Here are two examples of how auto industry leaders might finally be moving away from waste. That’s right, a new value is in town and those who demand quality are taking notice.
First of all, check out the age-old concept of reducing weight and excess in order to increase performance. Nothing really revolutionary here, except that these folks are taking conservation to a whole new level without sacrificing safety (I kind of like the fact that the title to their history page is misspelled and the source says it was created by a Macintosh — quirky but it makes them real). Porche and Corvette (e.g. the Z06) have been obsessing about reducing the weight in their designer profiles on a mostly superficial level (carbon fiber trim widgets look nice, but they are mostly band-aids) whereas this ultra-light exotic-killer is a revolution in engineering and powered only by a Honda civic engine:
Atom 2 power is from the new 2.0 Honda iVTEC engine now regarded as the best 4 cylinder production engine in the world. Featured in the Honda Civic and the Civic Type R the engine and gearbox combines Honda reliability, economic servicing and practical ownership. With the performance emphasis of the Atom geared towards acceleration and handling, the power to weight ration [sic] exceeds that of most supercars giving phenomenal performance and tracks times comparable with pure race cars.
Ah, but how many cup holders does it have? And when is the diesel version coming? Wrap a kevlar or nylon skin around that thing, like a canoe on wheels, and I’d drive it everywhere. Interesing that the alt tag on their main image is “No doors, No screen, No ignition key” but the image itself says “No doors, No screen, No roof”. This makes it seem a lot like a motorcycle with almost none of the risk.
The cost of a used Ariel is only about 25K pounds. With comparable performance to a Ferrari Enzo that costs about a half-million more, it seems like the difference between an A-Class Catamaran to a TP52. So instead of saying an A-Cat is the F1 of sailboats, I think it more appropriate now to call it the Ariel Atom 2. Incidentally, like the A-Cat the Ariel is not a new design but it has benefited greatly from advances in technology and many years of dedication by efficiency enthusiasts.
In other news it looks like BMW had a “duh, why weren’t we doing this already” moment at the end of last year.
The concept uses energy from the exhaust gasses of the traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to power a steam engine which also contributes power to the automobile â€“ an overall 15 per cent improvement for the combined drive system. Even bigger news is that the drive has been designed so that it can be installed in existing model series â€“ meaning that every model in the BMW range could become 15% more efficient overnight if the company chose to make the reduced consumption accessible to as many people as possible.
Combining the innovative assistance drive with a 1.8 litre BMW four-cylinder engine on the test rig reduced consumption by up to 15 percent and generated 10 kilowatts more power and 20 Nm more torque. This increased power and efficiency comes for, well, â€¦ nothing. The energy is extracted exclusively from the heat in the exhaust gases and cooling water so it is essentially a quantum leap in efficiency.
Funny, I haven’t heard or seen anyone with a BMW talking about their Turbosteamer technology. Is it real or just a gimmicky thing to market when people are getting antsy about efficiency and emissions? Also, apparently BMW researchers have not driven the Atom 2, or they might not be saying things like this:
â€œThis project resolves the apparent contradiction between consumption and emission reductions on one hand, and performance and agility on the other,â€? commented Professor Burkhard GÃ¶schel.
Or maybe if your vehicles were not clad with excessive padding and did not weigh as much as a herd of cattle you might not need so much consumption and emissions to push them around? Quiet and plush (the main sources of weight) cars are nice, do not get me wrong, but we all know that quiet and plush are not the primary objective of the BMW performance engineers. This paragraph from the Ariel site puts it nicely:
After 3 solid days of testing and against cars as varied as a Porsche Carrera 4S, Noble M400, Westfield Sport and Lotus Elise the Ariel Atom 245 has been voted as Track Day Car of the Year by Track and Race car Magazine. A five man test team including race drivers Michael Mallock and Stephen Colbert were unanimous in their decision summing it up by saying: ‘The Atom wins because as soon as soon as you get in it, it’s almost as if that unique chassis suddenly becomes some form of exoskeleton. It’s as if you’ve grown Dymag wheels instead of hands and feet and your heart’s been replaced by a two litre iVTEC. Nothing made you feel more involved, or connected to the circuit beneath you.’
Like I said, throw some ultralight skin on that thing, change the gearing and it would be an awesome commuter car. Then convert it to honda’s hybrid-diesel powerplant to make today’s cars look like they were from the era of horse and buggy.