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The ‘Climate control’ Auto-mobile

Will the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris make car makers contemplate new ways? Some say that trillions of dollars in the 'conventional carbon economy' will evaporate when governments take measures to counter global warming. Can the car do both: keep what's good and reverse what's bad?

Cars represent the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want to. However, they come at a steep price. Although not the world’s biggest polluter, traffic is of direct influence to our living environment, and it is the sector where energy and resources are wasted like there’s no tomorrow. How’s that? Well, during most trips the driver is the car’s only occupant. The car weighs approx. 18–30 times more than that single occupant does. This means that 95% of the energy is used to move the ‘device’ that’s supposed to transport us. To make things worse, most cars are as wide as the driver measures lengthwise, causing the sort of gridlock witnessed every day. Except for being electrically propelled, the Tesla (Model S) is by no means better, as can be seen in the picture.

Reduce Footprint
Sure, car- and ride-sharing can make car usage more efficient, especially in combination with self-driving vehicles that more or less function as public transport then. Most cars are used only 5–10% of the time. Sure, electric drive will reduce emissions, usually on the basis of fossil-fueled energy plants though. Can we do more? Something more substantial? Yes, we can. Reduce footprint. Free up space. Ditch weight. Slice battery costs. Win back the freedom that got lost, even experience more Fahrvergnügen.

1. By making a vehicle sleek, freeways in particular can be utilized more efficiently. Think of the vehicle depicted here as the safer, peppier, comfier, easier-to-engineer (!) three-passenger version of the i-Road Toyota will roll out in the coming years.

2. Weight can be sliced by 50–70%, without compromising passenger safety and structural rigidity. In fact, safety can be improved! Comfort ditto (notice the long wheelbase).

3. This means that considerably less energy is needed to propel the also low-drag vehicle. A small electric motor will do. Ditto a smaller battery pack.

4. The sleeker (and smaller) the vehicle, the less likely it will run into other road users and vice versa. Together with great all around visibility, it will be ideally suited to autonomous drive, making it a true auto-mobile.

5. If share-used, such a vehicle can be eco-friendlier, more energy-efficient and cheaper to run per passenger than public transport.

6. Last but not least, a sleek vehicle is more fun to drive than a normal car, especially when taking it ‘through the twisties’. When a car corners, the weight shift causes it to dip on the outside, all four tires more or less scrubbing for grip. A tilting vehicle leans into the corner to compensate for the weight shift, like a motorcycle does.

Everything stated here, has already been confirmed by automotive experts. To return to the question: can our favorite mode of transport do both: keep what’s good and reverse what’s bad? Yes, it can. And more. An intriguing proposition, particularly since investments in the ‘conventional carbon economy’ may be overvalued trillions of dollars when governments take measures to counter global warming.

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