Car makers deserve to go under
Car manufacturers are going under.
It is late in 2010 and the motor industry has seen enormous changes.
Consolidation is the new way to survive in the motor industry, with many large car makers joining forces.
Making more brands and producing more makes will be the way forward for a few big survivors who divest themselves of low profit makes and models as fast as they can.
Motor companies such as Ford selling Jaguar to an Indian manufacturer is an example of where the industry is heading.
They will eventually wake up to the fact that most of their high fuel consumption vehicles are carrying around an oversized motor that uses more fuel than it can justify.
The rest of the world is taking action on energy use across the board, yet many car manufacturers, although going broke world wide are still focused on horsepower and acceleration figures from 0 to 100 mph as a means of marketing their latest models!
Directly associated with the excessive horsepower is extra weight that would be unneeded otherwise, extra metal that could be saved for other uses,more wear and damage to road surfaces and billions of dollars lost as a result.
We all know we have to use less fuel and lower pollution in our cities from motor vehicle emissions, even to continue being able to breath the air in some cities now, yet new car models are still promoting speed and acceleration as the major factors in their sales pitch along with emission control systems that comply until they stop functioning properly becoming a bigger emission contributor long term than if they were not even fitted.
Understand I am the last person to be critical of the modern engine design, it is brilliant with variable valve and ignition timing, belt driven overhead camshafts, brilliant computer driven engine management systems all contribute to better fuel economy, reliability and long life.
Motoring writers have said little about reducing the engine size to take advantage of the better power to weight ratio's made available by the combination of this technology.
They are more interested in which car is the fastest in it's market segment, yet this performance based marketing is responsible for keeping fuel consumption massively above what it would otherwise need to be.
Update. GM Holden are offering a new 3 litre option in their line up. It looks like a nice little motor, I will update when I get hold of one.
36 HP air cooled Volkswagen "Beetle"
To achieve a one mile per gallon improvement car makers are spending millions, when the answer should be obvious even to Freddo the Frog that a drop in engine size could achieve as much as a 40% reduction in fuel consumption.
Imagine the advantages to the environment if you could pull consumption back so that your 5 seater could return 100 mpg, or your 2 seater was returning 120 mpg or better? The loss of horsepower would have little effect on the day to day use of vehicles with traffic and road conditions being the way they are.
There is little if any opportunity these days to use more than half the horsepower most vehicles have. In fact when travelling in the city about 7 horsepower is all that is needed to travel in heavy traffic at slow speeds in a 2.4 litre 1 tonne ute,
Slow heavy traffic driving is where most of us use our vehicles most of the time driving at 30 miles per hour or less. I contend that a well designed modern motor of 600cc or just over half a litre will cover this job and carry up to 5 passengers in air conditioned comfort at a top speed of 60 mph which is more than enough speed even on the highway.
Daihatsu manage to do this very well with their small outside large inside Mira model with a 3 cylinder motor with a 659cc engine.We have a 5 year old one in our family that is still going strong so the motor is up to the job without killing itself!
The Daihatsu runs air-conditioning
and carries 2 airbags standard, so it does
tell us that we can do better with the latest in technology when this little car works so well despite high equipment levels lifting the weight of the vehicle somewhat.
When you do need horsepower.
Many people live in locations and have occupations that require them to own a large vehicle to carry loads, tow trailers and horse floats etc.
Trucks and other large commercial vehicles need to be redesigned to use smaller motors with better transmissions that use a better spread of gearing to produce better economy and performance.
Just follow Toyota folks! The new Prada will drag a big caravan with a full load of passengers yet still return a passenger car fuel economy of around 21 miles per gallon fully loaded.
Mitsubishi has an even more economical model in it's latest line
up, although I prefer the Prada.
The secret to fuel economy with larger vehicles is turbo diesel or diesel with gas injection diesels up to this point.
I hate the sound of modern diesels! they keep telling me how quiet they are, and I keep hearing those metallic slaps alongside me when I take off from the traffic lights from new diesel cars and FWDs!
They are very well made, last quite well and deliver enormous amounts of low down torque, but I still don't like them.
For reasons best understood by marketing types, instead of addressing the elephant in the room, namely wasted horsepower, we have electric cars, hybrids and other even less viable ideas such as compressed air driven cars being developed. (see my hub on the air driven car.)
The electric car would be great if it was not in reality being fuelled by filthy brown coal, the compressed air idea is a misunderstanding of basic science and hybrids are massively too heavy and complex as well as being expensive and difficult to repair. (See my hub on hybrids)
How would you like to own a 10 year old hybrid? New batteries? You will probably not be able to find a battery that will integrate with your out of date technology as electric motors develop to use a battery differently and the cars are designed around the power source or battery itself as batteries change size shape and methods of delivering power to the motor through the development of newer and better ceramics and other power delivery control methods.
Some manufacturers have done well in making fuel smart compact 5 seaters but more needs to be done in this area. There is some good design coming out of the Japanese manufacturers such as the 3 cylinder Daihatsu Mira, the 5 seat 1.3 litre Jazz from Honda, the Suzuki and some other offerings from Hyundai Korea that make some sense.
What about old cars?.
There are 600 million petrol driven vehicles already on the road, many of them will last another 30 years, all using massive amounts of petrol.
We can convert many of these vehicles to run on natural gas, a cleaner fuel with vast reserves, but this only solves some of the problems. Even if adapted to alcohol supply is still a problem as pastoral land would need to be given up to grow the source.
I believe we must find a workable after-market multi fit device to reduce fuel usage. This once extremely difficult task gets closer as electronic devices that are already capable of switching solenoids and other devices which could alter fuel usage. There would be a sacrifice in horsepower of course, which a large percentage of the owners of this fleet would barely notice!
I am currently working on an electronic/mechanical idea that still has more problems than I care to mention, but if you can keep a motor balanced and running well while reducing fuel input you have a workable idea, and that my friends is all that is needed!
No fuel is saved by any fuel conversion methods such as water/hydrogen so far, and we should not be surprised to discover that all the hundreds of fuel saving devices tested by government departments around the globe have confirmed this.(See my hub on running your car on water)
One of the fuel "pill" directors is before the courts as I write.
Fuel saving devices are fraud folks, but that certainly does not mean we should stop looking for solutions, after all, the oil is getting more expensive to find and harder/deeper to recover, and we need what we have left for plastic and other oil/chemical products, we do not want to use all those much needed oil deposits until we find an alternative to such heavily used products.
After market and other solutions.
There has been some attempts to find a way to reduce fuel usage on larger motors with cylinder shut down systems being incorporated in some new models, but no viable solution for the existing world fleet has emerged that I know of yet.