Archive for the 'Fuel cells' Category

Learning to love the new performance specs

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Learning to love the new performance specs is going to take some doing.  Horsepower has always conjured up an image of dozens of stampeding Mustangs (the four legged kind) and Torque reminds me of a giant wrench levered by one of those muscular laborers you see in statues at the Commerce Department.  Now we need to consider Cells!  Makes me think of an Amoeba!  Voltage?  How about a flashlight.

 

Road and Track recently reviewed a handful of “Eclectic Electrics” and introduced a bunch of new categories in their Specifications box.  Things like Number of Cells, Voltage, Recharge time, and Energy capacity now appear along with the more traditional items like Cooling, Weight, Brakes, etc.  But even these familiar terms sometimes take on new meaning when they refer to battery care and feeding rather than internal combustion.

 

Somehow I am having difficulty picturing a garage collection of vintage battery packs and electric motors, volt meters, and recharging stations as something that will invite “Garage Envy”.  On the other hand there are already individuals who collect old Macintosh computers; so who knows?  For now, I think I will do my best to OD on existing collections of vintage cars and memorabilia and hope that the era of electrics brings an as yet unrevealed charm to the car collector world.

 

Dodge EV

Dodge EV

 

 

Washington DC Autoshow and Henrick Fisker

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

 

Henrick Fisker and the Karma

Henrick Fisker and the Karma

If Barack Obama can say, “I screwed up”, so can I.  A couple of missives ago, I lamented the boringness of being green.  Basically I felt that “green” cars were technically interesting but boring from a driving excitement point of view.   The Fisker automobiles http://karma.fiskerautomotive.com/ may change that opinion quickly.  The models displayed at the Washington Autoshow certainly created the aura of driving excitement just sitting on the display floor.  These are totally sexy looking automobiles, and if all of Henrick Fisker’s enthusiasm and charm translates into driving excitement, we have a great start on a green revolution that will light the fire of any “Garage Envy” fan.

 

 

 

I was totally impressed that Fisker himself was on the floor of the Convention Center and willing to talk to all who visited about the features of his great looking cars.  If he can actually deliver these cars for the $88K that he is quoting it will be one hell of a deal.  The fit and finish of the models on the floor (a Karma sedan and a Sunset convertible) was first rate.  Fisker stated that he penned the exterior design.  The interiors were excellent as well.  Fisker out sources all of the components and will do the assembly of the early models in Finland.  He claims that this manufacturing method is what allows him to price it at $88K and also has enabled him to get the car to market so quickly.  Fisker is developing his own US dealer network – about 40 dealers.  Very interesting car and manufacturer, I can’t wait to read some driving impressions.

 

There were many other green production and concept cars at the show and their presentations were very interesting.  There were lots of cutaways, component displays, and talking heads to inundate one with information about green options.

 

From a Garage Envy point of view, one had to look hard for interesting driver’s cars.  Many of the exotic car manufacturers like Ferrari and Lamborghini were not there and manufacturers really had toned down the performance models in their lines.  For example GM lined up their Corvette Z1 with all of the rest of their Corvette models and didn’t even highlight it.  I would have thought they would have put it on a rotating dais.  Guess they were afraid of a congressman blasting them for misusing taxpayer bailout funds.

 

My bottom line is that the autoshow in your neighborhood is worth going to this year.

 

 

Project Driveway

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I recently received an invitation to join Chevy’s Project Driveway.  This is a program to put interested drivers, like me in the driver’s seat of a Chevy Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle for a long term test. Read more at http://www.chevrolet.com/fuelcell/.  You only have a chance to join if you are near a major population center that has access to hydrogen refueling stations.  It appears that the current target areas are Washington D.C., New York City, and California.

 

 

Just joining the Project gives one access to a members only web site that is full of information related to hydrogen fuel cell technology.  I’ll share some interesting tidbits as I discover them.  It also sounds like most members who have been on board for several months have also been invited to test drive the vehicle.

 

Chevy may be late to the game, but they really seem to be going all out in their exploration of alternatives to conventional gasoline powered vehicles.  The Chevy Volt has the lead article in December 2008 Automobile magazine feature “What’s Next:”  #mce_temp_url#