Vehicle Efficiency Wedge


The vehicle efficiency wedge is about conserving energy that saves both money and helps to make our environment healthier. Energy efficiency generally can also be seen as one of the wedges that will ultimately redirect our carbon based economy to a more sustainable and less polluting outcome.

Robert Jackson and William Schlesinger of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences , suggest that “A doubling in fuel efficiency through hybrid technology, advanced diesel engines and lightweight materials could precede a transition to hydrogen vehicles,which now require fossil fuels or other sources of energy to generate the hydrogen.”

Only about 15% of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and drive line inefficiencies and idling. Therefore, the potential to improve fuel efficiency with advanced technologies is enormous.

Many of the energy efficient technologies tabled below are already available. Car makers need to integrate all these fuel saving technologies to substantially reduce emissions.

Technology Average
Engine Technologies
Variable Valve Timing & Lift improve engine efficiency by optimizing the flow of fuel & air into the engine for various engine speeds.
Cylinder Deactivation saves fuel by deactivating cylinders when they are not needed.
Turbochargers & Superchargers increase engine power, allowing manufacturers to downsize engines without sacrificing performance or to increase performance without lowering fuel economy.
Integrated Starter/Generator (ISG) Systems automatically turn the engine on/off when the vehicle is stopped to reduce fuel consumed during idling.
Direct Fuel Injection (w/ turbocharging or supercharging) delivers higher performance with lower fuel consumption.
Transmission Technologies
Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) have an infinite number of “gears”, providing seamless acceleration and improved fuel economy.
Automated Manual Transmissions (AMTs) combine the efficiency of manual transmissions with the convenience of automatics (gears shift automatically).

The vehicle efficiency wedge as shown here is quite different and separate to that associated with driving and maintaining a vehicle. To find a list of tips to help save fuel and make your existing car more efficient, go here.