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Transportation 50 Items

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U.S. oil combustion: present and projected

The U.S. burns 13 million barrels of oil a day for transportation. Most of this oil powers cars and light trucks. By 2050, the U.S. is expected to burn upwards of 17 million barrels of oil a day for transportation alone.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Power to accelerate 0–60 mph in 9 seconds

Every 10% decrease in an auto’s weight can raise fuel economy by roughly 6%.


Efficiency gain of low rolling resistance tires vs. baseline

Losses due to rolling resistance are higher for heavier vehicles than for autos. In a Class 8 tractor trailer at 65 mph, 13% of fuel is lost to rolling resistance. Wide base single tires save about half of that today, more with next-generation tires.


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