5 Eco-Friendly Auto Industry Trends
The acceleration of consumers deciding to purchase eco-friendly cars is continuing to take shape. While these “green” vehicles were once seen as a niche commodity as recently as 10 years ago, today they’re quickly becoming the standard bearer among vehicles on the market.
From the Tesla Model S to hybrid supercars, manufacturers are thinking economy-first in 2017 and figuring out how to make the other details work alongside these new fuel-efficient rides. Here are five reasons why we will continue to see more and more eco-friendly cars on America’s roadways.
1. The Rise of Crossovers
SUVs are flying off dealership lots thanks to consistently low gas prices. But these large vehicles aren’t your father’s SUVs of yesteryear. In fact, many of today’s latest models aren’t the same gas guzzlers in which buyers have grown accustomed.
Crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Chevy Equinox are some of the most popular cars on the road. These more compact, lighter vehicles tend to have smaller engines and consume significantly less fuel. And they now dominate the road over full-size SUVs.
2. Better Tires
Beyond the size of your vehicle, tires have a huge impact on its fuel economy. Truck and SUV owners know this best when upgrading from stock all-terrain tires to large, knobby off-road shoes. Depending on the size and surface of your tires, the rubber on your wheels could give or take up to 5 mpg.
But all-season tires are getting better. A lot better, actually. Retailers are selling grippy all-season tires for the price of the old stock tires we once found burdensome. Today, these multidimensional types of tires now combine a wealth of performance and fuel savings.
3. Affordable Electric Models
The Tesla Model S is the gold standard for the next generation of electric vehicles. Unfortunately, like gold, they don’t come cheap. The base-level Model S starts at around $75,000, which puts it out of reach for most consumers. Yes, there are other options like the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf, but those vehicles have far less range and prestige.
But that all changes next year when Tesla releases the $35,000 Model 3. Initially unveiled in 2016, the Model 3 claims a 215-mile driving range on a single charge. And, unlike the Leaf and Volt, it resembles a stylish sedan. Tesla is still a small player compared to GM and Ford — and has its share of critics — but the Model 3 could be the vehicle to put Tesla over the top and shake up the industry.
4. Complex Transmissions
The 2017 Ford Raptor is an absolute beast of a truck. With its twin-turbo V6 engine, the same used in the Ford GT, the Raptor creates 450 pounds of horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. But where other full-size trucks guzzle gas, the Raptor gets 15 to 18 mpg in normal driving conditions. That’s not much compared to most cars, but it puts other full-size trucks like the Toyota Tundra and Chevy Silverado to shame.
Ford’s fuel-saving trick is its new, 10-speed transmission, which seamlessly cruises through gears. Trucks with only five or six speeds need more gas to deliver the same power without downshifting, so Ford’s 10-speed has greater flexibility to distribute power.
5. Smarter Supercars
The market for supercars — and even the more expensive “hypercar” — remains extremely niche. Buyers want power, luxury and prestige, and they aren’t typically concerned with fuel economy. But luxury manufacturers like Ferrari and Porsche are now building their best cars with hybrid engines, anyway — without sacrificing any horsepower.
For example, the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, both flagship vehicles, use hybrid engines to power these cars faster than 200 mph. The gasoline-electric technology helps save fuel compared to naturally-aspirated engines, but it also helps deliver more instant torque off the line, making it a win-win for power and economy.