interview > lovins > lovins 2
Lovins 2 (2:13)
© WGBH Educational Foundation
Please watch the clip first. If you plan to use it, review the Rules of Use, then click on the download button.
This clip is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Of all the fuel energy you put into your car, 87
percent, 7/8s of it never gets to the wheels—it's lost first in
the engine, then driveline idling and accessories. Of the 1/8 of the fuel
energy that does reach the wheels, half of that either heats the air that the
car pushes aside or it heats the tires and road. Only the last six percent of
the fuel energy actually accelerates the car and then heats the brakes when you
stop. And then remember that only about five percent of the mass you're
accelerating is you—the other 95 percent is the car. Therefore only about six
percent of five percent, or 0.3 percent, of the fuel energy ends up moving the
After 120 years of devoted engineering effort this is not
very gratifying, but we can do a validated order of magnitude better than that.
By redesigning the car to have good physics, be light, have low aero dynamic
drag, low rolling resistance —and it turns out that's actually not
difficult, it just takes attention. So you know the industry, just to take aerodynamics
as an example, has done experimental cars with drag coefficients point 14-odd
passively, point 12-odd actively—they've had briefly production cars at
point 19—slippery cars on the road today like the Prius or the Honda Insight
are point 26. So why should the new electric car the Volt from GM be point 32?
What's so difficult about getting much better than that, well maybe they
were just in a hurry and maybe it'll improve. But why is the average car
in the point threes? It should be much lower than that. You know, we knew how
to do that stuff back in the 1930s. In fact, why is the average car today only
about efficient as a Model A?