Washington, June 12 : Scientists have suggested that improving normal vehicles could reduce the world's fuel consumption sooner and cheaper than eco-friendly hybrid cars.
"We can absolutely reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years," said Anup Bandivadekar of the International Council on Clean Transportation. "But in order to do that, we must halt increases in vehicle size and horsepower," he added.
Bandivadekar and his former colleagues at MIT recently did a study on how to double the gas mileage (miles per gallon) of the average new car by 2035.
They found that advanced technologies such as hybrids could help, but not by themselves and not anytime soon.
"Even if you have a great new technology, it takes decades-worth of time to see an impact," said Bandivadekar.
But current "mainstream" technology has the potential to significantly reduce fuel consumption in a traditional car at a cost that is about 2000 dollars less than buying a hybrid.
All it takes is accepting less of a performance upgrade.
"Normal cars keep getting better all the time. Over the last three decades, vehicle efficiency has increased by a few percent per year thanks to improved engine designs, reduced drag and lighter-weight materials," Bandivadekar told LiveScience.
But in the US, most of these improvements have not been used to reduce fuel consumption, but instead to increase vehicle size and acceleration, or what Bandivadekar called "the zoom-zoom effect."
If this trend continued up to the year 2035, the average vehicle would go zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, while still getting around 25 miles per gallon.
In such a scenario, the US fleet would consume around 200 billion gallons (765 billion liters) of gasoline per year. This is roughly 35 percent more than today owing to growth in the number of cars and miles-traveled.
According to Bandivadekar and colleagues, the greatest cuts are going to require both advanced vehicle designs and a willingness to sacrifice increases in performance.