Auto briefs: Older drivers, Cruise AV, fuel economy

An increasing number of older drivers on the road, an autonomous vehicle without a few familiar features, and improvements to fuel economy were among the items promoted by automotive organizations and automakers recently.

  • The Federal Highway Administration says older motorists continue to grow as a share of licensed drivers in the United States as teenage drivers become less common. The administration determined that 41.7 million drivers—nearly one in five of the record high figure of 221.7 million U.S. drivers in 2016—were 65 years old or older. The number of drivers between the ages of 75 and 79 had the largest increase, up 4.98 percent from the previous year, while drivers between the ages of 20 and 34 accounted for nearly one-quarter of licensed drivers. While the number of teenage drivers grew slightly to 8.8 million, the number remained among the lowest since the FHWA began collecting license data in 1963.
  • General Motors has filed a safety petition with the Department of Transportation for its Cruise AV, a self-driving vehicle. GM says the model is production-ready and able to safely operate on its own; it also lacks a steering wheel, foot pedals, and other manual controls for human input. The petition asks for DOT permission to begin deploying the vehicle on the road in 2019.
  • Hyundai says it has topped the automotive world in fuel economy gains, according to a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report says that Hyundai's combined 2016 model year fuel economy for passenger cars and light trucks was up 1.3 miles per gallon from the previous year, while overall improvement in the industry was only up 0.1 miles per gallon. The automaker says it has used technologies such as gasoline direct injection, turbocharging, lightweight materials, improved aerodynamic design, and electric or hybrid offerings to improve efficiency across its lineup.


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