Making Cars More Fuel Efficient: Technology for Real by International Energy Agency

By International Energy Agency

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ECO-DRIVING” as defined in European countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland is an adapted driving style, which best fits modern engine technology. ECO-DRIVING means smart, smooth and safe driving at lower engine speeds (1 200 – 2 500 RPM), which saves 10% fuel on average. European governments have focused on the issue of on-road driving practices, and several programs to support “ECO-DRIVING” are underway in countries such as Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Hungary. At a conference held in May 2002 at Utrecht the Swedish National Road Administration (Vagverket)12 reported on the results of a training program for light-duty vehicles.

Lean burn gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines have only recently entered the market in the EU and Japan, but had not yet been introduced in North America as of mid-2003. The GDI engine operates lean at light loads but reverts to stoichiometric operation (like a conventional gasoline engine) at high loads. At light loads, the GDI engine will have many of the advantages of a diesel engine (see below) in terms of reduced shortfall. However, the transition to stoichiometric operation at high loads makes the fuel economy quite sensitive to how the vehicle is driven.

Today, the most commonly used factory fill oil in car and light-duty truck engines in all OECD countries is 5W-30, although some fraction of consumers continues to use 10W-30 or 10W-40 oil when the oil is changed. More recently, 5W-20 and 0W-20 oils have appeared in the market. 5W-20 oils are now used in many popular cars such as most model year 2000+ Honda cars and most Ford 2001+ vehicles as factory fill oil, while 0W-20 currently is used only in the new Honda Insight hybrid vehicle. The issue of the manufacturer recommended oil is relevant because the new-car warranty only holds as long as the recommended maintenance procedures are followed, and this includes using the recommended oil.

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