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Back when a greenhouse was a structure used to grow plants in cold weather, an oil pump was just a non-descript but necessary device to keep metal engine parts well lubricated. As engineers work to meet the 35.5 mile per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, the lowly oil pump has become one of many places where they can find incremental improvements in efficiency.

Once a standard internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle gets up to operating speeds, the engine produces more energy than can go to the wheels thanks to losses from heat and friction. And, since it's the engine that sends energy to the power outlet in the car (via the battery), does it make sense to charge your gadgets during your commute rather than at home, using energy that would otherwise be wasted? There is no simple answer, but the way that some new vehicle powerplants are changing means