The Ergosphere
Friday, October 07, 2005

Immediate responses: Revive the PNGV

Up until about 4 years ago, the USA had a program to develop ultra-high mileage vehicles.  The goal of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) was to produce full-size passenger cars achieving 80 miles per gallon.  Prototypes such as Chrysler's ESX-3 were achieving 72 MPG at a projected cost premium of roughly $3500.  Delivery of the first production models was set for 2008-2009.

This program, on which about a billion dollars had been spent, was cancelled by the Republican majority.  As a consolation prize, we got... another research program, but aimed at hydrogen vehicles.  This effort is not projected to yield cost-competitive vehicles for another 15 years or more, and the viability of hydrogen vehicles is questionable when natural gas (the cleanest feedstock) is plummeting in production and skyrocketing in price.

There ought to be a groundswell of support for bringing back the PNGV.  Amazingly, there are people involved in the energy discussion who have never heard of it.  This boggles my mind.

The PNGV could have been a strike, but it was mis-thrown by the right and wound up as a gutter ball.  Is it time for a letter-writing campaign to our legislators, newspapers, and others to at least try for a spare?

Labels: ,

"full-size passenger cars achieving 80 miles per gallon."

OK. That is very interesting, but can they do it. A Honda Insight gets 65 mpg, but it is not what I would call full-sized. Is it even theoretically possible to get that kind of mileage?
The ESX-3 achieved 72 MPG back in 2001, so there's an existence proof for being able to get within 10%.

I'm of the opinion that 80 MPG is feasible, with the caveat that it's on the old EPA driving cycle.  IIRC, the trick is that the engines in the PNGV cars are not just diesels, but adiabatic diesels with turbocompounding.  The greater energy content of diesel fuel and the greater efficiency of the engine puts 80 MPG (and perhaps more) within reach.
You have to wonder how much cheaper and efficient these exhaust turbines would be coupled to an electric generator rather than mechanical linkages.
I agree that the PNGV approach should be pushed, big time.

That said, I'll be a little of a skeptic and say that this car was pretty close to the Prius territory (in size and mpg). Of course, that just reinforces the story that often goes with these vehicles - that we essentially invented the Prius and did not follow through.


"DaimlerChrysler officials said that, while the first version of this car, ESX, carried a huge $60,000 cost penalty versus a conventional car and that ESX2 reduced that cost penalty to about $15,000, ESX3 would carry only about a $7500 cost penalty if produced in quantity for sale to the public. That would translate to an MSRP of about $28,500."

I'd say the ESX3 looks pretty Prius sized, and is pretty Prius cost. The difference between their claimed and Prius actual mpg might be the standard pre-release fluff. Detroit always overpromises.
If you look at the front and the interior, the car appears much wider than a Prius; it seems to be in full-size or at least mid-size territory.  OTOH, I see that I misremembered the cost premium.  (I wonder how much of that was due to Li-ion batteries, and would be much smaller today?)
Camaros and Mustangs used to weigh the same, without looking it ;-), but it is conjecture ... until we convince Daimler-Chyrsler to put one on the market.

BTW, I bet they don't get 72 mpg with the meaty tires shown. Anybody who puts fat tires on a Prius takes a hit.
A couple more ESX-3 links:

The Intrepid ESX should be able to get the claimed fuel mileage figures. Compared to the Prius, it's running a turbocharged, tubrocompressed diesel versus Prius' gasoline engine. Also the ESX-3 had a curb weight of 1020 kg versus 1320 kg for the Prius.

I don't know how large the battery pack for the ESX-3 was but the ESX-1 was carrying 180 lbs. of Pb-acid batteries.

The 2nd link I posted contains this warning that I skipped over to get to the stats:

"Evan Boberg, in his book Common Sense Not Required: My Career With Chrysler, wrote that none of the hybrid vehicles described here lived up to the specifications given by Chrysler."
Interesting note regarding the book, but nothing states how badly the claims miss the truth.

A full-size car which got 60 MPG, or even 50 MPG, would be a huge improvement over the status quo.  Given what consumers are willing to pay for an SUV to haul people, even a $7500 premium might well be acceptable a couple years from now.
I did a bit of poking around, and found this list of claims:

Chrysler ESX3:  72 MPG
Ford Prodigy:  > 70 MPG
GM Precept:  80 MPG diesel-electric, 108 MPG fuel cell.

If the ESX3's performance was greatly overstated, it was either just an attempt to keep up or a shared delusion.
I found this while surfing today:

it is a much more fun way to get 100 mpg.

You may remember my old post on a "peak oil dream car" ... it turns out caterham was working on one as I typed:

I'm going to blog this tomorrow, but I thought you might be amused here ... with respect to "advanced techology" vs. "retro" for high mpg.
" Is it time for a letter-writing campaign to our legislators, newspapers, and others to at least try for a spare?"

I'd say yes! Forget fuel cells and EVs, in the short-term, increased performance IC engines are so much more feasable if we actually want to see a real reduction in our transport fuel consumption.
I don't understand. If the companies have working prototypes, why do they need gov't funding to develop them? Can you elaborate?
Funding (properly used) will accelerate development.  A company which grows by capital accumulation is going to grow more slowly than one which sells stock, issues debt or gets grants.  In the case of systems which have large economies of scale or are competing with others which have such economies, a lot of money may be required to get things going.

What's really important is for government NOT to provide unfair competition for the developing technology (subsidies, mandates, or preferences for counterproductive systems).
I am still very skeptical. I found some of the materials that the other commenter found. Interested readers should checkout this article from the SAE.

One thing that struck me is the claim that the ESX3 weighed 1020 Kg. The SAE article says they used light weight plastic. It does note the special seats. Did the thing have a roof liner? spare tire? etc.

The lightest weight production car (not a mini or smart car) that I know of is the Audi A2, which is not imported. I found a spec sheet It weighs 990 Kg. But it is not a big car at all. It is 150' long (Mini Cooper 140) and caries 4 passengers. The A2 is made out of aluminum and has a CDx of 0.25. The A2 is powered by a 1.4L diesel, non-hybrid, and is rated at (EU) 49/74 mpg ( the numbers on the site are imperial). I wonder how much you could improve those numbers by hybrid technology. 25% for the urban cycle?

The A2 is a very nice little car, but its size class has never been accepted in the US. Further it is really kind of slow for American traffic, although it might be ideal for an urban runabout.

A "Full size" car, i.e. one that is about 200' or 5 M long is going to be a lot heavier. The lightest car in that class is the Jaguar XJ which is all aluminum and weighs ~3700 lbs. (~1700 Kg). The all aluminum Audi A8 weighs 500 lbs more and is 100 lbs more than the Mercedes S. Part of the extra weight is the Audi's 4 wheel drive system.

My 2002 Honda Accord, which is a mid-sized car (and perfectly adequate for most uses) weighs ~3000 lbs ~1360 Kg. In all aluminum you might be able to get it down to 1200 Kg, but you would need a more powerful motor than the A2 or the ESX3 to make it attractive.

All of this is flopping around in the dark. We need to understand what the fundamental physics and economics of this project are. How heavy does a an automobile of a given size have to be (and yes insulation and air-conditioning are mandatory)? How much energy does it need to take it around a typical days worth of driving? What are the realistic possibilities for an engine? how efficient can it be?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I will wager that Audi and Honda a pretty close to the edge of the practical.

As a final note we should remember that just as important as efficiency is the miles driven. That in turn is a function of land use patterns, school systems and other political issues.
Good links there.

Ultralight construction tends to use panels of strong skins over a foam or honeycomb core.  This also insulates; it's the "secret" behind Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's).  Stiffness goes way up too.

Mileage is an issue, but I don't think that it's going to kill anything if a car that pleases the masses only gets 60 MPG instead of 80.  The real radical improvement is going to come from plug-in hybrid systems, and it may even be worth sacrificing some of the weight savings to incorporate the larger batteries required.  A car that only gets 60 MPG running on the sustainer but covers 75% of its mileage on energy from the grid gets an effective 240 MPG; compared to that, a boost from 60 MPG to 80 is small change.

Bigger batteries allow bigger motors (more power without using the engine) and better regeneration.  These things cascade.

I'll wager that Audi and Honda have a notion of "practical" which is tied mighty closely to profits.  If they'll make more money shaving a bit of economy for some cost reduction here or a bit more customer appeal there, they'll probably do it.  Decisions like these are driven by market conditions; change customer demand and you'll change the kind of car you'll get.

Unfortunately, land-use patterns, telecommuting and the like are beyond the scope of the auto designer's job.
I think two recent breakthroughs might help existing hybrids break the 80 MPG goal in the short term. The first is Toshiba's nanotech-enhanced batteries, which drastically reduce recharge time. Use this technology in a hybrid and you can modify the control system to allow for more regenerative braking recharge energy and longer discharge. The second would a MIMA-type improvement to the hybrid control system that would allow the driver to manually optimize fuel economy.
OT, but I'm curious about your response to this comment to a post over at TOD.
OK, let's try this again.

This is where the comment is.
I strongly encourage you to mail me with such things instead of posting OT in threads.  Mail's in the sidebar for just that purpose.
check this out
you have fallen prey to lies
check this out:

you have sucked up some lies
Post a Comment

<< Home
Talk largely about energy and work, but also politics and other random thoughts

Mail Engineer-Poet

(If you're mailing a question, is it already in the FAQ?)

Important links

The Reference Library

Blogchild of

Armed and Dangerous

Blogparent of


The best prospect for our energy future:
Flibe Energy

January 1990 / February 2004 / March 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / August 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / April 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / February 2015 / April 2015 / October 2015 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / February 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / September 2017 / October 2017 / November 2017 / March 2018 / May 2018 / June 2018 / October 2018 / December 2018 / January 2019 / March 2019 / June 2019 / October 2019 / November 2019 / March 2020 / June 2020 /

Powered by Blogger

RSS feed

Visits since 2006/05/11: