What’s in Your Fantasy Garage?
No matter what kind of cool cars, cool gear or cool inventions you have in your garage, we hope you’ll consider the industrial-strength line of Formaspace worktables and workbenches. Last week, in part two of this series we took a look at the nostalgia surrounding the DeLorean cult car from the movie Back to the Future. We asked the question “do you want fusion or plutonium power for your DeLorean Time Machine?” When the film was made back in 1985, a diesel engine was about as exotic an alternative powerplant as you could imagine. It always seemed that hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles were far in the future. Not anymore.
A lucky few early adopters will be able to purchase a new Toyota Mirai this year for around $60,000 list price. And Korea’s Hyundai Motors is in the game too. They have announced a lease program for their conventional looking Tucson SUV which is also powered by hydrogen.
What’s the Reality of Driving a Hydrogen-powered Car?
Essentially, it’s an electric car. And, while it does have batteries to store energy, it generally produces the vast majority of its electricity while underway through a chemical reaction. The car pulls oxygen from the atmosphere into a special chamber where it combines with hydrogen from a hydrogen fuel tank located low in the chassis. This combination produces enough electricity to run the car. The byproduct is water vapor, which dribbles out through a small tube (much like the drain on an air conditioner) at the back of the vehicle.
How Does an Electric Car Compare with a Hydrogen-powered Car?
Those that have been lucky enough to test drive the new Mirai include:
All of them noted that the car has the quiet, smooth electric car feel. The primary advantage it has over ‘conventional’ battery-powered electric cars is the car can go at least 300 miles before it needs refueling. Another advantage of the Mirai is that refueling can be completed in five minutes or less, unlike the much slower battery recharging. The disadvantage is the number of hydrogen fuel stations is limited to a few dozen, located mostly in Southern California. Manufacturers like Toyota and Hyundai realize this is the primary limitation for widespread adoption of this technology, aside from the high cost at this time.
Elon Musk, president of Tesla Motors is unhappy about the attention that hydrogen vehicles are getting at the expense of his sophisticated electric sports cars and sedans. There have been many cases where Musk has gotten visibly upset about complaints that his electric cars suffer from relatively low driving range between charges. We’d bet with time the electric car range problem will get solved through more advanced technology; however, unlike Musk, we wouldn’t call hydrogen fuel-cell technology ‘dumb’!
In an effort to burnish its eco-friendly corporate street cred, Ford Motor Company has taken a different tack. It is re-envisioning the entire transportation system and promoting the need for what Ford is calling “Smart Mobility Solutions.” What is motivating Ford? A key point is changing demographics. Consumer research indicates that young millennials are just not that into cars. They are more interested in the sharing economy.
Consequently car services like Uber appeal to them in greater numbers than older generations bitten by the car bug. In response, Ford is developing finance programs to sell cars for use by the primary driver/owner but also designed to be shared (e.g. rented) out to others. Ford is also looking at multi-modal solutions for commuters and for package delivery in crowded urban areas where parking is difficult. In the video below, Bill Coughlin explains their new initiative: electric bikes that integrate with Ford cars and trucks.
These new Ford electric bike designs are really clever and hopefully they will appeal to millennials and other early adopters who want to integrate their personal electronics with their bikes. Are you an Apple Watch enthusiast? The custom Mode:Link software from Ford can get input from the Apple Watch on your wrist and increase the electric pedal assistance based on your heart rate so that you can get to your destination without breaking a sweat. So do you think it’s too much of a stretch for Ford Motor Company to be building bicycles?
Not if We Go Back to the Future!
We couldn’t resist pulling out this video of a replica 1896 Ford Quadricycle. To us, it looks like Ford’s heritage in powered bicycles is not in dispute. You can learn more about the replica at www.quadricycle1896.com (Note: website is in Spanish) This Quadricycle just might be our vote for inclusion in our own fantasy garage.
We invite you to join the roster of satisfied Formaspace technical, manufacturing and laboratory furniture clients — including Apple Computer, Boeing, Dell, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobile, Ford, General Electric, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, NASA, Novartis, Stanford University, Toyota and more.
Give us a call today at 800.251.1505 to find out more about the Formaspace line of built-to-order computer workstations, industrial workbenches, laboratory furniture, lab benches and dry lab/wet labs — as well as our design / furniture consulting services. Like all Formaspace furniture, it’s backed by our famous 12 year, three shift guarantee.