Daily News Briefs: May 4, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • As gas prices ebb nearly 13 cents from month-ago levels, the race toward higher fuel economy has momentarily slowed. The latest figures from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute shows car shoppers averaged 23.9 mpg in new-car gas mileage, down from 24.1 mpg in March — the highest level since the institute began studying monthly fuel economy in 2007. We should note, however, that the institute weighs combined EPA city/highway figures by each car's sales, averaging multiple EPA figures (four-cylinder vs. V-6, for example) into one overall number per car, with an assumed model-year changeover every fall. Car sales rarely work out that way, but most automakers don't report drivetrain mixes. We tackled the subject in 2008 with representative dealership samples.
  • BMW and Hyundai may be in talks to share development costs for new engines, German newspaper Automobil Produktion reports via Automotive News. The newspaper said a top Hyundai official met with BMW in Munich to discuss a project worth $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion to produce new engine architectures for BMW's three-, four- and six-cylinder engines. BMW remained mum when Automotive News asked to comment. BMW's current partnerships include PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler.
  • A new charging system for electric vehicles is gaining traction among Detroit and German automakers, Autoblog reports. The system, called Combined Charging, integrates one- and three-phase AC charging and DC quick-charging into one large portal. Current EVs need separate portals for AC and DC charging, and only some cars — the Nissan Leaf, for instance — accept the latter. The first vehicles to accept the new system are scheduled to launch in 2013.
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