Danger, High Voltage

With the motor industry abuzz with the prospect of electric propulsion, just how confident are we they’ve thought this one through?

Image: clker

Earlier in the week we considered the mainstream industry’s lack of leadership when it comes to the design of electric cars. But at the Frankfurt motor show this week, two industry leaders fleshed out some of the challenges they’re facing. Firstly Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche pointed out to auto journalists the effect the push to electric is likely to have on profitability.

At first glance, this is a case of stating the blindingly obvious, but while the mighty Stuttgart Untertürkheim car giant can weather the loss of 50% of its potential profits, putting aside an alleged €4.0 billion to cover the likely revenue shortfall, it raises questions of how other less financially robust car businesses can possibly Continue reading “Danger, High Voltage”

They Got This One Right

Sino-American Lucid Motors have revealed their Air saloon, a truly good-looking car.

2017 Lucid Air: source

Take a look at these photos. This is what a modern, elegant and distinctive car looks like. It will be on sale in 2018 though only in Canada and the US. The details can be inspected here. What is interesting is the approach Lucid have taken, managing to give the car a clear identity without recourse to strange detailing and without obviously using a grille-like oblong at the front.  Continue reading “They Got This One Right”

Question of the Day

Why does the VW ID concept have to look more styled than a VW Golf?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The ID concept is claimed to have a 371 mile range (compared to the 248 miles of a Renault Zoe). At present Chevrolet’s Bolt promises around 230 or so (and Car and Driver have confirmed this). I’m more interested in the visual semantics of electric cars though. Tesla have chosen to make their cars look quite conventional (less so with the X). BMW have opted for po-mo design while the Zoe could conceivably be an ordinary modernist car: not Tesla’s classicism and nor either obviously outré. Continue reading “Question of the Day”

Joining the Dots

This is an odd subject for a site devoted to automobiles. Have we made a bit of mistake? Can we avoid another?

Happy days: wikipedia.org
Happy days: wikipedia.org

Two items appeared on the ghostly, glowing timewaste that is my iPhone. In one article the CEO of Lyft, John Zimmer, observed that Americans were pouring away an average of about $9000 a year owing a car. He estimated the occupancy rate was about one percent given that most cars have four seats and are used less than 5% of the time. The Lyft chap predicts car ownership in cities will decline markedly in the next decade: “Every year, more and more people are concluding that it is simpler and more affordable to live without a car,” he wrote. “And when networked autonomous vehicles come onto the scene, below the cost of car ownership, most city dwellers will stop using a personal car.” Continue reading “Joining the Dots”

I’ll Second That

Automotive News has a timely editorial concerning the EV-1 which I once drove. Here are some of the photos.

image
GM EV-1 (right) in 1997.

Prompted by AN, I took out my photos from 1997 and found the shots from the day I drove the EV-1 (top, right) in California. The salesman at the car dealership presented the EV-1 as a something for enthusiasts (which contrasted with the sludge I expect he was selling). The idea was that the EV-1 would appeal to people still interested in the technology and car-ness of cars. At the time I was a bit cynical about the GM car. 90 miles didn’t really seem that impressive although even today a 90 mile range would be very useful for most people’s daily needs. I got that wrong then. The Bolt has a 238 mile range.

Continue reading “I’ll Second That”

This Town Isn’t Big Enough For Both Of Us

In previous posts I have discussed how far we might be into the era of the electric vehicle. About half-way, I reckon. Further developments point in the direction of a quickening pace of change.

Car-free street: source
Car-free street: source

In just just nine short years, Holland may have no ICE cars on sale. The Dutch lower house passed this legislation the other day. The upper house is voting soon. While it might seem extreme (it is bracing enough), the Green proposal involved banning existing petrol and diesel cars. On balance, the legislation is probably a good compromise as it lets the existing fleet of cars run out their service life. It also avoids compulsion: would 5 year old Focuses and 9 year old Volvos simply have their road-licence revoked, rendering them unusable and unsaleable in Holland? The problem is obviated: the current stock of cars will be used until one by one their owners give up maintaining them and they swich to electric cars. Continue reading “This Town Isn’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

More Harbingers

In the not too distant past DTW covered the matter of the slow end of the internal-combustion engine era. The matter comes up again… It’s not so bad really. In fact, it’s great.

Pedestrian street in the Nordrheinwestfalen: source
Pedestrian street in the Nordrheinwestfalen: source

This time the prompt for this article is a proposal by the German Green party to essentially do away with petrol and diesel engines by 2036. Their proposal is reported by Der Speigel. The alternative is to use electric cars and more buses and trains. In my earlier article I mentioned that certain north European and North American states were planning to be rid of ICE vehicles within forty years. I suggested that Continue reading “More Harbingers”

Signal and Noise, Separated

What a year it has been. With reference to Shannon (1948), we try to sort out signal from noise.

2015 BMW i8 - the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com
2015 BMW i8 – the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com

It seems like only eight months and two weeks since I last took out my typewriter from its leather case to write one of these annual reviews. Last year I ironically titled it  A review of the automotive year: VW 1.4 TSi Engine Problems. The airbag problem eventually destroyed Takata. GM is still working with lawyers over faulty ignitions. Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce that case will roll on until lawyers Continue reading “Signal and Noise, Separated”

Car Free Cities and ICE-Free Cars?

Here are a trio of stories that add up the sea-change of which we are in the midst.

Obsolete transportation mode.
Obsolete transportation mode.

The Guardian reports that more and more cities are banning cars. Car and Driver reports that eight states and five countries including Holland want to end the use of ICE cars by 2050. And finally, Automotive News reports that Hyundai want to make their own chips for their vehicles. That would be for autonomous vehicles. Continue reading “Car Free Cities and ICE-Free Cars?”