There's been snow on the ground for much of the last couple months, so needless to say my automobile driving has been mostly in four wheel drive vehicles: my wife's Ram 2500 and our Branson tractor. I hit the one year mark of tractor ownership and noticed that I had 71 hours on the engine clock. Nearly three whole days plowing snow, cutting grass, and digging holes in the ground for fence posts.
It's usually a slow time for automotive news this time of year, the new models have been out for awhile, it's the end of the old year and sales are usually slow. However this year I've noticed that there's been a continue swing of energy related news in the car industry. Lots of people are working on alternative energy vehicles, including Cadillac, a car running on compressed air, and many people working on theX Prize for a car getting 100mpg.
A quick mention on an idea I've seen before, though this is a neat use of technology. Zipcar, a company in San Franscisco was doing low cost car rentals during the day, allowing people to car pool or take public transportation to work and then get a car for running errands. It was a flex time thing that made sense for dense locations, or people that don't want the full-time commitment of a car. When I first came to Denver, this would have been great for me. I rode my bike to work, but kept a car at work to run errands, come home in snow, etc. Would have been nice if I could share a car somehow with other people and use it when needed, which wasn't that often. Though I'm not sure how they'd handle the snowy day when everyone wants a car.
Someone has taken this idea to the alternative enrgy market with a stackable electric car that folds up, taking less space in parking, and uses less power. Now that's a cool idea, especially as many places I've worked have had parking issues. They use a similar drivetrain as the Aptera, a motor on the wheel. I suspect we'll see more of this in the future.
This is probably a whole other editorial, but thanks to Jay Holovacs for bringing this to my attention. Apparently Ford is demanding people not use their logo or trademarks on their products. Even on club calendars (Post 42).
I can appreciate that companies don't want their brands distorted and they should protect them when someone is using their name to damage the company. Like hijacking "micorsoft.com" and making it look like Microsoft.com. However using the logos and trademarks for fun purposes shouldn't be discouraged. Even third parties that sell products for use on Ford Vehicles should be allowed to list the product name.
I'm not sure where the line should be drawn, but I think Ford is drawing it in the wrong place. Send them a complaint if you agree.
The Hybrid Truck
There are a few out there, but it appears that once again Toyota is taking the lead with their A-BAT design. It's kind of like an Avalanche from Chevy, a versatile truck that features some neat new ideas.
Having a truck isn't necessarily important for most people, but there are lots of us rural folks out there and we drive a lot of miles to do anything. There are also lots of "working vehicles", in construction and elsewhere. If you could get a hybrid truck working, you might convince quite a few people to give them a try. After all, it's rare that most people use their truck at it's limit. Most of the time they just want the convenience of being able to pick up a sheet of drywall or a few 2x4s.
I don't really think that Hybrids are the long term answer, and really I think that altering the way the airline industry (including private planes) works, would go a long way towards reducing oil dependence, but I do think that hybrids help.
And I'm very interested to see how the X-Prize for cars turns out. It's starting to look very interesting.
|Avg MPG (current month)
|Conservative savings (Prius 48, van 20, gas US$3)
|Realistic savings (Prius 50, van 18, gas US$3.10)
|46 (it's cold)
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