I'm following with some interest the progress of the DeltaWing race car, which will participate in this year's Le Mans. It is designed to have half the weight, half the power, half the fuel use, but all the speed of its competitors.
Efficiency, by itself, will not be enough to stop global warming. But efficiency will help--especially when it is so cool.
Efficiency may also make things worse (a least from a global warming point of view, though it would be good for the economy) or at least won't help as much as you'd expect it to (with cars you do seem to actually get some emissions reduction, but it isn't as much as people use a more efficient car more).
There's also the question of just how much the improvements of a 2 seat purpose built race car could transfer over to a street-legal road-going vehicle which would have to seat at least 4 and also last at least a decade.
Last Edit: Jun 9, 2012 10:28:02 GMT 9.5 by anonposter
You are quite right that making a vehicle light weight and efficient is only part of the battle. Another big part is to decarbonise the fuel, especially by going electric. So here is one of my real dream vehicles--an electric, self-balancing, enclosed motorcycle called the lit motors c1:
The gyrocar has been tried before, so far it's advantages don't seem to have been enough to offset having a big flywheel in the car.
Still, maybe a modern version can make a niche for itself (just as the segway is actually useful, even if it isn't the transport revolution it was once said to be), I suspect that cheaper motorbikes will dominate with poorer people while those who could afford one of these would just get a car.
One thing which does work against efficiency for street-legal cars is crash safety standards (it's a large part of why cars have been getting so much heavier).
Good point. But the real significance of the DeltaWing--and the reason I even mention it on this site-- is that it's an exciting symbol for the efficiency and decarbonisation already occurring throughout the auto industry and throughout society.
Consider, for example, the Prius Hybrid Plug-in. It gets 50 mpg running on gas. And on battery power, because 20% of electricity in the US is nuclear, for a couple of miles on every charge one can drive an atomic powered car.
That, I think, is real progress; and that is what the DeltaWing heralds and celebrates.
Le Mans is just one month away. The race will feature not only the Deltawing, but also a couple of (flywheel) hybrids from Audi and Toyota. I don't normally follow auto racing much, but I'm very interested in this contest. Here is a quick rundown of the three cars mentioned above:
Post by anonposter on Jun 11, 2012 12:55:22 GMT 9.5
So why isn't anything other than the pious selling that well?
It also is a hybrid, not a full electric car (which means it doesn't have the limitations of electric only vehicles so doesn't really undermine attacks on them).
The simple fact of the matter is that where fuel prices are low people don't worry too much about efficiency (and so we get SUVs) whereas when fuel prices are high diesels and smaller petrol cars tend to predominate (not hybrids), it's possible that hybrids may end up taking over from diesels as the efficient option (there are some who think the equipment needed to meet emissions standards may end up more expensive than a hybrid) but at the moment hybrids are fashion statements (just like SUVs) and right now there's really only one hybrid that it generally recognisable as such by other people.
Oh and I wouldn't mind a leopard, being able to drive over traffic jams could be useful. :-)
Less than 24 hours until the start of Le Mans--it begins at 3 pm local time in France.
Why am I focusing on this apparent triviality when more important matters call for our attention? Well, first, it's fun.
But a deeper answer is that because it features the ultra-efficient DeltaWing, as well as some magnificent hybrids from Audi and Toyota, the race can be very inspiring to us Promethean greens, who will use other technology to solve the bigger environmetal problems.
A week ago, hybrids took Le Mans by storm. Today the Tesla S was released. These are exciting times for those of us who seek a zero-carbon society.
Here is one early review of the Tesla; you can find many more on the web.
"But if our brief seat time is any indication, Tesla hasn't just delivered a functional, all-electric sedan--it's made a luxury EV that can outpace and outclass the stalwarts of the premium sports sedan segment, and has the potential to change the perception of electric mobility.
This is an exciting time for electric vehicles. There are small, ultra-efficient ones; medium-sized plug-in hybrids; and large, luxury models. Today I'll give an update on one promising small EV, the gyro-stabilized, enclosed motorcycle called the c-1. There is now a prototype, as is shown in the following article.
The number of plug-in hybrid models is steadily growing. Just recently, Honda announced that it would soon be coming out with a plug-in Accord. It will join the Chevy (GM) Volt, the Ford C-MAX and Fusion ("Fission" would be better) and the Toyota Prius. So all the big guns will be battling it out in this new space. Should be interesting.
The DeltaWing recently did very well at the Petit Le Mans race near Atlanta, USA. This is the race car with "half the power, half the weight, half the fuel, and all the speed" of its competitors. Here is a nice video overview of the car: