Future Lab News

TAKAHASHI: No.38 "Eco-friendly"

Hey there, it's Uchida.

Now that the rainy season is finishing all over Japan, all of you school-going people will be on summer holiday.

As always, my car has no air conditioning, so every day I'm worried about getting heatstroke while I'm driving.
I'm drinking plenty of water to try and keep the heatstroke away, but if you have nothing but cold drinks you can give yourself a sore stomach...
Even though this weather might be good for the planet, it's a pretty harsh environment for the human body.

Speaking of the environment, a group of admirable individuals gathered in Hokkaido the other day to talk about preventing global warming.

That is of course an important topic, but what really caught my attention was that car manufacturers had sent the group lots of new concepts for eco-friendly cars.

It seems like people are going to get more and more concerned about using gas-powered cars in the future because of all the CO2 emissions they produce.
So what comes next? Lots of companies are coming up with ideas, but there seems to be no real consensus about how to proceed, don't you think?

The environment has always been important, so this situation is really interesting for me as a car fan. It's a little over 100 years since the gas-powered car was invented.
In that time, there have been various technological revolutions that have brought us to the car designs we have now.
You could say that the materials, shapes, and driving techniques suited to gas-powered cars have now been around for 100 years.

Imagine if the next thing that comes along doesn't use a gasoline engine as its power source.
If the power source is physically compact, then manufacturers will have more freedom when designing the shape of the car.
If the way that the new power source stores energy is simpler than before and is safer than storing gasoline, there will be more freedom when deciding where to put the fuel tank.
And if there is no need whatsoever for energy storage - if, for example, the energy was taken in from the surroundings, the vehicle could run even without a fuel tank.

Even when you just think about these issues a little, doesn't it make you feel the concept of what a "vehicle" is will change a lot in the future?

Even though the inspiration comes from environmental problems, thinking that this situation might give rise to new concept cars is kin of exciting.
(it must be difficult for manufacturers developing new cars though)

How many of these new concepts will be realized in our own lifetimes, I wonder...?
Until they do, I'm going to do my bit for the environment by riding my air conditioning-free eco-friendly car.

That's all for today then.
See you later.

(Original article in Japanese released on 7.31.2008)

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