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Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)
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Any accredited engineering school will be teaching their students the four most important characteristics of a design, in a particular order: 1)Safety 2)Quality 3)Schedule 4)Cost You will not be able to control costs without staying on a schedule. You will not be able to maintain a schedule if you are forced to do rework because of low quality. Safety is primary, because if are not able to market the product due to real or perceived danger, quality is irrelevant. Finally, a couple of lawsuits brought about by "bad accident prone drivers," will adversely affect cost.
@ Treehugger: I don't know if I can agree. In the United states alone, there are over 24,000 locomotives, each using on average 132,800 gallons of diesel annually (based on 2009 data, the most recent available) (1). If the cost of that diesel is on average $3.837/gallon (2), that represents over $12.25Billion (USD) per year in fuel costs to the rail industry. If the SteamTrac system is able to attain a 4% savings, that equates to roughly $490 Million annually in savings. If a 12% savings is realized, as you suggested in your post, that would be more like $1.47 Billion in annual savings. Of course, this assumes that the price of diesel will remain constant at September 2011 prices, and ignores potential reductions in the cost of operations and maintenance. 25% would be better, I agree; even 4% is a tremendous cost savings, with a correspondingly tremendous reduction in emissions, including GHGs. (1) (2)
Good move for the General. It would be impossible to meet upcoming CAFE standards with the small block V8, or even the new family of direct injection V6 engines. And, with gasoline approaching 2008 pricing (and shortly to exceed it, in my humble opinion), this will make GM's small cars much more attractive to future buyers, especially young ones who grew up with 4 cylinder engines, and are not afraid of turbochargers.
The Iveco is indeed a sweet vehicle, and should be praised for its efficiency and capacity. While the Iveco has a greater payload (9400 lbs. vs. ~6000 lbs. for the Super Duty), one must remember that Americans are not afraid of trailers. The Iveco is capable of towing 7700 lbs, while the Super Duty can pull up to 24,400 lbs. Quite the difference. From and, respectively.
Ford alone sold 214,956 Super Duty trucks in 2010, including chassis cabs, according to The total heavy duty/light commercial truck market consisted of 293,405 trucks. Ford has by far the largest share of this market. You will see 1 million of these engines on road in as little as five months. With US sales of Prius around 300,000, Ford sells about 2 Super Duty trucks for every 3 Prius sold, for comparison.
In any event, as the automotive fleet is gradually but surely electrified, this will all be a pointless argument, as we will begin to see more direct drive and single-speed transmissions.
It's too bad that GM hasn't been able to develop an automated manual such as the DSG by Volkswagon. From what I understand, it provides better economy than either the automatic OR the conventional clutch-it-yourself manual. I could be mistaken, but I believe Ford's new dual-clutch automated manual improves the mileage of the new Ford Fiesta. Or, better yet, GM and Ford could boldly leap into the 21st century (albeit 11 years later than, say, Toyota...) and develop a CVT. The Lineartronic continuously variable transmission in the new Subaru Outback improved the fuel economy 5 mpg (hwy) over the old manual gearbox.
@Mannstein Yes they will be. I know they'll be on the list for the next engine I build! @ Kelly In the near future, cloud computing will allow many incremental improvements like this. The fluid dynamic simulations must have been extremely processor intensive.
@ejj: You couldn't be more correct. I have no doubt the car shall be a success to rival the Prius. @Reel$$: Good engineering is right. The people on the business side hardly deserve the credit; they would not have been able to put this thing together is a million years without some insanely smart engineers. @SJC: I WISH businesses would lease these things by the thousand, but I fear it may never happen. Despite all the formidable engineering and world-saving technology, the Volt has yet to prove itself on a balance sheet. A few early adopters aside, our only chance for mega-rapid introduction is governmental appropriations. Perhaps if GM is able to launch a small cargo van with the Volt's skateboard underneath, the United States Postal Service would consider the big bucks for a fleet.
@Nordic: The 4.0L "Cologne" V6 produced 210 hp @ 5100 rpm, and 254 lb-ft @ 3700. The 2.0L "EcoBoost" I4 currently produces 200 hp @ 5500 rpm, and 221 lb-ft @ 1750-4500 rpm in European applications (Mondeo, Galaxy, S-Max). The press release says 230 hp, 240 lb-ft. In any event, when I pull a trailer, I don't care about what the engine is doing at 3700rpm (screaming in a Cologne V6), I want that torque immediately (1750 on up). If they can leverage variable valve timing and/or sequential/variable geometry turbochargers to eliminate turbo lag, they will have a success.
@ John Thompson: I believe you mean 'national conspiracy' rather than "international conspiracy". The reason the majority of European diesels have not arrived here in the United States is because we have much stricter pollution control regulations on diesel engines than the European countries do. Ironically, they have much stricter emissions regulations on gasoline engines, which are possible because they have cleaner petroleum available.
@ SJC: I live in Minnesota where E85 is commonly available, and E10 has been mandated for several years. I typically splash blend E10 (in the gas tank) with a gallon or two of E85 to produce a E20-E25 fuel. This runs nicely in my 1991 Chrysler New Yorker (3.3 liter OHV V6) with no apparent lack of performance. My fuel economy is basically unchanged, and my engine runs smoothly and sweetly. Plus, in the winter (~6 months in Duluth), there is no need to add fuel antifreeze. My point is this: If my car runs fine on E25, your probably will too. Also, Minnesota will begin to mandate E20 beginning in 2013, so expect the EPA to allow such blends nationally by that time.
@ HarveyD Ford got lucky before they got good. They mortgaged the company a few years back for better terms than what GM and Chrysler received. Since, they have paid down their debts and bought back most of their company. They had all the same problems as GM and Chrysler, but they had them sooner...
@ Henry Gibson False views about solar energy? Such as: it's free and renewable? Hmmmmm.... Also, even if they only provide the energy to move the vehicle five miles a day, that's >18000 miles over the vehicle's lifetime. That's nothing to scoff at. Besides the Zebra battery and/or a Capstone microturbine, what do you propose which is better than photovoltaic?
Perhaps this could be of interest on future Tesla models, seeing as Lotus already produces their chassis. With some Tesla parts being used for the series hybrid approach, a very cost effective joint venture could perhaps be in the works.
Being able to afford/attain the fuel is luxurious...
Oh, yeah, Brazil still makes sugarcane ethanol for such a low price that it still makes sense to import it, which many companies still do! This speaks to how inefficient and expensive it is to make corn ethanol. However, any bioethanol is still renewable, which petrochemicals are not.
Harvey: the tariff on imported ethanol was initially meant to get the American ethanol industry off and running without Brazil "dumping" much cheaper (about $0.55/gal) ethanol on our market. Now, perhaps the only useful part of that tariff is preventing ethanol from being shipped thousands of miles on a tanker, which seems like it would counter its low carbon benefits. Perhaps it is time to repeal the tariff, and let the free market decide the price of oil/ethanol.
I, for one, think that there should be a ban on internal combustion engines. Despite the comments of Heir Gibson, and his ill-educated hybrid driving amigo, most people understand that you can drive an electric car pretty far. I had an internal combustion driving friend (even) who wouldn't drive at all because she thought that global warming and poisonous pollution would destroy civilization and our ecosystem. She even believed that the whole system was run by a bunch of corrupt profiteers! CRAZY! Personally, I will be first in line to buy a LEAF. Perhaps, I will pass HG's hybrid buddy at the chain-up area as I drive over a mountain pass...
@ Henry: 1) "It already has destroyed the small engines of many people without them knowing it." Well, Mr. Gibson, I live in Minnesota, where we have had E10 gasohol mandated for several years. I may be one of the people of whom you speak, with a destroyed engine. And, like you say, I don't know it, because my lawnmowers (walk-behind and riding), chainsaw, weed whipper, and portable generator are all still working just fine after using the E10 product for years. Also, my cars engines (1991 Chrysler New Yorker, 2003 Infiniti QX4) must have been destroyed "upon the altar of the false Oregonian CO2 Religion," but they still run pretty good for a "destroyed" engine, both with well over 100,000 miles on the clock. I believe you are a bit alarmist, and perhaps ill-informed. I even 'splash blend' E10 with E85 in my Chyrsler to produce a E25 mixture, and it has been running swimmingly (18/25 mpg cty/hwy) with no fuel system problems. In the cold Minnesota winters, my car starts at -40F degrees easily. In addition, with E25 blended in my tank, I pay about $2.289 a gallon for fuel. Now, what were your objections again?
I am excited to see how quickly this will make a difference in the nonattainment regions of California, where the smog and air quality can be stifling. It's funny that the things which attract the least public attention sometimes are the biggest advances in human thinking.
Not to stray back onto the topic, but this is a good thing, this bill passing, right?
On stable fuel prices: "...oil prices should be very stable and affordable for many years going forward - stifling attempts to deploy pev's & hev's on a large scale." The only flaw I see in your otherwise very sound logic, ejj, is that you assume all the other existing oil reserves will continue along at current production levels. The Cantarell oil field is in the mega-decline phase (-15% per year or more), and nobody really knows what the SaudiAramCo situation is (perhaps not even the Saudis). Even considering PetroBras' new oil discoveries (all of which are in deep water and very expensive to drill), we are still simply using oil at a much greater rate than we are replacing/offsetting its use. Eventually (maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and permanently) we will have to face the spectre of a REAL oil shortage. Prices will not remain stable at that time.