Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
What is interesting, is that it will clearly show the decrease in vehicle range (and fuel economy) caused by running on E85, in the example given of a flex-fuel F150.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
As I expected, no winner in the Edmunds $1,000,000 Unintended Acceleration contest.
Les Jackson re-stated Edmund's conclusion that most cases of UA were caused by driver error.
Sean Kane and Joan Claybrook didn't like the conclusion, and in the Q&A period attempted to dismiss Edmunds. This is not surprising, as Kane and Claybrook are solidly on the side of the trial lawyers, and have an interest in showing that driver error is not the root cause. Kane mentioned tin whiskers as a possible explanation, despite the fact that NASA's analysis did not find tin whiskers as a failure mode that would cause un-detected unintended acceleration. Joan Claybrook stated that she finds it impossible that all those people, with their detailed letters to NHTSA, didn't press the right pedal.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Tomorrow, Edmunds will announce the results of its $1,000,000 Unintended Acceleration challenge, the contest they set up to see if anyone could demonstrate a hardware or software error state that could cause unintended acceleration in a Toyota with electronic throttle control.
My prediction: no millionaires. No winner.
Because the problem was explained by floor mats and some sticky pedal assemblies, compounded by user error.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Y-shaped vortex generators (Airtabs?) in hopes of improving fuel
economy. The theory is that these break up the air flow behind the
vehicle, reducing the drag from the low pressure area behind the
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Dodge pickup, which was a rail inspection truck -- you can see the
rail wheels folded up under the rear bumper. The truck had the phrase
"Born in Detroit, Raised in Montana" painted on the bed box.
Sorry for the crummy cell phone pic it's the best I could do.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
According to Automotive News, Saab is considering the possibility of selling cheap Chinese SUVs through their dealer network as part of a Chinese partnership.
If they do, they're dead.
Saab's cachet, if it has much left, is that they are an offbeat, "sensible luxury" brand. Saab is not cheap.
Selling junky Chinese trucks alongside Saab's aerospace influenced Scandinavian cars will muddy their brand and alienate buyers. It's like going to Saks and finding they have a WalMart mini-store inside.
Friday, May 06, 2011
According to this Detroit News article, the Obama administration is considering funding roads through a tax on miles driven, as opposed to gasoline taxes as they are now.
This is a reasonable approach, and it should be studied.
As gasoline consumption decreases due to more efficient vehicles, and different forms of propulsion, the amount of tax revenue from gasoline taxes will decline. A sensible approach would be to tax the common denominator--miles driven--rather than the fuel type. Electric cars should not free-load on highway taxes.
The devil is in the details, of course. Americans will not put up with an intrusive enforcement system, such as mandatory monthly mileage checks. In states which have annual emissions tests, they are roundly hated, and removed whenever the voters have a chance. A less frequent annual or quarterly mileage check would result in higher tax bills, as opposed to the gradual leeching we get from gasoline taxes or toll roads. I would support an electronic system which allows cars to report mileage wirelessly to road-side sensor, or RFID based toll gathering sensors, however privacy hawks will howl that Big Brother is going to know where we drive.
Another detail is the amount of tax--people who pay a mileage tax should not have to also pay an equivalent gasoline tax. It should be one or the other.
Taxing miles has another side effect, which is to put direct pressure on the number of miles driven. As fuel economy increases, each mile driven will become less expensive. By keeping miles expensive, the government is encouraging less driving, which will lead to less wear on the roads and less damage to the environment.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
New York City has chosen, somewhat surprisingly, Nissan as the supplier for the "Taxi Of Tomorrow". I had expected them to choose the Ford Transit, because it is the only vehicle that actually is in production, and has some quality history behind it. The Karsan taxi was a complete unknown, while the Nissan NV200 is for sale in Japan, has not been modified to meet U.S. regulations, and is not currently street legal in the U.S.
Interestingly, the "American" Ford would be imported from Turkey, while the Turkish Karsan was promised to be assembled in New York. Nissan's NV200 will be built in Mexico.