29 April 2008
Fuel efficiency then and now
Patrick Crozier

Tim Blair has a post up about fuel efficiency.  Seems that it is about the same now as it was forty years ago.  Blair points out that modern cars are quite different, they have all sorts of systems eg air conditioning that use engine power to run them.  They also have far better acceleration.

The funny thing is that I am pretty sure that this phenomenon of efficiency not changing much can be traced back much further.  I seem to remember coming across an article in Autocar from about 1910.  The MPG figures given were remarkably similar to those of today.

Ah, here are some figures for the 1908 Model T and yes, it’s the same.

Of course, the big thing being missed here is engine efficiency as opposed to overall car efficiency.  I suspect engines have made huge gains over the years.

The point is that consumers when given a choice between saving money and greater safety or comfort will choose safety and comfort.


  Actually, it would appear that those Ford figures might be a bit dodgy.  But the article confirms (talking about the Lupo) that for consumers fuel economy is far from the only thing.


  1. My “Uncle Lazslo” from back in the 1970s when I worked at Ford Motor Company Reciprocating Engines Research told me that the engineering tradeoffs involved in the design of automobile engines were all worked out by Harry Ricardo in England in the 1930’s.

    Does that make me as “dodgy” as you say on that side of the Pond as Philosophy Guy? grin

    Posted by Paul Milenkovic on  27 May 2008 at 06:36 am

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