A couple of intriguing car innovations from my old homeland – both are deceptively simple:
An ETH professor is working on a pneumatic hybrid engine. It stores excess energy as compressed air instead of using batteries, which could make hybrid engines simpler and cheaper.
Rinspeed (a Zurich based Porsche dealer and tuner known for creating crazy concept cars in their spare time) has come up with an engine management solution for Fiat 500s that lets the driver switch between low horsepower/high MPG and high horsepower/low MPG modes. So you can just cruise along in 58 miles per gallon mode and when you feel like having a little fun you flip the switch to turn on an extra 100 horsepower.
One reply on “Swiss car news”
Sounds promising. Battery technology is definitely a stumbling block… they're huge, heavy, expensive, and they don't last long. Good luck selling your hybrid right before or anytime after the battery warranty expires… it's a $5,000 ticking time bomb.
Do you know anything about the comparative benefits of compressed air vs compressed hydrogen as energy transport mechanisms? They both seem pretty inefficient (not to mention dangerous).
Energy storage seems ripe for a breakthrough. It's astonishing to me how much our battery technology lags everything else.