interview > lovins > lovins 21
Lovins 21 (3:11)
Topic(s): Alt Vehicles / Electric & Hybrid / Future Transport
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The most important element of a hyper-car of
whatever size and shape it is that it weighs about half as much as a normal car
because its made out of very strong, light materials. Those could be light
metals like aluminum and magnesium, it could be new ultra-light steels, it
could be the strongest and stiffest and lightest solution, carbon fiber
reinforced plastic composites, Palmer composites. Those have a matrix of resin
reinforced by very thin, finer than hair, carbon fibers running through them
and those are stiffer and stronger than steel. So you end up with the
mechanical performance of a steel part and a third the density and the cost can
be greater for the composite, but the cost per car can be the same, because the
cost of your light materials can be paid for by simpler auto making and a
smaller propulsion system. So ultra -ighting is free if you do it right.
Now, a hyper-car also has to be very low in drag as it
moves through the air and along the road. That doesn't mean it has to
look weird, but it means the laminar flow along the body has to adhere as far
back as possible rather than detaching it to turbulent eddies. And it'll
need very good tires to have low rolling resistance and still good safety and
traction. All these technologies, of course, already exist but they haven't
been systematically combined in the same car.
Now, once you cut by, it turns out, two-thirds the power
that it takes to run the car by improving its physics- once you cut it at least
in half, the power needed to run the car, because you made it lighter and more
slippery, then how do you propel it? Well, you could use ordinary internal
combustion engine, but for a hyper car I'd like to see it at least a good
hybrid, which could be up to twice as efficient as that and also it will
recover regenerative breaking energy instead of dissipating it as heat, presets
about two thirds of its braking energy back again—wheel to wheel efficiency
that's really good.
And then I want to see very efficient accessories. For
example, our own hyper car design used a very sophisticated suite of technology
is to keep heat out of the passenger compartment and then to have more
efficient air conditioning so we used about a seventh the normal amount of air
conditioning energy to produce the same comfort. And by the way, to move that
car at 55 miles an hour, it takes about the same power to the wheels that a
normal SUV uses on a hot day to run the air conditioner.