Car design vs Environmental Efficiency

Is the current development path for our cars really the correct one?

Ill start off with an admission here, I’am a massive fan of all things petrol powered. Cars, bikes, boats, it it has an engine I’m all over it.

Ive driven brand new cars, Ive driven cars which were over 50 years old and depending on where in the world ive been for work, ive spent a large amount of time in cars.

I think though that we are at a crossroads of what a car needs to be for a consumer vs what it needs to be for the environment.

Year over year the tech development in cars is phenomenal, especially in the last 10 years. However this development comes at a price. Our cars are getting more efficient sure, but they are also getting heavier and thats an issue.

A car that is so rammed full of electric gizmos and technology is heavy, if it’s heavier than necessary its not as efficient as it could be, it puts more load on tyres, rubber suspension components and the road system.

That leads to more road repairs, more tyres that need to be both manufactured and disposed of and more small components of a car that need to be changed over its lifetime, which all puts a strain on the environment which is not nessecary.

Ive been giving this a lot of thought, I like electric cars that are being developed now but are they as efficient as they could be? I argue that like their petrol and diesel counterparts there is room for improvement.

So what’s the issue? Well what if i told you that an average hatchback type car is over 150kgs heavier than it was 20 years ago?

Some of that is safety improvements, cars today have evolved so much that folks routinely walk away from crashes which would have been fatal 20 or so years ago.

But some of that development we can and should be challenging for the fact that this development means the car is not as efficient as it could be.

A lot of what is fitted to cars today we have just gotten used to over the last 25 years:

Power steering

Electric Windows

Electric Seat Back Adjustment

Electric Sunroof

Cruise Control

CD Player or multi-changer (Who uses cds nowadays)

Electric suspension

Heads up displays and integrated touch screens

Do we really need all of these things and the wiring and other ancillary systems in our cars?

We are after all carrying around an extra 2 people with us on each journey with all this additional weight in the car. That reduces the efficiency of the engine, meaning that fuel economy and emissions are not as efficient as they could be. It also creates additional wear on the car and the road system.

I’d argue that we don’t actually need any of these things, and that our cars would be lighter, more fuel and emission efficient and actually a lot more engaging to drive without the additional weight.

It’s something ive also been thinking about experimenting with for some time now, can I take an older car like an escort or a nova with just the bare essentials in it and fit it with a modern engine system or electric conversion.

I think I would be surprised by the results and I think you would be as well.

As we see the positive effects on the environment and planet as a result of this quarantine, I really do believe that we need to question how we develop the tools we use everyday and how we could make them more efficient and safer for the environment.

This argument about car development is one way of me doing that, travel, office vs home work, there are a whole host of other things we can do to be smart to help ourselves and the environment.

If we challenge ourselves we could make a huge difference.


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