By Guest Blogger Michael Shull
You have got to be kidding 100 Miles per Gallon, what I wouldn’t give for that day. Most of us probably feel this way but I will try to show you why it isn’t here and you might be surprised who all is to blame.
As an inventor and industrial designer I will attempt to give you a glimpse into my perspective as to the obstacles involved in this 40 year old goal. First thing a person like me does is closely examine how we use our vehicles and the data that that generates. Did you know that we are alone in our cars on average 71% of the time? Driving to our jobs or one of 1000 things we typically do in our cars and when you add 1 passenger it goes to 93% of the time. 93% of the time there are 2 occupants or less in our cars. Now if you were going to open a restaurant and your typical customers came in like the statistics in a typical automobile how many 8 people tables would you put in your place? Yet you love these types of vehicles apparently and the thought, according to the automobile companies, of something less is tat amount to pulling teeth.
These vehicles dominate any car lot and it should be obvious why the “Family Vehicle” is so dominate in our psyche; it’s been around for about 100 years. I also came to the realization that all other vehicles on the roadways are designed for a specific purpose and are utilized to their full potential. Tractor-trailers, dump trucks, delivery trucks and work vans need to be efficient to justify their expense. Car pooling and mass transit, in there current forms, only work in isolated cases so what is your suggestion? When was the last time your family all piled into a car and went anywhere? Unless you’re a very young family it doesn’t happen. The fact of the matter is we rarely use our vehicles like that anymore and the car companies have known it for years. We buy vehicles for very different reasons but to fill it up with riders is not a big consideration.
The automobile companies, not to mention their suppliers, hate the thought of a small vehicle too. They have learned over the years that “SIZE IS PERCEIVED VALUE”. They have slowly but surely sized these things up knowing there margins improve when they do. Did you think the Hummer was a fluke that caught on somehow? These things weigh almost 4 tons and many vehicles like that do. Do you remember those Pintos, Comets and Gremlins of the past that were styled purposely to be inexpensive looking? There had to be a noticeable difference between their full size vehicles and these things they were almost forced to make. It will take nothing short of World War III to get the automobile companies to voluntarily make a small, well styled, nicely featured vehicle.
They know that right now when you think of a small car your mind goes back to those days. They rarely even talk about one in concept cars because they do not want to go there. The average person has trouble visualizing a product of any kind in there minds so if you can’t picture it you won’t want it. How can there be a product that will work 93% of the time that is not in the market place? I challenge you to find another product that works 93% of the time that isn’t there. The easiest way to raise gas mileage is to reduce the size of the vehicles. They talk of hydrogen and electric and everything else but those products are years away from practicality. Size is rarely talked about because they do not want to go there. The average person is approximately 6 cubit feet and the average car, not SUV but car, is 350 cubit feet. It’s like shipping a coffee pot off in a box that is sized for your refrigerator. Drive down any side street in America where there is parking allowed on the street and see what a fiasco it is when a car is coming at you from the other direction.
Those oil companies are making a killing too wouldn’t you say? Well let’s just see. According to my statistics the oil companies make 4% back on there investment so where does all the money go? Taxes make up 15% of the price of gasoline so now where do you point your finger? If cars got 100 MPG gasoline taxes would drop by 75 to 80 percent. If you, auto companies, oil companies and the government have no incentives you can start to see the problem. Volkswagen has been working on a car they call the X L1 for 10 years now that holds only 2 people and gets well over 200MPG but have you seen it? It was supposed to come out in 2011 but I haven’t seen it yet. Now the Smart car is available but I don’t want to know its price and I do not like how short and toy like it looks.
After I heard the statistics I sighted in the first part of this paper in 2006 I started designing a car that has the passenger behind the driver but the passenger is slightly offset from the driver with a clear view of the road. I did not like the thought of the passenger stuffed behind the driver like the XL1. This vehicle would get 100 MPG and I named it PV 1 (Personal Vehicle 1) but what can I do. The Tesla in California was started with $250 million and the CEO said later if he had it to do again he would not have considered it with less than $500 million. Can approximately 30 world manufacturers of automobiles all not have a small, safe, well styled, reasonably accessorized personal vehicle that sells for $15,000.00? The average price of a vehicle today is $29,000.00 so you tell me who’s to blame.
A vehicle like this would be approximately 4 feet wide and 12 feet long as opposed to current cars that are 6 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet long. It would weigh approximately 2500 pounds opposed to current vehicles that weigh close to twice that. This vehicle would be as tightly sealed as a clam shell and the inside padded like a football helmet. Safety would be an absolute priority but styling would be also. It’s funny to me when people talk to me about safety in a vehicle like this but if a friend of yours stopped by some weekend on a motorcycle, you would probably jump on that bike and ride it like it was stolen. This vehicle would be safer then any motorcycle ever made but the reason you might ride that bike is because your familiar with it and this car your not. This vehicle would revolutionize the automobile for the first time in 100 years; it needs to be done properly. Can you imagine a car that you could actually put in your garage? I am trying to replace our family vehicles with what our vehicles actually are “PERSONAL VEHICLES”.
Now let’s review. The automobile manufacturers say you don’t want it and it’s obvious that they do not want to make it and the government would loose a fortune in taxes so who is left to want this car? This is how almost everything in this country works. Years ago someone coined the phrase “Follow the Money” and nothing is truer. “We the people “ have little to say about anything anymore and “term limits” is a perfect example, so if you’re not used to it yet just settle back and go for a ride. They’ll get you there; you’ll just be close to broke when you do. The next time you are stopped at long red light turn around and take a look at your back seat and beside the things you threw back there years earlier you might, if you look real hard, find your ego. It’s there; you just have to open your eyes.
P.S. Warning! Now that you know how the so called “FAMILY VEHICLE” is really used you might find yourself at stoplights checking out the occupancy of the cars around you. I do not know how long this affliction will last. I have been doing it for 6 years now, sorry.