Fleet Briefing: Consumer Reports Rankings, USPS, Sears, Ford
In its July issue, the non-profit magazine is publishing a list of the most and least efficient cars in their respective classes, while also taking into account performance, reliability and safety requirements. The list is as follows:
|Best Subcompact car for fuel economy: Honda Fit, $16,020, 30 mpg (pictured)|
|Worst in class: Chevrolet Aveo LT: 25 mpg|
|Best Small Wagons and Hatchbacks: Volkswagen Golf TDI (diesel, manual), $24,764, 38 mpg|
|Worst in class: Scion xB, Subaru Impreza Outback Sport (AWD):23 mpg|
|Best Small Sedans: Toyota Corolla LE, $18,404, 32 mpg|
|Worst in class: Subaru Impreza 2.5i, 24 mpg|
|Best Family Car: Toyota Prius IV (Hybrid), $24,750, 44 mpg|
|Worst in class: Ford Fusion SEL (V6, AWD), Chevrolet Impala LTZ (V6), Mazda6 V6: 20 mpg|
|Best Upscale/ Sports Sedan: Lexus HS 250 h (Hybrid), $38,939, 31 mpg|
|Worst in class: Lincoln MKZ: 20 mpg|
|Best Small SUV: Ford Escape Hybrid, $32,575, 26 mpg|
|Worst in class: Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7 liters), Jeep Liberty Sport 16 mpg|
“Hybrid and diesel vehicles provide better fuel economy than conventional cars, but they usually cost more to buy. As gas prices rise, the pay-back time gets shorter,” said David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn. “All-wheel drive usually reduces gas mileage by about 2 mpg, while a manual transmission can improve fuel economy by 1 to 2 mpg.”
The magazine also tested several devices that claim to improve fuel efficiency, but CR’s testers did not find any that significantly raise gas mileage.
The U.S. Postal Service is planning to award VSE Corporation a contract to develop a more fuel-efficient, gasoline-based prototype for the service’s ubiquitous Long Life Vehicle (LLV). The classic postal delivery van seen all over America, the LLV was manufactured by Grumman Corporation and rolled out in 1986.
The USPS solicitation asked that contractors propose fuel efficient gasoline or diesel engines to be used in the USPS truck fleet, which at 215,000 vehicles is the largest civilian fleet in the world. VSE’s proposal with its subsidiary Wheeler Bros. was chosen, and a prototype vehicle is to be tested and delivered within six months.
Much of the USPS fleet is nearing the end of its life expectancy, and due to the service’s financial difficulties, producing a new fleet is not feasible at this time, VSE said. Its proposal is designed to extend the service life of the USPS fleet.
Sears will install 30 of Ecotality’s Blink Pedestal electric vehicle charging stations at ten retail locations this summer as part of The EV Project, which aims to install 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 18 major cities and metropolitan areas. Sears may expand to further locations upon completion of the pilot program.
Ecotality is the project manager of The EV Project, which aims to provide an infrastructure to support the deployment of 8,300 EVs. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Ecotality has partnered on the charging stations with national retailers including Fred Meyer, Macy’s, BP/Arco, Cracker Barrel and Best Buy, as well as commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle.
The charging company has also just announced that it has started installing Pedestal charging stations in Seattle, in Oregon and in the Phoenix metro area, including installations at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders. Ecotality plans about 920 publicly available Level 2 stations and 40 commercial Blink DC Fast Chargers in and around the Phoenix region. It is also planning 240 stations in Tucson, 1,000 in Washington state and 1,100 in Oregon, all by the end of the year.
Installations of its Blink Level 2 Residential Charging Stations in EV Project regions nationwide began in December 2010, and since then Ecotality has completed more than 1,200 installations.
French utility EDF Energy will offer a range of special services, including charging points, reduced rates and smart meters, to British consumers buying Peugeot iOn or Citroën C-Zero electric cars, Business Green reports.
EDF will also offer fleet customers a site survey, technical support, recharging points and installation services. It has already installed 100 chargers in collaboration with U.K. firm Elektromotive.
The utility has also collaborated on plug-in vehicle trials with Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.
Recently London launched a network of electric vehicle charge points that it plans to grow to 1,300 strong by the end of 2013.
Ford Motor plans to triple production of electrified vehicles — gas-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics — for North America by 2013, USA Today reports. Ford will introduce an electric version of the redesigned 2012 Focus compact later this year and next year will add: C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, C-Max gas-electric hybrid, a “next-generation” hybrid, to be identified later.
As part of the announcement Ford said it has canceled plans for any gas-engine C-Max in North America, as well as for a 7-passenger version.
In other Ford news, users of Ford Crew Chief powered by Telogis are improving fuel efficiency for their fleets by up to 20 percent through better management of vehicle diagnostics, location and driver behavior, Ford reports.
Crew Chief allow fleet managers to monitor the location of the trucks in their fleets, vehicle diagnostics and driver behavior. Data is collected, transmitted wirelessly and displayed on a Web-based interface accessible only to the fleet manager.
Michael Butsch, director of fleet operations for Joy Global, said he expects the amount of fuel used by his fleet to drop by 80,000 gallons in 2011 due in part to cost cutting measures that include the use of Crew Chief. Considering the U.S. average of $3.79 per gallon of gas on May 31, it’s easy to see how the savings add up quickly.
Crew Chief is available for F-150, Super Duty, E-Series vans and the Transit Connect. It also is being tested on Escape and Fusion. The Crew Chief hardware can be retro-fitted to older Ford vehicles and to non-Ford vehicles as well.
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