While we often seem to focus our eco-friendly microscope on the advancement of alternative powertrains and biofuels, it's important to remember that there are lots of ways to improve the overall efficiency of an automobile. One relatively low hanging fruit just waiting to be plucked off the magic efficiency tree would seem to be a major reduction in vehicle weight. In all actuality, though, it's not as easy as it sounds to put a modern automobile on a diet. Why?
Today's vehicles are packed with all kinds of safety equipment, power accessories, sound deadening material and more, all in the name of improving the driving experience. As much as we'd like to see a few hundred pounds lopped off in the name of fuel efficiency, car buyers have (for the most part) proven that they won't purchase vehicles that lack such conveniences. Plus, the federal government wouldn't allow a sacrifice in safety for obvious reasons.
Still, there are ways of attacking the overweight automobile problem, and Ford's reportedly on the case. In fact, Ford plans to cut 500 to 750 pounds of flab from each automobile that it redesigns. A reduction of weight on this magnitude should allow Ford to reduce the size of the engine powering the vehicle, further increasing fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean selling more diesels in the U.S., according to Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technology and hybrid vehicles. Can't win 'em all.