CLINTON — By 2016, cars and trucks sold in America are going to use significantly less fuel than they do today.
Part of this emphasis on fuel economy is because buyers are asking for it. Gas prices have been inconsistent in recent years, and people are thinking twice before picking a giant gas guzzler from a dealer's lot.
A bigger reason, though, is that the federal government is mandating it. In a few short years, cars are going to have to average 37.8 mpg and trucks 28.8 mpg under new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules.
Compared to the old 2010 rules, that means fuel economy will improve by 37 percent in cars and 23 percent in trucks.
How will automakers make that happen? They're actually already taking steps in that direction, so let's take a look at what one classic American company — Ford, famous for making muscle cars and the world's most popular pickup truck — is doing to shake things up before the new rules go fully into effect.
NEW ENGINES: When you think about a Ford F-150, the best-selling truck on Planet Earth, what do you imagine under the hood?
The obvious answer for car nuts is a big, honkin' V8. Eight-cylinder engines have been popular in Ford trucks for decades because they're powerful and durable, but they don't have the best reputation for fuel
Ford has responded by doing a couple of things. One, they're constantly modifying their V8 engines with little tweaks that produce more power from less gasoline.
More importantly, though, they've built a totally new engine architecture call EcoBoost to improve fuel economy while still getting strong performance. These EcoBoost engines use direct gasoline injection and turbochargers to make sure every droplet of fuel results
in optimum power.
Not only do the new engines help Ford's small cars, but the F-150 has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all. The V6-powered EcoBoost F-150 sold more than 100,000 copies in 2011, and it's sure to inspire
General Motors and Chrysler to follow suit.