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Automotive and oil industry profits

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Automotive_and_oil_industry_profits
Automakers' profit margin typically hangs around 1% (in the U.S., 0.4%), far below the oil industry’s. The 2007–2008 global financial crisis sharply cut sales of new vehicles and the financial stability of the U.S. Big 3 auto manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler).

 

Energy flow through a typical internal combustion engine drivetrain

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Energy_flow_through_a_typical_internal_combustion_engine_drivetrain
This chart shows why less than 0.5% of the energy in a typical modern auto’s fuel actually moves the driver, and only 5–6% moves the auto. An auto's weight is responsible for more than two-thirds of the energy needed to move it. All told, 86% of the fuel energy never reaches the wheels.

 

Vehicle retail price and curb weight, new U.S. car sales, model year 2010

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Vehicle_retail_price_curb_weight_new_cars
Lightweight autos needn’t cost more. The MY 2010 U.S. new-car fleet shows little or no correlation between lighter weight and higher prices.

 

Sales-weighted curb mass and density of new autos sold in U.S., 1986–2009

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Saleweighted_curb_mass_and_density_of_new_autos
Autos in the U.S. have increased in weight by 16% since 1986 to an average of 3,533 lb. in 2009. Cars have also gotten denser, rising 14%—from 28 to 32 lb per interior cubic foot. Yet since 1986, U.S. adults got only 8% heavier.

 

Tractive load formulas

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-tractive_load_formulas
Powertrain efficiency from tank to wheels can't exceed 1.0, and is around 0.17 in a typical modern car or 0.35 in a good "full hybrid," but the energy needed to move the car can be reduced severalfold by making it lighter and more slippery.

 

Horsepower to overcome aerodynamic drag

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Horsepower_overcome_aerodynamic_drag
Each 10% decrease in an auto’s aerodynamic drag can raise its fuel economy by very roughly 3%.

 

Drag coefficient and retail price, new U.S. car sales model year 2010

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Drag_coefficient_and_retail_price
As with lightweight autos, more aerodynamic autos needn’t cost more. A survey of currently available autos shows that lower drag vehicles, as a whole, cost no more than less aerodynamic ones.

 

Steel use for automaking, 2010–2050

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Steel_use_for_automaking
The shift from steel to carbon fiber in the transportation sector reduces steel production. With the rapid adoption of lightweight vehicles, RMI estimates that, in 2050, the auto industry will require one-fifth the steel used in 2010.

 

Power to accelerate 0–60 mph in 9 seconds

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Power_to_accelerate_0_60_in_9_seconds
Every 10% decrease in an auto’s weight can raise fuel economy by roughly 6%.

 

Tire price and rolling resistance coefficient

http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-Tire_price_and_rolling_resistance_coefficient
It costs little or no more to purchase tires with dramatically improved rolling resistance. Going from the least to most efficient tires improves fuel economy by over 8%.

 

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