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Chart: Automakers’ Adoption of Fuel-Saving Technologies

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Adoption of fuel-saving technologies

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Automakers’ Adoption of Fuel-Saving Technologies

Over the past few decades, automakers have invested plenty of time and money into various fuel-saving technologies. This includes innovations such as direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and auto start-stop features.

Keeping track of which companies have adopted these technologies can be difficult. Thankfully, the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report includes data that shows which automakers have adopted what technologies.

Understanding the Data

The percentages in this infographic show how 14 major automakers have adopted various fuel-saving technologies into their lineups. The report did not specify if this data is for North American models only.

BrandTurboDirect InjectionCylinder Deact.CVT7+ GearsStart-StopHybridPHEV/EV/FC
Subaru22%99%0%95%0%80%0%0%
Nissan5%72%0%87%12%0%0%1%
Honda53%79%25%61%38%24%7%0%
Mazda27%100%45%0%0%0%0%0%
Toyota3%0%0%36%38%19%22%2%
Kia26%47%0%42%45%50%2%0%
Hyundai18%44%0%23%46%21%4%2%
BMW99%99%0%0%98%64%25%7%
Volkswagen77%94%3%0%90%71%20%7%
Mercedes-Benz94%100%8%0%100%77%22%0%
Tesla0%0%0%0%0%0%0%100%
Ford80%56%21%2%92%83%5%3%
GM37%91%54%9%74%75%0%1%
Stellantis13%10%22%1%96%45%15%3%

There are several geographical trends hidden within this dataset. To make them more obvious, we color-coded the 14 automakers by their nationality.

Asian Automakers

Starting from the top of the graphic, we can see that Japanese automakers are big proponents of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, as well as continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

With a GDI engine, fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber at high pressure. This is more precise than the traditional method known as port injection, which results in greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

CVT transmissions use pulleys instead of gears to improve fuel efficiency. CVTs are best paired with smaller, lower output engines, which may explain why Japanese automakers (who have a history of building smaller cars) have adopted them so widely.

Note that Toyota is listed as having 0% adoption of direct injection, but this isn’t exactly true. The automaker uses its D4-S system, which is a combination of both port and direct fuel injection.

South Korean automakers, on the other hand, have a more balanced technology profile, adopting a wider number of technologies, but each to a lesser degree.

German Automakers

German automakers are well-known for their expertise in building combustion engines, so it’s no surprise they use turbocharging and direct injection in nearly every model.

They’ve also heavily adopted high gear-count transmissions (7 or more gears), which can not only enable better fuel efficiency, but also faster acceleration. The downside to these transmissions is that they can be very heavy and complex.

Furthermore, German automakers utilize the auto start-stop feature in many of their vehicles, and are tied with Toyota in terms of hybrid adoption.

American & Other Automakers

Ford and GM’s technology profile is similar to the Germans, using turbocharging and direct injection combined with 7+ gear transmissions.

GM uses turbocharging less frequently, but stands out with its high usage of cylinder deactivation technology, at 54% of models. Referred to by GM as Active Fuel Management (AFM), this feature shuts down half of the engine’s cylinders during light driving.

GM is known for its small-block V8 engines, which can be had in many of the company’s models. Given the high cylinder count of a V8, AFM is a clever trick for improving fuel efficiency.

Stellantis, which is a merger between Italian-American Fiat Chrysler and French Peugeot, has not widely adopted many technologies except for the 7+ gear transmission.

Finally there’s Tesla, which does not use any of the aforementioned technologies due to it being a pure electric automaker.

Going The Way of the Dinosaur

The technologies shown in this infographic have helped to bring the average mpg of a new car to record highs in recent years.

Many of these innovations could become obsolete as automakers slowly phase out gasoline engines. In 2021, six major automakers including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and GM pledged to phase out the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered cars by 2040.

Other companies such as Porsche believe that the combustion engine still has a future, pointing to synthetic fuels as a means of significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

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The Frequency of Billion-Dollar Disasters in the U.S.

The Maui fire is the latest of many disasters in the U.S. And data shows that frequency of costly weather disasters has increased.

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disasters in the u.s.

Frequency of Billion-Dollar Disasters in the U.S.

Wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have had devastating effects on people, towns, and nature, and the final cost is nowhere near tallied. They are the latest of many climate disasters in the U.S.—and data shows that their frequency has been increasing.

These graphics from Planet Anomaly use tracking data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to show the average number of days between billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. from 1980 to 2022.

Methodology

NOAA’s database examines billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in America. Total associated damages and costs for each event are adjusted for inflation using the 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Disasters are categorized as one of seven different types:

  • Drought: Prolonged dry spells resulting in water shortages and reduced soil moisture.
  • Flooding: Overflow of water inundating land usually due to intense rainfall or melting snow.
  • Tropical Cyclone: Intense rotating storm systems known as hurricanes.
  • Severe Storm: Includes windstorms and tornadoes, hail, lightning, and heavy precipitation.
  • Winter Storm: Heavy snow, freezing rain, and icy conditions impacting transportation and infrastructure.
  • Wildfire: Uncontrolled fires consuming vast areas of forests and vegetation.
  • Freezes: Sub-zero temperatures damaging crops and infrastructure, such as pipes or energy lines.

The average days between billion-dollar disasters are calculated from the start dates of adjacent events within a single year.

Days Between Billion-Dollar Disasters in the U.S. (1980‒2022)

Between 1980 and 2022, there were 155 total disasters in the U.S. that cost more than a billion dollars in damages when adjusted for inflation.

And when looking at the average number of days between these billion-dollar events within each year, we can see the decades becoming more and more costly:

YearAvg. Days Between Disasters
198060
1981113
198285
198366
198478
198548
1986104
1987N/A
1988N/A
198947
199074
199171
199244
199344
199454
199546
199673
1997111
199839
199964
200064
200130
200251
200334
200423
200547
200639
200735
200823
200933
201040
201116
201230
201330
201430
201536
201620
201713
201819
201918
202014
202118
202220

Back in the early 1980s, the average interval between these major disasters (within each year) was 75 days. Even more starkly, 1987 had no climate disasters that topped $1 billion in damages, while 1988 only had one.

Fast forward to 2022, and that average window has drastically reduced to a mere 20 days between billion-dollar disasters in the United States.

Breaking Down Billion-Dollar Disasters by Type

Of the 155 disasters tracked through 2022, the majority have been in the form of severe storms including tornadoes, windstorms, and thunderstorms.

charting breakdown of costly natural disasters in the u.s.

The worst severe storms include an outbreak of tornadoes in April 2011 across many central and southern states, with an estimated 343 tornadoes causing a total of $14 billion in CPI-adjusted damages. In August 2020, a powerful derecho—a widespread and intense windstorm characterized by straight-line winds—devastated millions of acres of crops across the Midwest and caused $13 billion in adjusted damages.

But the most expensive disasters so far have been hurricanes. Eight hurricanes top the inflation-adjusted damages charts, with Hurricane Katrina’s unprecedented devastation in 2005 leading with a staggering $194 billion.

Will the U.S. be prepared for more costly disasters going forward? And will climate change continue to accelerate the pace of weather disasters in the U.S. even more?

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