The automotive industry is on the brink of a revolution, and the plastics industry is poised to play a major role...
(Sponsored by the American Plastics Council)
The automotive industry is on the brink of a revolution, and the plastics industry is poised to play a major role. In North America and globally, new technology and partnerships are enabling improvements in safety, breakthroughs in comfort and savings in energy efficiency.
If racecar designers weren't constrained by speed-stifling rules, they'd create monsters of suction capable of doing 300+ mph ... upside down.
Trevor Harris is laughing so hard, A waiter stops by to make sure everything's OK. Harris can't speak, so he just waves him away. Ten seconds pass. Twenty. Thirty. Finally he masters his breathing and dabs at his eyes. "And the crowd would be going crazy," he says, still chuckling despite his best efforts, "because the driver would be near death." Another laughing jag. "Not because the racing is so dangerous," he wheezes, the words escaping in a rush, "but because his blood vessels are on the verge of exploding!"
Harris isn't a contemporary Caligula salivating over a twisted 21st-century blood sport. He's an innovative engineer who's designed some of the most successful and iconoclastic racecars in motorsports history. But nothing he's created during a career spanning the Daytona 24 Hours and the Baja 1000 comes anywhere close to the bizarro vehicle he is now envisioning for the racecar formula I've suggested.
GM hybrid-powered buses increase fuel efficiency up to 60 percent*. First stop, Seattle.
(Sponsored by General Motors)
How do you get more people to use hybrid vehicles? Build one a whole city can use.
In Seattle, the loccal transit authority has begun taking delivery of 235 GM hybrid-powered buses, the largest single order for hybrid buses ever placed in the U.S. This single fleet is slated to save over 750,000 gallons of fuel annually, the equivalent of thousands of small hybrid cars.
Sony and other unlikely car designers.
The business of automobile design may seem to be the uncontested territory of traditional car companies, but a closer look reveals a wide range of characters: sportswear manufacturers, electronics behemoths and architects are all venturing into the world of automobile design.
What your car knows may be used against you.
When an oncoming train struck a Cadillac at a Georgia railroad crossing, three occupants were killed. The lone survivor filed a $12-million wrongful-death claim against the railway,
but her case was quashed by an unusual “witness.” The jury rejected the survivor’s suit after hearing evidence downloaded from the car’s onboard data recorder, or “black box.” The device revealed that the car had stopped on the tracks before it was hit.
Some cars are already outsmarting their drivers. A few examples:
The rise of computer-controlled traffic surveillance systems.
On February 17, 2003, Londoners awoke to a peculiar sight: moving cars. Mayor Ken Livingstone’s pay-to-drive plan for Central London began that winter morning and has since cleared queues, quickened commutes, and quieted streets—as well as many critics. Transport of London, the organization responsible for moderating traffic flow in the city, reported in April that congestion in central London is down 30 percent, and Mayor Livingstone, whose own political survival came to rely on that of his traffic plan, was re-elected in June.
Radar, lasers, wireless radio networks and other embedded tech will enable our cars to sense faraway traffic and stop accidents before they happen. But who will be in the driver’s seat?
I’m driving through eastern France, the blip-blip of the lane markers zinging backward through my peripheral vision at about 90 mph. I check the mirrors: nothing there. Pretending to doze off, I let the car drift gently to the left. Just as it begins to veer over the dotted line, the left side of my seat vibrates, activated by an infrared sensor looking at the road paint. Meander right, and it’s my right thigh that gets the warning.
Our proposed GreenCar, an eco-mobile that's bigger than the Prius but gets more than twice the mileage.
Eager buyers are waiting up to a year for a new Toyota Prius, the hot hybrid sedan that gets around 50 mpg and has negligible emissions. Imagine, then, the excitement that could be generated by our proposed GreenCar, an eco-mobile that’s bigger than the Prius but gets more than twice the mileage—without emitting a single milligram of air pollution. “It’s all about resistance and aerodynamics,” says Catherine Greener of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit energy-policy think tank.
What would happen if an architect renowned for his unruly, twisted-metal structures decided to craft a new kind of automobile? We´re about to find out.
Two years ago, Frank O. Gehry strapped himself into the driver's seat of a V8 Dodge Dakota pickup with bald rear tires and drove onto a skid pad at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. It was a clear day, but the pad's surface was wet, and within seconds he was sliding out of control-which was the point.
A 2,000-horsepower, shape-changing,
It’s a mind-bendingly fast supercar: a 2,000-horsepower, shape-changing,
The future of the recreational vehicle
This is the future of the recreational vehicle, its logical next step—incorporating RV features into a stylish and versatile family wagon. Call it an RUV. These new models will look as cool as any car and have high-tech functionality: a hybrid engine; a hydrogen fuel cell powering onboard systems; composite materials to reduce weight and increase strength and fuel efficiency; and plenty of communications and entertainment options for even the longest road trip.
Pod-cars could charge through cityscapes with no assistance from the humans inside.
Gridlock is a problem of density—too many cars, not enough roadway—so proposed solutions have taken two forms: Reduce the number of cars (by carpooling or public transportation), or build new roads. These solutions have proved unfeasible or expensive and have provided little relief. Now technology offers us a third option: Make our cars into trains. By joining into a virtual platoon—linked to one another by wireless rather than physical connections—we can increase the density of cars on the road without slowing them down.
Want a 350mph supercar? A Japanese commuter pod? These and more are coming—integrated, wired and ready to roll.
Cars that think for us! Cars that change shape at will! Cars that scream along underground at twice the speed of sound! It´s a cinch to predict the future of the automobile. But how do we get there?
We have reached an odd, maybe unique point in the history of technology, when the distant future is easier to imagine than the more proximate months and years ahead. Fifty years from now, most parties would agree, hydrogen fuel cell technology will power our world-everything from artificial organs to cruise ships and certainly our automobiles.