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Chapter 2:. Reinventing the Wheels. Automotive Transportation. The largest industry in the world 5 of the 7 largest U.S. industrial firms produce cars or their fuel. Contemporary Automobile: Embarrassingly Inefficient.
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Chapter 2: Reinventing the Wheels
Automotive Transportation • The largest industry in the world • 5 of the 7 largest U.S. industrial firms produce cars or their fuel
Contemporary Automobile: Embarrassingly Inefficient • 80% of fuel consumed is lost as heat or exhaust, 20% used to turn wheels • 95% of remaining energy moves the car, 5% moves the driver • 5% of 20% = 1% efficiency overall ! • U.S. cars burn their weight in fuel annually • Cars are very heavy, made mostly of steel • Irregular protrusions produce turbulent air flow
We can save 70-80% of fuel costs & making safer, sportier & more comfortable cars by making them ... • Ultralight • Ultra low-drag • with hybrid-electric propulsion systems
In 1991 the Rocky Mountain Institute designed the “Hypercar” • The “hypercar” model design synthesized many emerging automotive technologies • Was made available free to the automotive industry to spur innovations in efficiency
Advantages of all electric propulsion • Converts 90% of energy to electricity • Uses no energy when idling or coasting • Motors are light, simple, reliable & inexpensive • Provides high torque, even at low speed • Generator recovers electricity in deceleration
Comfort & refinement of Lexus Mercedes stiffness Volvo safety BMW acceleration Taurus price 80-200 miles per gallon 600-800 mile range between fill ups 0 air emissions All technologies exist today to produce an ultralight, hybrid drive vehicle that would be more durable and cost less
Hypercars could reduce by a factor of 10 the four parameters of manufacturing • Less time from concept to the street • Less investment for production • Less time and space for assembly • Fewer parts
Hypercar as related to Natural Capitalism Principles • Materials flow in closed loops • Toxicity is carefully confined or designed out • Longevity is designed in • Likely to be leased as a service … part of a diversified “mobility service”
Key to Ultralight Vehicles • Use of carbon fibers - black, shiny stiff filaments, finer than a human hair, 1/4 as dense as steel but stiffer & stronger • Composite carbon fiber body is rust-free, fatigue free, nonchipping, undentable • Last for decades until recycled
Alternate Propulsion Systems • Electric • Hybrid-Electric • Biofuels - liquids from farm & forest wastes • Compressed Natural Gas or Hydrogen • Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hypercars in the Future • Will more resemble computers with wheels than cars with electronic chips • Will be driven more by software than by hardware
The Main Obstacles to the U. S. Leading in Development of the Hypercar are ... Technical - no Economic - no Cultural - yes!
The Problem of “Excessive Automobility” Too much driving by too many people in too many cars!
The Authors’ Cure for “Excessive Automobility” • Make parking and driving bear their true costs • Foster genuine competition between different modes of transportation • Emphasize sensible land use over actual physical mobility - solves the problem of being in the wrong place
If true costs of road and parking had to be paid, commuters would find cheaper modes of travel • Live nearby to work and walk • Bicycle • Ridesharing • Vanpooling • Public transit • Telecommuting
Sensible Land Use • Would make many trips unnecessary • Cluster housing, jobs and shopping together • Put people close to the places they want to be • Make urban sprawl pay its own way
Alan During of Northwest Environment Watch explains ... “Most people believe the alternative to cars is better transit-in truth, its better neighborhoods.” “… (make) the car an accessory of life rather than its central organizing principle.”
Hypercars can allow us to buy time to address the transportation-land use/community issues but it cannot resolve them