The End of Trailer Trailing? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-15-2007, 02:29 PM   #1
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I noticed the new energy bill passed by the Senate and likely to become law, contains this bombshell:
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The car companies will have to achieve an industrywide average 35 mile per gallon for cars, small trucks and SUVs over the next 13 years, an increase of 10 mpg over what the entire fleet averages today.
While in 12 years many new and improved technologies will be developed, and I believe the auto industry can meet this goal, it may result in quite a different towing capacity, and our small fiberglass trailers may become ALL that can be towed.

Used pre-2020 vehicles will certainly become valuable (ala Cuba and the 1950s cars?), but will 40' 5th wheels become a fond memory?

Something to ponder over the next decade.
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:35 PM   #2
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entire fleet [b]averages
The devil is in the details. Sell enough Prius models to offset the bigger Tundra.

Chrysler classifies the PT Cruiser as a Small Truck to gigger the numbers for the guvmint.
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:07 PM   #3
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Hi: How many times have we heard that the technology exists to get mega MPG's but the auto makers have shelved it!!! All of a sudden it will emerge as a world/oil saving miracle... after the oil Co's have taken us for as much as they can and the auto Co's have to comply with the law
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:07 PM   #4
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The car companies will have to achieve an industrywide average 35 mile per gallon for cars, [b]small trucks and SUVs over the next 13 years, an increase of 10 mpg over what the entire fleet averages today.
I think part of that is defining small truck. Is my Dakota V8 a small truck? Is the neighbors F350 a small truck? Is a Freightliner Class 6 a small truck? (I'll assume that Class 7 and 8 trucks don't fall into the "small truck" classification.)

I wouldn't consider many of the trucks on the road pulling trailers small, but then I don't consider a 17' trailer small.
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:44 PM   #5
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I think what will happen is my 25MPG, assuming no improvements like a fiber frame, Odyssey will be priced at $75,000 and the 45MPG Prius $30,000, forcing enough sales of those very small cars to equal the sales of the Odyssey, achieving the average needed.

Better start saving now!
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:32 PM   #6
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It'll probably mean a whole rack of new car technologies, from more hybrid options, like mixed-mode "plug-in" hybrids to new "displacement on demand" engines that allow (for example) eight-cylinder engines to lock out half the cylinders and run on just four (an option that's already used in semi-tractors). And it'll also mean we finally start driving the size cars we need instead of the size car that looks most intimidating on the road.

Going car shopping after my '92 Geo Metro died in 2002 was an interesting experience. At the time there wasn't even one car on the market that could get the 42-45MPG my Metro got, and damn few that got the 36 MPG of my wife's '97 Toyota Corolla. The take-home message is that, even though we knew there was a problem with non-renewable oil resources and greatly suspected a problem with greenhouse gasses, our cars have got fatter and less efficient. That has to change for the health of the planet, it has to change for the health of the economy, and it has to change for the strategic future of our democracy, too. The sad thing is that we didn't take the "dangerous oil addiction" warning that President Jimmy Carter included in one of his his State of Union addresses to heart . . . and now here we are, causing global warming and paying a huge percentage of our GDP to some of the most totalitarian nations in the world, located in one of (if not the most) volatile part of the world.

Another interesting part of the new legislation is a requirement that light bulbs become more efficient. Light bulbs will have to put out the same amount of light using less energy, and that'll spell the end of the incandescent Edison light bulb. Compact fluorescents will likely be all you can buy in 2009; efficiency standards will continue to tighten after that, and LED light bulbs may become the norm. The reduction in carbon output from that change alone could dwarf the short-term gains from increasing MPG requirements -- frequently used light bulbs wear out faster than frequently-used cars and trucks.

Going back to trailers . . . Well, yes, I rather think this will push people into smaller trailers, but at the same time we'll probably start to see more efficient trucks that take advantage of technologies like hybrid systems and displacement on demand, and we'll probably see a move toward using aluminum instead of steel for trailer and truck frames. Trailers with more aerodynamic profiles will likely appear. There are lots of things that can be done if we're willing to spend the money to do them.

--Peter
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:47 PM   #7
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As others have mentioned, I think the key words are "average" (economy) and "small" (truck). The big fifth-wheels (very few are actually 40' long, but many are in the thirties) will be around as long as fuel is available for purchase, being towed by trucks which must be allowed to exist for commercial purposes (even if their actual use is recreational).

Quote:
How many times have we heard that the technology exists to get mega MPG's but the auto makers have shelved it!!! All of a sudden it will emerge as a world/oil saving miracle... after the oil Co's have taken us for as much as they can and the auto Co's have to comply with the law...
Just as often as we have heard that people didn't really go to the moon and all sorts of other nonsense. The reality is that the auto manufacturers make and sell what the market demands, and overall the car-buying market cares much less about fuel economy and environmental responsibility than it does about comfort, power, capacity, and (most important for many) image.

By the way, there's no carburetor that can make a car's engine run on water, and no other magic solutions.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:56 PM   #8
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It'll probably mean a whole rack of new car technologies, from more hybrid options, like mixed-mode "plug-in" hybrids to new "displacement on demand" engines that allow (for example) eight-cylinder engines to lock out half the cylinders and run on just four (an option that's already used in semi-tractors).
Plug-in hybrids don't save energy - just relocate some of the fuel burning to the power plant - but I agree that forcing consumers to take cars they don't want will provide economic incentive to further develop some technology which is already well known.

"Displacement on demand" (better called "Selective cylinder deactivation", I think) is an old idea which I think is inherently not all that useful for most vehicles, and which has been quite problematic in the past (like the failed GM attempt of many years ago). It is currently available on a few vehicles, although some of the press are acting like Chrysler invented it for some of the V8 engines, while Honda routinely sells it in their V6's. It has become more practical due to computerized engine control and years of detailed refinement (largely for the advanced valve control systems such as Honda's VTEC), but in the end it still means carrying around too much engine most of the time, and turning all that engine hardware (with the attendant friction) for nothing.

Selective cylinder deactivation does seem like a possibly good fit for many of us, providing the possibility of towing power when desired without quite as much fuel economy penalty the rest of the time.
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Old 12-15-2007, 08:29 PM   #9
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Actually, Plug-in Hybrids DO save energy, simply because of the efficiency of scale in generation. Even compensating for transmission loss over miles of wire, a large fossil-fuel-burning generation plant is still more efficient than a small internal combustion engine, and polutes less to boot.

I really think the new legislation is just smoke and mirrors. From my understanding, the FLEET average is NOT per company. It's for the whole industry. Each car company will be assigned a target mpg, based on their mix of vehicles. So, a company that sells mostly larger vehicles will have a lower target mpg for their products than will a company which sells mostly smaller vehicles. The average mpg for all of various car companies will have to achieve 35 mpg.

The result is that car companies will try to find that sweet spot, making vehicles of a size and type that will most easily and cost-effectively meet their target mpg, and offload the onus of really great mpg onto an unfortunate company that is making smaller, more efficient cars.

The other kicker is that the new legislation retains the mpg credits for flex-fuel vehicles. This means that a company like GM could probably meet the new mpg requirements simply by making all of their cars flex-fuel, and not changing the size, capacity or efficiency of their vehicles at all. So, tow ratings probably won't go down much, if at all.

It would seem the govt has sold us short again! Want an efficient car? Check out this one.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:07 AM   #10
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I know we have one Prius owner here. I am sure there are many.

I drove a Saturn Vue Hybrid as a rental this week. I was very surprised at how seamless it was. I didn't have to do anything, just drive. The transition from electric to gas was totally un noticeable, and there was no power loss or anything that felt any different than driving a regular Vue. (I often get Vues as rentals) The only odd thing, and I didn't even notice it until I was idling for hours in a border crossing line, was it seemed like it shut itself off when stopped. But you couldn't feel the shut down, or regeneration.. just step on the gas and the car went.

As far as gas mileage, I wish I had actually measured the mpg. (Hey, company rental.. I don't care LOL!) I have done this same trip more times than I can count, and I usually have to fill up at some point on the return trip. This time, I did it on the same tank I left with.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:49 AM   #11
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I noticed the new energy bill passed by the Senate and likely to become law, contains this bombshell:
While in 12 years many new and improved technologies will be developed, and I believe the auto industry can meet this goal, it may result in quite a different towing capacity, and our small fiberglass trailers may become ALL that can be towed.

Used pre-2020 vehicles will certainly become valuable (ala Cuba and the 1950s cars?), but will 40' 5th wheels become a fond memory?

Something to ponder over the next decade.
I would not be surprise if Europe is already meeting this standard of 35 mpg. Ford, Chrysler, and GM are sturdily present in Europe so transferring models over the pond should not be a big issue unless big guys are blocking the transfer. Over 50% cars sold in EU are diesels, if I recall correctly Austria drives 80% diesels. With high torque engines diesel cars can pull light trailers with ease. RV EU industry has accommodated to light cars pulling trailers. For example, a lot of trailers have structural aluminum frame beams versus often used here “railroad steel”.

I extracted from the new 08 EU catalog some car examples with size (length) and mpg numbers. Unfortunately not all are available in US. Safety is the same as in US. Gas mileage is combined from the city and the highway mileages in the ECE-LA4 standards except Opel Astra with separate mpg listings. There is about 3.3'/m.

Alfa Romeo 147 1.9JTD 4.660 m 40.6 mpg
Audi A3 1.9TDIe 4.214 m 52.3 mpg
Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI 4.586 m 51.1 mpg.
BMW 118D 4.239 m 52.3 mpg.
BMW 318D 4.520 m 50.1 mpg.
Chrysler PT Cruiser 1.6 4.288 m 30.1 mpg.
Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2CRD 4.288 m 35.1 mpg.
Citroen C4 HDi 90 4.260 m 50.1 mpg.
Citroen C6 V6HDi 170 BiTurbo, 4.908 m 35.6 mpg.
Fiaat Gran Punto 1.3 Multijet 4.030 m 50.1 mpg.
Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 4.342 m 50.1 mpg.
Honda Accord 2.2i-CTDi 4.665 m 42.8 mpg.
Hummer H2 4.850 m 12.9 mpg.
Jaguar X-Type 3.0 V6 4.672 m 22.8 mpg.
Jaguar X-Type 2.2 Diesel 4.672 m 39.2 mpg.
Mercedes C220 CDi 2.2 4.581 m 39.9 mpg.
Mini Cooper D 1.6 3.709 m 60.3 mpg.
Opel Astra 1.4 gas 4.290 m 29.8/48.0/39.2 mpg (city/highway/comb.)
Opel Astra 1.7CDTI 4.290 m 37.3/61.9/51.1 mpg.
Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTI 3.999 m 51.1 mpg.
Saab 9-3 1.9 TID 4.670 m 42.8 mpg.
Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI 3.992 m 48.0 mpg.
Smart Fotwo cdi Coupe 2.965 m 71.3 mpg.
Toyota Yaris 1.4D 3750 m 52.3 mpg.
VW Polo Blue Motion 3.916 m 61.9 mpg

George.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:20 AM   #12
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Years ago when I had a 3/4 ton pickup (With camper) we were exempt from the exhaust gas testing based on the size/weight of the vehicle so I suspect there will always be the bigger class of vehicle that will get around the MPG guidelines.

In the Good Sam Highways magazine - in the back - I see big Freightliner 4 door tugs with "Air Ride" for pulling 5th wheels. Hay, that's a tractor for a semi rig and they R being purchased for people that want to rough it in their 5th wheel with cold and hot running unlimited showers, big screen TVs, multi air conditioners, Saunas, Hot tubs, and so on.

As an added note: Freightliner makes a pickup out of one of those tugs. Listed as the worlds biggest pick-up. I wonder how it would look pulling a 13ft egg.
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:13 PM   #13
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Plug-in hybrids don't save energy - just relocate some of the fuel burning to the power plant - but I agree that forcing consumers to take cars they don't want will provide economic incentive to further develop some technology which is already well known.
Well, yes and no. Reciprocating (piston) engines are really very inefficient at converting the heat energy released during combustion into usable power; electric powerplant operations, on the other hand, are more than twice as efficient. So, as Paul has already said, even after taking into account the losses due to electric line transmission and the losses of storing and un-storing that energy in a battery there is an efficiency gain. Plug-in hybrids also allow drivers to take advantage of non-fossil power sources: hydro (both conventional and tidal), geothermal, wind, solar, and nuclear energy.

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"Displacement on demand" (better called "Selective cylinder deactivation", I think) is an old idea which I think is inherently not all that useful for most vehicles . . . in the end it still means carrying around too much engine most of the time, and turning all that engine hardware (with the attendant friction) for nothing.
I think you're both right and wrong. Blocking off four of eight cylinders in a V-8 does mean there's a lot of friction in the system that doesn't have to be there for a four-cylinder engine, but consider an alternative. How about a Wankel rotary engine with two rotary units, one of which can completely disengage from the other? Advances in Wankel engines over the years that have brought them up to the same reliability as conventional reciprocating engines, but because of their non-reciprocating design they have a smoother, wider torque curve (which makes them a good choice for towing) and fewer moving parts, which means they weigh less and have a higher power-to-weight ratio than reciprocating engines. Two 80-100hp rotary units would be easy to stage in a displacement-on-demand configuration that would eliminate the friction inherent in traditional DOD configurations. Add a motor/generator at the output end and you could even turn it into a damn nice "mild" hybrid.

--Peter


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Old 12-16-2007, 05:05 PM   #14
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Cadillac tried the selective cylinder stuff back in the early 80s. What a flop. Here's website:
Cadillac History 1980
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