28- re; CVT’s …. whats ‘ right ‘ for the computer isn’t always the ‘ right thing ‘ for your actual needs at the point the programing on the CVT’s making the decisions … I drove my old neighbor in KC’s Murano for a day and more than once was less than happy with what the computer was doing ….

    A quote I heard last week in a business discussion that fits right in with CVT’s ( and autonomous vehicles ) ;

    ” The problem of late is too much of life is being decided by formulas and equations : when in fact life is not one formula or equation after another….. but is rather … very messy and unpredictable “

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33,
    A properly programmed CVT, which seems to apply with the new Accord, based on the mpg and acceleration, provides the best possible acceleration and mpg, given the engine power and car size. To me, that is a good thing in a car used for regular transportation.

    If you want “driver involvement,” you get a manual transmission with three pedals, as I did with my MINI.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #30,
    I suspect the Abarth buyers are mainly going for the retro styling, and the Italian Connection. The Fiesta ST is a much more serious driver’s car. I’m looking forward to the comparisons with the MINI Cooper S.

  38. T. Bejma Says:

    Mileage for small displacement turbos…

    Friend of mine who just traded in his 2011 Camaro 2SS for a 2013 Cruze Eco (1.4l turbo) is getting up to 47 mpg on some I-75 highway trips with no mods and only very mild hypermiling (come on, he came from a 500hp beast).

    My Cruze (same 1.4l turbo manual without the Eco stuff and lower 6th gear) only has 228 miles on it and Onstar is reporting a 26 mpg lifetime after 75% city driving. I expect it to go up as it get’s “broke” in (and also want to verify odo and mileage reading with a fresh tank).

    Even TrueDelta is giving the Cruze 34 – 42 mpg combined from actual owners. Again, you have to wonder where CR get’s their data…

  39. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit – On the CVT discussion …. you’ve completely missed the point …. and if you remember correctly …. my MINI had the manual as well …. fact is the auto in my Benz reacts ten times faster and more accurately than the CVT in that Murano … when I need it to …. as much a difference as there’d be between a manual and an automatic in fact . Have you ever driven a CVT equipped car extensively Kit ? If not you’re basing your opinion/argument on second hand knowledge , CR rhetoric ( I’m guessing ) and corporate propaganda .

    As to Abarth buyers I’d say ….. what Abarth buyers ?

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36,
    CR gets their highway number by driving at a steady 65 mph with the car warmed up. They get their city number by doing a short test cycle, with lots of stops, and starting with the engine cold.

    I don’t know the exact details of their “city” test, but it generates very low numbers for all cars. They only got 32 mpg from a Prius, and 17 from an automatic Cruze eco in their city test. They got 55 and 40, respectively, in their highway test from a Prius and automatic Cruze eco. They haven’t tested a manual Cruze eco, but I wish they would.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    37,
    I’ve driven my “E-CVT” Prius a lot. I’ve driven a regular CVT Nissan Cube a little. I haven’t driven a new Accord with the CVT.

    My statement of acceleration vs mpg vs car size, is based on published test data which shows the new Accord and Altima to have the best performance/mpg compared to the non-CVT, non-hybrid/non-diesel competition.

  42. Bradley Says:

    Water…
    One of the learning channels has an episode on the Camaro factory. It definitely has a marketing spin, but interesting. Especially when you compare it to the same series’ show on the 911.

    The final quality check was touted and bragged about for the Camaro-the rain seal check. It floored me that they had to actually run each car through a car wash to see if all the seals worked.

    Shouldn’t the basic design and smaller quality checks along the manufacturing process, remove the need to actually do a rain check.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe they figure the rain test will show a number of different possible defects with a single, simple test. Just a thought.

  44. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit – Got to be honest here … the only CVT experience I’ve had that was worse than that Murano was with our friends Prius . That car’s CVT in and of its its self would of been more than sufficient to have turned me off to CVT’s forever without driving the Murano as well . Agricultural would be my summation of the Prius’s ( at least his ) CVT performance .

    —–

    T Bejma – CR gets their ‘ data ‘ from the palm of their hand …. as in someone else ‘ greasing ‘ it …. if’n ya catches my drift …… ;-)

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CK, Whatever one thinks of CR in general, they are very conscientious in their gas mileage testing, and provide the only real alternative to the EPA numbers for comparing cars. Their numbers make complete sense, and always have. Their city ratings are low, but as a way to compare different cars, they are valid.

    As I’ve said before, the people who hate CVT’s are those who haven’t driven them much. You get used to the way they work, and appreciate that they aren’t doing those non-rev matched downshifts like like older automatics, that make you feel like you are abusing the machinery every time you step on the gas hard. Yes, I’m sure the 7-speed in your Benz works very well.

    Prius drivers are among the most satisfied of all car owners, and the new Accord also does very well in owner satisfaction, at least in CR’s survey.

  46. chuck @ GM Says:

    @ 40 Brad – “Rain Checks” do get performed during development of the vehicles. As for the plants, I know of some that can run the rain check again, I have seen the facility to do it. Perhaps the test is run because the development test, tests to see the design meet requirements, and the factory one tests the assembly was done correctly. Don’t bet your eldest on that, but that would seem to be the case to me. Maybe TJ knows more about it.

  47. G.A.Branigan Says:

    http://usdebtclock.org/auto-sales.html

  48. HtG Says:

    nice to see you back, GA.

  49. Bradley Says:

    #31

    I love to drive cars. It is a true passion of mine. However, my mentioning of autonomous cars is less of a personal desire, than an inevitable reality (in my opinion).

    The majority of people take no joy in driving. Autonomous fixes that and allows people to do other things while in transit-safely.

  50. T. Bejma Says:

    #42

    An incorrectly assembled seal or window guide could cause a water leak no matter how well the vehicle was designed. Remember, people, not machines currently do a majority of the final assembly. A water leak is one of the biggest customer dissatisfiers so a simple water test is good insurance, and it cleans off the car…

  51. HtG Says:

    Peter D.’s sense of humor is better than Porsche’s

    PDL writes in OnTheTable that Porsche GT3′s flappy paddles will have more “tactile feedback” and that the rear wheels will do some steering for the ‘driver.’ It’s getting rich out there.

    The quote,…

    “…even faster shifting and shift paddles with shorter travel and increased tactile feedback. For the first time, Porsche is employing active rear wheel steering to achieve even higher steering precision and improved lateral dynamics. Depending on the speed, the rear wheels steer in the same or opposite direction of the front wheels, improving stability and agility. Other new features are an electronically controlled, fully variable rear differential lock and dynamic engine mounts.”

    Unless the next Miata is a proper driver’s car, I’m declaring this show, So Over.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Welcome back, G.A.

  53. Bradley Says:

    #31
    I should restate that, the majority of people would prefer to do many other things before driving.

    #50
    Yea, that makes sense. I would be very surprised if all automakers do an actual rain check on the finished car.

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Thanx guys……hopefully no more sybil. @ 49: can you site some referrences that “The majority of people take no joy in driving. Autonomous fixes that and allows people to do other things while in transit-safely”.I have never seen or read that anywhere,and I know for a fact no one asked me…..

  55. Bradley Says:

    #54

    It is my opinion. Based on my friends, co-workers and the generalizations about the younger generation.

    The younger generation is finding freedom in other ways. I think this has been mentioned indirectly on this show.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #54,
    I haven’t been asked either, but in honesty, I like cars, as machines, better than I like most driving. There are too many people talking and texting, blocking the passing lane, and various other aspects of inattentive and inconsiderate driving. When the conditions are right, though, I really like driving. I can’t imagine I’d ever want an autonomous car, in spite of the annoyances of driving these days.

  57. HtG Says:

    54 I sold my Miata largely because of the disinterested driving and walking around here. You can’t do anything when other people aren’t paying attention, texting, entering and blocking the left lane right before turns(really, all the time), stepping into traffic because headphones, etc. I couldn’t take it anymore in my supposedly ‘fun’ car. I count two instances of stunning idiocy per trip as par. (hey, The Masters!)

  58. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Although I don’t drive as much as I used too,I still love to drive.I doubt I’ll live long enough to see autonomous cars an everyday reality….thank God.

  59. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HTG: it does make a difference where one lives as to how one drives,or is driven ;}>

  60. HtG Says:

    59 you bet. The population density here north of NYC, and the high handed attitudes of the people make for peculiar sights. The scary thing is kids on their phones; last week I watched a little kid walking with traffic around a blind turn, wearing dark clothes, and talking on his phone. Just sickening to think what happens if a driver is inattentive. Of course, I’ve just made an argument for autonomous cars.

  61. ColoradoKid Says:

    Driving

    Maybe its because I’m back living in the West . Maybe I’m all alone on this site … or maybe its Franz ( GLK ) thats renewed my interest …. but I still love getting in the car …. turning the key ( or when I had the MINI … pushing the button ) deciding which route at what time of the day will prove most interesting .. the journey … arriving .. and then getting back in to do the whole thing all over again to return home

    That ( Bradley ) is genuine ‘ Freedom ‘ Not the perceived Freedom of sticking ones nose in ones Smart Pad/Phone what ever and playing around as we are here on the internet / Twitter Facebook etc etc .

    ” Real ” freedom ! Versus that Perceived Freedom which in truth is more a ‘ Prison ‘ and an addiction than freedom

    —–

    G.A. Glad yer back …. so you left cause of the Sybil’s .. ?

  62. ColoradoKid Says:

    #60

    Seriously HtG … you don’t really think autonomous cars will fix anything … do you ?

    Fact is all bets are they’ll cause more problems than regular cars could ever hope the create .

  63. HtG Says:

    61 Sometimes, I just need a little whine, CK. Getting into the Miata, putting the top down, starting it up, donning shades and gloves, you bet that’s fun. I still take a special route for the grocery run in the Civic, because there’s all these turns where I can mess with physics, all with no nanny. I know I did it right if I’m a little nauseated from myself.

  64. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > So what technology does improve
    > fuel efficiency? We’ve been saying
    > that continuously variable trans
    > missions deliver terrific real
    > world fuel economy. Consumer Reports
    > agrees. It also adds direct fuel
    > injection, conventional transmissions
    > with more gears and electric power
    > steering.

    Conventional transmissions with more gears: Does that mean manual transmissions? If we have to reduce CO2, I would like to see more automatically manipulated countershaft (or, layshaft) transmissions, i.e. “automatic manual” transmissions. They are said to be a little more efficient than automatic transmissions that use planetary gearsets.

    Continuously variable transmissions would work well with automatic systems whereby your right foot’s pressure on the gas pedal is just another input into the engine master control computer, which would then pro-actively and simultaneously vary throttle position and CVT ratio to attain the smoothest and most economical performance. BTW did Consumer Reports have anything to say about cam phasers on both intake and exhaust cams? That’s another variable said master control system can maniuplate.

  65. HtG Says:

    62 I think lots of people are already checking out. It’s coming. And for driving in straight lines, like most of the country, how much are people missing? Computing power is getting cheaper, faster, communications are doing the same.

  66. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CK:Yes.I got sick and tired of his demeaning attitude towards everyone and said something to her ;}>

    @ HtG: Out here in mountain land the roads are good,we don’t suffer the potholes/frost heaves that ya’ll have to put up with back east.Some great corners etc.

    Doing the PCH is inspiring/phunn/and interesting as hell.If any of you haven’t had the pleasure,including you John Mc,ya’ll need to just grab it,and do it.

  67. HtG Says:

    I drove north on the PCH from Bodega Bay to the Russian river a few years ago. That’s the fantasy.

  68. HtG Says:

    After Hours

    Attempt to reply to comment 70 from previous show, from earlier today.

    70. CK, I read No Brow some years ago, but your understanding of the term may differ from my recollection. I thought NB was an observation that we had lost distinctions between high and low, but that this wasn’t purely bad. The elites may need to settle down. What do you mean when you refer to that book?

    F 8/10
    Kimi grid penalty. DC, who was in KL, said that in speaking to the race stewards there was cockpit communication and telemetry that showed Kimi to have been in the wrong. This in despite of what DC said the video evidence showed.(remember how I watch the show)

    The Show. This morning Paul Hembrey said Pirelli would consider changing the compounds by no later than Bahrain. I think they went too far, making drivers truly circulate in circles, not drive according to their ability. Time for Bernie to go into real estate, full time?

    Nico. Ross Brawn may be in the crosshairs, now. Nico’s argument is that if he had been allowed to pass, he may have been able to pressure the RedBulls into damaging their tires. Check out sites like Crash.net and YallaF1.http://www.yallaf1.com/2013/03/25/civil-war-looming-at-mercedes-after-team-orders-saga-in-malaysia/

    Vettel. We’ll see what’s in his contract, but Webber’s not long for F1 so his leverage is limited.

  69. Julius Lambert Says:

    This is a good route to go,but we still need the feedstock for plastics manufacturing.That meand that we still have to consume plenty of gasoline,in order to get the light ends gases for plastics.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #64, Alex says:

    “I would like to see more automatically manipulated countershaft (or, layshaft) transmissions, i.e. “automatic manual” transmissions. They are said to be a little more efficient than automatic transmissions that use planetary gearsets.”

    Interesting. I hadn’t heard that, but it makes sense. You have lots of extra gear teeth engaged with planetaries, each of which would have some friction, and would be shearing some lubricant. The virtue of planetary gear sets is that bearings don’t have to deal with side load, but roller bearings don’t have much friction.

  71. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – Re-read No Brow especially the ending where he all but says he’s wasted so much time and money following a No Brow life style … and seriously …. in the beginning he’s becoming a part of it but by the end of the book he’s soundly condemning it

    No Brow = It doesn’t matter if its any good …. worth anything at all … or even in reality desirable …. as long as its making money its fantastic

    Kimi – Telemetry shmeletry ….. the Videos ( three different angles ) showed it all ….. Kimi did nada … and Remember …. Kimi aint exactly on DC’s Xmas Card and Guest list … so a bit of bias from DC against Kimi is to be expected

    Brawn ? Hows about Ferrari lying thru their teeth claiming they made the decision not to bring Solonso in ? You heard the pit radio ? ( in Italian ) They said come in …. he said No !

    IMO Rosberg junior need to quit with the Whinging Brit impersonation ….. get a bit of Sisu like his old man ( Finnish idiom … look it up … its a great word …. ) and get on with the job of driving and not whining like DC and DH always did .

    Little Rosberg better hope Nikki Lauda ( remember he’s now team principal ) doesn’t get his hands around Nico’s whinging little neck let me tell you

  72. ColoradoKid Says:

    G.A. Branigan

    PCH .. wife and I …. in …. the last version of the Hertz Shelby Mustang a few years ago …. two thumbs up ….. wife loved it as well … from SF to the Oregon mid coast …… yeah baby … now get yer tush out this away and I’ll clue you into the Mile High Drives of a lifetime

    8)

  73. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – meant to add …. little Rosberg has yet to prove himself a driver capable of forcing Vettel into a mistake …. so even if there is an ounce of truth to his whinging Brawn would of been a fool to let Rosberg try …… he’s not that good . And at this rate focusing more energy into complaining than doing whats needed to get the job done …. he never will be .

    Jeeze … and here I was hoping as watching his old man in action was a sight to behold

  74. HtG Says:

    Bernie’s got himself a reality show this year, for sure. He’s stirring the pot himself, today.

    Interesting bit about Alonso not coming in, the team were waiting with a new wing.

    DC will be entertaining this year too, as he was ever relegated by Ron’s favoritism/sense of responsibility toward Mika.

  75. ColoradoKid Says:

    Yeah Bernie’s going a bit over the top today for certain . I’m not thoroughly convinced the man still retains all his facilities to be honest .

    Seems today that Rosberg is still crying in his soup while the likes of Wolff etc are taking the opposite tack and saying Brawn was right

    A little insider tid bit ? The Mercedes board is split right down the middle on whether to stay in F1 or not ( most agree there’s been zero benefit from being in the game…. unfortunately I concur ) . Guaranteed if Wolff/Lauda ever pulled Brawn out …. Mercedes would walk away at the earliest convenient and legal moment .

    DC ? DC whined about every team mate he ever had …. mainly because they to a number out performed and out drove the man . He’s always been extremely competent .. a very loyal team mate/member …. but thats it .

    A reminder on coverage though HtG … we’re both seeing the exact same video … with different commentary …. its all the same no matter where you watch its the official F1 FIA feed

    S’Lonso – The team was waiting …. the pit boss was screaming … Ferdie thought he knew better and paid the price .

  76. HtG Says:

    Auntie doesn’t do adverts. The tension build up is powerful, and they’ve got about six on-air people at each track, mingling. Not three guys eating donuts in a studio in CT, plus a guy at the race.

  77. HtG Says:

    crxn, …Not three guys eating donuts and Domino’s in a studio….

  78. ColoradoKid Says:

    76 . 77

    Agreed totally on the commercials / commentary ( eeesh … Bob Varsha was back on deck this week …… what a nimrod )

    But it was the video feed only I was talking bout mien freund … not the other stuff ….. I know the other stuff is completely different … and for the love of anything good …. how could it not … be better ?

    An interesting article today if you haven’t already read it ;

    http://www.f1zone.net/news/brawns-team-order-call-right-says-wolff/18321/

  79. C-tech Says:

    Thanks John for recognizing Bobby Smith of the Spinners. Although the Spinners were not a Motown group, there were many great singers and songwriters who came from Detroit (in the 50′s and 60′s Detroit’s Public Schools had a Great Arts and Music Program). For the record, he was not the lead singer for many of the groups hits like Then came you or Rubberband Man, that was Phillipe Winn, but he did contribute to the writing and performing. Some of those Spinners songs should / could be used in automotive commercials, how about “Rubberband Man” for CVT transmissions?

  80. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CK: I have driven off the beaten path in different areas of Co.Went to school in Aurora back in the day.Drove double tankers (for CTI)out of Rillito Az and delivered to several places up there.Been on Wolf Creek Pass when it was down to one lane because the road fell down,and down,and down…Great place to visit for sure.Had friends in Evergreen too.

    Bo(o)b Varsha,a self important tool.Several years ago while doing one of the Barrett-jackson car auctions he decided to pronounce ‘coupe’ as the brits do,’coo-pay’ and went on and on about it.It pissed me off so I wrote to speed to complain.We,as Americans have our own way of saying things and pronouncing words.

    I don’t take it lightly when someone tries to change our ways,and I said that to speed tv.They didn’t do a damn thing and varsha kept up his snotbag ways.Then I wrote to Barrett-Jackson and complained to them.It stopped right away and that buttholio varsha hasn’t done that since.Rant about that snotbag over…

  81. Reno Says:

    Hey John, thanks for your noesis on Bobby Smith, The Detroit Spinners, and yourself.