This is Bernard's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Bernard's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Recent Activity
Patrick, Both BMW and Tesla offer vehicles that could meet your requirements. I realize that you don't think the Tesla is a valid solution, given that they don't follow your suggested implementation exactly, but the BMW i3/i8 do. I disagree that Volvo's solution isn't good for Europe. 40km all-electric is plenty for most European city dwellers. Arguably, 41km would be better, and 42km even more so, but 40km is what's on offer this year.
O TOLMON NIKA, The inability to perform regen is a failure in itself, and if you live in a large city you may not have the opportunity (or the inclination) to initiate a regen cycle. Put it off too long or too often and you will be faced with a large service bill. That's not limited to cars. A friend helps run a fleet of urban delivery vans, and he tells me that he regularly sends technicians out on regen runs, which are an outrageous waste of time and resources. Clearly this DPF-diesel technology (in its current state) isn't appropriate for urban dwellers. As I wrote earlier, it works well enough for extra-urban travel.
O TOLMON NIKA, Exactly. As far as I know, the only 2 stroke scooter left on the market in Europe and North America is an expensive direct-injection Aprilia. They are gone from the mainstream market. Any other country can legislate them away easily, four-stroke alternatives are just as cheap.
Funny, I was looking at a current Ford van the other day and thinking "how can they get away with such poor paint quality?" I know these are commercial vehicles, but they represent the companies that use them (mobile billboards, as it were). Peeling, flaking and rusting vans surely aren't the image most companies want to convey. Let's hope this press release is accurate.
Roger, Good luck getting your Toyota dealer to install a smaller fuel tank, re-engineer the chassis, etc, at no cost to you. The fact is that an Impala can carry 50% more stuff in the trunk, which is a huge deal for a family (these are family cars after all). If you do not need the space, then the Malibu is the car for you, or the Prius. No sense driving around in an empty car.
Peter, I am not advocating banning a whole range of technologies, especially one that is evolving quickly. My point is that the health cost depends on where you live and drive. DPF technology is notoriously prone to failure when driven at low speeds in cities. They only regen at higher speeds that city dwellers daydream about while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. As you note, the same DPF-equiped car that can be a pollution and maintenance nightmare downtown is quite efficient to a rural user.
Saying that only 17% of overall particulates come from road transport does not make that 17% less relevant. If you live in a large European city, you find little comfort in the fact that choking diesel fumes are somewhat more breathable than a coal-fired power plant's exhaust stack. Personal transportation is by definition located where people live, so the effects of transportation-generated PM are amplified.
Roger, The Impala is a much bigger car at 201 inches vs 189 for the Camry. Cargo capacity is almost 50% more at 18.8 ft3 vs. 13.1. The Impala is bigger than the $31,000 Toyota Avalon that gets similar mpg. The Avalon hybrid starts at $35.5K, but then you've spent your "savings" up front, and still have less room in the trunk. Also, list price is misleading for Chevrolets. Nobody should ever pay list for a GM car. GM is offering $2,000 off list right now, and the dealer will likely match that.
Roger, The "PHEV Tesla" that you describe will be on sale this Fall. It's called the BMW i8. Only trouble is, it will sell for $100,000 more than you estimated. And have very limited carrying capacity. And be worse in every facet of day-to-day performance than a Tesla, except for the quality of leather stitching and the opportunity to hang out in gas stations.
Roger, I doubt you could fit an ICE and associated systems (cooling, fuel tank, exhaust, emission controls, etc) in a Tesla without increasing weight and diminishing carrying capacity. On top of that, the car would no longer be clean and quiet, which would make it unexceptional. It wouldn't be any cheaper either, given Tesla's comparatively low production. The Tesla story has proven that consumers are uninterested by compromised solutions. Cars like the Volt lack identity: Are they electric or ICE or both or neither? Are they premium or basic, overpriced or cheap? Consumers can't relate to that, because there is no clear narrative. You need to go through 50 pages of fine print to explain to your friends what you just bought ("it's electric, except in situations defined in appendices A5 through A23, notwithstanding subclauses h12 through h82, subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of ...").
Roger, If Tesla added an ICE to their cars, they would lose most of their brand value. The Cadillac ELR, which follows your suggested design almost to the letter, sold 60 units last month! That is a textbook unmitigated disaster (less than 1 unit per state/province/month). Why would Tesla want to emulate that?
Roger, You are a little optimistic as regards Tesla maintenance costs. They are fast heavy cars and thus go through expensive ($1000+) tyres quickly. Modern IC cars don't require much transmission or engine work. That's why there are no more local transmission shops. Most of the service money is in brakes and suspension, which heavy electric cars require. I know you think there's no wear on brakes, but most brake jobs outside of California/Arizona are due to corrosion (seized calipers). I think that maintenance costs will be a wash. You may skip a timing belt replacement at 100,000 miles, but you will be going through expensive tyres very quickly. One extra set of tyres costs more than a timing belt.
Davemart, Passive-aggressive much? Nobody said H2 stations wouldn't be built. Prototype H2 stations have been around for a while, and the technology is over 150 years old. The argument revolves around whether or not they should be built. The main objection to H2 is that it is more expensive and dirtier than batteries. It's also more expensive and dirtier than running cars on NG (which is where 99% of commercial H2 comes from). I don't see how the fact that Toyota has spent less than the cost of a Superbowl ad on a couple of stations changes the debate. Toyota is betting on all the runners in this field, using money they earn by selling gas-guzzling SUVs. It's excellent PR, and it helps divert attention from 14 mpg Sequoias (9 mpg city when using E85!).
Arne, Consider the possibility that Toyota has more insight into the medium-term prospects of electric-only cars. Toyota sells cars in all markets, so they realize that solutions that work well in infrastructure-rich locations with mild weather may not sell elsewhere. Witness the Prius. It's undoubtedly a success, but the majority of its worldwide sales are in two markets: Japan and California.
Roger, Don't put too much trust in rumors. Lots of people speculated that the current (gen 3) Prius would get nearly 100 mpg. In actual fact, it gets almost exactly the same mileage as the gen 2 Prius, and the later Prius C is somewhat worse, given its smaller size. That's why I find it more appropriate to compare cars that are available right now.
Roger, I think that the more fair comparison is between current models, not past models. That's the choice that a current consumer will face. It's also fair to compare the Prius to the most fuel-efficient Corolla. One assumes that fuel-economy-conscious consumers will compare these two options rather than comparing a Prius to a rental-spec Corolla. It also brings the price difference closer to the $5,000 range which is more reasonable. Comparing fuel economy of cars that are more than $10,000 apart is artificial. $10,000 is 20 years of Prius fuel savings (according to the EPA). You may as well invest the $10K and get a "free" 2034 Prius (or two).
Roger, As the article above clearly states, these Walmart trucks are intended for short hauls from distribution centres to stores. Think of them as giant Priuses that efficiently use battery power in stop-and-go conditions and use a small turbine to recharge the battery packs. Many here have suggested using turbines in hybrid cars, but they are too expensive and complicated for consumer vehicles. Walmart has done the maths and calculated that it can work in their favour in short-haul trucks for a specific use case. Just like hybrid buses can work in urban mass transit scenarios, even if they do not work for intercity (Greyhound) bus routes. The flip side to this, of course, is that long-haul solutions do not provide an advantage in suburban mixed traffic.
According to the EPA, the current Corolla Eco gets a 30/42 (average 35) rating, to the current Prius's 51/48 (average 50), so the difference is almost exactly 30% (or $500/year). It makes sense that hybrids do comparatively better in congested traffic. That's where hybrid powertrains really shine. The Prius's slight highway advantage over the Corolla is mostly thanks to the Prius's slippery aerodynamics and rock-hard tires. In that way, hybrids may make more financial sense in India and China, provided that fuel costs justify the initial financial hit. As we've seen in other articles, they are definitely beneficial to the taxi industry.
Roger, If you go back a few days on this site, you will see that Mercedes has implemented a closing radiator flap on the new C Class. Other manufacturers have done so before (Cruze Eco and Dart Aero for instance). Mercedes only claims single-digit efficiency gains, and a good part of that is from heat retention on start-stop. If you really can get this down by an order of magnitude, contact them immediately. They will give you the keys to the kingdom and let you implement all of the "1000% improvement" technologies that you've suggested here over the years. You are obviously a very smart guy, but you also have a tendency to wildly exaggerate. That's not helped by the fact that you never ever admit that one of your guesses is off the mark. That's too bad. I mostly ignore what you write (as I know many others do), but every once in a while feel the need to remind you that this site promotes ideas based on science and not just wishful thinking. It's nothing personal, and realistically, it's probably more my problem than yours. Carry on!
Roger, I guess that this is the closest you get admitting that you made-up a "fact". You've re-estimated from <1% to 15%. My sources say 1/3, but at least you are now within an order of magnitude. Aircraft travel through colder air at much higher speeds. They also operate close to their design load all the time (operators hate empty seats). That makes the job of cooling them much different. Back on the ground, I've read that some F1 cars have generated slight thrust from their radiators, but that this amount was negligible. The cooling system as a whole creates drag, of course.
Roger, Cooling needs are proportional to overall drag. That's because the engine is creating the torque to overcome that drag. Think about it: the trailer creates tremendous drag. The engine generates enough power to overcome that drag. The engine is less than 50% efficient, so over half of the fuel's energy is dissipated as heat, using radiators. Radiators are air-cooled, which creates drag. The 1/3 rule applies at speed (no one cares about drag at idle!). Variable radiator louvers lower drag somewhat, but not by >97%, as you assumed. The efficiency gain is in the single digit range. Then again, if you really have worked-out a system that limits cooling drag to under 1%, you should patent it and let the planet benefit. You will make millions, and the world will save billions.
Some of the commenters seem to have missed the key point that Walmart's "transport vehicles have shorter transit times". This means more stop-and-go, and less time spent at freeway speeds where conventional diesels reach their peak efficiency. A turbine generator that only operates at its (lower) peak efficiency will be better than an idling big diesel.
Roger, The rule of thumb for aerodynamics on cars is of an even split (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) between cooling, underbody and visible surfaces. In other words, cooling systems contribute more-or-less 33% of drag on cars. I'm sure that the numbers are different for tractor trailers, but I would be surprised if the difference was as big as your estimate.
Peter, I said that the gap can become immaterial, not that it was immaterial right now. Obviously, this starts with smaller cars. They use less fuel (which means that potential savings are less), and are more cost-critical. They also have limited space for things like particulate filters and urea tanks, and their suspension/brakes may be less tolerant of the weight penalty of a diesel powertrain. As we've seen, some automakers no longer offer diesels on their smallest platforms. If, as you predict, the gap between gasoline and diesel gets smaller over time, then we can expect that the smallest diesel-friendly segment will grow every few years. Right now, sub-minis (A segment) no longer derive an economic advantage from diesel. We can expect this to move to the marginally bigger B segment (Ford Fiesta, VW Polo) quickly, and to the C segment (Golf, Focus) by the end of the decade. Of course, this trend may be accelerated by the fact that the cost of diesel compliance keeps increasing, whereas the efficiency of diesel has not improved significantly in quite a while (since the first high pressure injection models of the mid 1990s). Also, while I am sure that diesels can be made just as clean as gasoline cars (at a cost, obviously), I'm not sure that the social stigma of diesel can be negated soon. Previously pro-diesel markets such as France and Italy are now openly rebelling against politicians who subsidized diesels in the past. Diesel market shares are dropping significantly (down 5% since their peak 10 years ago), and air pollution alerts are being blamed on diesel (smog days in Paris last week). That's a lot of bad PR to fight, and I am convinced that automakers will seize the opportunity to sell new gasoline/hybrid/electric cars rather than being seen on the loosing side of a debate that prominently features kids with cancer. It doesn't matter who is wrong or right, no big corporation wants to be associated with that image.
Peter XX, The efficiency gap between gasoline and diesel may never dissapear, but the difference can become so small as to be immaterial. A 1 l/100 km gap means 200 l per 20,000 km (a representative yearly driving distance). The cost of those 200 l of gasoline has to be weighed against the extra initial cost of buying a diesel-powered car, as well as extra regular maintenance costs (and urea refills if so equipped). Add to this a social backlash against diesel (WHO calls it a carcinogen, large cities want to ban it, it's more likely to leave a odour on your hands after filling-up), and diesel may not be cost-effective for most regular users. It's not a coincidence that the latest city cars from Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Toyota are gasoline-only.