Science friction

With a focus on friction and a few modifications, Volvo created a car that gets 52 miles to the gallon—and it’s not even a hybrid. The company will unveil the 2008 C30 Efficiency model at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Sept. 13. With a 103 horsepower, 1.6 liter turbodiesel engine, the car produces less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Volvo took its standard C30 hatchback and tweaked it for fuel efficiency. Among its tinkerings include lower tire friction, transmission oils and power steering, a Powershift gear box and all-over aerodynamic improvements.

The downside, Volvo has no immediate plans to sell it in the United States. Certifying its new engine for the United States market is expensive, and Volvo’s not convinced of customer support here. “We will not be doing anything unless this engine platform can work in all 50 states,” said Volvo spokesman Dan Johnston. “The rest of the world gets this before our market.”