Getting greener


First Posted: 1/13/2015

DETROIT — With Environmental Protection Agency guidelines looming before them, car companies are working to make their vehicles more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The race has begun to release new and improved electric vehicles, with all sizes, shapes and types debuting at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Each company seems to have some answer to the regulations, which limit emissions to one gram per mile of green house gasses. The new rules will go into effect in 2017.

Ford Motor Co., with an engine plant in Lima, has been working on the changes, said Paul Seredynski, manager of global power train communication with Ford.

“We live and breathe every day looking at those upcoming standards,” he said.

This focus is evident in the company’s entire line of vehicles, he said, from fully electric, plug ins, hybrid, EcoBoost engines and even diesel.

The focus involves examining every part of an engine, down to the friction in different parts, because reducing the friction can add up to better fuel economy, Seredynski said.

Ford is changing its vehicles to meet the standards progressively, in what Seredynski calls a “glide path” taking the line toward 2025, when the standards end.

“Each one gets more efficient,” he said.

Honda announced a new Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept at the auto show, and also cited a “continuum”-type approach to the regulations.

“The technological bets we’re placing are all long-term,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda’s automobile division. “Gas still remains a finite resource. … The challenge is a concern over infrastructure. It’s not just a chicken or egg problem.”

A lot of technological advances have been limited by infrastructure, Mendel said.

“That’s why we’re trying to address both,” he said.

Hyundai, the first company to bring fuel cell vehicles to the market, debuted its new 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid at the show.

“[We want to] make eco-friendly vehicles more mainstream,” said Hyundai Vice Chairman Euisun Chung.

The company is committed to cleaner, safer innovation for the future, he said.

“We’re developing advances on every front,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning at Hyundai. “We’re creating vehicles that are as rewarding to drive as they are efficient.”

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