I love a good road trip, but I just can't rationalize it anymore. Gas is to
expensive and cars seem too evil. But the age of the road trip hasn't
ended, it's just in a lull, and the Verdier Westfalia
is set to bring
it back. This VW-Bus-looking camper is a hybrid-deisel vehicle with
all the comforts of home. An electric range, mosquito-netted front and
back porch, and an upstairs bedroom that you get to via a front seat
that transforms into stairs. The video is very worth watching (though
you might want to turn your speakers down,) as the thing comes off
looking almost like a full-sized Transformer.
The Verdier makes claims to solar-powered self sufficiency, but I
imagine it will sometimes be necessary to fire up the engine and charge
up the batteries. But with solar power aiding a hybrid engine, I don't
think there's any greener way to RV your way from WalMart to WalMart. Don't
go planning the road-trip yet, though. No release date has been set,
but a target price has: $69,000.
Capacitors are amazing little devices that litter your circuit boards
storing and discharging small amounts of energy as needed. For quite a
while, folks have been attempting to use the abilities of capacitors to
store energy for use in larger power storage systems. In particular, it
would be great if a lot of energy could be stored in a capacitor, and
then slowly released to power a car.
But, so far, this has been impractical. First, because of the size of
the capacitor that would be needed, and second, because capacitors tend
to want to release their charge all at once, not over 500 miles of
driving. Texas start-up EEStor, however, seems to have overcome many
of these problems. Ultracapacitors, capacitors that can store huge
amounts of charge, and release it in a relatively controlled fashion,
have already started showing up in hybrid cars, but EEStor seems to
have taken this further.
They claim to have an ultracapacitor that can store enough power to
drive a car 500 miles. Not only are ultracapacitors entirely free of
toxic substances, they can be charged extremely quickly and never lose
EEStor is already licensing the technology to Toronto based Feel Good
and they should be on the road by 2008. Soon after, we could see
them in larger vehicles, as well as portable electronic devices.
The Fiat Panda has two models. One runs on either methanol or gasoline,
while the other runs on methanol, gasoline or E85. This is the kind of
multi-fuel vehicle that we
will likely be seeing more of in the future. Based on the needs of the
environment, the economy, the user and the car, these multi-fuel
cars can swap between fuel sources and even between engines (as we've
seen in hybrid cars.) The drawback is that these cars need to be
heavier, incorporating more tanks and fuel lines and, in the case of
hybrids, even a whole other engine.
But the advantages often outweigh those problems, especially when
calculating the effect on the environment, as both methanol and E85 are
cleaner and have lower net CO2 emissions than gasoline.
The philanthropic arm of Google, Google.org, has started a project to
create an inexpensive retrofit kit that will turn any car into an
ethanol / electric hybrid. Google.org is a very odd charity. It's not for profit, but it's also not a non-profit. Google.org
can, and will, capitalize on the fruits of their
labors. The trade off is that Google doesn't get to write off any
On the whole, it allows Google greater freedom and secrecy, the can
recruit money from venture capitalists, and capitalize when their
projects gain. Really, it's a very strange way for a charity to set
up. Obviously making money isn't the most important thing, but you can
tell that they certainly wouldn't mind.
The Google.org retrofit kit aims to reduce global warming by providing
an inexpensive way to convert your average 20-30 mpg gasoline car to a
100+ mpg gasoline / ethanol / electric hybrid. This isn't something I
really expected from Google, but they have my permission.
Bill Clinton just received a hybrid Mercury Mariner SUV from Ford that
can get a max of 32 mpg. "Ford and President Clinton share a
commitment to promoting green solutions for transportation." Also,
Ford and President Clinton share a commitment to ridiculously sweet
Dual DVD players, a small refrigerator, a 110 volt plug,
customized LED lighting, several fold-down desks, some top-secret 'electronics,' and extra leg room for
the president (presumably at the cost of less leg room for the Secret Service Agents
driving him around.)
A lot of those extra features will add up to a drain on the Mariner's battery, so it probably won't get the full 32 mpg in the city. But,
still, a sweet machine for a man who's presence I miss very much.
Thanks to linton
for the video
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