Archive for CO2

Is going electric as green as we think?

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , on 08/02/2010 by Alexander

The march toward all-electric vehicles continues with some good ideas, like Volvo’s power-storing bodywork, and less good ideas, like the stupid-looking and stupidly-named Protoscar Lampo2. I’ve mentioned the pros and cons of EV’s before, and the bottom line is that unless recharging a car is as fast as filling it up with fuel, and that it’ll go a long way before having to stop again, the future of motor transport lies with another fuel or mode of propulsion. I suspect car manufacturers insist on EV’s because they’re easier to build and something more easily understood by the public, because even a corporate accountant can see the inevitable downsides of betting on electricity as the petrol of the future. Apart from its practicality issues, there’s an even bigger issue that EV’s have to deal with, one that attacks the very cornerstone of their existence: their carbon footprint.

An interesting article in the Portuguese website AutoPortal speaks of how a Dutch company, CE Delft, has uncovered an aspect of European law that, while an incentive for making EV’s, is at the same time an excuse for less environmentally-friendly behaviour. Loosely translated:

The study indicates that the European legislation that regulates car emissions presents “serious loopholes”, by allowing car manufacturers to ‘compensate’ the sale of electric vehicles with the sale of more polluting vehicles, which go beyond the emission limits set by legislation.

It’s an interesting point and one which isn’t easily visible, unlike the other disadvantages which are the realm of common sense and simple inferences. An overtaxed power grid, consuming lots of fossil fuel to produce the juice needed to recharge EV’s, and the junking of old cars are the main contentious and valid points, and they’re simply not being addressed.

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The name ain’t catchy

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines, News with tags , , , , , , , , on 17/09/2009 by Alexander

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Calling a car “MP4-12C” isn’t a marketing friendly move, but then that’s all the ill that can be said about the new McLaren.

I wanted to hate it, since it was a supercar, and ostentatious, overpowered two-seaters seem insane in the current economic environment. But on seeing the photos and the small piece the BBC did on it, I couldn’t help but marvel at its looks and the amazingly cool interior. McLaren try to pull wool over people’s eyes by saying this is the car which emits the lowest ratio of CO2’s per horsepower, but it’s still a 600hp rocket on wheels. And it’s beautiful.

I’m not a sucker for offensively expensive cars. My aspirational car is a Citroën C6, and I think anything like the S-Class or above is flamboyant mockery of any and all restraint for showing off wealth.

Take Rolls Royce. A car that has the façade of a 2,500 year-old Greek temple as a grill. All of them brick-like, all them huge and useless and insultingly ugly. Or Ferrari. An unreliable, impractical, overpriced piece of metal that makes the wet dream of idiots worldwide when painted red and has a horsey in a yellow badge on it.

The McLaren just seems like a sensible supercar, as paradoxical as it may seem. It looks comfortable and welcoming. I also liked the 80kg, carbon-fibre, one-piece chassis, a clever technological innovation at the heart of the car, which is a rarity nowadays. Most breakthroughs are nothing more than add-ons, but this sounds clever.

I hate to say it, but I get the feeling that my aspirational car will be a bit harder to come by than I had imagined.