The Race For The Future Car

2009 ,    » 52 Comments

The Race For The Future CarWith rising temperatures and rising gas prices, cars need to become greener fast. And superficially, the large car manufacturers seem to work hard to improve the fuel efficiency of their products.

But are they really? The technology to make cars much more fuel efficient already exists for decades, but it never makes it to the showroom. Why do we have to wait so long for fuel efficient vehicles?

According to Vijay Vaitheeswaran, reporter for The Economist and author of Zoom, the global race for the fuel of the future, the large manufacturers lack the power of real innovation.

A lot of money is spent of development of new models, but very little is spent on real research on new fuels and new ways to propel the car of the future. Meanwhile, the large car manufacturers are lobbying hard to block regulation on fuel efficiency.

But innovation is happening in the car industry. Several small companies are working hard on cars that are much more fuel efficient, or that work on other fuels than gas.

Some of those compete in the X-prize, a new initiative which will result in a race for the most fuel efficient car next year. Competitors include electric cars, hybrid cars and even a car that runs on compressed air.

All of these competitors create cars that will be ready for production soon, and that will create a real threat to the large manufacturers.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 7.60/10 from 40 users.

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52 Comments / User Reviews

  1. SmoTh

    Moral of the story: Money is only a barrier for progress.

  2. lakhotason
  3. lakhotason

    Why does the Swedish Chef keep interrupting?

  4. lakhotason
  5. lakhotason

    All this for a machine that sits unused for 95% of its life. Why not a "Race for the Future Non-car"? Otherwise we're just whistlin' past the graveyard.

  6. windship
  7. windship

    The basic conundrum is that the planet cannot afford 2+ billion private automobiles no matter how efficient they become. It's a form of transportation luxury that came about in the golden years of the oil industry, but we may have to do without them as energy and resources get depleted, and all the hidden costs and subsidies are included from cradle to grave, from road infrastructure to design of suburbia. And then there's Roadkill, the numbers are just horrific.

  8. Rick Kiriakidis
  9. Rick Kiriakidis

    Corporate greed will always win over innovations that dont profit them.

    The ONLY thing I had a problem with was the guy who was praising electric cars, which is better than gas, but if everyone started driving an electric car that would pretty much spike consumption of electricity and right now most of our electricity comes from coal and gas, until alternative renewable electricity is greatly improved, electric cars aren't THAT great of an ECO friendly choice!

  10. PaulGloor
  11. PaulGloor

    Ideally, if the use of electric cars increases, the technology that drives them will increase pace. Energy storage, solar collection, etc etc. I heard somewhere, a theory that carbon nano-tubes can help to improve battery technology by leaps and bounds.

  12. oQ
  13. oQ

    This doc has been here a whole day and Achems hasn't commented? Darn have you lost all interest in cars?

  14. PaulGloor
  15. PaulGloor

    The future 'Non-car' has been done again and again with concept cars that never see even limited production. The companies hold them before our eyes 'Look, shiny, new, we innovate' hoping we will be jaded by the nonsensical delivery of these technologies, and I think its working.

  16. Achems_Razor
  17. Achems_Razor

    Lost interest in cars? lol that's a good one, have not watched this doc yet.

    Have not lost interest in cars, but I think big, the car of my dreams is a "Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport"
    Only a couple of million dollars. Good gas mileage...3 miles per gallon at peak performance lol.

  18. wald0
  19. wald0

    You said "I heard somewhere, a theory that carbon nano-tubes can help to improve battery technology by leaps and bounds."

    Yes, you heard right- A battery created by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated an increased capacity for charge by roughly a third and a power output 10 times higher, for its size, than what is expected of a conventional rechargeable lithium battery using carbon nanotube technology. MY hero, Paula Hammond (professor of chemical egineering at MIT), helped to re-create the positive end of a conventional lithium ion battery called the cathode out of layered, commercially available, carbon nanotubes- and viola a ten fold increase in power output and a charge capacity increase of one third. The research team I work with is now trying to adapt the technology to power a unit which breaks down CO2 into commercially viable carbon and oxygen, a tall order indeed as this is a notoriousley inefficient reaction consdering the bonds that hold the molecule together. Oh, and the fact that the unit needs to recharge via solar power in order to be effective- otherwise we would create more CO2 than we broke down powering the device. Anyone interested can read all about the new battery technology at scientificamerican dot com. Anyone interested in the research I work on can read up on it by checking out the Bevill State Community college website BSCC dot edu. The answer exists already guys, we just have to get around this obscene need for profit!!

  20. magarac
  21. magarac

    And it could still be better for the environment than an electric car just depending on how many miles you would use the veyron per year.

  22. User_001
  23. User_001

    Dang man, I thought this might have been a story about the Eco-Marathon.

    VICE, I really hope you are reading this.

  24. Friso Woudstra
  25. Friso Woudstra

    Nice doc, there were some Dutch spoken word passages (which I can understand), but most of the doc is in English.

  26. Rick Kiriakidis
  27. Rick Kiriakidis

    Yes, but until that day we're still stuck with coal and gas. Battery technology IS being heavily researched right now especially for mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops. Its not the electric car that is hindering progress of battery tech.

  28. Jay Hockman
  29. Jay Hockman

    I agree with Rick, we still have wait until the industry kicks off! thanks for the input.

  30. SFXkilla
  31. SFXkilla

    You know its funny Im not an inventer or anything like that. But I am good with my hands and think alot about physics. Even me just your average guy and I have been drawing up different geometrys for electric motors for harvesting back EMF. The point im trying to make is that the message IS out. People average poeple lots of them are on the job now and I think thats the way to find the initial spark for the ideas that we need so badly. I'm hopeful anyway :)

  32. lakhotason
  33. lakhotason

    You misinterpret my comment. I am speaking of a future with no cars. Automobiles were a bad idea from go and regardless of how you dress it up a bad idea remains a bad idea.

  34. Luyang Han
  35. Luyang Han

    It makes me laugh when heard about 374 mpg with such a crap, another urban legend. My car's console also tells me sometimes that I have 0 L/100km, for few seconds, but of course not because I have a super car.

  36. lakhotason
  37. lakhotason

    Reminds me of a John Hiatt song.

    "I'm not talking about retreating little girl
    gonna make our stand in this Chevy (VW) van.
    Windows open on the rest of the world
    holding hands all the way to Dixieland.
    C'mon baby drive South."

  38. lakhotason
  39. lakhotason

    374 mpg if you can manage to get it started.

  40. PaulGloor
  41. PaulGloor

    Point taken, but there will always be a need for powered mobility. HPVs like bikes, trikes etc can only get you so far when you have a large amount of goods/refuse to move. Suffice to say, our cities of a million plus would be neigh impossible. On the plus, the local community would really start to matter to people.
    If you go back to animal transportation, you incur the wrath of streets paved with manure, in the rain, or worse... in the winter.
    The auto remains a good idea along with all the other inventions that drive our society forward, but its implementation leaves much to be desired.

  42. lakhotason
  43. lakhotason

    Well that's a poor argument. You are assuming that automobiles are the only device that can move goods and that the only alternative is animal transportation or bicycles and such. Why would you assume that?

  44. giacoo
  45. giacoo

    What about the air car? It runs on compressed air!

  46. lakhotason
  47. lakhotason

    And how much energy is required to compress the air?

  48. PaulGloor
  49. PaulGloor

    What are you referring to then specifically as the bad idea ? the personal auto, the gasoline/diesel engine ? and what other means are there to move goods ?
    My mind cries for enlightenment :)

  50. PaulGloor
  51. PaulGloor

    Built around 40 years ago means its most likely throttle as opposed to injection and relies on mechanical timing and vacuum pressure. Systems that are not without substantial quirks.

  52. lakhotason
  53. lakhotason

    The automobile is a bad idea. What can be worse than a machine that sits idle for 95% of the time yet in that 5% of activity causes the damage that it does?

  54. lakhotason
  55. lakhotason

    Yes I would agree that being unable to start is a quirk.

  56. citalotus8
  57. citalotus8

    How can you say cars are bad? Your able to watch this video because someone who works for this site drove to work lol we just need new forms of clean energy. This isn't so much a technical problem as it is a social and economical problem. The problem is massive scale remodeling of our current system and its being held back year after year by the same companies who don't want to loose their precious grip on the world.

  58. KsDevil
  59. KsDevil

    I always thought that innovation in mobile transportation has been focused too greatly on the high end user and using exagerated stylization that scares most people away.
    I think it might be better if some innovative group could focus on manufacturing for the commuter (2 passenger plus storage) mass market. Smaller, cheaper commuters cars that simulate the American sensability of style.
    Then marketing them to the lower end customer as having your cake and eating it, too. The American 2-car garage with an SUV/truck and a sexy looking small commuter car.
    The vast majority of cars on the highway are individuals going to work. Only a small number are actually 'work' or 'recreation' vehicles (trucks and SUV's).

  60. lakhotason
  61. lakhotason

    How can I say automobiles are a bad idea? I can give you reason after reason but one thing stands above all others. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the USA*. Think of that for a moment.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  62. John Jacquard
  63. John Jacquard

    wow such a race huh? we have nano tech, yet we are using vehicles one step up from a steam engine train.

  64. John Jacquard
  65. John Jacquard

    and with the tech we have, we could put a 25 cent computer chip that prevents vehicles from hitting each other

  66. John Jacquard
  67. John Jacquard

    very intelligent outlook thumbs up!

  68. John Jacquard
  69. John Jacquard


  70. John Jacquard
  71. John Jacquard

    maybe instead of focusing on ipads and 100 dollar 50 inch tvs we could work together to create low cost electric cars

  72. John Jacquard
  73. John Jacquard

    if everyone stopped buying and using these polluting ancient crap we could move beyond take some responsibility even though it's not easy

  74. Jason Aaron Moran
  75. Jason Aaron Moran

    once cars drive themselves idling will be greatly reduced.

  76. lakhotason
  77. lakhotason

    Not idling, idle. As in parked.

  78. Jason Aaron Moran
  79. Jason Aaron Moran

    oh gotcha, stupid comment then...

  80. Jason Aaron Moran
  81. Jason Aaron Moran

    why are cars a bad idea and what is the alternative? I'm very interested in the future of transportation but I haven't seen anything that could replace them...

  82. ChefBryn
  83. ChefBryn

    Oil Companies asked the Major Car companies not to produce electric cars just yet. Technology is already here....

  84. Dennis Weglehner
  85. Dennis Weglehner

    Does anyone else call BS on the mileage claims for the old Opel?

  86. Bungaroosh
  87. Bungaroosh

    250 miles on $4 worth of electricity?
    3 hour full charge from a wall socket?
    And the only car on the road that can out-accelerate it is an Enzo Ferrari?
    I want a Tesla!!!
    I want a Tesla!!!

  88. UnderSiege
  89. UnderSiege

    That is probably true. EVs must eventually make ICEs obsolete.

  90. CapnCanard
  91. CapnCanard

    Yes. IMO, profit is the problem! When the greedy get their hands in the mix then all good sense is cast aside.

  92. CapnCanard
  93. CapnCanard

    these guys building a car from scratch is smoke and mirrors. Like saying that Hydrogen cars are ten years away when the car companies aren't really trying to do anything while they ignore the Al Ga idea--- But of course Al Ga has a problem of infrastructure as the alloy would have to made by many foundries to make Al Ga alloy available to the market. I suggest that it could be done in as little as 5 years but if profit is the only motivation then it isn't gonna happen.

  94. over the edge
  95. over the edge

    in the future please limit links to two per post. thanks

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