Space Race About to Begin for Automotive Industry ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Space Race About to Begin for Automotive Industry

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Space Race About to Begin for Automotive Industry

Rocket CarThe new CAFE standards enacted by Congress is about to start a 'space race' in the automotive industry according to Dean Harlow, president of engineering firm Ricardo Inc.

Hybrids, clean diesels, advanced gasoline engines and fuel efficient transmissions such as the dual-clutch technology will all contribute. But it's all about " minimizing the loss functions throughout the vehicle," Harlow said. " Just consider that 75 percent of the energy in each gallon of gasoline never reaches the wheels."

Cost efficiency will be the " key driver" when it comes to deciding what technologies to choose, he said.
Source: Fuel economy rules spark technology race - Automotive News

My Questions
But that may be the big question. Car companies are already abandoning some research projects and some new engine designs in favor of more fuel efficient possibilities. The word recession is flying about and the domestic companies have already had to do some drastic things in the past few years to 'turn themselves around.'

Will they be able to continue to make these sorts of changes? When you look at the differences between where Toyota is and where GM is on fuel efficiency, you have to wonder if they can make it. And will they need the federal government's help, once again?

There's already a bill floating in Washington that could give Detroit automakers and suppliers $40 billion over 20 years (Source: U.S. emissions bill could yield $40B for industry - Automotive News) to retool assembly plants.

The bill (America's Climate Security Act of 2007) is still just that, having only passed through a Senate committee, but you have to wonder about why it has to be like that. I think it's been clear for a long time now that this is where the industry would have to go. So why didn't they do more to do so?

You also have to wonder if it's for the best? By bailing out the industry, and not forcing them to face reality, is it for the best?

That's an easy question to answer when you look only at a company name or logo. But not when you look at the people that work for the company. They suffer through job cuts a lot more than the company does.
"If this industry, Detroit, and its allies plays its cards right, I believe that Washington will provide you with the kind of assistance that would be very helpful for you to make this transition to a world where you have to build cars that reflect the reality of global warming," Roland Hwang, vehicles policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said.
There is the other side to this bill. Yes, it amounts to a $40 billion bail out for the car makers and suppliers, but that's the carrot. The stick says they need to cut emissions by 70 percent by 2050. That may be too slow for some, but it's also pushing the companies in the right direction.

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