Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Future of Vehicles

As we move into 2009 and 2010, a paradigm shift will occur within U.S. policy, whereby the U.S. will focus extensively on its environmental and energy challenges. The transportation sector will likely garner the greatest attention. Focus will be placed on the serious reduction in petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by vehicles. Within the transportation sector, light duty fleet vehicles should produce the highest and fastest ROI for this forthcoming U.S. policy shift. Phasing in gasoline hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) shows the greatest immediate and long-term promise. Phasing out older fleet vehicles will, however, take some time. FastSkinz™ drag reducing technology can help the new U.S. policies reach their goals. FastSkinz drag reducing technology can be utilized both on existing fleets and with future HEVs,PHEVs and BEVs. FastSkinz drag reducing technology is immediately available and very scalable.

Presently Circumstances: Currently, light duty vehicles in the U.S. are almost totally reliant (97%) on petroleum. An “energy security” issue arises because sixty percent (60%) of that petroleum is imported and data shows that this percentage is rising annually. The U.S. GHG problems run parallel with its energy security problem. The U.S. is estimated to contribute 25% of the total worldwide GHG, with approximately 33% coming from the transportation sector and of which 40% comes from light duty vehicles. FastSkinz drag reducing technology can improve fuel economy in current, light duty internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by an average of 15%-20% and upwards of 25% for future light duty HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs.

Transportation Policy & Their Challenges: Reducing vehicles miles traveled (VMT) and reducing a vehicles rolling resistance (VRR) are two important transportation policy initiatives that could be quickly implemented and yield significant reduction in the use of petroleum and GHG. But for the present economic circumstances, both policy initiatives have been extremely challenging to implement and maintain. VMT as tied to transportation is viewed as inelastic and hard to police on a large scale. VRR to date has been focused on reducing vehicle size, which in the view of the consumer, negatively affects safety and comfort, both of which have been sold to them as key decision factors for years. FastSkinz drag reducing technology can immediately accomplish VMT through “negative consumption.” FastSkinz drag reducing technology accomplishes VRR without crossing safety and comfort issues, thus giving automobile makers more time to properly market (i.e. sell) smaller/lighter vehicles as safe and comfortable--concepts which presently maybe counter intuitive. By accomplishing VMT and VRR, FastSkinz drag reducing technology helps further important transportation policy that to date has been virtually unattainable.

CAFÉ Standards and Legacy Vehicles Burden: Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards were enacted in the 1970s. Fuel economy standards initially rose. In the late 1980s, they plateau. Today, as compared to advances in engine technology, they have technically decreased because a vehicle’s power and weight has remained constant with engine improvement. In the future, a vehicle’s power and weight will be decupled from engine technology and fuel economy will again rise dramatically. However, all current vehicles (which will take years to replace) will become a legacy burden. FastSkinz drag reducing technology works on all vehicles and thus will greatly reduce the legacy burden of the current stock of vehicles which many claim will be viewed as relicts in the future. FastSkinz drag reducing technology can help to accelerate the raising of the CAFÉ standards by increasing the number of vehicles (old and new) that can meet the higher standards.

HEVs, PHEVs & BEVs are the future, maybe: By all indications both types of technologies have the strongest chance of replacing current day ICE vehicles. HEVs will utilize low energy/lower powered batteries (at present day best represented by Nickel-Metal hydride technology) and PHEV & BEVs will utilize high-energy/high-power batteries (at present day best represented by lithium-ion technology). There will be many challenges for both these types of vehicles, chief among them scalability and lifecycle durability respective to battery technology. Scalability will render Nickel-Metal Hydride obsolete, leaving the key long term issue to be lifecycle durability. Lifecycle durability of a battery is the Achilles’ heel of HEV, PHEV & BEV technologies because it directly affects storage of energy. Lifecycle durability of a battery is also a true unknown because no HEV, PHEV or BEV has been in existence under real world condition for any significant period of time. What is known is that hybridization (i.e. tuning through technology blending) of these new vehicles will help to maximize lifecycle durability of their respective battery technology. FastSkinz drag reducing technology has already shown a 25% increase in fuel efficiency during “rolling field tests” on the premier BEV in existence today. This high increase in fuel economy represent a corresponding load reduction on the batteries, thus positioning FastSkinz drag reducing technology to be a strong hybridization component for future vehicles. Equally important is it’s immediately availability.

Factoring in the GRID: The electric grid (the GRID) is where PHEVs and BEVs will derive their electricity from. PHEVs and BEVs have the higher ROI for the U.S. energy policy over the next 30 years, when it is hoped that fuel cells (e.g. hydrogen) will be a mature enough replacement technology. Fossil-fuels (e.g. coal) are likely to remain a key fuel source powering the GRID through the hydrogen area. Accordingly, it is important to see how hybridization of PHEVs and BEVs can help set in motion the optimization of GRID use. One of the goals of hybridizing future PHEVs and BEVs will be increasing the PHEVs and BEVs range beyond general driving cycle range (presently set to be between 30-40 miles roundtrip) without increase load or battery pack size of the PHEVs and BEVs. By increasing the range in this manner, GRID use can be optimized faster. As well, anticipated increase of GRID use can be scaled in a more balanced manner because ultra efficient ranged extended PHEVs and BEVs can more consistently be charged during non-peak times (i.e. late at night). FastSkinz drag reducing technology can help transform future PHEVs and BEVs into ultra efficient ranged extended PHEVs and BEVs and thus help to optimize GIRD use. Optimizing GRID at the start of this technology boom will have the greatest long term effect on the reduction of GHG.