« Skepticism and the Scientific Method | Main | *snort* »

September 16, 2010

Cars of the Future

They look kind of neat:

The competition began in the spring with 136 vehicles, entered by 111 teams from around the world.

In the end, the Edison2 team claimed the top spot in the mainstream category for cars that seat four people, can carry 10 cubic feet of luggage, have a 200-mile driving range, can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 15 seconds and have a heater, air conditioner and stereo system. The goal is for the mainstream cars to meet most functional requirements for typical drivers while delivering at least 100 miles per gallon.

The other half of the $10 million X Prize purse was given out for two categories of alternative-class, two-seat vehicles. Li-ion's Wave II car won $2.5 million in the side-by-side category, comprising vehicles that seat their two occupants side by side. X-Tracer's E-Tracer motorcycle-style vehicle won the same amount in the tandem category.

Both of the alternative-class vehicles were all-electric. Edison2's Very Light Car, in contrast, employed a conventional (though thoroughly modified) turbocharged Yamaha 250cc internal combustion engine burning E85 fuel — that is, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

100915_edison2s.grid-6x2.jpg

Driving into DC last night I heard an amusing debate on the radio over how to solve the DC metropolitan area's horrific traffic problems.

I don't commute to work daily because we live about an hour (sans traffic) from my office. My husband's commute to the Pentagon was awful - he had to leave by 4:30-5 am in order to beat the wave of DC bound commuters from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

At any rate, if you ever wonder why the federal government can't seem to solve our budget problems, the traffic debate was eerily apt. The debate was between those who want to create a network of toll roads to force those who live far away and commute in bear more of the cost of building and maintaining the roads.

Though we fall into that category and would be impacted by such a system, I can't help thinking that makes sense. A lot of western states and parts of the South have created toll bypasses and they really do siphon off a lot of traffic from overcrowded main arteries. In California we gladly paid five bucks not to sit in traffic.

The other "plan" was to relocate workers closer to their jobs and to public transportation.

Sounds dreamy, doesn't it? Of course the proponents of this "plan" had no idea how this was to be accomplished (much less how they would force people to use public transportation) but that didn't stop them for a moment.

Technology makes some things far easier but also removes a good bit of the natural cost from various choices.

Posted by Cassandra at September 16, 2010 08:54 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3881

Comments

LIGHT CYCLE TRON!

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 16, 2010 09:31 AM

I don't commute to work daily because we live about an hour (sans traffic) from my office. My husband's commute to the Pentagon was awful - he had to leave by 4:30-5 am in order to beat the wave of DC bound commuters from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Shameless plug (my wife works for Cisco Systems).

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 16, 2010 09:44 AM

"relocate workers closer to their jobs and to public transportation"...one point that the advocates of this idea never seem to consider: in most families today, *both* members of the couple work. The logistics of locating both of them near their jobs is much more difficult and improbable than the logistics of locating single-worker families near their jobs.

Posted by: david foster at September 16, 2010 10:25 AM

Also, if more dependence on public transportation is sought, then the competence with which these agencies are managed needs to greatly increased. I recently read the preliminary NTSB report on last summer's Washington Metrorail disaster, and it is very scary.

Posted by: david foster at September 16, 2010 10:27 AM

When we moved back to the DC area in 1998, we chose to rent in an urban location.One of the reasons was the proximity to the Metro station - the idea was that The Unit could take the Metro to work.

He tried it for about a year but his job demanded that he be there very early and stay very late. When you're working 12-14 hour days already, having the Metro break down and being stranded for several hours (and don't even get me started on snow days) is unacceptable.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 16, 2010 10:38 AM

My oldest son, on the other hand, had a job with flexible hours and no real demand to be there at 9 sharp. He rode the metro for years and was happy with it.

Of course that was before the big train wreck :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 16, 2010 10:39 AM

relocate workers closer to their jobs and to public transportation

Other aspects that advocates of this "system" elide is who gets to decide the definition of "close enough" and who bears the cost of the relocation--forced or otherwise. In mobile America, folks live where they want to live, even today. We might rail (or rale, I'm of two minds which...) at the nature of our commute, but we still tend to prefer where we are over closeness to work.

It's also important to note the emphasis here: relocate the workers closer to public transportation--_not_ relocate the public transportation closer to the people.

I seem to recall a forced relocation brought about by Chairman Mao in a different century. Different times and different circumstances, but it still didn't work out so well.

But then the Patricians Know Better, and us plebes should just sit down, shut up, and do what our betters instruct us to do.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 16, 2010 10:40 AM

The "greenies" in NJ are always screaming that, if everyone used public transportation, all the state's problems would be solved.

One minor difficulty.

NJ *has* no public transportation system -- unless you live in Trenton and work in either Philly or NYC...

Posted by: BillT at September 16, 2010 10:53 AM

An interesting piece on impressions of a new public-transportation technology---the electric trolley---from 1902.

Posted by: david foster at September 16, 2010 11:12 AM

Somebody came up with a solution for this.

I think he called it "population elimination" with something chambers.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 16, 2010 03:58 PM

Cars of the future, you say? You should see Citroen's offerings, they're masters at building odd, futuristic style cars. Take for example the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV for short), which is a prime example of a futuristic car, and could make a perfect American family car too - it can carry up to seven seats! If they ever decide to sell their cars in the USA again, make sure you buy from them.

By the way:

Technology makes some things far easier but also removes a good bit of the natural cost from various choices.

If you buy a car with manual transmission, it could make things easier because they consume less gasoline, and put less strain on the engine when you're driving over a hilltop. If US luxury carmakers were to consider building more of their bigger cars with manual, and customers would consider buying them that way, just think of how much gas and money we could save.

Posted by: Avi Green at September 17, 2010 06:27 AM

If you buy a car with manual transmission, it could make things easier because they consume less gasoline, and put less strain on the engine when you're driving over a hilltop. If US luxury carmakers were to consider building more of their bigger cars with manual, and customers would consider buying them that way, just think of how much gas and money we could save.

That is so true.

Until our last car purchase, all our family cars have had manual transmissions. We wanted to buy a manual this time but they are getting harder and harder to find.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 17, 2010 06:37 AM

With very few exceptions (the new Challenger and Mustangs come immediately to mind) manuals are no longer the *standard* transmission in a new car. That's been a slow-creep thing for about ten years now. You can still get them, you just have to special order them. The good news is that that's about the only *special* order you can make that actually lowers the cost. O at least, it was when I bought our last car a couple years ago.

Posted by: DL Sly at September 17, 2010 07:45 AM

So which company makes the most money making automatic transmissions and what are their political connections?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 17, 2010 06:42 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)