Boeing Business Cars composite-materials Economics Environment Ford GM green hybrids Innovation Mulally Post Science

Environmentally Friendly Cars, Hummer O2

I am sure that most people out there don't really care if their car puts out a lot of carbon dioxide or whatever other bad gasses and liquids that leak from their choice mode of transit. I am sure, though, that most people care if they are getting really good gas mileage. Or if they don't care about the mileage, yes I am talking to you Hummer and other SUV owners out there (and don't tell me it's for car pooling! I never seen more than two people in a SUV ever), they do care about saving money. Which buying gas less often can do for you. Recently I have seen what GM has been experimenting with in the saving the world with better designed cars venture. I know that it will not acutally become a real car but the concept is really interesting. It's refreshing to see that car companies still know how to be creative, and it touches my tree-hugging hippie heart that they still care about the environment. Or, at least they noticed the sales of hybrid cars and decided they needed something fresh and innovative. Let's think about what could be cooler than a hybrid car. Something eyecatching and easy to remember. Something special. Something kinda rediculous and not manly at all. So, what am I talking about, you wonder? None other than the Hummer O2. Pretty clever, eh? Here's a picture:hummero2.png This is a car that is run by algae. And other stuff like hydrogen fuel cells. But look at the aglae. All that aglae is going to turn your louting and polluting CO2 into O2, perfectly breathable by animals and stuff. Probably people, too. The whole car is supposed to act as a leaf, with the algae consuming the byproducts of the motor (the carbon dioxide) and turning it into oxygen, just like a leaf would do in nature. This car would be doing it all the time, even when the car was not running. GM is incoperating a lot of different little car tricks into this vehicle as well showing that they have studied the industry: the hybrid breaking mehcanism for reclaiming energy in the tires, hydrogen fuel cell for the power source, the ugliness of a Hummer, ect. So, it's ugly and probably not going to be voted 2008s cutest car. But, it's the idea that counts. I mean, it's smart to use a reuseable resourse for our fuel, right? Right. I know, I hear the outraged cries of all of the enslaved algae but I think there will be benefits for them as well. I just don't know what yet. I mean, they would be getting all of the sunlight any chlorophyll owning specimen could ever ask for. It's an all you can eat sunlight buffet. Of sun-shiny goodness. Unless you live in Ohio. Then it's a lot of cloudy days. So, live in Florida and this is the ugly little car for you. And I hope you like green because there aren't going to be a lot of customized colors on this one. Maybe blueish (blue green algae) or reddish brown (red tide or dinoflagellates) if they can figure it out. On the website there is also a pretty colored schematic of how exactly they think this car will work. The man driving the car is sitting directly inside the hydrogen fuel cell as far as I can tell. And it looks like he has a tree growing out of his head, possibly a result from sitting inside the hydrogen fuel cell. hummero221.png But look at all the sunlight. I told you it would be a buffet.

How new Ford CEO Mulally will save the company

Ford is in trouble. Some new models are doing well, but all their gas guzzlers are in decline big time. So CEO Bill Ford has hired his own replacement - Alan Mulally, formerly of Boeing.

What can Mullaly do to turn the company around, and why was he chosen? Bruce Nussbaum at Business Week says that Ford needs innovation in their business model, to be more like Apple and Amazon. I think he's right, but I will let those with more knowledge talk about how to improve Ford's business model (if you have ideas, please comment below).

What I will talk about is product innovation. I think Ford Motor Company has picked exactly the right person to be CEO, and here's why: the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner is not just a new jet. It makes extensive use of advance carbon-fiber composite materials to make it lighter, stronger, and more efficient.

Ford needs something really innovative, not just more cup holders or higher, skinner windows. They need to build a car using similar composite materials and blow past everyone in terms of safety and fuel efficiency.

Just taking a nice, stylish mid-size car like the Ford Fusion and replacing heavy metal parts with composites could cut weight drastically. Forget about hybrids—even though I think they're wicked cool—advanced materials are the ticket.

This is not a new idea – a few engineers are trying to do something similar with the Aptera at Accelerated Composites. Mulally has the expertise and the contacts to get the materials, get the designs together, and build up to production capacity. This could even be a boon to Ford's union workers. Even though large parts of the Dreamliner are built in Japan and Europe, a lot of the composite work is being done in the U.S., and there's a lot of work to be done on scaling production techniques before China can compete on labor costs alone.

It would be a huge, non-trivial problem, with a lot of pitfalls. I certainly don't know enough to even begin listing the challenges to such a plan. But it seems obvious to me why Ford would pick Mulally after looking at the Dreamliner. I just hope it's obvious to Ford as well.