Auto Manifesto

August 27, 2009

Effectiveness of Anti-Lock Brakes

NHTSA published a reqeust for comments in yesterday's Federal Register about a Technical Report on The Long-Term Effect of ABS in Passenger Cars and LTVs (based on 1995 to 2007 data), some good some not really... Here are the basic findings:

1. "ABS has close to a zero net effect on fatal crash involvements."

2. Fatal run-off-road crashes of pass cars increased 9%.

3. Fatal collisions with pedestrians decreased 13%

4. Collisions with other vehicles on wet roads decreased 12%.

5. "ABS is quite effective on nonfatal crashes, reducing the overall crash-involvement rate by 6% in passenger cars."

Here's the link: text, PDF

Labels: , , ,

August 25, 2009

The Nuclear Option

With all the activity surrounding electric vehicles, the power grid and alternative power sources, it's high time more attention was paid to the potential of nuclear energy.

Some people have visceral reactions to the concept, but if we dig deeper we see that (surprise!) it's not as simple as public perception would have us believe. There are various types of nuclear power and what is already in use is perhaps not the best for our needs.

One interesting type I've come across is called the Integral Fast Reactor. This program was begun in 1984 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Illinois. Unfortunately it was canceled in 1994 by Congress before it was completed [This reads like background to a sci-fi movie].

According to this article, the crux of the concept is that it is much more efficient than light water reactors that are now widely used. As such the process would produce a fraction of the nuclear waste of today's reactors, the waste would have a shorter lifespan (400 years vs 10,000 years) and it could use nuclear waste we already have.

This is the ultimate recycling process. Use nuclear waste that we already have. The figures presented are staggering in terms of the amount of energy, the timeframes and perhaps the costs. But what's a possible solution to an energy crisis worth? This is an alternative that's worth revisiting.

Sources: Wikipedia,
Steve Kirsch

Labels: , ,

August 21, 2009

230 MPG or Whatever

Rumor has it that the Chevy Volt will get a 230 mile per gallon rating from the EPA. I'm calling BS on this one.

Without other energy input there is no way a Chevy Volt will be able to go 230 miles on one gallon of gasoline. I've gone into detail about this before here.

These types of claims are damaging to the nascent EV and hybrid vehicle industry. There's already too much hype and vaporware out there, the last thing that's needed is for a major company and the government to exacerbate the situation.

This is a prime example of regulations lagging technology. A clear way of defining energy efficiency for vehicles that don't run exclusively on liquid fuel has not been established by EPA. There's also the specter of government ownership in the company (GM) leading to self-serving circumstances.

Labels: , ,

Cash For Clunkers

No question this was good to get the interest going and boost consumer spending. But that's not all .

Pulling tomorrow's sales forward, which may be disruptive to the auto supply chain by ramping up production, and then having another slow down when the program ends is something that wasn't anticipated. That and the red tape SNAFUs over rushing this through NHTSA without having answered all the questions made the regulation was a pain for the industry.

For example, it should've been defined at the outset whether the rebate to the dealers was subject to income tax or not. The administration of the program was lacking.

Also the $4,500 max rebate was too generous, as evidenced by the massive response. It would've been wiser to have a lower amount and extend the duration of the program.

The bottom line is that it was a good idea, could've been executed better, and may have been overdone.

Labels: ,