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Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1

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Bob Lacovara
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Bob Lacovara   9/13/2010 1:57:48 PM
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...con't... It is not merely in this context that a sort of wishful thinking is substituted for hard and cold facts. "The fossil record is has great gaps...as soon as we find the missing links, all will be proved." Agreed. In the meanwhile, the data is non-existent and it's only rational to act that way. "As soon as this new carburetor is perfected, we'll have 75 (100? 150?) mpg autos." Right. Don't hold your breath. "As soon as some manufacturing arrangements are worked out, 4 passenger general aviation aircraft will cost only twice (1.5, the same...) as a car." Yea. Right now, you can get a really nice 4 place airplane for about $75000 per seat, new. I doubt any technology will make the price decline significantly. The issue here is that although we can do all sorts of neat things, and more are found on a continuous basis, you are on thin ice when you shape your actions towards a particular innovation becoming reality in a specific, near time frame. Assign your priorities to demonstrable conditions, not hopes and wishes. On the other hand, if you do become good at these predictions, forget all this technology stuff, and settle down to the stock market.

Bob Lacovara
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Bob Lacovara   9/13/2010 1:57:30 PM
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Well now. I cannot say that I disagree with graduatesoftware. Except for one point, a tendency that surfaces from time to time in discussion. I agree most emphatically that a set of rational engineers, holding different weighing functions, or priorities, will usually arrive a differing solutions. Of course. And further, they will often understand how each arrived at his decision. Ok. But what needs to be watched carefully are statements of the form: "It is clear that hybrids and electric vehicles still require some significant sacrifices along certain axes of the optimization space. But this will almost certainly not always be the case." This isn't objectionable in itself, and is even plausible. However, I would not care to use the prediction that electric car technology will drastically improve. There's a name for a person who shapes their actions on the prediction of a desired future state: it's not "engineer" but "gambler". In other words, I will be willing to adjust my solution to my transportation problem when electric cars don't cost 1.4 times what an ICE vehicle costs, or go a little further than the corner store before needing an 8 hour charge. But until then, since these improvements do not exist, I have to sit tight with what I have, for the problem I have to solve every day. ...more...

graduatesoftware
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
graduatesoftware   9/13/2010 8:25:17 AM
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What everyone in this thread seems to miss is that the fundamental activity that we engineers perform can be described by a single word: optimization Furthermore, as engineers, we all know that the result of any multi-objective optimization depends entirely on the objective function which is to be optimized. For some in this discussion thread, the weighting is heavy on safety. Others, comfort. Still others, power, convenience, or cost of ownership. And for a few, the weighting is heavy on efficiency, environmental cost, sustainability, stewardship, or national security. The fact that all of the commenters in this group are not on the same page is simply a consequence of the subjective weights we carry. However, such a diverse set wouldn't even be possible if it weren't for the fact that technology has made it possible. Would safety even be on the table if it weren't reasonably affordable to boost safety? Likewise with power. And likewise with efficiency and sustainability. It is clear that hybrids and electric vehicles still require some significant sacrifices along certain axes of the optimization space. But this will almost certainly not always be the case. It should be obvious to all that the time evolution of the automotive space is extremely unlikely to drive harder toward internal combustion technologies and far more likely to drive toward some form of technology that involves electricity and electric motors. The rate at which the automotive space is driven toward some new norm may be too fast for some and not fast enough for others, but it's hard to ignore the fact that electricity-based vehicles are coming. Using our own U.S. based weighting (which is heavy on luxury, safety, and convenience), the rate would appear to be slow. But the people living in countries like China and India measure the problem differently and are likely to drive the solution space more radically and rapidly than we do in the U.S.

MrDave
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
MrDave   9/8/2010 9:03:51 PM
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Bob, Indeed. I get your point. We are in agreement.

Bob Lacovara
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Bob Lacovara   9/8/2010 8:35:05 PM
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MrDave, there's no doubt that using salt water in toilets would create more problems than it might solve. But in places where fresh water was at a premium, and salt water was readily available, one might consider using it. I am thinking of Caribbean islands... my point was more that although there are plenty of places where water might well be conserved because it's not in a long supply (California in places) there are others where its available almost without limitation (I am fortunate to have a well on the side of the Blue Ridge mountains, and no near neighbors). We must fit solutions to needs, and not "fix things that ain't broken", right?

MrDave
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
MrDave   9/8/2010 8:15:45 PM
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Bob: I am not thinking that salt water makes much sense in that it would corrode the working parts of the toilet fairly quickly. And we have enough trouble keeping the thing from running continuously... Besides, waht would the salt do to a water treatment plant? or to the septic tank biology? or the subsquent ground water?

Bob Lacovara
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Bob Lacovara   9/8/2010 5:43:40 PM
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MrDave (hey, did you change your handle?) I am in close agreement with you. To highlight your case, I'd like to point out what happened when the government decided that it could be a plumbing expert. Toilets using 5 or 6 gallons (20 to 25 liters) were to be flushed, and replaced with units that used 1 gallon. Sure. Ok... we live on a planet mostly covered with (salt) water (should be called Ocean, not Dirt), and we flush with sweet water... I acknowledge that some toilets are rather far from the ocean... but since we want our own toilet don't want to go to the Jersey shore to use one, we should probably not waste water. Ok. Trouble is, that for years the toilets designed for 1 gallon/flush didn't work very well. So what happened? Well, they got flushed more than once per use. Savings? I guess so, some. So, if Congress is going to mandate the 100 mpg carburator, I think they should tell us how to build it, too. In any event, I heartily concur with your notions. Engineers have made great strides in reducing the use of resources while maintaining functionality (LED lighting is coming along nicely, thank you) and these improvements are every bit a valid expression of engineering excellence as the first ideas for a new technology. Hm... rather far afield from hybrid cars. BTW, that transmission in the Prius is an act of genius whether or not a person likes the vehicle.

MrDave
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
MrDave   9/8/2010 5:17:41 PM
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Semiman_#1: I think that automotive engineers are putting forth a considerable effort to make sure that the air is breathable for us and our children. The air in cities today is much cleaner that what it was 20 years ago - thanks to engineers. Yes, the federal government made regulations but it was engineers that first said to the legislators that is could be done and then, made it happen. As in all engineering we look for and develop reasonable responses to problems. What we consider reasonable depends on what priorities we have and what resources we have available. Those priorities are based on what we beleive to be true. In your case, you think that the sky is falling... I am not so sure that the rest of us think that way. Maybe you could write an article on why you think the sky is falling. I would love to read it.

Bob Lacovara
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Bob Lacovara   9/8/2010 5:15:18 PM
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Semiman_#1: with respect, everything is about one or two things: money, or power. When little or no money is at stake, or little or no power, then people may or may not take the wider viewpoint. But once money enters the equation, and there's a value that can be assigned to an action, then most people weigh it very heavily. This is why capitalism works pretty well, and socialism works pretty poorly. In the former case you have an unambiguous metric to guide your actions; in the latter you are at sea. In the end, people mostly work to their own benefit, and that of their family. The people who invariably defer and work to the good of their fellow man we call saints. Saints do not make up a large voting block.

Jack.L
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re: Is there a future for hybrid vehicles? Part 1
Jack.L   9/8/2010 4:50:04 PM
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As an engineer, I lost a lot of respect for fellow engineers reading this reply. Everyone seems to be missing the point. This is not about money, it is about preserving the planet such that us and our children can enjoy it. Wrapping yourself in steel is not going to matter one bit if you can't breath the air. Think people! We cannot keep going the way we have been going.

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