Takeo Fukui rocks. Not only is he wonderfully Japanese (rides zippy
motorcycles, is amazingly humble, never takes credit for anything, and
has a huge amount of pride in his country and his company,) but he's
definitely an EcoGeek
Popular Science recently got the chance to sit down and talk with him in a rare 10 minute interview
that is definitely worth a read. Honda has a bigger green research
budget than any other car company, possibly than any other company
period. And Takeo Fukui (no matter what he says) is the sole reason for
My favorite exchange:
Is efficiency the legacy you'd like to leave?
Yes, I am proud to continue our corporate vision, but, as I
said, that is Soichiro Honda's legacy. If I might presume to wish to be
remembered for something, it would be for making a positive difference
in as many ways as possible, even beyond fuel-efficient vehicles. I
think that is the duty of all good corporate citizens.
If you might presume to wish to be remembered for something, Fukui-Sama, you will be remembered for being awesome.
About a week ago this year's LA Auto Show put out its first press
release. The LA Auto Show, for folks who don't know, is as big as
auto-show's get, and every one has a design challenge. Well, this
year's design challenge is environmental awareness in design.Only one
of the designs has been released, the 100% recyclable Mercedes Recy.
But there is some more information in the press release, including the
names of eight cars submitted to the design challenge and the following
sentence "They include such design visions as...a vehicle with
algae-filled panels that transform harmful CO2 into pure oxygen." Interestingly, in
the list of contestants is the "Hummer O2" which, if I am at all
familiar with the naming schema at GM, is probably a hummer that emits
O2 instead of CO2.
Of course, it doesn't say that 100% of the CO2 is converted and that
would probably be an impossible task. But using algae to rapidly
convert vehicle exhaust to pure oxygen would certainly be an amazing
symbiosis between technology and nature.
We're just gonna have to keep our eyes on the LA Auto Show website, and wait with bated breath until December 2nd.
If you’ve gotten used to your SUV but want to be good to the
planet, don’t worry, big, bad motor vehicles don’t seem to be going anywhere;
they’ll just be guzzling different types of fuel. After all, NextFest is an
The future is now. Available today for around $23,000 and
up, the Saturn Vue Green Line delivers the highest highway mileage of any SUV.
Like other hybrid vehicles the Vue runs on regular gas and has a flexible
hybrid motor that provides additional power from the motor during acceleration.
Other energy saving features include engine shut-off at idle, fuel cut-off
during deceleration and energy capture through regenerative breaking.
Although the environmental benefits are debatable, E85
ethanol FlexFuel vehicles, such as the E85 Chevy Avalanche, are on the market
today and are a good choice if you are a petroleum hater. E85 Ethanol FlexFuel
is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline typically produced
domestically in the US
from corn or other grain products.
Arguably the cleanest alternative fuel option, fuel cells convert
hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, into electricity outputting
water and heat. Sadly though it’s going to be several years before fuel cell
vehicles will become a commercially viable option, and longer still for the
proper infrastructure to be built to support them. None the less, GM is perusing
the matter. Their “skateboard” chassis combines the fuel cell stack with
by-wire systems which operate steering and breaking electronically, replacing mechanical
gears. Concept fuel cell vehicles AUTOnomy, Hy-wire and Sequel were on display
To some trains might seem like a technology of yore.
However, they are happily chugging along all over the world. And when braking, the 207-ton locomotive
generates energy equivalent to the annual use of 160 households. The GE Hybrid
Locomotive captures this power and saves it in a battery for later, reducing
both emissions and fuel use significantly.
As the world continues to flatten, air travel needs continue
to increase. Jet engines
are overdue for a revamp, and the GEnx engine
result of GE
’s efforts. Expected to be flying the skies in 2008 the GEnx will
consume at least 15 percent less fuel than current engines in its class and
make up to 30 percent less noise. Designed with the future in mind, the engine
will produce emissions that are 94 percent below 2008 regulations.
There haven't been a lot of practical self-powered cars yet produced.
OK, there've been none, and this isn't one either...but it's a step in the
right direction. The Venturi Eclectic
has batteries that can be powered
by the sun, by wind, or by an AC outlet but gives you all the comfort
of, well, a golf cart, what with it not having any doors.
They've completely skipped the step where you make a car more
aerodynamic for increased efficiency, but went all out on making it
light (at 700 lbs unloaded,) which can be just important. Of course,
the Eclectic only has a range of about 30 miles after the sun stops
shining, and the top speed of 32 mph doesn't inspire much awe. But the
multiple power sources are an interesting turn, as well as it's
diminutive size. Frankly, the $30,000 pricetag is probably asking a bit
too much, but they're only making 200 of them, so I guess they don't
expect them to sell all that well.
More pics after the jump