Car manufacturers look ahead to fuel efficiency in 2025

As concerns about car fuel consumption continue to grow, and petrol increasingly becomes a scarce resource, several car manufacturers are looking ahead to devise strategies for improving fuel economy.

A 2013 memorandum from the Lowy Institute, written in conjunction with members from the International Council on Clean Transportation and Global Fuel Economy Initiative, noted that 97 per cent of transportation is fuelled by oil. On average, 48 million barrels of oil are consumed daily and it is estimated that 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions are combusted each year from all sources such as trucks, cars, ships and planes.

While an obvious solution is the increase in hybrid cars and the use of electricity for energy, a new study from Navigant Research found that gasoline will continue to be the dominant fuel in the following years. 

Indeed, gasoline and diesel will still be used by the majority of fleet drivers in the near future. However, car manufacturers are coming up with design solutions to improve fuel efficiency because of the strict global standards to limit CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Car design solutions 

The design changes include constructing much lighter vehicles with aerodynamic bodies. They will feature efficient powertrain upgrades and turbochargers. In fact, the report found that 59 per cent of light-duty cars bought in 2025 will have turbochargers installed. These physical changes to car structures are intended to offer fleet managers and drivers an economic alternative to switching to a fully electric fleet. 

"A range of incremental changes—such as lighter materials, cylinder deactivation, direct injection, and transmissions with eight or more speed ratios and high-efficiency internal components—will also play important roles in tomorrow's higher-miles-per-gallon cars and trucks", said David Alexander, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research. 

Coming up with such innovative strategies to help cars still reliant on fuel to reduce their consumption will help minimise damage to the environment as well as prove to be cost-effective. While building a fleet predominantly using green cars is perhaps the best approach in terms of being sustainable and environmentally-friendly, fleet managers understandably need to keep finances in mind and a totally green approach can be expensive at the moment. These structural changes to car body parts can lighten the load both physically and financially. 

For example, there will be an increased use of electrification in ancillary systems as stop-start systems improve. When these are used at the same time as electric power steering and brakes, and in cars that allow coasting with the engine off, the fuel efficiency levels are very similar to hybrid cars. This provides big savings for fleet managers.