Back in 1968, or so, we went through a design exercise for an electric dragster with 4-wheel drive. The plan was to utilize 4 series wound DC motors, surplus, of course, and directly drive each wheel. We figured that for the few seconds to go a quater mile we could get away with a lot of overdrive. We were hoping for at least 1600HP in a car under 1000 pounds. The secret was the huge diesel generator truck parked back behind the pits, and the copper strips alongside the strip. Like a giat slotcar without the slot. It would have been a fantastic night time show, and it would have really been a recrd breaker. Unfortunately it was way more than we could scrape up to even start building. It could have been the 3 1/2 second car. Not quite silent until launch, but close.
J-Allen: Do we need jokes about "moral smugness" directed at Prius drivers?
We need another Nissan Leaf? Prius? Volt? etc... how many do we need?
I am not really sure what a electric car does "best"...?
"best" illusion of a zero pollution solution?.. (not zero pollution, not even close, even if you charged it with solar cells at home exclusively).... Lower pollution? most of the time (not all)
Electric cars at present certainly are not the cheapest cost per mile for ownership. Or highest performance. Or ?...
In the future? Maybe that will change.
Seriouly, nearly every technological advancement isn't adopted by what the general population sees as a "valid use". Most often, the adoption and advancement of technology is fueled by "morally questionable" uses ( war, greed and yes, sexual desire). Only later do they evolve in to products without moral burden.
So who cares about the social impact of 100 or 1,000 cars?.. When millions are being made.
Do we need another over-priced super-performance electric vehicle that tries to mimic a gas-powered racer? How about a simple, reliable machine that just gets you to work and back and handles local trips? I suspect that families could buy such a basic electric , and also have a gas car for longer trips or a super-powered one to help the man of the house to compensate for his masculine "shortcomings."
A bit disappointed by the slide show, I'd like to see what the controls of an electric sports car look like. As an aside, with this many auto articles appearing, Design News may have to see if Dan Neil's got any spare time...:-)
The benefits could start a lot sooner if the auto companies were willing to sell a manual stop-start package. That could be availablke by 2015 model year if they chose to push it a bit.
Right now it is not even possible to reduce fuel consumption by shifting into neutral and coasting, since the engine control algorithm keeps the engine speed up until the vehicle stops moving. That is probably to provide power steering assist, but it is a fuel waster regardless of the reason. Of course there is that other question which is do we really need power steering in the lighter cars today?
Yes, start-stop will be important to reducing fuel consumption, William K. We talk a lot about electric cars and plug-in hybrids because that's what people want to hear about. But the truth is that mass production of start-stop will probably save more fuel than electric cars, just because of the sheer numbers. Most expert say that 30%-50% of new vehicles will have start-stop by 2020. A few predict that 100% could have the feature by 2025. Automakers are waiting to see how customers receive it. If they accept it, we'll see a mass move to start-stop.
The fuel consumption of gas engine cars in heavy city traffic could be reduced a whole lot by implementing a stop-start engine management system, and even more if drivers were allowed to use manual control as well. At least some drivers could improve on the benefits of the automated system by a large margin.
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