Thursday, June 05, 2008

Fuel efficient cars

There was an amazing story on CNN about some engineers in the USA who have developed a fuel-efficient 3-wheeled vehicle that runs on hybrid or electric. The hybrid version was getting 250 miles to the gallon, thats good enough fuel economy to travel across the USA on a tank of fuel. This is not the typical car design. It is relatively roomy, and there is no doubt that its aerodynamic design.#, modest weight and small engine account for the significant efficiency. The question is - why can engineers build such a vehicle in a garage but well-resourced car manufacturers are doing nothing. To be sure car manufacturers are really not prepared to stretch themselves because of the high of fitting out and retooling their car plants. With high energy prices, the design of a car becomes more important. The need for some quantifiable measure of a car becomes important. People need an algorithm which would allow them to input details on their pattern of use. eg. Car buyers would need to tell a vehicle retailer their required typical and maximum load carrying capacity, their typical and maximum required daily travel distance, as well as driving conditions. These are the factors pertinent to determining the real cost of driving a car. Say we only need a vehicle to carry 500kg of goods twice a year for camping holidays. Maybe you can swap your far with a neighbour to achieve that rather than wasting energy on a larger van. That is the information people need to make intelligent economic decisions. Would people care if oil fell back to $US60/barrel? I doubt it would fall so low. OPEC would readily prevent such a fall by cutting production and developing countries are likely to re-ignite their strong growth in coming years.
Andrew Sheldon

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