If you want the results, you still have to do the work
By Pierce HooverPosted 07.27.2011 at 10:57 am 2 Comments
There’s no denying that our unique vehicle draws a lot of attention. Drivers frequently slow as they pass to gawk or snap a photo; a stop inevitably draws onlookers with questions, comments and suggestions. One of the most common questions involves the drive system.
By Pierce HooverPosted 07.19.2011 at 11:53 am 0 Comments
There are two challenges that pure electric vehicles will have to overcome before there's any chance of them gaining acceptance among the general driving public. One is range, and the other is recharge time. Each new generation of battery technology ups the power-to-weight ratio, giving mid-priced vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf a range of 70 to 80 miles, while cutting-edge products such as the Tesla Roadster are getter better than 200 miles on a charge. That’s plenty of range for around-town driving and mid-range errands, but hardly sufficient for a cross-country road trip.
Lawmakers in Nevada made a pretty forward-thinking move a couple weeks ago when they passed a measure ordering new regulations for driverless cars. Many vehicles already participate in once-human-driven activities like parking and skid control, and it’s not long until they’ll be able to navigate, make decisions and drive totally by themselves.
Police in England will soon deploy 3-D laser scanners to the scene of car crashes, saving time and allowing wreckage to be cleared from roadways more quickly. The 3-D accident reconstruction will also be more accurate than human-generated reports.
When self-communicating connected cars start appearing on roadways, what will it be like for the humans? Will we tolerate our cars talking behind our backs, deciding when to swerve or apply the brakes? The U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting some test drive clinics to help people prepare. Test drives on racetracks!
The internal combustion engine gets a bad rap these days. With electric vehicle technology finally coming to market in meaningful ways, oil prices spiking, global warming looming, and "green" sentiments pervading American culture, motors driven by exploding carbon chains have become something of a pariah. But the truth is that we're stuck with the internal combustion engine, and the petroleum-derived fuels that power it, for the next couple of decades, at least. But that doesn't mean we can't still trim fuel consumption and reduce emissions across the board. Designers large and small are building wholly new engines and components that slash fuel requirements, waste less heat energy, and squeeze the most out of every BTU, every engine stroke, and every iota of chemical energy that physics will allow.
Indeed, the internal combustion engine is far from dead. In automotive design shops and university labs across the world the gasoline engine is experiencing something of a technological renaissance.
By Pierce HooverPosted 07.11.2011 at 3:25 pm 2 Comments
As we continue to work our way west toward the Pacific, we move into states with lower population densities, and greater distances between towns. And, as we are learning, a dot on a map doesn’t necessarily indicate even the bare minimum social center with, you know, stores. On more than one occasion, we’ve rolled into a small farm town to find the businesses on Main Street boarded up, and only a smattering of occupied homes in what was once a thriving community.
By Pierce HooverPosted 07.11.2011 at 3:04 pm 3 Comments
In eastern Kansas, our route took us parallel to a major east-west train track for many miles. Long freight trains passed us every few minutes. My son Nash enjoyed the spectacle, and asserted that we were seeing a much more efficient mode of transportation than cars or trucks. He likely formed this opinion after seeing an ad campaign from one of the major rail lines that touted the efficiency of rail transport on a per mile/per ton basis. With hours of free time for discussion while rolling along at 15 mph, we spent some time debating the future of transportation.
By Pierce HooverPosted 07.11.2011 at 2:39 pm 2 Comments
On July 1, we passed the 2,000-mile mark on our cross-country road trip. For many of those miles, we’ve been playing leapfrog with a group of touring cyclists who are also following the trans-America route, which gives us some cause for comparison. Our vehicle does, after all, have a healthy dose of bicycle in its design.
By Lawrence UlrichPosted 07.11.2011 at 12:40 pm 4 Comments
The mere existence of a 208mph Ferrari wagon confounds expectations. But the $300,000 Ferrari FF also upends the conventional approach to all-wheel drive. And when we tested it in Italy’s Dolomites, we learned what cost-no-object engineering can build: the world’s fastest four-seater and the first foul-weather Ferrari.