The Fuel Economy “Space Race”: Reaching the 54.5 MPG Standard


Hyundai released its own hydrogen car Tucson last Tuesday, handing the keys over to California drivers living in close range to some of the only refueling stations in the US.

While other manufacturers, such as Honda, BMW and General Motors, have already produced a variety of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) – and Toyota has announced a production date – Hyundai’s release marks the start of mass produced FCVs.

Vying for fuel efficiency with FCVs is the electric car, such as Tesla Motor’s Model S and Kandi’s E-Cars. Tesla motors is a major leader in the electric car arena, and has gone so far as to present the idea of a Supercharger Network, creating uniform stations no matter what company you bought your E-car from.

But Tesla doesn’t lead everything. While Tesla’s Model S can go 265 miles between charges, companies Phinergy and Alcoa have cooperated to create an aluminum battery capable of taking an E-car 1000 miles between charges.
Both FCVs and E-cars have mastered CO2 emissions and are forging their way to more user-friendly models, but they cannot reach the 54.5 mpg requirement by themselves. Light-weighting makes a huge difference in the potential mileage of a car. By decreasing the load, you also decrease the necessary power, improving maneuverability and minimizing wear and tear.

The new materials in light-weighted cars must also meet the strength and safety standards of today’s cars. Besides doing their own crash tests – of which light-weighted cars have passed with flying colors – companies researching the possibilities of light-weighting have taken advantage of the research already done by weight-reduction experts: the manufacturers of Airplanes.

Lightweight car design also takes Aero-dynamics more fully into account. Studies currently take advantage of specially made wind tunnels. Research has resulted in new designs for carbon-fiber tire rims in order to reduce wind friction.

The new day and age for cars has been pushed forward by the 2025 deadline, fine-tuning many massive ideas for the future ahead us. These innovations are just a glimpse of what common transportation will be like in the future.