Obama Rolls Out New Fuel Efficiency Plan

obamaA few weeks ago, during his State of the Union address, President Obama promised that he would soon lay out more of the details on his plan to help facilitate higher fuel efficiency for big trucks. On Tuesday, he delivered. In a speech that was given in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Obama said, “The goal we are setting is ambitious. But these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far. [We want to] keep driving down oil and imports and what we pay at the pump.”

Of course, all of this goes with the recent push to go green here in the United States. It was just back in 2011 that the Obama administration released their first set of fuel efficiency standards. Based on studies done by the White House, it has been projected that the 2011 fuel efficiency plan will save about 530 million barrels of oil (which is more than we annually import from Saudi Arabia) and cut down greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

obamatruckObviously, the current plan to improve fuel efficiency standards in big trucks is a worthwhile goal. Currently, semi-trucks make up just 4% of the vehicles on the road. However, they also use up an astounding 25% of all road-fuel use and greenhouse gas coming from transportation!

To help promote this change, the administration is offering tax credits to all companies that are developing heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles, as well as companies that are working to provide these vehicles with resources to fill up their tanks on alternative fuels. So, don’t be surprised if you see more gas stations- especially near interstates- with special accommodations in the near future.

Further adding to the wave of change, Obama has asked Congress to end subsidies for oil and gas companies and help build an Energy Security Trust Fund to fund research and development for advanced vehicle technologies. Many skeptics don’t believe that Obama will ever get Congress to agree with all of this. As we all know, over the course of Obama’s presidency, his lack of leadership and/or inability to communicate with his peers has been the subject of much criticism.

obamaoilAlready, there is dissent amongst conservative minds, concerning Obama’s fuel efficiency plans. Author Erika Johnsen writes, “If pushing automakers, as President Obama promises, will really create jobs and wealth and other miraculous benefits, then why aren’t they already getting to work on these more fuel-efficient trucks themselves?”

The only thing left now is for Obama to turn the country and his peers into believers of this new plan (or as many Conservatives claim, a waste of time). In what has been called his “year of action,” Obama is still confident saying, “Every time someone says you can’t grow the economy while bringing down pollution, it turns out they’ve been wrong. Anybody who says we can’t compete when it comes to clean energy technologies- like solar and wind- they’ve had to eat those words.”

Ford Gets Involved in the Autonomous Car Race

Ford's 2014 F-150 Image courtesy of musclemustangfastfords

Ford’s 2014 F-150
Image courtesy of musclemustangfastfords

In 2013, a Ford F-150 sold every 41 seconds, which helped to make the company a 7.6 billion dollar profit. In the years leading up to their financial crisis, Ford may have ridden this success and stayed with the same formula. But, that’s not the mentality that they have going into 2014. Recently, Ford has been getting a lot of publicity for a new line of F-150s that will debut this year. These new trucks have shed an astonishing 700 pounds to the overall truck weight, while still maintaining the full body size.

Across the board, consumers and dealers seem to be excited and are applauding the move. Ford feels the same way; Chief executive Alan Mulally was quoted as saying, “You’re either moving ahead and you’re improving and you’re making [your vehicles] more valuable and more useful to the customer or you’re not.” Even more impressively, this new truck will be able to haul more and tow more because the engine won’t be working as hard to carry excess weight.

This well-received innovation could have been enough for America’s most historic automaker. But once again, it wasn’t. Within the last few days, reports have emerged from the Washington Auto Show saying that Ford is making a serious push in the autonomous vehicle department, as well. At the Auto Show, Ford showcased its automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research car to onlookers that included President Obama. Impressed by theFord displays, Obama said, “When you look at all these cars, it is a testimony to the outstanding work that’s been done by workers, American workers, American designers.”

Moving forward, Ford is propelling this venture by partnering up with two of America’s finest universities- Stanford and MIT- to perform research. Ford higher ups have said that MIT research will focus on ways to predict the actions of other vehicles and pedestrians, while Stanford research will focus on how the vehicle will maneuver in ways to allow sensors to visualize around obstructions.

This investment was very important for the company. In the upcoming years, Ford will be competing with a slew of rival automakers that are all struggling for control of the road’s future. It is believed that by 2025 automated cars will dominate the road (check out more about this here), meaning there is billions of dollars up for grab.

Ford’s chief operating officer Mark Fields agrees, “In the long term, we see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and with the world around them to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and

Ford's autonomous research car

Ford’s autonomous research car

achieve major environmental benefits… Our goal is to offer a level of technology in which a driver is still in control and still able to enjoy the driving experience, but in a better, safer and more efficient way.”

Even though the future of innovation is uncertain as far as the roads go, there is one thing that we do know: Ford will be in the mix.