The idea of the “high mileage” automobile is not new. There are lots of stories of fuel efficient carburators and fuel vaporizers that stretch back to the 1930s. Some of these inventions claimed to be able to achieve 100 mpg. In spite of the obvious market for such a vehicle, none of these methods have ever been offered to the public as part of a commercially available car.
Recently, the highest mileage automoblies have been available in Europe, but many of these models have been made “unavailable” in the USA due to inappropriate use of regulatory statutes. Multiple models of cars made by Volks Wagen and Renault, using “clean diesel” technology, can achieve up to 70 mpg. Instead, in the USA, we are offered Toyota Prius Hybrid models that achieve 50 mpg and told that this is the “state-of-the-art” in high mileage. This is not only absurd, it is a lie based on a short memory. Even the 1976 Diesel Rabbit, made by VW, achieved 65 mpg, without needing expensive “hybrid” designs.
So, the question arises, what is the best way to achieve a high mileage personal vehicle? There are many technologies available to achieve this. The following example is “one of many” possibilities.
The Answer Under Your Nose
A high performance, high mileage automobile can be achieved easily using just TWO well known, completely available technologies. An automobile that employs these technologies would OUTPERFORM and COST LESS than current designs.
So, how would you like a car that could accellerate from 0-to-60 mph in 5 seconds, achieve over 100 mpg of fuel at 70 mph, have 4 wheel drive and complete “off-road” capability, and be able to stop from 60-to-0 safely in under 7 seconds? How would you like to buy this awesome car for under $18,000?
The technology to build this vehicle is used every day, but NOT in the automotive industry. So, what am I talking about? Nothing more exotic that an “aero-dynamic” body design, a diesel-hydraulic drive train and a hydraulic suspension system.
Let’s start by discussing an “aero-dynamic” body design. The engineering parameters for this are used every day in the AIRPLANE industry. When trying to move a mass through the air quickly, the largest problem quickly becomes the resistance that the air itself presents. This is absolutely true of an automobile as well. At highway speeds, the largest factor that requires the vehicle to produce more power and consume more fuel is over-coming the resistance of the air it is trying to move through.
Airplane design has minimized this problem with a number of simple design features that include:
In an automotive design, this simply means that the front of the car should “part the air” with a slightly rounded front. The body should be smooth so that the air can flow over it without producing any turbulance. This means it should have a smooth, flat bottom, and no protruding mirrors, door handles, windshield wipers, or lights.
One home experimenter decided to find out just how much extra mileage his car could get by lowering the “Co-efficient of Drag” (Cd) of his car. His project is called the AeroCivic. For approximately $400 worth of modifications, he was able to DOUBLE his mileage, from 45 mpg to 90 mpg at highway speeds.
Now, here is a prettier car that is designed from the bottom up, using these principles. It’s called the Avion. Notice the basic aero-dynamic design features: smooth bottom,
There is nothing complicated or expensive about this design. The idea that the “automotive giants” don’t understand these principles is absurd, since they test every new body design in a wind-tunnel, and have for 20 years! They know how to do this, but they just DON’T!
If you are interested in the truth about the importance of aero-dynamics in automotive design, you can find out more about these cars at the following links:
Diesel-Hydraulic Drive Train
Once the air drag is handled, the real power needed to push a car down the road at highway speeds is no more than 30 horse-power. You need more than this to accellerate quickly, or climb hills, but the AVERAGE POWER requirements are about 30 horse-power.
In an automotive application, a diesel-hydraulic drive train would have a 30 HP diesel engine driving a hydraulic pump that stores hydraulic pressure in an accumulator. Ideally, the hydraulic accumulator would store enough energy to power the car for about 15 minutes. Each wheel of the car would have a hydraulic motor in the hub to both power the wheels and act as the breaking system.
This arrangement eliminates the need for a large engine, transmission, differentials and other heavy power delivery components. A large, high pressure, hydraulic accumulator does not have to weigh very much, and can be safely placed in the center-bottom of the car.
The suspension system is also hydraulic, so the total clearance under the car can be changed easily, to facilitate an “off-road” high profile or a highway low profile, at the touch of a button. In fact, the French Citroen has used a suspension system like this for decades.
In a fully integrated hydraulic automobile, the suspension system would also be used to “recycle” energy back into the hydraulic accumulator by converting the energy normally wasted by the shock absorbers.
One of the most sophisticated automotive drive trains based on these ideas has been developed by Ingo Valentin, and is pictured here:
The diesel engine and hydraulic pump arrangement are mounted in the front. The main “frame” of the car is the large hydraulic accumulator. The fuel tank straddles the back, as shown. Each wheel has more than 100 HP in the wheel hub, for “sports car” accelleration or rapid, emergency braking. For more information on this spectacular automotive drive train, please follow this link:
So, how unusual is a “diesel hydraulic” drive train? Remarkably, no more strange than the UPS truck delivering your packages! For more information on this, go to this link:
Is it “possible” to produce an automobile with an aero-dynamic body style and a diesel-hydraulic drive-train, like the one I am suggesting? Of course it is. All of these technologies currently exist and are used in other industries. In addition to these two, there are three other ideas that can easily contribute to raising the mileage of a car.
These include reducing the total weight of the car by using fiber/composite frames and panels. It is estimated that an integrated body and frame for an automobile can now be made for less than half the cost, weigh less than half as much, and be twice as strong as current models.
Two other technologies include the use of “super slippery” synthetic lubricants in the wheel bearings, to reduce rolling friction and the application of new types of coatings to the body of the car to reduce air friction even further.
Why haven’t the car companies built cars like this yet? The answer is more complicated, but probably includes “lack of imagination”, “unwillingness to try new ideas” until forced to, and other less flattering possibilities.
I know there are dozens of other excellent ideas available to make a better car. This page is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I am simply trying to make a point. A re-tooled automotive industry, making cars like this, could easily lift America out of its current economic down-turn, because everyone would want one of these cars!
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