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One MPG is not enough: Automakers desperate to make a gallon go further

If anyone were to come along and do an updated version of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," the could change the background vocal from "I want my MTV" to "I want my MPG" or "I want my low Cd." Coefficient of drag, that is. Carmakers are taking every step they can, starting with aerodynamics, to give cars better gas mileage right now while they wait for more substantial technologies to come online in the near future.

But the tweaks don't stop with aero finessing. The 2009 Dodge Ram spent 200 hours in the wind tunnel, and it also received tweaks to its ECU, which means it spends more time in its cylinder cutoff mode. That, plus eighty pounds of weight savings, adds up to one more MPG on the EPA sheet. Said Ford's Derek Kuzak, "We need to treat every joule of energy in a vehicle like a precious commodity."

In fact, that song hook could also be "I want my XFE." The Cobalt XFE, developed over 18 months to offer the best gas mileage in the Cobalt line, is selling six percent better than expected. Fuel economy, instead of design, is the number one reason people buy a Cobalt now. And the XFE has the lowest on-the-lot time of any Cobalt model. That's how important the price of gas has become.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req'd]

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