Thursday, 26 June 2008

Car propulsion

In Europe average daily commute distance is less than 15 km. Even if we add another 20 for after work shopping, recreation and similar activities, we can still calculate that few cars have to go further than 50km on a typical day.
Internal combustion engines our cars have are known to perform the worst in these conditions. The engine is cold and there's a lot of acceleration and braking in the rush-hour congestion. Not to mention that the engine itself is never operating at it's optimal RPM.
This causes excessive oil consumption and pollution. Wouldn't it be a lot simpler if our cars had electric engines with just enough batteries to last some 50 km, coupled with a nice turbine to generate power when the batteries got depleted?
This way one could go to work, come back home and recharge the batteries in a standard power outlet. Longer trips would be sufficiently covered by the turbine and to top things off, the batteries could just as easily be partly charged by photovoltaic cells popped on the roof and hood of the car.
Instant halving of oil consumption, not to mention pollution...

Now wouldn't that be something?


Rok S. said...

This is actually “On energy, part II”, right? That is good. It means that we are thinking, talking…maybe even doing something on the individual level on energy consumption. It just proves yet ageing that only financial implication can force us in the change of mentality. We would not be thinking about energy alternatives in car propulsion if the oil prices were not over 100$ for a barrel. Geee, I remember when it was around 30$...ok, I admit my memory is pretty good, but still…)

Indeed what you are suggesting would be something. But the “money factor” works on the other side as well…if you just compare the price tag on let’s say Toyota’s hybrid Prius (from 25.000 € up) and some other comparable car – the choice is obvious. Partially because the technology is not there yet, but mostly the car manufacturer’s mentality in not there yet. We as, the consumers will turn to alternative when it will be (on one or another way) financially viable…but same goes for the car manufacturers. Only the latter have a tiny more influence (than customer) with the authorities who could make them take steps in reducing the prices on “alternatives”, making them more affordable.

Velis said...

Well, of course quantity plays a significant role in this. Actually in all alternative matters. Initially all such things are expensive. It's just interesting that solar panels, for example, just can't seem to drop their prices.
What I'm suggesting here, actually, is that the EC pass a mandatory bill with which such hybrids would HAVE to be produced in mass quantities. It would be nice if other autorities did the same, but I'm trying to be at least remotely realistic here :) EC is after all pretty energy-dependant.
This way their price difference would not be so huge.
There was once a company in Ljubljana which modded one's car to run on batteries...