The Car

Introduction

In my study of the car I have been provoked. I am provoked over what the technical personnel and the leaderships linked to the car industry have done, Or to be more precise; what they have not done with the car. I am provoked by the car journalists. Why? You can read that later in the article. And last but not least I am very critical to the institutions that today educate the future technical personnel in mechanics on all levels.  I will explain why later in this article.

History

First some history. The world’s first car with internal combustion engine was invented by Karl Benz and patented in 1885. A three wheeled device with 0.75 horse powers. In the 1890s the car with 4 wheels appeared. The first cars had many signs of equation with that times horse carriages. In the beginning the appearance changed rapidly, but from about 1930 the shape of the present car appeared. From 1970 the mechanical part of the cars has hardly changed.  40 years with minimum technical improvements is a very long time. After that, it is, broadly seen; only the engine sizes, weights and dimensions that have increased. From 1900 to 1920 the number of cars increased slowly and was manufactured by lots of small manufacturers. By that time the production was taken over by a few large producers as it is today. It is now produced approximately 40 million cars every year and the total number of cars in the world is now about 600 millions from some few manufacturers.

A replica of the world’s first car.
A replica of the world’s first car.

What should be done differently on the future cars?

After almost 50 years with the same concept I think it is high time to look at the car again. It should have surprised me that the car concept has not been revised thoroughly in regards of all the climate-, resource- and emission-problems, but it does not surprise me at all any longer, I am sorry to say.

  1. New complete continuous gear box
  2. The great advantage by changing from the present gear boxes in cars to complete continuous gear boxes is that we can get the fuel consumption radically down. 50 to 80 % reduction of the fuel consumption and thereby also the CO2-emission should be simple to achieve. That alone will satisfy the demand for cut in CO2-emission for the whole car business up to 2050. How this is possible you can see on the web site http://flagear.fladby.com. The fact that the car manufacturers have not gone much more in for such solutions are completely unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is it because when the leaders for most of the large car manufacturers was offered to take such complete continuous gear boxes in use in their cars, they responded with all from condescending pestering to silence or comments in news papers telling that ”there is enough oil”. And it was only 3 journalists that were brave enough to write about the possibilities that exist here. The others expressed that this they would not write about, that they do not know anything about it or with deafening silence. We contacted lots of journalists and reporters in most of the industrialized countries. They would not even mention it as a possibility, as we proposed, and thus open for an official debate about the theme. They would rather kill it by silence. They were perhaps afraid of setting question marks on anything these ”unfailing” manufacturers do. Where is the critical journalism? It is obviously better for most of the journalists that 30 % of the world’s species are exterminated than that one or another car manufacturer became sour. It will be interesting to see how they will explain this weakness in the future.

  3. Turbo engine
  4. The car industry has through many years now argued for use of car with turbo engines. The car industry has with a tail of motor journalists bragged this solution into the sky. What is really a turbo and what does it do really? A turbo consists of two parts. The first part is a turbine that gets some power from pressure in the exhaust (with low efficiency). This power is transmitted through an axle to the other part, a compressor turbine that increases the air pressure inside the engine and thus provide for more air in the cylinders. In this way we can increase the fuel feed and thus the engine power. This may sound fascinating and may have impressed most people for a long time, but what is it that really happens when you have a car with turbo engine? Well, then the following will happen: During fast acceleration the turbo will lag (get a belated acceleration) in comparison to the rest of the engine. Then the compressor turbine will choke on the inlet manifolds to the engine and the engine will be poorly filled with air in this phase where you really could need good filling of the engine.  The engine will therefore pull less than a normal sucking engine in this phase where you need high power. At the same time the exhaust turbine will act as an extra engine brake.
    When the car has accelerated to the desired travelling speed and only needs to maintain speed the power consumption is fairly small. That is the most of the time. With the present gear boxes you must then keep high engine rpm because the gear boxes have such a low gear ratio. But then the turbo really has reached high rpm and pumps large amounts of extra air in to the engine. To get correct combustion the mix ratio between air and fuel in the engine must be within fairly narrow limits. Therefore the engine must supply extra amounts of fuel only because of the turbo at even high car-speed. So the manufacturers put in an extra complicated and expensive turbo unit that only increases the fuel consumption and the emission in addition to putting more expenses on the customers.
    You may not believe it. I have even by a coincidence been able to measure how large the difference is. When I bought a new car I bought an identical car to the one I already had before, by shape, manufacture, weight, engine type, engine volume and gear ratio, only with the difference that the last was 8 years younger and was equipped with turbo. Even the power was equal. I believed then, like most others that this was a good solution because “all” car people says that this is nice stuff. After driving on the same long and short road distances on equal types of roads with different driving, with different drivers (the same on the two cars) we have measured the fuel consumption to be 30 % higher with the turbo car. The turbo car accelerates slower and it makes more noise in high speeds. And here is why I am strongly provoked by the technical personnel at the car manufacturers. They are paid to make these types of evaluations that I have done in the beginning of this chapter. They are paid for doing comparison tests of the type I have done. And I believe that in fact some of them know this because I saw that the leader of one of the world’s largest car manufacturers mentioned that “one was now leaving the trend of using turbo engines on sports-cars”. But still they continue to market turbo cars, and the car journalists and we other people let us fool.  And this the manufacturers do in times when climate changes give large problems. I saw a short time ago that a leader for one of the largest car manufacturers stated that there is plenty of oil. I am provoked by the fact that people with this type of attitude to climate and resources are still leading such companies. But as long as we customers honor them by constantly buying new cars from them; then it will probably continue this way.

  5. Better safety
  6. In the latest 50 years the car industry has bragged about that they have equipped their cars with shock absorbing zones in the car fronts. The car industry announces they have 24 inches (60cm) deformation distance instead of the 4 inches (10 cm) that was common earlier (for more than 50 years ago!).  Calculated this means that by a front collision in 62 mph (100 km/h) the persons in the car will be loaded with 65 G (by 60 cm) instead of 390 G (by 10 cm). The difference is that the one in the first case is dead and the latter is stone dead after the collision. 1.2 million (2004) people are killed in traffic accidents every year and maybe as much as 20 millions are severely hurt (depending how severe one must be hurt to be catalogued as severe traffic hurt). Try to think of what the cost of this is in human sufferings; sorrows and privations, hospital and rehabilitation expenses and think of how huge the profit had been if we could reduce these numbers with 50 – 80 %. It would have given incredible differences and in many areas in the world it would probably be enough hospital beds, doctors and nurses to deal with other illnesses, at least in the western world. I do not understand why the car producers do not put much more effort in getting these numbers down; because they also should understand that there will appear new smart ways to solve these problems better. Then the old fashion manufacturers will struggle. But they maybe believe that the development will stand still. I believe that they maybe will get surprised of how the collision safeguarding should be solved within not too many years.
    Another thing regarding traffic safety and accidents. Already many years ago it was not allowed to produce motor cycle helmets in metal because if a person collided and the helmet was squeezed on the head it was impossible to take it off the head. What have they done with the squeezing problem when it comes to cars? Little, and you can therefore often read about persons that is sitting squeezed in a car wreck after collisions and the rescue team must steady shear or cut persons loose from the car wreck or try to draw the car wreck  apart in order to be able to start the first aid. Is it so difficult to do this differently? Hardly, but then the car producer’s leaders, owners and technical educated people must have another attitude. And maybe we soon could get a bit more critical car journalism from the car journalists, but that maybe is too much to expect.

In general

What is it really the technically educated engineers have been doing through all these years? Think of all new developments and knowledge that have appeared through these 50 years in many areas. In the car industry on the other hand is almost as the technology has not been developed. And maybe the worst of all; It seems like the people working there have not recognized that the machines are old fashioned, uneconomical and quite reprehensible when it comes to resource and energy consumption. And if that is anyone others fault than the engineers’, then the engineers ought to give them a lesson and tell them that this cannot be tolerated any longer. The technical engineers must soon start to defend a professional integrity. Otherwise, nobody will pay them a descent salary and far too few youngsters will seek to this profession. We can already see clear signs on that. When I look at these types of machines, I see also that it is quite necessary with new generations of most machine elements like couplings between shaft and wheel, pipe couplings, flexible shaft couplings etc. This is necessary to get major reductions of material consumption, production costs, assembling costs and not least the costs from inspection, service, maintenance and repair.

Reduced emission

If the car manufacturers had taken into account these conditions that here are mentioned, they could easily have reduced CO2-emission and fuel consumption with 50 – 80 %. The cars could be produced with considerable less consumes of materials and resources that in its turn result in less emission.
”Whatever you do, do not tamper with the noise” one person told me. It is obviously better, for someone, that many have mental problems because of sleeplessness than that a few can spread noise over innocent people. The noise is one of the large pollutions that the motoring spreads everywhere today. It would be easy to do something about the noise for the car manufacturers, but then we must get a new attitude that implies that a silent car is nice.  This new attitude that equipment shall produce little noise pervades the computer business when it comes to noise from cooling fans. So why must the motor people be so reactionary?

Reflections

In connection with suggestions to new technical solutions I am often taken by surprise by the great resistance people have against accepting new technical solutions, even if it is quite necessary on most mechanical areas because of the climate and environment. I believed once, far ago, that all technical proposals that would lead to reduced consumption and emission would be received with open arms. And if it had to be adjusted on the way, then someone took care and did that. It is not like this. In the technical and mechanical motor surroundings most people use all their cleverness to try to find a reason for why new solutions will not work, instead of constructive suggestions to how we in that case can make it work if that should be necessary. It seems like people here only tries to find pretext to do like they always have done. ”You can not alter the noise”. ”The oil will last for my generation (so why bother)”. ”It is plenty of oil”. ”If we start using complete continuous gear boxes, the engine will be so small that we get to little heat in the car”. Nonsense I have been confronted with. I often meet priggishness over the existing technologies that it is no reason for at all.
During recent years I have had close contact with the milieu that educates computer experts. I have therefore been able to study the great differences in the way of thinking between the education milieu for computer experts and the education milieu for mechanical and technological experts. In the computer milieu the people at all times try to use all their cleverness to manage to obtain new solutions. In the technical and mechanical milieu they use all their effort to find reasons for why new solutions will not work so they can stick to the old. And still they whimper over that mechanical education do not appeal to young people? If you want to modernize the present technological education by changing it from the inside I do not believe it is possible. The conceited attitude about how fantastic the technical products they make are will then be carried into the new education and we achieve nothing. The former French president wished to make a new university, which should act as an agency for new innovations and technology. Look what happened. When the old universities got influence in the process, the whole thing boiled down to a cooperation project between existing technical universities.
If the politicians wishes new technology that consumes less resources and that emits less CO2 in the future they must in my opinion adopt drastic measures and establish new technological educations independent of the old universities. Then they can get a new, more critical and less conceited attitude to the present mechanical products, like the engines, the cars, the trucks, the ships, the airplanes etc. I am convinced that if the politicians do this, then the young people again will seek to the technological education, because technological products really is some of the most important products that exist. As long as the youth are obliged to only adjust the old technical products their grandparents made this is to boring for the young people and therefore too many stay away from this type of education.  Then the present technological education institutes can improve by adopting new attitudes or be phased out. I then believe that such out-phasing will happen, but I may be surprised. Because, one thing is for sure: The world must get a new generation technicians with quite another innovative attitude or else the environment will be destroyed.
Which of these two types of persons I have described are you, by the way? Are you the one that like improvements and are willing to fight for it or are you the type who only tries to find problems with new products in order to keep the old. This, you can easily figure out now through a couple of minutes thinking of how you reacted when you read about the car in this article. For your sake I hope you are the first type, because else you have a lot of frustration ahead, while you fight to keep to injurious and old fashioned technology because that fighting for the old technology is doomed to fail.

Contact

If you are interested or have views, you can contact us on email:flacar@fladby.com.

© Tron-Halvard Fladby/ 2007.08.13