First Chinese cars, now this...
While speaking to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Dan Nicholson, GM’s' vice president of global propulsion systems called for premium gasoline to become the new regular going forward. Go figure. The call for higher pump octanes has been proposed as an easy way for manufacturers to make their engines more fuel efficient. The idea isn’t a new one, especially considering 95 RON is generally the standard in Europe anyway.
Nicholson affirmed his company’s electrification plans but also suggested that this is the right time to make a move toward higher octanes, which could yield a 3% improvement in efficiency with a change to piston surfacing, compression ratios, and engine calibration. The gains, however, appear to be mostly on the manufacturer side of the equation and their quest to wrangle the ever-escalating Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations. While it’s easy for the manufacturers to achieve a 3% bump in efficiency at little cost to them, it’s the consumer who will end paying for the increase in efficiency through higher upfront costs at the fuel pump.
According to math done by Forbes, at the current difference of $0.52 between regular and premium, a 3% increase to the 25.2 average mpg for 2017 model year vehicles would end up costing drivers $2,000 more in fuel per 100,000 miles driven, while saving just $357 over that span. If the proposed plan does move forward, Nicholson said the earliest we would begin to see new engines optimized for 95 RON would be no sooner than 2022. Of course, there’s always the option to just add a 48V mild hybrid system. The new mild hybrid option available with the Ram 1500's 5.7-liter V8 will cost $800 and FCA expects it to bump fuel economy by a full 10% using 87 octane pump gas.