Chicago 2008: three (well, two) surprising ways to use less fuel

There is nothing remotely green about the F-650-based Alton XUV in the picture above. The Alton beast, on display at the Chicago Auto Show, seems to be designed to provoke, with its insane GVWR of 25,999 lbs and $200,000 price tag. Still, there is at least one area where the aftermarket gearheads at Alton decided to take the weight of the vehicle into account: the thing's carbon fiber hood. I doubt the environment was on their minds as they were installing that part; they were probably laughing about how the expensive material would allow them to charge an even prettier penny from people with more money than brains. Alternately, they might have wanted to balance out one of the three TVs in the cabin (two drop-down 16 inchers and a 42-inch plasma screen) or one of the four computers.

Anyway, if we can move on from the lightweight hood (and crooked bumper), let's check out Ford's Work Solutions, also introduced in Chicago. We talked about this in our podcast, but I wanted to highlight the concept again here. The idea is to use computers and RFID chips to make organizing work fleets easier and more efficient. With all the tools tagged and the computer able to determine what's in the bed, you'll never forget a piece of equipment after you tell the truck what kind of job you're about to drive to. As Mike from mentioned to us at the show, this feature will save a lot of wasted trips, and I'm pretty sure that there's more than one contractor reading this who's driven 50 miles only to find that his ladder is back home safely in the garage. The subsequent 100-mile trip and wasted fuel - not to mention unbilled time - would be saved with a package like Work Solutions. To me, this is the most stealthy way to conserve fuel we saw at the who. You can read more details over at Autoblog and read one more unconventional way we can save fuel after the jump.

In my interview with the Bridgestone reps, Michael Martini, president of North American Consumer O.E. for both Firestone and Bridgestone, said that his companies not only help people save fuel through the eco-branded low rolling resistance tires - something we've heard before from tiremakers - but also by designing and selling run-flat tires. These tires should, in most instances, be able to get you to a place where you can change the damaged tire, and for all those other thousands of miles you've driven without the spare tires and jack in the car, you've driven a lighter car and saved a lot of gas. With automakers working hard to reduce weight wherever possible, we can give them a hand. Of course, there's also that other spare tire we could lose to save fuel...

So, while there wasn't an overwhelming of green car news from Chicago, there were a few vehicles to report on and, when we weren't rushing around snapping photos or shooting video, we remembered that it doesn't take a hybrid drivetrain or a hydrogen fuel cell to use less gasoline.

Share This Photo X