By Mark Halper
Posting in Design
An amazing view on the future of transportation.
It will be just as environmentally friendly eight years from now to drive a car to work as it will be to take a train. That is, if you use the right car and sometimes share the ride with another person.
So says former Ford Motor Co. chief technical officer Richard Parry-Jones, who told a transportation conference in London last week that by 2020, the greenest cars on the market will rival electric trains for low per passenger CO2 emissions, the website Autocar reports.
"By 2020, the car industry is targeting just 40g/km of tailpipe carbon, which translates to 25g/km per passenger when the average number of occupants in cars - 1.6 - is factored in," the website writes in a summary of Parry-Jones' keynote speech to the Intelligent Mobility Summit.
"That's a remarkable development when you think that the typical average was 140g/km in 2000," Parry-Jones says in the story. The improvements will come through improvements in internal combustion engines as well as through electric and hybrid cars, the website Caradvice adds.
Whether Parry-Jones himself actually said cars will match electric trains, or whether that's Autocar's interpretation, isn't entirely clear. I'm seeking clarification.
The former top Ford engineer and group vice president is now head of the UK Automotive Council, a joint government/industry automotive body. You'd expect him to trumpet the future of cars.
But he walks a fine line: Parry-Jones is also the chairman-designate of Network Rail, the private company that maintains Britain's rail tracks.
In his keynote, Parry-Jones also predicted that intelligently networked cars that communicate with each other and with traffic management systems will facilitate smoother traffic flow in the future.
That was a major theme of the conference, addressed by government ministers and industry executives. More on that another time.
Photo from bisgovuk via Flickr.
May 2, 2012
I'm happy to have cars continue to be more efficient, but like other commentators I'm skeptical about the potential to match mass transit in terms of minimizing environmental impact. Besides the vehicle versus passenger weight consideration, there is engine and energy storage/delivery efficiency, and infrastructure - what is the impact of maintaining all the roads, building/replacing the cars etc. More efficient cars- yes, more effiicient or more desirable than the trains - I don't think so.
This is simply delusional propaganda on the part of the Auto/Oil/Sprawl Lobby which destroyed Green Transit in this country decades ago and is desperate to maintain US Auto Addiction at any cost. Independent personal cars weighing 2000 pounds carrying a 200 pound person are already operating at a 10% efficiency rate. Add to that the 30,000 deaths per year for cars as opposed to only a handful for Rail, hundreds of thousands of injuries per year, 12x the land wasted and constantly maintained for asphalt for Auto Addiction and there is no way personal cars/ Auto Addiction can be "Green". As Lester Brown has pointed out it takes a football field of asphalt for every 5 cars and the cost of asphalt has quadrupled in the last few years as we hit Peak Oil. As pointed out on http://theoildrum.com and other analyses the major obstacle to vehicle efficiency of any kind is wind resistance which is why only cars designed like the Prius can get maximal efficiency. Trains already have this builtin with train car following train car, they do NOT need very expensive and error-prone "intelligent navigation" because , wonder of wonders, 1 train car is already hooked to the next! Moreover there is no reason that train efficiency is stuck at current levels except that the Auto Addiction lobby is determined to preserve "Happy Motoring" at any costs and deny a single dollar to competition from Rail just as they waged the battle since 1922 to eliminate already existing Trolley and Rail systems all over the US. When will the Auto Addiction Lobby give it up and convert to being Green Transit companies creating the next generation Rail, LightRail, electrically powered trolleys and energy efficient buses and shuttles we need for the Green Transit.? Just as for years the US auto companies refused to build energy efficient personal cars now they are refusing to acknowledge that they need to get out of the personal car business which already reached its peak along with Peak Oil in 2005.
I hope it's true, but such predictions aren't awfully compelling when even hybrid technology that has been around for many years is still a small percentage of vehicle sales. There are several factors that will go into whether maximized efficiency will be realized at fleet levels, from consumer preference (power, size, safety, high comfort, and range on one or two fill-ups a week) to any extra up-front cost. And it'd be interesting to see if we're comparing apples to apples, in terms of efficiency. Won't a car of any substance have greater rolling resistance than a train? And all else being equal, how can 1.6 people taking up X cubic feet of space on a train with a single powerplant be as economical/low pollution than those 1.6 driving their own propulsion units (likely using some thermally-inefficient internal combustion if range anxiety persists)? Inquiring minds want to know. :-)