As The Guardian reports, Germany’s world-class cadre of car designers are searching for the holy grail – a zero-emission car that wins over the world’s petrol heads. “There are so many concepts,” said one Audi executive. “We’re not sure what the customer is willing to pay for.” At the moment, even with oil prices soaring, the cost of a battery pack adds €10-15,000 to the cost of an electric vehicle, and even then it has a limited range.
“We’ve not yet gone far enough to break through with this technology,” said Audi. “People only change to new technology if they have all the benefits of the old plus something extra at the same cost. Progress is being made in reducing the weight of the car through carbon fibre, but the key to winning the hearts of motorists is coming up with a battery that lasts for the equivalent time of a tank of petrol.
While Renault-Nissan has led the way with its €27,000 Leaf, already on the market, with the cheaper Zoe to follow soon, BMW is the only manufacturer that has decided to design an electric car from scratch, building it around new electric components rather than converting existing conventional cars. Berlin’s Free University, meanwhile, has pioneered a “self-driving” car. It uses cameras, laser scanners, heat sensors and satellite navigation to sense other cars, pedestrians and physical obstacles. Professor Raul Rojas reckons the truly automatic car is the vehicle of the future. “The cars of today,” he said, “are the horses of yesterday.”
Read more on Guardian.co.uk
Can’t wait to see the car concepts of the future conquer the streets. Electro is good but has to be linked to renewable energy production (and storage!). My ideal? Sun power absorbing car roof material, making cars the long awaited environment friendly perpetuum mobile… House roofs, walls etc should make for a decent source, too. In the meantime I am happy to walk to the supermarket next door (instead of driving, something truly suspicious to my New Zealand neighbours). I also use the bus to work – an option not very obvious to most commuters over here either.
Picture credit: cliff1066TM, creative commons