Friday, February 23, 2007

Automotive X-Prize

This is something we should be working towards anyway, whether or not man-made global warming exists.

The Automotive X Prize comes from the same folks who developed the Ansari X Prize. This time the purse may well be double that of the $10-million space prize payout. The challenge? To build a viable, production-capable vehicle that can deliver in excess of 100 mpg or its equivalent fuel economy.

I support this as much as I support research/investment in making cheaper solar cells and in building more nuclear power plants. Obviously I agree with comment #6 (in the linked article) as well--electricity is the way to go.

1 comment:

Mike said...

A few brief observations on this issue:

At present, the cost of manufacturing hydrogen far outpaces any potential benefits that hydrogen powered vehicles could generate. And while I'm not sure of the exact numbers, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that it would cost more in electricity to daily recharge electric vehicles than we now spend in gas. I can only imagine that the extra electric generating capacity required in an electric driven economy might well produce more pollution than is now produced by the internal combustion engine.

Absent major breakthroughs in battery and propulsion technology, electric vehicles will remain the sole province of the short range commuter who has no more than two or three other family members, and who has no need to haul large, unweildy or heavy loads.

Ultimately, people will wonder if they really want to be in an automobile accident in a vehicle that, because it weighs very little and is constructed of insubstantial materials, has the crashworthiness of the average styrofoam Big Mac container. And even if everyone else is driving a fast food wrapper, mass X velocity = hamburger when wrappers colide.

100 MPG vehicles? Great! If they don't ultimately pollute more, if they actually meet diverse human needs, and if they don't markedly increase the death rate. Of course, there may be something to be said for dying knowing that you've helped to lessen global warming...naaaaaah!