MAX Update No. 44: Responses to Sharp Criticisms

| 4/8/2010 11:57:37 AM

The crew at MOTHER EARTH NEWS received this letter about MAX, my response follows. 

As I read your article about the MAX car (Our DIY Car: The Quest for 100 MPG), I just had to laugh at the statements and outlandish assumptions that are being made. I am an automotive powertrain engineer and have worked at one of the major automotive OEMs for the last 20 years. I can tell you with some authority that this project is nothing but a high school experiment. The statement from the author “If I can build a 100-mpg car using off-the-shelf technology, the major automakers should be able to do the same, if not even better” shows the lack of understanding people have about the modern vehicle. 

My company could easily build a vehicle that could get 100 mpg and probably cost about $5,000 — no problem. But you have to ask: 

1) Does it meet all regulations from the DOT (Department of Transportation), CARB (California Air Resources Board), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and a myriad of other safety regulatory agencies?

2) Is it safe to drive on public roads? Would you put your family in it?

3) Is it saleable — does anyone besides a select few engineers want to buy the thing? 

10/3/2010 5:18:01 PM

"Please note that we are going to 35 MPG in 2016. (average) Something tells me the public will not stop driving in 2016. My crystal ball tells me they will drive those cars and smile while they do it." ___________________________________ What your crystal ball doesn't tell you is that CAFE numbers aren't the same as window sticker numbers, so to meet that 35 MPG CAFE the window sticker will say 27 MPG (IIRC), that's not even a challenge for cars made now, once the (big)SUVs die off they'll be making that number even if they make no other changes. "an unorthodox minority, of which I'm a member." Me too, where's the meeting this year Jack?

Richard W
7/3/2010 2:35:52 PM

Speaking of 3 wheels only, ran into a 3 wheel motorcycle called the "Tango Tike" also the web site, if any one might be interested, just a throw out for MAX people. 60-90 mpg.

Barbara&Richard Kacel
6/23/2010 6:47:47 AM

Jack, You are correct that it is a case of economics. We market to a broad range of customers – different demographics, different needs, different uses, and different lifestyles. Building a vehicle that would sell 5,000 units a year is not practical for mass production. But making high mileage vehicles is also a technical issue. If we ignore all drivability, usability and marketability issues, crash worthiness and emission standards must still be met. So it is these standards, among others, prohibit manufacturers from producing much higher mileage vehicles. For the MAX to be a viable vehicle, it must meet the CARB tailpipe emission standards (especially for diesels), and meet DOT crash requirements. If you meet these standards AND get 100 mpg, then you will really have something. I look forward to your future development of the MAX.

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