Tuesday, October 30, 2007

60 miles per gallon Hummer...yes, really.

Received a link to this extremely interesting article on FastCompany about a man who performs engine conversions on vehicles (mostly large gas-guzzlers like Hummers) to make them more fuel-efficient, reduce emissions, and more powerful. The article is very long and covers a lot of topics related to engine conversions, emissions, fuel-efficiency, industry resistance to change.

He laughs. "Think about it: a 5,000-pound vehicle that gets 60 miles to the gallon and does zero to 60 in five seconds!"
Goodwin's work proves that a counterattack is possible, and maybe easier than many of us imagined. If the dream is a big, badass ride that's also clean, well, he's there already. As he points out, his conversions consist almost entirely of taking stock GM parts and snapping them together in clever new ways. "They could do all this stuff if they wanted to," he tells me, slapping on a visor and hunching over an arc welder. "The technology has been there forever. They make 90% of the components I use." He doesn't have an engineering degree; he didn't even go to high school: "I've just been messing around and seeing what I can do."
The article discusses some of the same things that I've been harping on, and which I've been pointing out other writers thoughts on: That the ICE really needs to be rethought or gotten ride of, plug-in electric vehicles could solve the bulk of the driving needs of most people.
He speaks of the major carmakers with a sort of mild disdain: If he can piece together cleaner vehicles out of existing GM parts and a bit of hot-rod elbow grease, why can't they bake that kind of ingenuity into their production lines? Prod him enough on the subject and his mellowness peels away, revealing a guy fired by an almost manic frustration. "Everybody should be driving a plug-in vehicle right now," he complains, in one of his laconic engineering lectures, as we wander through the blistering Kansas heat to a nearby Mexican restaurant. "I can go next door to Ace Hardware and buy a DC electric motor, go out to my four-wheel-drive truck, remove the transmission and engine, bolt the electric motor onto the back of the transfer case, put a series of lead-acid batteries up to 240 volts in the back of the bed, and we're good to go. I guarantee you I could drive all around town and do whatever I need, go home at night, and hook up a couple of battery chargers, plug one into an outlet, and be good to go the next day.
I like his three point outline of how to convert the automobile fleet to more efficient technologies without disrupting consumers or manufacturers, and using market efficiencies to reduce existing "chicken and egg" problems related to availability of alternative fuels vs alternatively fueled vehicles.

Not a lot to add to what is said, other than read it.