Archive for car

Mercedes pips Toyota Prius

Posted in Noteworthy, Tech, Transport with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2008 by Apollo

priusI’ve always considered the Toyota Prius little more than a marketing con. Not that that’s Toyota’s fault, more the idiot greenies that do little more than whine endlessly and generate hot air. In the the face of their griping, it’s little wonder that the car industry will promote any development that might shut them up. That said, the Prius is so bad as a ‘green solution’ that a quick hunt around the web shows a number of analyses of its real world performance that show it to be less than green in reality, when driven ‘normally’.

Note however, that I’m not knocking the Prius, I’m kicking the hype that has been attached to it, the technology it pioneered will get better as the supporting hardware develops, but I don’t think the poor car will ever recover from having been adopted by every overpaid American film star that wants to be photographed in one, to prove that they have ‘green credentials’, and will forget that they spew tonnes of CO2 as they jet around the world needlessly in their private planes.

As luxury car manufacturers, and therefore deadly enemy of the greenies, Mercedes may be spared the film star credibility treatment, however they have advanced the hybrid car concept by upgrading the technology to provide measurable improvement over the same car in their range when powered by a conventional engine.

The S 400 BlueHYBRID is powered by a 299 horsepower engine that enables it to sprint from 0 to 100 km per hour in 7.3 seconds.

It would consume on average 7.9 litres of gasoline per 100 km and emit 190 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared with 10.3 litre of gasoline and 247 grams of CO2 in a comparable conventional S-Class.

The car will be the world’s most economical luxury sedan, the company said, and the technology used is the result of 25 patents held by Daimler. Daimler said the main advantages of the newly developed lithium-ion battery were its very compact dimensions and far superior performance relative to conventional nickel-metal hybrid batteries such as those powering the Toyota Prius.

Expect to see the greenies rubbishing the technology, and playing the same old record of “WALK”.


The Aptera – Sensible car design

Posted in Noteworthy, Tech, Transport with tags , , , on February 6, 2008 by Apollo

One of the things that makes me refer to the majority of anti-car types that make it into the media as Green Loonies or Tree Huggers is their inability to think laterally. While those who do not have some sort of undeclared agenda to ram down your throat are prepared to listen and discuss, the Looney Hugger has no time for reasoned debate, and sees only their view as correct, and anything less than 100% agreement will see you in Hell for daring to disagree and now “See the light”.

You can see a prime example of this in their ‘eyes-wide-shut’ vilification of SUVs. While I have no particular liking for these, the campaigners who target them for attacks are simply demonstrating their cowardice by vandalising them when they think no-one is looking, and their lack of thinking ability as they choose not to take into account the overall contribution made by them in terms of environmental impact when compared to other vehicles. In their eyes, ‘Any vehicle bad’, and easily targeted vehicle groups the baddest of the lot.

While they’d like us all to wind the perception of our ‘Needs, Wants, and Desires’ back to the pre-industrial ages, and either walkor ride everywhere, that’s simply not practical or realistic as we’ve taken decades to reach the position we are in now, and for better or worse, have to live within the infrastructure we have in place now, as it would take decades to change. They also conveniently forget we are becoming an increasingly ageing population, and have more people who have disabilities or medical conditions that mean they cannot use bicycles or walk everywhere, and even Public Transport, if anything more that a handful of places actually had an effective form, would be useless to them.

I was particularly interested to see a video presentation of the Aptera Electric Typ-1e. 300 miles to the gallon, and with a sticker price starting at $27,000 this actually looks like a car of the future. Set for release in 2008.

Unlike the more usual electric or hybrid solutions, Aptera have thrown away the conventional rule book and put together a transport solution that uses some of the best thinking and technology to provide a vehicle that provides a sensible duration, top speed, acceleration, and passenger carrying capacity. It’s not n SUV, van, people-carrier, towing vehicle, but will provide comfortable and efficient personal transport without producing the level of pollution or fuel consumption that a ‘conventional’ vehicle would in the same role.

Doubtless, the Green Loonies and Tree Huggers will still decry it for the teaspoonful of petrol, or spark of electricity it charges its battery with, however it provides a refreshingly different approach to the personal transport problem corner we have painted ourselves into, and avoids the ‘conventional wisdom’ that hampers the big car manufacturers minds (think Prius to see how they are limited in their thinking), and should also satisfy the requirements of the more reasonably minded green and/or environmentally amongst us.

While I’ll never be deranged enough to buy a new car with my own money (I’m not burning my hard-earned with those early depreciation years, let someone else pay that), if these were on the market I think I’d definitely be touring around the second-hand car dealers looking for a bargain.

Now the only question is: Will they ever make it to the UK? Will UK vehicle legislation kill their chances here before they even start?