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Automakers Showcase Vehicles That Get 40 mpg or Better At L.A. Auto Show

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On: Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 4:40PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Automakers Showcase Vehicles That Get 40 mpg or Better At L.A. Auto Show

At this year's L.A. Auto Show, new cars with exceptional fuel economy were hard to miss. Most major automakers are starting to focus on improving fuel economy due to the impending government guidelines mandating that cars have an average of 35.5 mpg by 2016. Not only are there many new fuel efficient hybrids and electric vehicles being launched, but also there is an abundance of new combustion engines that are seeing better gas mileage than ever before. In fact many new models for 2011 and 2012 will get 40 mpg or better.

Hyundai has manufactured some new fuel efficient cars such as the Elantra mid-sized sedan, which will get 40 mpg on the highway. Kia also introduced a mid-sized sedan that will get 40 mpg, called the Optima. The Hyundai Elantra is an example of a vehicle that is considered a mid-sized model, due to having such a roomy cabin. The engine is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder producing 148-hp at 6500 rpm and 131 ft-lbs of torque. Partnered with a 6-speed transmission (manual or automatic) the car will achieve 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway for an average of 33-mpg.

GM was in L.A. with its award-winning electric battery-powered Chevrolet Volt (which received the “Green Car of the Year” award). General Motors will also be launching some fuel efficient new sedans, SUVs, and sports cars. Honda, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen all showed off concept electric vehicles they plan to launch in future years.

The new Buick system, a “mild hybrid” which Buick calls eAssist, uses a lithium-ion battery, an electric motor generator, and regenerative braking system to recapture energy and lift the LaCrosse’s fuel economy by an estimated 25% to 25 mpg in city driving and as much as 37 mpg on the highway. The mileage gains are significant for the LaCrosse, a large sedan that sells for about $30,000 and competes in the so-called near luxury or premium segment of the auto market. "It's the same engine we have in the car now. We are just adding an electric power boost," said Daryl Wilson, senior engineer of the LaCrosse program. The engine and hybrid system combine to generate an equivalent of approximately 180 horsepower, according to General Motors, it will be available in the middle of next year.

Ford Motor Company is the only automaker that has already designed four models which realize 40 mpg or more for 2011, including the Ford Focus compact, Fiesta subcompact SE and SFE package, Fusion Hybrid, as well as the Lincoln MKZ Sedan Hybrid.

The Ford Focus will have a redesign in 2012 which will feature a 2.0 liter direct fuel injection engine with 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

According to Barb Samardzich, Ford’s VP of Engineering: “A few years ago, Ford committed to making fuel economy a top priority companywide.” Samardzich also stated: “Our hybrid vehicles led the way, and this new wave of powerful, refined gasoline engines is reasserting the company's leadership position.”

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