Drive Different. (ly)

March 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm (Cars & Trucks, Cool Tech, The Environment)

To balance out my last post, I suppose I ought to point out that not all vehicles are ugly, tired rehashings of existing parts and concepts. There really is some good, new thought happening in the wide world of the automobile, and I will touch on some of the new coolness here. Now. Ready, set, go.

Vanguard concept - Animated GIFFirst, the Union of Concerned Scientists has come up with a really slick new vehicle specification that could reduce emissions and improve mileage by using existing technologies. It’s called the Vanguard, and you can read more about it by clicking here. Now this is the kind of thinking that has been lacking in Detroit. Take all the parts that make cars more efficient and stick them all together on all cars, and make them all work better. Hello! Who missed this?

OScar Designs - Animated GIFNext upon the show car stand, a group of car enthusiasts, engineers, and entrepreneurs has begun a project called OScar – the Open Source Car. It’s kind of like Linux, but for cars. The intention: create one or more “free” designs for cars that can be built anywhere in the world, without any advanced factories or huge assembly lines. The Big Three aren’t going to like that idea very much, either. To my eyes, OScar looks like a very cool concept, from some people who are just plain fed up with accepting the crappy cars that we are being told to buy; people who want a more democratic alternative that better meets their real needs for transportation.

Hummer O2 ConceptThe third item for your consideration today: a Green Hummer – The Hummer O2 concept vehicle, to be precise. Pretty nifty idea, this one. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, collecting solar energy, giving off extra oxygen wherever it goes, and made of environmentally-friendly materials, this “opposite world” version of the existing Hummer is a far cry from the current crop of hulking, over-chromed mobile monuments to suburban excess.

Okay, after all that serious stuff, let’s have a little fun. There’s more than one approach to a Green Hummer out there, and I don’t mean the color. Here are some guys who are having a lot of fun with the idea of being green, and going in style. Check out their web site for more pictures and videos.

I have a soft spot in my heart for people who decide to get creative with steel tubing, welders, and old bike parts. Perhaps I will one day also build my own car – sleek, swoopy, efficient, and all mine. Until then, I will dream about Driving Different. Ly.

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3 Comments

  1. lordhelpus said,

    And the hits just keep on coming. Two days after I wrote this post, the MIT Technology Review published an article that describes more engine tech refinements like those described by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Using a combination of existing technologies – turbochargers, direct port injection, and ethanol – MIT researchers were able to achieve large improvements in the efficiency of a small (2.4L) gasoline engine. There’s still room for improvement in Henry Ford’s old buggy!

  2. lordhelpus said,

    One more note. Here is a link to a company called A123 Systems. They have done some great work with nano-technology to improve the efficiency of Lithium-Ion batteries, like those used in laptops and hybrid cars. The energy density of A123’s batteries is about twice that of regular Li-Ion cells. To translate – that means about twice the number of miles per charge, for the same size / weight battery. Man, I love this stuff. We may yet be able to tell OPEC to stick it.

  3. lordhelpus said,

    Hey, all. This is a good time to let Congress know that we are sick of high gas prices. Go over to this link to send a message to your representatives, and let them know that continuing to rely on oil is not a safe, clean path to the future. In fact, our reliance on foreign oil is a national security issue. True. Here’s the closing paragraph of the message I sent today:
    “Bottom line – let’s develop a program to increase fuel economy, and then get WITH said program. Take a look at Europe. Look there to see what we could do here in America to reduce our reliance on oil. Is America going to be a third world economy, trailing behind the rest of the world, or are we going to turn away from wastefulness, and turn toward a clean, sustainable future?”
    Come on, guys. Let’s make a difference.

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