Rocket Fuel

Two Recent Trends



Regardless of the type of vehicle, efficiency is a major topic of interest and consideration. When factoring a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, there are several factors that immediately come to mind: the aerodynamics of the design, the weight of the vehicle, and the size of the engine. There is, however, a little-known factor that affects every type of vehicle, from motorcycle to semi-truck: Pavement Vehicle Interaction (PVI.)

So, what exactly is PVI? It consists of three factors: texture, deflection, and roughness. The texture of the road is important, as a rougher road reduces efficiency, especially during wet driving conditions. The term deflection refers to the curve of the road surface after heavy use. Roughness is a common phenomenon, often in the form of potholes and fractured streets.

According to USA Today, “All vehicles, whether gasoline, diesel or electric, use energy to move — but some of that energy is being wasted. On roads with poor surface conditions or subpar structural properties, vehicles consume more fuel than what’s needed to move. Researchers are now focusing in on that excess fuel consumption by taking a hard look at PVI.”

While not as important as the obvious factors of fuel efficiency, PVI still has a meaningful big picture impact. According to the article, researchers found that “PVI accounted for 1 percent of overall fuel consumption on California highways. At a scale as vast as the California highway system, that one percent amounted to 1 billion gallons of excess fuel consumption over a 5-year period due to PVI factors.” An emphasis on a naturally efficient vehicle and improved PVI can make a meaningful difference in the future.


Less is More

A recent headline from the Dayton Daily News presents both a question and an unsettling reality: “Time to downsize? Gas prices jump 70 cents from last year.” The article points out that fuel prices currently average $2.86 a gallon, which represents a 73-cent increase in a year.

According to the article, stronger demand for gasoline has kept gasoline prices high. Per USA Today, “Within the last four weeks, Americans consumed about 9.7 million barrels each day, up 2 percent from last year…The United States only produces about half of what it needs, DeHaan said. The rest it imports from other nations.” There are two main reasons for the increased demand for gasoline. As temperatures have remained warm after Labor Day, Americans continue to travel and use more gasoline during the Fall season, keeping demand high. Additionally, more Americans have purchased gas-guzzling vehicles in the past few years, further increasing demand.

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