Friday, October 17, 2008

Want To Sell Something Other Than Cars?

Since I've just badly taken the mickey out of the so-called "designers" of solar and electric vehicles, I herewith present my positive contribution to the matter of EVs and SEVs.

Just think...  Why exactly are you re-inventing the wheel, automotive, EV, and SEV designers?  What is it that people all over the world are wanting?

  1. They want to be reassured that whatever they purchase next, it will not be as damaging to the environment as past efforts have been.
  2. They want to stop hurting in the pocketbook, getting gouged ever more and more money for less and less of Point 1 above.
  3. They want to see the difference in their bank book, in the air around their suburb, and around the world.
  4. They don't necessarily want to give up their cars and conveniences for it.
  5. It shouldn't look like a golf buggy that smashed into a pyramid and got bred to a flying saucer.  People aren't ready for the Jetsons Age just yet.

And as it turns out, there is a solution!

First of all, car manufacturers must realise that there has been a degree of culpability for the current crisis.  Pushing people to buy car after car after car, model after model, year after year - that has not really worked out all that well, has it?  Secondly, car owners holding on to old fossil fuel technology is not a desirable outcome either.  Yes it would mean less cars need to be produced and thus save all that impact on the environment - but the older tech creates a pollution problem of its own...

So what you want is for people not to buy your latest greatest car the minute it hits showroom floors, meaning a massive scaleback in automobile production.  But you don't want them driving 15 year old smogblowers, either.  And you definitely want to keep making money.  What to do, what to do?

Turns out, you have already made a market for yourselves.  In the last 20 years, front-wheel drive vehicles have become more and more common, as we realised that turning a tailshaft and rear differential was less efficient than putting all those components in the front.  Handling was affected, but it made for a cheaper manufacturing process because smaller engines could be used.  Engine computers also got more power out of those smaller engines.  Another saving.

The next thing that has jumped is the technology of batteries.  Currently (no pun intended) there are some fairly light and robust batteries out there, and soon there will be carbon nanotube supercapacitors that will dance rings around present state of the art.

Oh yes - and solar panels can actually be printed onto things now, cheaply and easily.  And motors and drive circuits can become very very very cheap and efficient.

And there you have your perfect market, the perfect way to be green, keep your cars on the road longer and with less pollution, and still have a product to sell:

You know how the computer is programmed in your front wheel drive small car.  You can put an aftermarket kit together, comprising a control unit that interfaces to the engine computer, a solar panel that fits to the roof, a set of batteries that fit under the back seat, and two new rear wheel hubs that have electric motors in them.

Now your front wheel drive small car can suddenly use less fuel, produce less pollution, and cost your customers less to run.  They still buy the kit, but many governments give a rebate for putting solar and electric power on cars so they don't face a huge cost.  Handling improves because a smart controller will assist the driver with the electric motors, making the cars safer.  You as a car manufacturer have a new product, and it will sell like hotcakes so you'll make up in volume for the sales of new vehicles you'll miss.

Don't think it would work?  No-one would be interested in an aftermarket kit that reduces running costs?  Just look at the mad scramble to fit gas conversion kits to cars.  The only thing is that car manufacturers lost control of the retrofit side of things, to freelancers.  But the need to intimately tie the electric drives to the car computers will give you a head start and effectively let you control this particular upgrade.

If you like my idea and decide to use it, feel free to.  But please also feel free to donate some money via my Paypal link so that I can continue to come up with new ideas...  

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