New Vehicle Design Surpasses State Global Warming Standards
Union of Concerned Scientists press release, March 1, 2007
Automotive engineers at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today unveiled a minivan design that shows automakers can build affordable vehicles with existing technology that would meet or exceed global warming pollution standards for cars and trucks adopted by California and 10 other states. Automakers are currently fighting these standards in court.
The minivan, dubbed the UCS Vanguard, features off-the-shelf engine, transmission and fueling systems and other technologies that would save consumers money, maintain vehicle safety and performance, and cut global warming pollution by more than 40 percent. All of the technologies in the Vanguard are in vehicles on the road today, but automakers have yet to combine them all in one single package. (For a computer-generated animation of the Vanguard's features and the full report, go to www.ucsusa.org/UCSVanguard.) ...
Operational savings would make up for relatively small increases in purchase price. For example, the Vanguard minivan package would add about $300 to the price but result in more than $1,300 in lifetime consumer savings, with a payback time of less than two years. ...
The Vanguard minivan design has eight key components – including improvements in the engine, transmission, air conditioner, fuel system, tires and aerodynamic design – that can be found piecemeal in more than 100 vehicle models on the road today. The Vanguard is not a hybrid. It uses conventional technology to achieve significant reductions in global warming pollution. For example:
- The Vanguard engine features variable valve timing, currently used in most Toyota and Honda models as well as many Ford vehicles, which better controls the flow of air and fuel into the engine, leading to more efficient combustion and improved performance.
- The Vanguard's six-cylinder engine can deactivate two cylinders when it requires less power, a feature currently found in 20 vehicle models.
- The minivan's "automatic manual" transmission electronically adjusts its six gears to increase performance and efficiency.
- Stronger hoses and tighter connections in the Vanguard's air conditioning system reduce the amount of concentrated global warming pollutants, called hydrofluorocarbons, which leak into the air. The minivan also uses a less-polluting refrigerant.
- The Vanguard is designed to run on either pure gasoline or a mixture of gasoline and as much as 85-percent ethanol. Using 85-percent corn-based ethanol can reduce global warming pollution from 10 percent to 30 percent. Using "cellulosic" ethanol could cut global warming pollution by as much as 90 percent. There are currently 32 types of flex-fuel vehicles on the road.