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Old 13th May 2013, 05:59   #1
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Lightbulb Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Good morning BHP-ians, it's the beginning of another week and the start of another thread which will question much of what (some of) you hold dear to your hearts. Our English Springtime has turned from two days of beautiful hot sunshine into a cold, cloudy drizzle, so i have been at the keyboard once more on team-bhp. It is a longish post, you may wish to eat your breakfast or lunch while reading!

From the very early days of the motor car, it became clear that the majority of the buying public were most concerned that it worked rather than how well it worked, and how cheap it was to buy. Unlike a bridge or aircraft, a poorly-engineered motor car will work - and if it works reasonably reliably, is cheap to buy, meets the average buyer's checklist when viewed in a showroom or on a 2 mile test drive and has shiny paint and trimmings then it will sell in large numbers. If sufficient people buy into a way of car-thinking and their mechanic tells them their car is well-designed (because they can understand and work on it) then it can be difficult to shift such thinking - try and tell somebody that the opposite of what they believe is true and you may as well go and hit your head against a wall!

The advent of the world market has improved the car beyond belief - two of the 'newest' makers provide the finest everyday cars which make one question the need for an Audi, Honda or BMW unless you are a snob for the very worst reasons. The Koreans with their Kia and Hyundai cars are one, keen to show their old foes the Japanese they are better at making cars, Skoda under the VW umbrella is the other - they similarly aren't too enamoured of the Germans because of wartime activities and wish to show their owners how you can make a better car. After all, the Czechs were the finest European motor vehicle designers before WW2. The Germans stole many of their ideas from them!

With the growth of the very top end of the market thanks to India and China (proabably the only reason Rolls-Royce and Bentley still exist in volume-production) hugely expensive cars are once more making money. But they are slightly cynical reinterpretations of originals or cleverly-disguised variations on the cars whose components they use, brilliant though they are; one day in the search for the very best, sufficient knowledgeable and car-loving Indian or Chinese millionaires may demand something better than a German re-take on what the British once excelled at.

Just as the most expensive cars are using technology which has been bettered and buried, this technology which has been around since the early part of the last century is used for all cars. The poor person is well-aware of this, since although fuel prices have gone through the roof, the average car is still struggling to go much further on a gallon of fuel. Cars may be faster, but the roads are so clogged up this is largely useless.

It is a common rumour that massively wealthy corporations have bought up technology which could have more than halved fuel consumption to protect their own profits. There are plenty of internet sites and youtube videos which show people using this technology to benefit themselves but they daren't market it and no-one will buy it (see Geet engine, or look up Paul Pantone). Those who have developed other advances have met sticky ends, if they have refused to share it with their government's intelligence agency. Massive amounts of money are at stake and oil companies are so powerful they call the shots at national government level.

So the motor car is little different than the best the 1930s had to offer, just that the same technologies have been honed and refined. 'Hybrid' electric-petrol cars are almost all sops to those who wish to appear eco-minded or avoid 'congestion' taxation as in big cities like London. They use as much and more fuel than other cars with only one engine.

Because the motor industry is selling to a market which has little knowledge of engineering, it can dress up its crude and cynical products and sell the same old stuff year on year, decade after decade to people who will even take out financial loans on what most be the single most depreciating asset in the world.

Yet you can sit in your car and speak to anyone around the world with a cellphone. Mobile internet can bring up pictures of the road ahead, you are able to sell your old computer, video-link with your family on the other side of the world, transfer money, order your dinner and even switch on the oven at home. Your car can send messages to a workshop if it needs attention, the police can even interrogate your driving style prior to an accident via your car's computer. Comfortable seats, cool air and a fine music system make your journey more pleasurable.

Yet your car can cope with a hole in the road barely better than a wooden cart since suspension is broadly the same as existed under ox/horse-drawn carriages - the term dashboard is derived from the piece of wood which prevented stones being dashed up into the carriage by horses' hooves and it has altered much more. To steer, you rotate a steel tube which needs complex joints and mountings to minimise the risk of it being pushed through you in a heavy impact. Better than reins, I suppose. Brakes rely on shoving a bit of stuff against other rotating stuff, as happened 2000 years ago. Engines burn fuel whether you are moving or not and waste almost 70% of their fuel to heat and noise. The internal combustion engine arrived to make use of cheap, almost free fuel which flowed out of the ground. It produces no torque at zero revs so has to be kept running even when the car is stationary, yet powers cars through hundreds of thousands of traffic jams the world over, polluting our planet's atmosphere to the point people die by the thousand every week, directly as a result of this pollution. The gearbox alleviates the internal combustion engine's inefficiencies but introduces a load of whirring shafts and meshing cogs, which need to be moved with a mechanical lever by the driver so they mesh with other cogs and create different gears. A crude friction device disengages the power between the engine and gearbox to allow these cogs to be swapped more easily.

Perhaps the crudest, cheapest and nastiest single piece of 'engineering' is the anti-roll bar, which alone renders independent suspension not so, causing great discomfort as the vehicle passes over potholes or down bumpy roads and reduces wet grip through corners. Not only is it an unpleasant corrupter of suspension but it also enables manufacturers to fit cheaper suspension layouts. The Americans call this a 'win-win' situation, happily ignoring the resulting poor performance but wallowing in the profit!

All these ancient, inefficient and clumsy designs are clothed in sleek, shiny paint and alloy wheels which helps continue to con the consumer. Complexity has gone crazy, to the point even garages don't want to work on cars - you open the bonnet on a modern car and where is the engine? If a fault develops it is a matter of talking to the car's own 'chinese whispers' via your own computer. If the fault is something as simple as an electrical wire, a garage may have replaced several components before this becomes clear - the interrogation of the car doesn't reveal such subtleties. Much of this complexity is to try to make outdated ideas continue to be 'competitive'. We have ended up with a nicely-made piece of outdated, overweight, inefficient, over-complex and expensive personal transport which is slowly wrecking our one and only beautiful planet - and driving is less fun than ever at normal speeds.

In England, where roads are all tarmac and generally reasonably good, a lumbering 2 tonne off-road vehicle is a symbol of prosperity and superiority. (Not all of our European neighbours are so dim-witted and Americanised - in Denmark, a new car is seen as a symbol of someone who has their priorities all wrong.) What does that tell us about our evolution as a species - that we need at least 2 tonnes of metal to move ourselves around, to go and buy 5kg of food, to drive to a gym for exercise? And after a dozen years, this piece of 'finest-engineering' is scrap. After just three, it is worth less than half what it cost new. All-electric cars are fashionable here too, but will be of limited use until someone works out a lighter, more efficient way of storing electricity than current battery technology allows - and a way of charging within a few minutes or easily replacing the battery pack with a fresh one. They will dominate the urban commuter market within a few years, but they still need energy to make the electricity and require a similar amount of it as a VW diesel car. So burning coal or gas, worse still nuclear reactions, to supply this energy does seem a little daft unless there is a bad local pollution problem, such as in a big city.

How long will it be before there is another leap forward in personal transport? - we moved from the mule and horse to the motor car last century and there are farmers around here who are suggesting it may be horses on farms later this century if someone doesn't reduce the costs of running 'infernal' combustion engines. In the age of multi-national corporations and compliant, weak-willed governments, are we doomed to a future where committees prevent risk-taking and the individual inventor is ignored - a future of corporate greed and cynicism?

The motor car as we know it is out of touch with people's needs, an over-complex development of a design which has barely changed in four-score years. It should be capable of driving 150km on a litre of fuel and carrying four adults with a bag and briefcase each. VW, the Japanese and Tata are probably closest to achieving these goals.
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Old 13th May 2013, 09:34   #2
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Brilliant thread! I was thinking of starting something on the similar lines, but my knowledge about the hisroty of motor cars fell short.

Although cars have become better including innovations in the engine, drivetrain and suspension, the changes have been at best 'evolutionary' rather than 'revolutionary'. From what I understood from 'Hot, flat and crowded' is that policy-making (highly influenced by lobbying) in US has been a major reason for derailing better fuel efficiency attempts.

FlatOut, you have hinted at fowl play why new innovations either have not happened or not seen the production line in main-stream cars. Although you have given a couple of names that I would definitely google, in the interest of the broader community, can you please share a few more details about the innovations that have happened and how they have been stopped from reaching the general public?

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Old 13th May 2013, 10:59   #3
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Excellent post FlatOut and a very interesting read! These are some of the few things that keep circling my mind and your post reflects my thoughts. This is exactly what I tell my friends and relatives when they ask me why I continue to ride a 9 year old motorcycle or why my father won't replace his 15+ y.o M800 with something 'modern'.

Nothing has changed in the motorcycle world in atleast a decade and manufacturers continue to sell the same 100CC engines with new stickering and more plastic for a higher price. Sure, you can now opt for self-start on almost all motorcycles, and the engines now have double or triple spark (to cope up with the inefficient internal combustion engine), and come with alloys, but at the end of the day they're still the same.

My father's M800 was purchased before Indian car makers started installing computers in cars. And it came with a carburettor. The result is a simple and easy to diagnose and fix car that will continue to run even with minor issues, unlike a modern car which will simply refuse to start because the computer tells it to do so.

I have always also wondered about the 'brilliant' mind that felt that giving each citizen his own mode of transport and letting them loose on the streets was a brilliant idea as against providing an efficient and sane mode of public transport. I simultaneously laugh (at the ridiculousness) and cry (in desperation, with no other choice) at the sight of hundreds of cars piled up in traffic everyday waiting for their turn to move and competing with each other for some space on the tarmac.

A simple solution of street level electric trams with dedicated lanes for cycling and cycle parking lots could easily serve 90% (or more) of the population with a fraction of the costs involved in constructing and maintaining roads, traffic police upkeep, signalling and monitoring infrastructure, the car service and maintenance industry and the resulting losses of time and life-value from accidents. All this is possible in about 3 lanes of space.

To add, cars were merely marketed because the petroleum refining industry didn't know what to do with the by-product of kerosene manufacturing and they thought it was a brilliant idea to sell motors that burned this very by-product and as a result make more profits.

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Old 13th May 2013, 11:26   #4
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

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How long will it be before there is another leap forward in personal transport? - we moved from the mule and horse to the motor car last century and there are farmers around here who are suggesting it may be horses on farms later this century if someone doesn't reduce the costs of running 'infernal' combustion engines. In the age of multi-national corporations and compliant, weak-willed governments, are we doomed to a future where committees prevent risk-taking and the individual inventor is ignored - a future of corporate greed and cynicism?

The motor car as we know it is out of touch with people's needs, an over-complex development of a design which has barely changed in four-score years. It should be capable of driving 150km on a litre of fuel and carrying four adults with a bag and briefcase each. VW, the Japanese and Tata are probably closest to achieving these goals.
A very interesting take on the automobile.

If a car is a good thing to have, then it will surely be a good thing if at least half the people in the country have their personal cars. Imagine half the people owning cars on this planet! It seems completely unfeasible unless there is a revolution in automobile technology and finance.

Of course, every technology need not be owned by everyone. There have to be niches using some technology. But then the goals of development can't be tailored to to a technology. Our roads, our transport, cannot be built with personal users of automobile in mind. It needs to be other way round. Technology has to serve the goal of development.

Even from aesthetic perspective, what will a highway to a place like Mansarovar will do to it, I wonder. The Chinese already seem to have been doing it.

Such dilemmas are there even if we do not wish to think of them. A time will come when we will be forced to make difficult choices.
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Old 13th May 2013, 12:07   #5
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

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Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
The motor car as we know it is out of touch with people's needs, an over-complex development of a design which has barely changed in four-score years. It should be capable of driving 150km on a litre of fuel and carrying four adults with a bag and briefcase each. VW, the Japanese and Tata are probably closest to achieving these goals.
Nice speech like post but I would like to see how your uplifting post is rooted in science and not a hope for the future. Here is a hope that atleast this century doesnt go back to horses on farms:

http://www.nature.com/news/japanese-...om-ice-1.12858

Never say Never
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Old 13th May 2013, 12:48   #6
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

@FlatOut : Maybe the basic working concept of the internal combustion engine is the same, But to say that nothing has changed in 100 years is over simplification. Can you say that the cars now are as inefficient as it was 50 or 30 years back. No. There are inefficient ones, no doubt, made and used in countries where fuel is cheaper. But there are a lot of small evolutionary changes that has made cars more efficient over time. The turbo-charged fuel injected engines are way more efficient than those NA carburetor engines 20-30 years back. It would be a lie if you say that cars have not changed at all in decades. Dont you find the cars today more comfortable, powerful , more fuel efficient, and better in most ways than few decades ago? Yes, many basic working may be the same, but why change for the sake of change? Why would anyone build a oval or square wheel, when round wheels work flawlessly? Why not pull the maximum out of existing technology with the help of new technology (like in case of ICE engine with turbocharger and fuel pump)? Please note, that even though I only took example of engine, the same is true for all parts of a car. The complexity you speak of is partly a result of these new technologies working together.
Also you should understand the infrastructure part of the problem. The infrastructure for internal combustion engines(fuel manufacture and delivery in this case) were developed widely over the years. Till few decades we thought oil will keep gushing out of the ground till end of the world. Now, if we need to change to a new infrastructure for say fuel cell vehicles, it will take a lot of time. Not to mention a safe solution from storage for hydrogen in not yet ready and pollution caused while extracting hydrogen.
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Old 13th May 2013, 16:19   #7
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Default re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

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It is a common rumour that massively wealthy corporations have bought up technology which could have more than halved fuel consumption to protect their own profits. There are plenty of internet sites and youtube videos which show people using this technology to benefit themselves but they daren't market it and no-one will buy it (see Geet engine, or look up Paul Pantone). Those who have developed other advances have met sticky ends, if they have refused to share it with their government's intelligence agency. Massive amounts of money are at stake and oil companies are so powerful they call the shots at national government level.
Though I agree with your entire post in general, and I would also admit that I am not aware of Paul Pantone and his GEET; I must warn you that we've had our run of few people in India like Ramar Pillai who've not been able to substantiate anything they claimed (tall claims of producing fuel from water and herbs).

http://www.hindu.com/2001/01/18/stories/04182236.htm
http://expressindia.indianexpress.co.../ina15002.html
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...aper-fuel.html (Ramar Pillai is back with a Cheaper Fuel !)
http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?202855
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Old 13th May 2013, 19:29   #8
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@FlatOut : Maybe the basic working concept of the internal combustion engine is the same, But to say that nothing has changed in 100 years is over simplification. Can you say that the cars now are as inefficient as it was 50 or 30 years back. No.... Please note, that even though I only took example of engine, the same is true for all parts of a car. The complexity you speak of is partly a result of these new technologies working together.
Also you should understand the infrastructure part of the problem. The infrastructure for internal combustion engines(fuel manufacture and delivery in this case) were developed widely over the years. Till few decades we thought oil will keep gushing out of the ground till end of the world. Now, if we need to change to a new infrastructure for say fuel cell vehicles, it will take a lot of time. Not to mention a safe solution from storage for hydrogen in not yet ready and pollution caused while extracting hydrogen.
I think you are putting into writing what you think I said, mxx. The motor car as we know it, bar electronic control of everything in the engine bay and more besides, had developed as far as it was going to go by the 1950s with Citroen's DS. Its predecessor from 20 years previously, the Traction Avant, was more modern and capable in design than plenty of UK market cars right into the 1990s.

Since then, the mass manufacturers have grudgingly given the public some of the niceties which Citroen was offering back in the 1930s - an aerodynamic, monocoque construction with a tough four cylinder engine mounted over the driven front axle, independently-sprung wheels at each corner braked by hydraulics, to create a stable, safe, comfortable ride which handles faithfully, accurately and swiftly to steering inputs and which is capable of doing six figure mileages without major component overhaul.

Only now are some of the most exclusive brands acknowledging that bits of steel under compression levered between the axle and body aren't the best answer to maintaining ride height, providing passenger comfort and keeping the tyres in good contact with the road surface. They all have different approaches to improving ride and handling, most of them frighteningly complex. There was a simple, hugely effective and neat solution back in 1955, which has since proved its reliability and cost-effectiveness and not least its greater levels of safety.

It is as though we are frightened of anything new when it comes to motor cars - the motor corporations are so massive and unable to react to change that progress has ground to a halt and we are simply refining and improving what has gone before. Change never stops in this world, if we delay our reaction to it or deny its existence, it imposes itself on us in a much harsher way than if we recognise it and forsee what is necessary for the future.

We are using late nineteenth and early 20th century tech to mobilise us - and in an era when the whole world is wanting a motor car, it will be forced to change or die.


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Though I agree with your entire post in general, and I would also admit that I am not aware of Paul Pantone and his GEET; I must warn you that we've had our run of few people in India like Ramar Pillai who've not been able to substantiate anything they claimed (tall claims of producing fuel from water and herbs).
Since you are able to read this forum, alpha1, then you are presumably able to google Geet and Paul Pantone - I am not here to hold everyone's hand through the internet. You say you are not aware of these names I invite you to research, but they are easily found - here are two links
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_the_P...fuel_save_work
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:%C3%86E/Paul_Pantone

What I am suggesting is that the motor car is not anywhere near the cutting edge of technology and is consuming vast amounts of energy more than it need, to the cost of its owners and users and to the mega-profits of the oil industry and the steadily increasing pollution of the planet we all live and breathe on. It can be argued to be the lowest and most cynical form of engineering, since the majority of its buyers are poorly-educated in its abilities and engineering in general. They simply want effective transport which (sadly in many cases) will impress the neighbours. Bigger is better - we live in an American-dominated world, for the time being.

The whole idea of a Hydrogen age is daft since once we have a source of energy which makes hydrogen affordable to make then we will use that energy more usefully and directly to power transportation. The motor car as it is today is reaching the end of its life - what will follow will be an interesting time for anyone vaguely interested in driving.

VW's newest 'supercar' is super in that it breaks the mold, to an extent. It will achieve over 100kmpl from a small twin cylinder diesel working as a generator for the electric motor. The technology used in this car will be rolled out into more mainstream VWs in the next few years, so a 50kmpl Golf may become reality sooner than later. In my experience, the VW group has for a long time produced the world's most efficient cars - my family's 250,000km Skoda Ocatvia 1.9TDi still returns well over 18kmpl, up to 21 on a run. Ignore the odd typo in this newspaper article - as usual the comments are as interesting as the journalist's bit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/...L1-review.html

Last edited by FlatOut : 13th May 2013 at 19:32. Reason: Conversion from mpg and l/100km to km/l
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Old 13th May 2013, 20:28   #9
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Default Re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Interesting post, but this issue is not limited to cars. You can say the same thing when it comes to issues as diverse as garbage disposal, the profiteering of pharma companies which prevents eradication of diseases globally, world hunger or colonizing mars. It is estimated that the US could have established a space colony on mars dedicated to the long term goal of making the planet habitable - roughly $400 billion were spent in the iraq war, which would have done the job and left some spare change. If the point is that the car industry is profiteering at consumers' expense, well, they have plenty of company. Name the industry that's clean.

That however would take us into a prolongued discussion on the shortcomings of the human race, the cultural disaster we have accepted as a standard of living, and an estimation on when, not if, will we succeed in eradicating ourselves off the planet. Although a congenial discussion, neither you nor I are in any position to change the course of things overnight.

I agree with most of what you have said, but I am wondering what next ; the discussion is cerebrally interesting but does it go beyond that? Are you advocating we move en masse to public transport? Most of us car lovers would love to take efficient, safe public transport for daily commutes and reserve our beloved machines for better things. Or is it we start a dialogue on the pace of change? I think the pace of change depends not on our capabilities, but on our comfort level to accept change.
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Old 13th May 2013, 21:53   #10
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The motor car as we know it is out of touch with people's needs, an over-complex development of a design which has barely changed in four-score years. It should be capable of driving 150km on a litre of fuel and carrying four adults with a bag and briefcase each. VW, the Japanese and Tata are probably closest to achieving these goals.
Whilst we are at what the people need (?!) I'd like to get my order in now

I would like a stonking fast car, that looks stunning inside and outside, makes a great sound and has unbelievable road holding whilst still extremely comfortable. If it comes with not to great fuel efficiency just shove in a bigger petrol tank.

As far as I'm concerned there are two sorts of cars:

A Cars for transporting people and stuff from A to B
B Cars for fun, thrill and sheer enjoyment

I can not help but feel your cars are likely to fit into segment A more than segment B.

Segment A sounds extremely boring to me!

Jeroen
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Old 13th May 2013, 22:28   #11
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Whilst we are at what the people need (?!) I'd like to get my order in now

I would like a stonking fast car, that looks stunning inside and outside, makes a great sound and has unbelievable road holding whilst still extremely comfortable. If it comes with not to great fuel efficiency just shove in a bigger petrol tank.

As far as I'm concerned there are two sorts of cars:

A Cars for transporting people and stuff from A to B
B Cars for fun, thrill and sheer enjoyment

I can not help but feel your cars are likely to fit into segment A more than segment B.

Segment A sounds extremely boring to me!

Jeroen
Your XJ Jaguar is a saloon car, isn't it? It has a decent boot? It's comfortable and capable of long journeys with three passengers... Yet when you are on your own, it is a blast to drive at crazy speeds! But stonking-sounding engines are probably a thing of the past - modern engines are going to be tiny, supercharged and turbocharged petrols which may sound like a kitchen blender unless digitally enhanced. The other problem with sound is if these little engines are used at steady revs to drive a CVT or simply are used as a generator for electric motors. I too adore the sound of an Alfa twin-cam, flat four or V6. There are few better sounds on this planet - but time moves on.

The thing is, not everyone can afford a sporting car - they just need an everyday car which is practical and economical. i would say that most of these car today are boring and humdrum, yet there is no need for them to be. They should become lighter, have more intelligent design and be fast-accelerating from standstill when necessary. The suspension should be awesome - a lightweight car which has the capacity to carry a good load needs something better than a steel spring which is the ultimate compromise. With modern electronics and simple hydraulics, you could tune your car's response with a dashboard button.

Too many cars are designed for the 'Top Gear' mentality, where driving round a track is seen as the be-all-and-end-all. Who said fun cars are only for the idle rich? The Italians used to excel at small, fun cars - and even today they have an ability which no other nation possesses in this respect. Maybe it is a Mediterranean thing - Issigonis designed the BMC Mini - a car about which Mr Ferrari is reputed to have said "thank god it's ugly". Any manufacturer which comes up with a lightweight machine which handles beautifully yet rides potholes with aplomb - and can carry a good weight - will be on to a winner. Then it is just down to the cost accountants to see what can be pared away to allow for profit.

Somewhere in the evolution of the car it has been assumed you need to be doing more than 90mph/140kph in a tonne and a half of bling to be having fun. That is so wrong. The Fiat 500, the BMC Mini and the Citroen 2cv all offer more smiles per mile than any cheap modern car, more than most modern cars regardless of cost. We need to start examining the fundamental engineering rather than 'image'. The BMW Mini (nicknamed Bini in Britain) is a perfect example of style over substance and to me, represents everything which is wrong with the motor car at present.

I think anyone interested in designing a car for the future should have a long look at the velomobile, a recumbent bike with a fairing. Upscaled a little, with simpler bodies and an electric motor, you might just have the beginnings of a new type of minimalist machine which would carry two and be ideal for commuting and be quick enough out of the city. If nothing else, it stimulates the mind into a less defined form of thinking.


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Old 13th May 2013, 23:01   #12
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We need to start examining the fundamental engineering rather than 'image'.

Why???
I like image! Image is very important. Image sells. The Fiat 500 sells because of image, not because it is particularly well engineered or particularly well put together. It's mediocre Italian engineering at best, but they excel at packaging, i.e. image. Both my wife and daughter want one. They've never driven one, but they think it's so cute and that's why they want one! My daughter goes on and on that she really neeeeeeds one! She knows what she needs that girl! No engineer in sight!

What sells well and what doesn't rarely has anything to do with engineering at all. It is very rare for pure engineering to sell, especially in the consumer space.

Remember Betamax and Video 2000. Widely recognized as probably technically superior to VHS. Still it failed to catch on big time. Here's an interesting read about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videotape_format_war

If you want to talk about consumer needs you need to be a marketeer, maybe an industrial designer, but not an engineer. Engineers can make stuff to meet a certain market requirement.

E.g. it needs to be cheap, it needs to go fast, it needs to record several hours, it needs to be available in 114 colors of grey etc. etc.

When engineers start talking about what "consumers need", they are threading on thin ice, as far as I'm concerned. And I have several engineering degrees and worked in a commercial highly competitive environment for most of my career. I can deliver/make the stuff, but not specify what the consumer wants or needs or figure out how to sell it successfully.

Technology in itself rarely ever sells or does anybody any good. It is just boring stuff for engineer to hypothesize around on what it can do for the world.

Just an opinion from another boring engineer.

On the up side; this thread is likely to be very long. We haven't seen or heard a single real fact yet. Only opinions. I've said it before on this forum, facts are extremely boring and only opinions matter. So please more opinions!

Although engineers always like to pretend to be dealing in facts and facts alone, they are typically the most opinionated people I know. (Because they think they know the facts maybe?)

Whether that is fact or opinion, I leave open for discussion.

Who knows we might have some hardcore consumer marketeers on the forum?

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 13th May 2013 at 23:04.
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Old 13th May 2013, 23:21   #13
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Default Re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

I agree entirely with this topic because a car is eventually a mode of transport and it should remain that way. Too much of electronics and the need to stay with the cutting edge of technology is ensuring that cars are replaced by first owners in 3 to 4 years. As GTO himself says, used cars are a more sensible choice. This is so simply because people sell their perfectly good cars for another with more slanted headlamps and a silkier seatbelt.
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Old 14th May 2013, 00:17   #14
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Default Re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fiestarry View Post
I agree entirely with this topic because a car is eventually a mode of transport and it should remain that way. Too much of electronics and the need to stay with the cutting edge of technology is ensuring that cars are replaced by first owners in 3 to 4 years. As GTO himself says, used cars are a more sensible choice. This is so simply because people sell their perfectly good cars for another with more slanted headlamps and a silkier seatbelt.
The drive for ever lower emissions is making cars prone to breakdown and over-complex, to the extent they are being scrapped at younger and younger ages. This cannot be good for the environment, surely? Where does the balance lie, I wonder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Why???
I like image! Image is very important. Image sells. The Fiat 500 sells because of image, not because it is particularly well engineered or particularly well put together. It's mediocre Italian engineering at best, but they excel at packaging, i.e. image. Both my wife and daughter want one. They've never driven one, but they think it's so cute and that's why they want one! My daughter goes on and on that she really neeeeeeds one! She knows what she needs that girl! No engineer in sight!

What sells well and what doesn't rarely has anything to do with engineering at all. It is very rare for pure engineering to sell, especially in the consumer space.

Technology in itself rarely ever sells or does anybody any good. It is just boring stuff for engineer to hypothesize around on what it can do for the world.

Jeroen
Image can change just like that - it is a passing fad, an virtual and intangible conception which never stays still. Not sure what you mean when you say image = packaging.
But a pretty car will always be a pretty car, and always sell. The Nuova Fiat 500 is just such a car. Its image is a complex result of many variable factors, from the sort of people seen driving it, to the feeling you get when you see one. And the type of advertising in the press or on the net. My image of them is that they are highly-priced cars for people who appreciate good form and like nice colours - some of the colours are just great, the best on any current new car.

What the consumer thinks he/she needs is very different to what may serve them best. Many modern cars have been as a result of too much public say on what they want.

One result is that second-hand, many more recent motor cars make little sense for their prospective buyers and so resale values are very low. The Mercedes W124 class has a high value in Britain, even though they are really old designs. Why? Because they are well-engineered, simple machines with class. They deliver what many really need from a car.

Is the 500 really such a mediocre piece of engineering? I've never driven one, but aren't they Panda-based. Which I thought was regarded as one of the best small cars. Simple, fairly tough and good to drive.
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Old 14th May 2013, 01:00   #15
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Default Re: Cars: Where does the future lie? Why so many lies in the present?

Brilliant read! This whole GEET thing, is it legit? I mean there isn't much evidence to support it but would it work? Can I convert a normal car to run with that tech? It's just that my summer holidays are coming up and I've got to keep me occupied . Plan was to build a go-kart so far.

Last edited by IshaanIan : 14th May 2013 at 01:12.
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