audio and video,One On One,What Drives Us episode

One on One #1 – We Welcome Our Hydrogen Fuel Cell Robot Masters

20 Jan , 2017   Video

Debuting a brand new show, One On One, where two people wrestle over a recent issue for an in-depth discussion. Today, Danny Cooper and Russell Frost talk about the real future of hydrogen, Toyota, Fuel Cell vehicles and also a little on factory automation and the future of jobs making things.

We cite these links during today’s One On One:

Toyota part of consortium spending 10.7B Euros on hydrogen

Another take on the press release above

Toyota chairman says hydrogen needs more time

Turns out, the rumors of hydrogen’s death may have been premature

Toyota claims to have an EV on the market by 2020

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Article,Featured,Features,Review

One View Of The Faraday Future Reveal

4 Jan , 2017  

I wanted to write this while my impressions were still fresh because the one thing I felt that I never explicitly said during our special episode was…anger. It made me mad. I felt used. Faraday Future, from here on, FF, used me for a sucker and I had to sit there and take it. Why? Well, let’s talk about it.

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Article,EPA,Hypermiling

Why we Hypermile

2 Apr , 2016  

-Tony Schaefer

Introduction

There are many reasons to hypermile.  A while back,  some friends and I came up with about five different and distinct reasons. I’ll try to recap them (assuming I can remember them). The point is not that there is one specific reason to hypermile. Nor is it to argue that any one reason is better than the others. The point is this: any reason to improve your car’s mileage is a good reason.

Save Money

This one is pretty easy.  The less gasoline you consume, the more money you save.  The problem is perception and association.  When people go to the gas station, they complain about the cost of gasoline.  But when they are driving, they act as though gasoline is free.  The problem is that people only feel the pain of purchasing gasoline when they are actually at the station.  After that point, they quickly forget. They fail to associate the pain of buying gas with the way they drive.

Perhaps it would help if we replace gasoline with something else.  If gasoline is $2.00 per gallon and you have a 15 gallon tank, that’s $30 for a fill-up.  If you took that same $30 and purchased several gallons of milk, you might think of it a little differently.  Let’s say your child poured a large glass of milk and only drank half of it before pouring the rest down the sink. There’s a very high probability you’d get upset.  Why?  Are you concerned that the world is running out of milk cows?  Nope.  Are you worried that milk might clog the pipes?  Probably not.  What really gets you riled up is the realization that you paid real money for that milk and your kid is wasting it.

Replace “milk” with gasoline and “kid” with you. Then you will realize it is no different than when you buy a full tank of gasoline and drive in such a way as to waste much of it.  Why is wasting gasoline perfectly justifiable when wasting milk pisses you off?  There is no difference between wasting money spent on gasoline and wasting money spent on other things.  People just need to see it.

FuelEconomy.gov provides a simple calculator. You can enter your current average MPG as “Car 1” and speculate a 5% MPG improvement as “Car 2”. This puts hard numbers right in front of you. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning one gallon of pure gasoline produces 19.64 pounds of Carbon Dioxide emissions. Burning one gallon of pure diesel produces 22.38 pounds.

I have to admit that I see “pounds of CO2” and have no idea what that means. Thank you, Google! The Natural Resources Defense Council does the best job, in my opinion, of making this rather abstract concept tangible. In short, filling a balloon with one pound of CO2 would swell the balloon to about two and a half feet across. That’s about 8.2 cubic feet. Compare that to a basketball, which is 9.5 inches with a volume of 0.26 cubic feet. This means burning one gallon of pure gasoline releases the equivalent of 31 basketballs of pure Carbon Dioxide.

This is why running your gasoline car in a closed garage will kill you. And quick. Here’s the rub: we all live in one giant garage. So far, its enormous size has been working in our favor. But everything (yes, everything) has its limit. Every day the average American fills up about 57 of those Carbon Dioxide balloons, emitting 467 cubic feet of CO2. You know those 10-foot moving trucks? That’s about four and a half of those. And that’s just you on just one day.

Considering all the gasoline burned in cars in the US and all over the world would create a staggeringly large number, no doubt. So let’s add to it. Large amounts of oil distilled to produce gasoline are shipped across the oceans in large tankers running huge diesel engines, they add to the total. Then there are the gasoline trucks that make deliveries to the gas stations; they add to the total.

What does all this Carbon Dioxide have to do with greenhouse gas? In case you haven’t heard, CO2 is a heat-trapping gas. When it’s in the atmosphere, it becomes the glass ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping heat in the atmosphere. Everyone knows what it feels like to walk into a greenhouse and that’s essentially what we’re doing as we pump increasing amounts of Carbon Dioxide into the air. As though that’s not bad enough, CO2 is the longest-lasting greenhouse gas, which means your great-grandkids will be affected by your tailpipe emissions.

So it’s not enough to just consider your driving habits and calculate your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. You have to consider everyone else and all the shipping and transporting that goes into making and moving your gasoline. But if we can find a way to consume less gasoline, fewer tankers would need to traverse the oceans and fewer trucks would be needed for deliveries. In the end, fewer emissions would be emitted all around.

Less Consumption and Fewer Imports (excuse my rant)

No matter who you talk to, they will all agree that it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of foreign oil we import.  The United States imports a lot of oil from countries run by regimes who use our money to fund the fighters who kill American service men and women.  The regimes themselves engage in atrocities we would never condone within our own borders.  Even though we don’t like them, considering we disagree with much of what they do, and ignoring that they fund the people who are willing to die in their quest to kill us, we continue to willingly send them more and more of our hard-earned money.

If we cannot convince Americans how to connect the dots between our gasoline addiction and our dying soldiers, then we are doomed as a country.  As long as we continue to fund both sides of the war, it will never end.

In this election year, there has been a lot of rhetoric about the need to secure our borders. A need to be more self-reliant and beholden to no one.  These people stand around pounding their chests, declaring their undying love for the United States, waving Chinese-manufactured American flags as they pledge allegiance to this once-great republic.  When they have finished their empty promises to protect the U.S. with their last dying breath, they climb into their unnecessary gas guzzling megatruck because a commercial was all it took to convince them that they aren’t manly unless they have best-in-class towing wrapped in military-grade construction, whatever that means.

So let’s set the record straight and expose the truth:

Like any drug dealer, many of the OPEC countries supplying so much of our oil have exactly one viable commodity.  Their entire livelihood relies on others continuously purchasing it.  Without the addicts purchasing their product, they would quickly go broke.  If Americans truly cared about gaining independence, if they actually wanted to undermine those who wish to cause us harm, they would realize that their addiction funds their own destruction.

Here is a page at Energy.gov discussing Energy and National Security: http://energy.gov/public-services/national-security-safety

If these chest-thumping Americans were truly serious about securing our borders, they would prove their commitment by being more concerned with how wasteful they are than how manly they appear.  If they truly wanted to undermine those who wish to destroy us, they would realize that by saving fuel, we could starve our enemies into submission.  Unfortunately, they are too brainwashed to see it and too addicted to care.

Less wear and tear on your vehicle

A huge majority of the hypermiling techniques hinge around driving in such a way that is easy on your vehicle.  For example, rather than accelerating as hard as possible, hypermiling teaches an acceleration method that doesn’t overwork the engine.  Once you have reached an acceptable cruising speed, you should let off on the accelerator to allow the engine to find its own sweet spot.  These two methods will extend the life of your engine.

Rather than racing to a stoplight, hypermiling teaches to allow coasting to naturally slow you down, or to use regenerative braking to decelerate.  People who use these techniques can see their brake pads last for many years.

Anecdotally, driving more efficiently will extend the life of your car and all its parts. This is evidenced by Prius owners who replace their brake pads after more than 100,000 miles. It’s hard – if not completely impossible – to find hard-fast evidence that efficient driving will absolutely extend the life of your car. There are simply way too many variables at play. However, there are too many people telling too many stories to disregard it.

Cleaner Air

No one with any grasp of reality would expect to be able to burn something without releasing gaseous emissions. I’ve already addressed greenhouse gas emissions, but there are other gases released. These typically stay lower in the atmosphere and form a brownish haze called smog (Smoke fog). To be clear, this has nothing to do with a gold-loving dragon in Middle Earth, but that would be awesome.

Some of the primary contributors to smog are nitrogen oxide, non-methane organic gases, carbon monoxide, various particulate matter, and formaldehyde. These are things you would never ever intentionally breathe if you had a choice. And yet, we drive vehicles that put them in our air, where we breathe them. So, I suppose, since we are the ones polluting the air we breathe, we are intentionally breathing them. It all works out.

Visually, smog makes clean air dirty. It looks bad to have a brown – or gray – haze lingering around your city. Health-wise, smog can make it difficult to breath. People who already have difficulties breathing can die from smog. Even those who are healthy should avoid smog because the gases in the air get into lungs and can coat the tiny air sacks. And just like that, people who were healthy before now fall into the “difficulty breathing” category.

Improvements in vehicle efficiencies have made great strides in reducing the emissions of smog-forming chemicals. But every little bit helps. If everyone did a little something, then together we could make a huge impact. In addition to driving more efficiently, start looking for the “Smog Rating” that is now required on all new car stickers.

Conclusion

Though many people tend to focus on a singular reason to drive more efficiently, there are many reasons. Regardless of anyone’s personal interest, it is in their interest to drive more efficient vehicles more efficiently.

If you find yourself trying to defend fuel-efficient driving to different people, you might want to re-read this article several times. It will give you a good starting point from which you can bring a person into the discussion and potentially help them see why fuel efficiency matters.

Table of Contents

 

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Features,Hypermiling

Try to Avoid Braking Altogether

19 Mar , 2016  

– Tony Schaefer

If you read my article on braking, you know that the best way to make an anticipated stop is to use a long, slow brake that engages active regeneration. If you haven’t read that one yet, spoilers!

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Chicago Auto Show,Features

Tony at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show

12 Feb , 2016  

First stop: Toyota display.  That’s an easy one since they are front and center with something like 46,000 sqft of space.  New Prius on display.  Shocker, right?

Checked out the “Back to the Future” Marai fuel cell vehicle.  It’s “Back to the Future because of the gull-wing doors.  They say it’s a fuel cell vehicle but there’s clearly a Mr Fussion in the rear.  So which is it, Toyota?  Actually, I suppose it doesn’t matter because they are both equally as likely to work as a car fuel system.

Just took a ride-along in the new Rav4 Hybrid.  Very, very slick indeed.  All-time All-Wheel Drive.  Electric motor in the front and one in the back.  My favorite feature is the all-around camera.  Not only does it provide a bird’s eye view as though you are looking down at the vehicle from about ten feet in the air, it can perform a panoramic fly-around.  Really neat feature.  Perhaps this will eliminate really bad parking.  Doubt it.

Also on display at Toyota is the I-Road, the three-wheel personal transport.  The two front wheels hinge up and down as you lean into corners.  The third wheels is centered in the rear.  It certainly looks like it would be a lot of fun to drive, with the footprint of a motorcycle, and certainly protects you from the weather.  However, I’m not convinced it or the driver would fair very well in a collision with an actual vehicle.

Even more extreme is the FV2.  Two very large exposed side wheels and one large wheel centered in the rear.  There’s a smaller wheel in the front, as though Toyota’s trying to hide that one.  This is clearly a show-piece meant merely to get people to the Toyota display.  There is no part of this ‘vehicle’ that seems practical.

On to BMW.  Only two cars here interest me: i3 and i8.  Every time I see the i3 I like a little more.  It’s relatively unassuming and cute in its own way.  The suicide doors make entry and exiting very easy into the rear seats.  As luck would have it, when I was checking it out, there were sone who had never seen it.  I spied on their conversations and was pleased to hear that they were impressed by its overall appeal.  Dare I say that this car would cause them to consider an EV?  Oh yeah, I dare.

Then, of course, there’s the i8.  There’s nothing I could add to the wealth of articles already written about it.  It’s turned off and simply for show.  Getting into it is interesting due to its low-slung seats.  Getting out is not for the feint of heart.  The gull-wing doors, though, are really neat.  Certainly, this is a car you drive because you want to be seen driving that car.

Next Stop: Lexus.  I asked about the hybrid line-up and was provided the standard line of six hybrids in the Lexus fleet.  When I asked which ones were here, I was pointed to a CT200h and one SUV hybrid.  Then the other four hybrids were mentioned followed with “we didn’t bring that one.”  I consider the CT200h my fall-back vehicle in the event that I didn’t like the new Prius.  Yeah, I know, tough problem to have.  But sitting here, in this 200h, I have to say that I might be falling out of love with it.  I find the seats relatively stiff and the entire cockpit sort of cold.  Functional, very functional, but not much that makes me happy  to sit here.  Perhaps it’s the model they have on show here, but I would not like this one as my daily driver.

At Cheverolet.  2nd generation Volt has a lot of gawkers and, I must say, it deserves them.  There are certainly some refinements from the previous generation and that makes for a much improved driver and passenger experience.  One of my major turn-offs of the first Volt was the steering wheel which I thought felt a little cheap for the car.  Though the cabin is nice, it strikes me a little too Grand Prix-ish.  Gray plastic.  Soft, gray plastic, but still that 1980s plastic.  All of it: plastic.  And gray.  No doubt it probably comes in other colors and maybe even nicer finishes but this is the car show; pull out all the stops.  I hate to think this is as refined as it comes.  On the up note, of all the gawkers huddled around the car, I didn’t hear a single disparaging comment.  SOme liked the heated seats and heated steering wheel.  Some liked the overall look and comfort of the seats.  Only a few, though, remarked how cool it was to see an America company championing a plug-in vehicle.  Whatever it takes to get them into a plug-in is just fine with me.

The pre-production Bolt on display is not to be sat in.  At least that’s what the lady said as she shooed us out of the car and we scurried like pigoens in the park.  Actually, I think it was more like a herd of cats who had just been caught doing something we weren’t supposed to.  Back to the Bolt: I could really see myself in that car.  It’s got a nice profile, a good size, and is very comfortable to sit in (oops).  The BOlt will be manufactured in Detroit with LG batteries being imported.  Those batteries will deliver 200 miles of range per full charge.  Someone commented that with 200 miles it seels like it’s limited to being ‘a city car’.  How big is your city?  But yeah, it’s not for driving coast to coast but around town, you only need to plug it in every 3rd, 4th, or maybe 5th day.  And that’s not bad.  At some point, inductive charging for vehicles will become more readily available and you won’t even need to plug it in.  One can dream.

I’m not a minivan guy but there are many families that need a minivan for their kids and stuff.  To that end, I checked out the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in range-extended Hybrid.  Like the Bolt, no one is allowed inside. Unlike the Bold, they made made their point by making it inaccessible.  Talking with the representative, I learned that the Pacifica is expected to cover up to 30 miles on a full charge.  Add a full tank of gas, and you’re expected to travel up to 530 miles.  The hybrid has all the same features as the ICE version, except the stow-and-go seats because the floor is full of batteries.  The big idea here is that all those minivans idling in front of the school can be replaced with a minivan that’s just sitting there on battery power and not polluting the kids’ air.  The conventionally version of the Pacifica is due to deliver in the summer; the hybrid in the latter part of the year.

Quite possibly the meanest thing you could do at an auto show is to get lunch and eat it in front of the “product representatives”.  And no, I didn’t do it; I just happened to think of it.

The Ford C-Max remains mostly unchanged from last year.  The C-max body style is nice for a smallish family with a few things to haul.  The hatch back is easy to access and makes for a huge opening for loading and unloading.  The rear seats fold flat and there is tons of space for hauling things.  The hybrid is rated at 40mpg combined.  The Energi (plug-in hybrid) is expected to see 20 miles of full electric before switching over to the gas online engine for a total of 550 miles per tank.  While 20 miles is fine for haunting around town, I have to wonder if it’s enough anymore with other, higher mile, options coming to market.

And let’s not forget the Nissan Leaf.  Quite possibly the most famous EV.  Well, Pre-Tesla, that is.  Certain, the top-selling, consumer-priced EV.  Thanks to a model refresh, the Leaf’s batteries grew from 24kWh to 30kWh.  This 20% increase promises to boost the range from 84 miles to an estimated 107.  Inside, the new Leaf got updated software and new internal lighting touches.  Upper models feature a solar panel on the rear spoiler that trickle charges the 12v battery.  Nissan is extremely proud of the fact that the car and the batteries are both manufactured in Nashville.  There is no doubt the Leaf is another car that is high on my list.

Well, that’s it.  It’s 2:00 and apparently the floor closes at 2:00.  At least that’s what the “muscle” is saying as they shuffle me out.  So it was a six hour day for me from 8:00am to 2:00pm.  I got to see all the things I wanted but am sure there are some things I missed.

Tune in to next week’s podcast to hear a little more about my experience.  Also, Mark is at the Toronto Auto Show.  Might just be an all car show show next week.  ‘Til then, I’m signing out.

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