Observations on the current happenings in the world of vehicles and the fuels that power them from Fuels Institute Executive Director, John Eichberger.
When It’s Love
“The road is calling and I must go.” Those are the words on the framed poster above my desk, hovering above the image of Porsche 911 cruising on a winding mountain road. The open road has been a siren’s call for me my entire life – but that draw, that love affair with cars and driving that has been so strong throughout America’s recent history, seems to be fading away…especially among younger generations who are more drawn to technology than shiny objects on wheels. That, however, could represent an opportunity for the auto industry to regain some of its appeal.
Walking on the Moon
Similar to the commercially relevant derivatives of the Apollo program, the investments to develop technology that will enable autonomous vehicles are delivering benefits and enhancing the safety of transportation today through advanced driver assist systems. At a time when drivers are more distracted than ever (nearly 40,000 people were killed in vehicle collisions in 2019), the availability of these systems could not be more timely – and they are becoming much more common. If these systems can reduce accident-caused congestion and mitigate stop-and-start traffic conditions, they not only will yield safety improvements, but they also could significantly contribute to fuel efficiency and energy savings.
Fall Back Down
In April 2020, the SAAR dropped to 9.09 million – its lowest level since December 1981! (The lowest it reached during the Great Recession was 9.22 in February 2009.) The implications seemed devastating. Fortunately, the industry has rebounded quite a bit since April and in August the SAAR was back to 15.2 million. But again – what vehicles were people buying during the COVID pandemic?