Well the point of that first message was that when they
tall about 40 MPG, that is a joke! Where are the three
digit numbers of MPG for todays efficiency cars? But to
achieve thousands of miles you’ve got to lean up, no trunk,
no passenger seats, no steal body and frame, etc.
I ride a bicycle and was so sad and driving rage-mad when
I owned two combustion engines, one that drove four tires
and one driving two. But I’m much happier now-a-days,
you would be amazed if you could experience that change
as I have. Not to go into bicycle issue here.
The ideal laboratory table power efficiency of motors is
around 90% and for combustion engines around 70%, with a
lot of tolerance for those numbers to change depending
on the exact motors and engines tested. In the real
world those numbers drop, the motor efficiency drops
a little and the engine efficiency drops down hard.
I expect that a real world engine in a car that is six
years old is probably down around 30% (imagine soft tires,
junk in the trunk, worn spark plugs, a leaky head gasket,
stop-and-go traffic, heated seats in the winter and AC is
the summer, etc.) I can only imagine, but I imagine motors
staying up in the 80% area in the real world. The point
is that hands down, the motors own the efficiency feature.
I don’t know how the efficiency holds up once you charge
your motor battery up from the power grid system which
burns coal, spins in the wind, spins under the water from
a damn, and boils water with refined uranium to spin the
steam turbine generators.
Acceleration? That a different feature from when I was
talking about efficiency. But we can talk acceleration.
Basically these hybrids start the engine when needed and
stop it when not. Parallel, serial, and combination
hybrids’ designs vary, but basically the engine is
deactive at stop lights and low speeds, and active during
acceleration (boosting the torque) and high speed cruising
(charging the battery). (I’ll bet that all those restarts
are hard on the engine, which is another reason why hybrids
I’ve learned something important about acceleration
while bicycling, though. You see a bicycle is human
powered, so I have a good feel for how much effort it
takes to cruise, accelerate, and to stop. Do you know
how my bicycle acceleration compares to car traffic?
When the car drivers accelerate normally and casually,
and so do I, we match acceleration rates! Although, I
admit that when they seem angry at me for daring to assert
my rights to the road (How dare he ride a bicycle on MY
road!!), and gun their engines hard, then they do beat me.
But they have to gun their engines quite hard to beat me.
And, as you can guess, the cruising speed of the cars is
higher than that of bicycles. So when my acceleration
tops out at a cruising speed between 12 and 18 MPH, then
they begin to pass me.
So my point is that normally the cars don’t need all that
Oh but you doubt that the excitement about cars can exist
without that exciting adrenaline rush during acceleration,
don’t you? But I can argue that the romance that the
automobile advertising promotes is just fantasy that
doesn’t even reach most drivers. I can say that because
the used car market is so large. The used car buyers
are probably not buying a particular model based on some
romantic ad, especially not when that car has sixty,
one-hundred, or even one-hundred and fifty thousand
miles on it. They are probably just bargain hunting for
a vehicle that gets them from here to there reliably.
Romance has little or nothing to do with that choice.
Acceleration ads on the TV and the magazines don’t reach
many of the used car drivers. And nor is the dangerous
excessive addreneline rush a goal for most drivers,
thankfully, as I see them accelerating as fast as me on
my bicycle most of the time.
And I know that people want to accelerate fast when merging
on the highway (55 MPH). But it only takes some driving
skills, patience, discipline to discover that if you
wait for a big opening in traffic, then there is no need
to accelerate fast. I drove on a worn out clutch for a
few months (extremely worn out!) and had the acceleration
of molasses, that provided the discipline and forced the
patience and skills to follow. Likewise the skills and
patience can be learned in order to understand this point,
or can be easily forced with a car that doesn’t give you
a choice to accelerate so fast. The point is that you
don’t actually _need_ to accelerate fast to merge at 55
MPH, nor higher. If you discipline yourself and drive a
hybrid with low acceleration, then you’d hardly use the
engine at all, and it would just serve as dead weight
loading down your efficiency.
So again, the hard focus that the auto-manufacturers have
on acceleration, hard enough focus that they’ll have you
lug around a spare engine, is a weird way to focus their
time and our money.
Now I know that the production electric cars in the
past have had their limitations. I already handled
the acceleration limitation topic. I’ve also heard
of the range limitation, and that is an other fantasy.
I saw some guy from the automobile industry saying that
electric cars can’t work for people until they can go
for three-hundred miles on one charge. What a load of
phony boloney, three-hundred miles! Who needs to take
a three-hundred mile round trip on a charge? I realize
that people un-regularly go for a far drive, but that
isn’t normally why people drive, and you can simply rent
a long driving car for those un-regularly long drives.
Perhaps the rural people take some long drives regularly,
but I’ll bet that the majority of drivers can do fine with
one-hundred miles per charge. So again, the engine in the
hybrid cars makes little sense if people could do fine with
todays batteries and electric cars, thus making hybrids’
And I know that electric cars need some charging outlet,
and people living in apartments probably can’t have one
installed near where they’ve parked today. There are
certainly some ways around that, we pay the meters that
time our parking, why not pay a meter for some electricity
supply? Not that I’m pushing electric cars, just that I
want to make the point that hybrids are weird.
And we could have efficient combustion engines cars today
as that Shell race shows, but you’ve got to give up some
weight to achieve it. Do you really need four or five
spare passenger seats? Do you really need all of that
trunk space? Do you really need that steel cage? I know
you’ll react to disagree saying that you need the steel
cage for safety, blah blah blah. Not that I have anything
against safety, just that it’s a argument with no wind
behind it. It has no wind because if the world were full
of fuel-efficient light-weight cars (the opposite of SUVs)
then the safety cages could be a lot lighter and do the
same job, or a better job. And eliminating the cages and
thick bodies can also inspire some more good discipline
into your driving habits, by the way. I know this
because I’ve been riding an open vehicle since June, 2003,
a bicycle. And I’m not crazy to put down safety cages,
because more safety can be achieved with driving skills
and disciplines (prevention) than can be with safety cages.
And I know that driving behavior can achieve a lot of
efficiency, but as those tests results of the race show
the excess weight of todays cars is a big factor as well.
And I know that expecting people to behave disciplined
when driving is ridiculous, that’s why I mentioned forcing
a little discipline above. Maybe forcing was a harsh word
for what I meant, I simply mean establishing a environment
that gives people the help that they need to deal with
the boring routine of daily driving which occasionally
becomes deadly. Then again, maybe forcing discipline was
the proper phrasing.
And again, hybrid cars are weird.
- steve s.