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VW L1

Photo by RudolfSimon via Wikimedia Commons

Size matters, but not as much as you think. When it comes to fuel-efficient cars, the best ones have a combination of good aerodynamics, lightweight, low drive line, and a small or medium-size engine.

Eco-friendly cars are the way of the future. More vehicle, parts, and tire manufacturers are coming up with new and creative ways to offer consumers the best fuel-efficient and environmentally-sound cars. Not only do these eco-vehicles save on gas and energy, they do their part for environmental carbon reduction. FuelEconomy.gov reports 1.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere by highway vehicles each year. That’s 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas. Drivers who choose hybrid and electric vehicles greatly reduce the amount of carbon emissions entering the atmosphere which helps slow climate change.

Motorists may not be able to get their hands on the VW XL1 quite yet, but can still make savvy decisions to wring the best mileage from vehicles fitting the following criteria.

VW claims the XL1 is the most fuel efficient car ever with an estimated 261 mpg.

Vehicle Aerodynamics

Optimal fuel economy requires a vehicle that is aerodynamic. Aerodynamic designs look sleek and can improve fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon, when compared to vehicles that do not move through the air as easily.

The visual profile of a vehicle can help determine whether it is aerodynamic or not. Although some exceptions exist, a boxy shape is usually less aerodynamic than vehicles with a slight curve. Look for cars that curve along the top and back. Avoid vehicles with a clear box-type shape, which will require more effort to move forward.

Use vehicles lower to the ground. Cars with less air flowing below will not be slowed down or fight against wind on the top and bottom of the vehicle.

Vehicle Weight

The weight of the vehicle plays a significant role in fuel efficiency. As a general rule, a heavier car or truck will have a lower mile per gallon, on average, than a lighter vehicle. Tirebuyer.com advises against purchasing a heavy vehicle, like a van or truck, unless it is necessary for your job, family or terrain. It is more fuel efficient to select a Sedan, compact vehicle or Coupe.

Select a vehicle that has a lower weight, if possible. Even if you need a larger vehicle, look at the weight of the vehicle and compare it. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle will cause your fuel efficiency to drop by roughly two percent. Pay attention to the weight of the vehicle when you are making a selection to get better gas mileage within the specific class of vehicles.

Even the type of tires you buy can affect the weight and fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Under-inflated tires can make your car work harder and use more gas. Nitrogen-inflated tires lose air four times slower than air-inflated tires that also contain oxygen and water. Inflating your tires with nitrogen is also safer and improves tire wear and rim life.

Select a Vehicle With Low Drive Line Weight

Drive line weight is the weight of moving components within your vehicle. Whether you currently own a vehicle or want to buy a new car, changing out the axles, flywheel, crank shaft and other moving parts for lighter options will reduce your fuel expenses.

Stopping and Starting

Even if you select a vehicle that is designed to have better mileage, your actions behind the wheel will impact your fuel efficiency. The law of inertia states that objects in motion will continue moving until an external force causes it to stop. In the case of a vehicle, applying the brakes will cause it to stop. Unfortunately, if you are constantly stopping and then forcing the car into motion again, it will make your fuel efficiency drop.

The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that aggressive driving will actually reduce your fuel economy by roughly 33 percent. Drive at the speed limit to reduce the impact on your fuel.

Engine size and the amount of horsepower within a vehicle are only one factor that impacts your gas mileage. Before you buy a new car, take the weight of the vehicle and the aerodynamic design into account.

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Hybrid Tires and a Network of Nitrogen Services

On March 28, 2013, in Hybrid Tires, by allisonmreilly
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hybrid tiresTransportation accounts for almost 70% of  the fuel consumption in the United States. The vehicles we drive, whether for business or for personal use, represent the best potential for improving our energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, drivers spend 3.7 billion hours sitting in traffic every year, wasting over 2.3 billion gallons of fuel in the bumper-to-bumper mess and costing the economy $78 billion.

This compelling evidence has prompted NitroFleet99 to foster partnerships with the Clean Cities Coalition, the National Association of Fleet Administrators [NAFA], the Environmental Protection Agency, and the DOE in order to  recognize the need for better solutions for managed fleets. After all, there has to be a way to improve that, a way that’s more than carpooling, driving less, and purchasing brand new vehicles with improved gas mileage.

Is There a Solution?

Nitrogen tire inflation has been widely used for decades by the airlines, big industry and professional motor sports such as NASCAR. Since nitrogen is different from compressed air, – it’s use in tires has been evaluated independently for it’s effect on rubber. Tires companies such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Ford have concluded from their research that nitrogen permeates through a tire wall between three and four times more slowly than compressed air – which is actually 76% Nitrogen, 23% Oxygen [which contains moisture and is the enemy of
rubber] and 1% trace minerals.

The benefits that nitrogen tires offer: more evenly inflated tires that retain pressure longer, a better fuel economy by up to 6%, and increased life of the tire (whether new or used). A tire converted to nitrogen will last up to 30% longer, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the over 300 million worn tire casings that are disposed of in landfills and bodies of water around the
world every year.

What’s Nitrofleet99 Doing about This?

As part of the EPA’s Green Gas Station model for the future, NitroFleet99 is providing nitrogen systems to five model sites in California and Texas that feature LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified buildings and alternative fuels. GoNitroTire is working to create a network of Nitrogen service providers across the U.S. under the NitroFleet99 brand to provide a uniform nitrogen services network for both consumers and the fleet community. By 2015, there will be 59 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 5 million – up 50% from just 2001. In 2007, the world crossed a epochal threshold – for the first time in history the majority of the human population lives in cities, changing the way individuals and businesses travel and manage their tires. This will be done through hybrid tires and nitrogen tire inflation, and at a reasonable cost. A passenger vehicle will cost about $29.95 for all four tires to be converted to nitrogen in just five to 10 minutes time.

A Network of Nitrogen Services is Possible

The cities of Kansas City, Mo., Kirkwood Mo., and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have already chosen nitrogen tire inflation and have already decided that it is a better alternative to air. It’s only a matter of time before others make that choice, decreasing pollution and our dependence on foreign oil while increase our energy security and our chances for a better energy future. President Obama, before his last inauguration, called for Americans to manage their tire pressure on their vehicles more carefully and to help ensure a better fuel economy. Will you listen?

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proper tire pressure

Make sure to check your tire pressure on a regular basis.

An easy way to save money with the tough economic times and the rising gas prices is to take proper care of your vehicle. By keeping up with maintenance checks, your car will not only last longer but will also cost less in repairs and upkeep in the long run. One aspect of car care that cannot be forgotten is proper tire maintenance. This means rotating your tires every 6,000 miles, and checking your tire pressure every other time you fill up at the gas station.

About 54 percent of Americans drive on under-inflated tires. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every one psi, or pound per square inch, drop in all four tires. The Department of Energy estimates that 3.56 million gallons of gas are wasted each day because of incorrectly inflated tires and advises motorists that they can improve gas mileage by approximately 3.3% by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. The main reason why motorists save money by maintaining proper tire inflation is because tires that wear evenly last longer before needing repair or replacement. Because a typical tire may also lose 1 to 2 psi a month if not checked and adjusted, uninformed motorists may be heading faster toward tire replacement than necessary.

One way to stop this decline toward tire replacement is to keep your tires properly inflated longer with nitrogen tire inflation. Just top off your tires with nitrogen next time you are at the service station, or even the next time you check you tire pressure, and you’ll notice a difference. Nitrogen permeates tire walls up to 4 times slower than air, so with nitrogen, you’ll see the same 1 to 2 psi loss in pressure over a period of six months, instead of the regular one month with regular air.

Therefore, you save money on overall car maintenance, because that’s fewer times you have to replace them or get them filled. It’s still recommended to do your scheduled maintenance checks and tire rotations, but you’ll have safer, more fuel-efficient tires. If needing an excuse to get to the mechanic or service station, now is as good a time as any for a checkup, since the summer travel season is just getting started. Getting your car ready for warm-weather driving should start with having the service department check the vehicle to look for specific problems, including safety issues, that may need to be corrected. It’s also a good time for maintenance, such as an oil change.


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The Clean Cities Coalition

On April 9, 2011, in Fuel Efficiency, Nitrogen Tire Inflation, by allisonmreilly
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clean cities coalitionConsisting of over 100 coalitions, the Clean Cities Coalition is a government-industry partnership designed to advance our country’s economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local decisions to adopt practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum consumption. The program’s 8,400-plus local stakeholders that have helped to reduce the use of petroleum, to add more than half a million alternative fuel vehicles on the road, and to encourage the construction of over 3,000 alternative refueling stations.

Since the inception of Clean Cities in 1993 by the Department of Energy, the program has reduced petroleum consumption by nearly three billion gallons! One way stakeholders can continue to contribute to the reduction is to utilize nitrogen in their tire inflation. Instead of spending time and money purchasing and developing new technology, why not just do something different with the old technology? If anything, it’s simply much more economical.

About 54 percent of Americans drive on under-inflated tires. An under-inflated tire can reduce fuel economy by five percent. This can be fixed with nitrogen, which provides a much more stable tire pressure for a much longer period of time. Nitrogen reduces the average rolling resistance of the tire, thereby improving fuel economy. Five percent may not seem like a lot, however, that five percent adds up to increased fuel and maintenance costs for the many company vehicles of which service and fleet managers are in charge. Besides improved fuel economy, here are a few other ways nitrogen can improve your fleet:

  • Improved Safety: Nitrogen enables more stable tire pressure for longer periods of time, thereby reducing the chances for a blowout.
  • Improved Tire Wear: By eliminating the moisture and oxygen through nitrogen tire inflation, the risk of oxidation of tire walls is significantly reduced, creating better wear characteristics.
  • Improved Tire Pressure Monitoring System Performance: By using nitrogen instead of air in your tires, you reduce “false positive” indications from your tire pressure monitoring system, thereby reducing unnecessary service calls.
  • Improved Rim Life: The moisture and oxygen contained in air accelerates rim rust, causing slow leaks in your tires. The dryness of nitrogen eliminates that condensation.

Whether or not you or your city is a part of the Clean Cities Coalition, it’s very easy for transportation industry professionals to contribute toward the cause. To learn more about how to get more nitrogen, and less air, into your tires, check out NitroFleet99.

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