Tuesday, December 4, 2007

cool, weird cars

i like cars, especially fun efficient small cars.

but not because of their CO2 impact.

not at all, in fact. when i think about how to reduce CO2 impact on transportation, i focus more on freight. we waste huge amounts of energy transporting products across the country using tractor trailers because our freight train system doesn't function well enough.

it seems to me, the entirety of the long haul trucking industry could be displaced by a properly functioning rail system. for an example, you can look at virtually any other modern country. none of them have to resort to tractor trailers like we do.

maybe we could throw in decent passenger lines while we're at it.

this would do far more for the environment, road safety, and economic stability than any of the "green" vehicle efforts so far.

but my topic for today is cool weird cars. i like them.

these two are both three-wheeled and both offered as either battery powered or hybrid powered. both in the $25-$30k range. both theoretically available in the near future.

the Aptera:

the VentureOne:

the Aptera claims a ridiculous fuel efficiency as its most important selling point, the VentureOne claims 100 mpg, but also does the neat trick of leaning like a motorcycle.

both of them are missing the point. sure, they are fuel efficient, but who really cares about that.

the Prius is successful because it is an opportunity for people to look like they are doing what's best for the environment without paying lots of extra money or sacrificing much in terms of comfort, safety, or performance. they want to be seen to be doing their part, not sacrificing their identity to the gods of the environment. the Honda Insight failed because it sacrificed too much. the Toyota Camry Hybrid failed because only the driver knew they were driving a hybrid, not the neighbors.

the Aptera will flat out fail because it is going down the same path as the Honda Insight, offering people the chance to look ridiculous while riding around in a grossly overpriced death trap that will fly off the road with the first side wind. and with just the one driven wheel in the back, what happens to your traction any time the weather turns bad?

as for the VentureOne, it has a chance of success, but this is despite it being a hybrid. i like electric, i think it is the way of the future, but i think it has no business on this vehicle. this vehicle is for people who want a motorcycle, but also have kids and can't accept the danger associated with riding a bike. it is a good market that the mazda miata has been dominating for more than a decade.

adding the electric drive train just confuses things. so, now they are trying to sell it to people who want a motorcycle, are concerned about safety, don't want to go particularly fast, see themselves as techno-savvy, and want to appear green. about five people in the world, then.

why are they making things harder for themselves? just slap a 1.6 liter hayabusa engine in there, tell everyone it does 187mph and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and is like wearing a helmet for your whole body and watch the orders fly in. honestly, if anyone actually buys one of these, the first thing they will do is tear the electric motor out and replace it with a proper engine.

that being said, i'd probably still buy one despite the electric motor if i had $25k to spend on a toy. i would definitely ask how much they would drop the price to keep the drive train, though.

as for the aptera, the embarrassment of owning a car that probably couldn't maintain traction on a smooth gravel road or a wet asphalt one would be too much. if someone offered me one as a gift, i would politely accept, then find someone i don't like very much to give it to.

1 comment:

sashwee said...

sorry to disappoint, but this is not very boring. fun and thought provoking. glad you decided to start a blog