“The biggest danger to cash-strapped U.S. auto companies is making incremental changes to their…”

December 11, 2008
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The biggest danger to cash-strapped U.S. auto companies is making incremental changes to their product lines, he argued. Instead, they need to make radically more efficient cars by adopting several technologies aimed at efficiency.

“It would be tragic to bail out the industry now and see it go under in another five years as competitors’ faster innovation takes hold,” said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain In


The biggest danger to cash-strapped U.S. auto companies is making incremental changes to their product lines, he argued. Instead, they need to make radically more efficient cars by adopting several technologies aimed at efficiency.

“It would be tragic to bail out the industry now and see it go under in another five years as competitors’ faster innovation takes hold,” said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Pinning incumbent automakers’ turnaround on electric powertrains through plug-in electric cars is a myopic view of the available technologies. Cars can be made half as heavy as they are today by using composite materials such as light but strong carbon fiber, a choice that gives manufacturers more flexibility and reduces costs in production. “Lightweighting” lowers the engineering bar for alternative powertrain technologies as well, he argues.

With less weight to haul around, expensive batteries can be smaller and fuel cell vehicles become feasible.

Energy guru Lovins to carmakers: Time for big bets | CNET

The Smarter Planet tumblelog is an outgrowth of IBM’s strategic initiative to help a world of smart systems emerge.

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