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Tom and Ray on PBS' NOVA

What are your thoughts on the Car of the Future? Should it be ethanol, biodiesel, electric--- all of the above, none of the above... or nothing at all?

Share your ideas here-- and thanks!


  • edited April 2008
    The car of the future should be no car at all.

    Bikes, feet, maglev trains, - stuff like that.

    Though, I must admit that once I get some money together (or have time to search for a grant) I am going to do an electric conversion of an old subcompact of some kind and build a solar charging station for it.

    I would get an EV1 from GM and just build the charging station - but, oh - well, they seem to have destroyed them all.
  • edited April 2008
    Private passenger cars will become very small and lightweight and will be powered by several different energy sources, depending on how the vehicle will be used and what you can afford.. Since private vehicles are more status symbol than they are transportation, wealth will of course continue to display itself with big, heavy gas hogs, like the Hummer fans do today..The coming energy crisis (for real this time) will change the way we live from the top down..
  • edited April 2008
    The fuel should be whichever requires the lowest amount of energy per unit, at the lowest cost (in money and environmental affects) per energy unit, to produce and get to the user. The efficiency of the user mobile, is another part of the equation.

    We (the general public) don't have that knowledge. So, when we do have that knowledge, we can decide on which energy sources, and what mix.
  • edited April 2008
    I believe you need to define FUTURE. If you are talking 25 years, I believe we will still be depending on gasoline to power cars. However, I believe alternate fuels such as bio-diesel, methanol, and batteries will become more prominent.

    If you are talking 50 years, I believe the car as a personal mover in some form will still be around, but I don't believe it will be powered by anything like we have today. I believe that car will rely on some sort of electric motor. By thie time, I also believe that we will have likely diminished our commuting needs. We will have less need to commute to work centers because for many of us, our work will enable us to telework either from home or from remote telework centers. I expect that cold fusion will be developed by then, to the point of being able to provide direct power or to use in extracting hydrogen from sea water, for use in powering some sort or battery for these personal cars and other power needs.

    Beyone 50 years, we will be using power generating technology that is not even in our vocublary yet.
  • edited April 2008
    Transportation of the future should consist of an electric grocery getter for the weekend and mass transit for commuting and other normal travel. I have also seen enclosed mopeds/scooters that are used overseas. I would love to own one of those to get to the train/subway station on rainy days.

    We are now seeing that ethanol production is negatively affecting the food industry. Ethanol isn't the answer until we learn to make it without cutting into food farm production. Biodiesel has the same problems.
  • edited April 2008
    Bikes, feet, maglev trains, - stuff like that.

    IMPOSSIBLE...Unless the US becomes just ONE BIG CITY with no suburban areas. It's IMPOSSIBLE for me to take any mass transit on a regular basis. Real tough to walk or bike 45 miles to work...ESPECIALLY IN SNOW.

    As for the future...It's very tough to say. I don't envision the personal transport vehicle ever going away. I think electric vehicles that have a range of 200 miles and can recharge in minutes is within my lifetime. Hydrogen vehicles are also within my lifetime. But for the near future we'll still have the internal combustion engine. The source for the fuel is the question. Diesel from Coal is very very doable right now.
  • edited April 2008
    Of necessity we will have a mix of vehicles. As posted by others, city and short distance commuter cars can be electric or plug-in hybrids. Highway vehicles will be hybrid gas or diesel, or later on fuel cells powered by hydrogen, or natural gas in the interim.

    Electricity will come from a mix of sources; hydro, clean coal, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal and combined cycle gas power.

    The fuel on board in the interim will likely be a selection of gasoline, diesel, ethanol from algea or cellulose, compressed natural gas (synthesized from coal or LNG from overseas), and hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.

    In other words, the car of the future will not look all that different, but the "gas" stations will have plug-ins, ethanol, gasahol, diesel, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas.

    Tom & Ray, we will need a variety of energy sources and the vehicles will also have a variety of propulsion sytems and fuels. I believe all in ternal combustion engine-powered vehicles will be hybrids in the future.

    Energy independence will still be an issue, since the US consumes far more energy than it produces. Turning the vast US coal reserves into clean energy will go a long way.
  • edited April 2008
    I was very dismayed by the talk of biodiesel/ethanol as a means of powering our vehicles ever since the news about all the land being converted to it's production. Taking agricultural land out of food production is very unwise. We have just this week seen the price of food skyrocket because of it. It is one thing to use a benign source such as switchgrass on marginal land, but to use land that was once used to grow rice, wheat, and corn for fuel is folly. Food riots are already here!
  • edited April 2008
    IMPOSSIBLE...Unless the US becomes just ONE BIG CITY with no suburban areas. It's IMPOSSIBLE for me to take any mass transit on a regular basis. Real tough to walk or bike 45 miles to work...ESPECIALLY IN SNOW.

    What a skeptic!

    When the US economy shifted from an agricultural-based economy to a manufacturing-based economy, there was a mass exodus from the farms to the cities. Then when the economy shifted from a manufacturing-based economy to a consumer-based economy, urban sprawl happened. So why is it impossible for the population to shift back to the cities?

    When gas is $10 a gallon, you might be forced to move to a city to find a job. The jobs will go where they can be filled and the people will follow, just like during the Industrial Age.

    Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.
  • edited April 2008
    I think the car of the future will look and function much like todays cars, only a lot more efficiently. The size of a car doesn't seem to have changed all that much since the early days. Compare a model A to a 55 Chevy to a new Malibu. The Malibu is faster and gets much better gas mileage than the 55 Belair, and the Belair was faster and got better mileage that the Model A (but not much better).

    I think in the near future, you will see a computer controlled valve event engine, that is the valves will be opened by a solenoid or a hydraulic system controlled by the computer, not a cam. That would give cars the kind of boost that fuel injection gave over carburetors.

    Later, I think that fuel cells will be the next solution. But for that, we will need nuclear power plants that can be used to make hydrogen during off peak hours. Wind farms may also be able to provide some of the hydrogen also during off peak hours. Ultimately I would hope that we develop fusion power generators to replace the fission powered generators of today, but thats another topic.

    I don't expect cars of the future to go much faster than todays cars, I think we have hit the human speed limit on the ground. Our eyes have a flicker rate of about 30 times/sec which limits our reaction speed. Maybe some automated drive system might allow higher speeds, but if we are in control, speeds will be about the same.
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