Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BMW's GINA - Beautiful and Lean, and possibly a lower carbon footprint during production.

BMW's introduced a radically different type of concept car at a time when cars need radical change.


I'm not going to go on and on about it-- I'm going to let these images along with BMW's other media provide through visuals and BMW's own commentary the details of this new Bavarian Motor Work. What I will go on to say though is this-- the use of GINA's 'textile skin' rather than the normal metal/plastic autobody shell has meanings that stretch far beyond hte visual cool factor.

Given the energy costs needed to create steel and plastics, the fabric-like shell already significantly diminishes this automobile's carbon footprint. How durable and lasting it is I don't know-- it is after all only a concept car and concerns like these are wheat keep such things from production.

There's also the obvious fuel economy advantage-- no matter what's under the hood, a motor that doesn't have to do the work involved with moving a metal chassy is a motor that moves just as fast as the next one using less fuel, which means less carbon emissions. While I'm not at all a fan of their Hydrogen 7 push, BMW's concept of less is more with this very attractive, carbon friendly (at least in terms of production) roadster is pretty great.

From a social standpoint, it's a new concept as well. The car is, in effect wearing clothes. From their own media, BMW says that it takes about 2 hours to put the skin on the auto, so should it go into production, depending on your budget, the GINA can change it's look as often as you do.

BMW actually has a series of efficiency technologies in their conventional cars that I'd love to see implemented in vehicles with more modest engines where they'd make a huge difference. Unfortunately, in their pursuit of hte ultima driving machines, the Bavarians aren't known for hybrid-like milage rates and as stated before, their Hydrogen 7 project is as close to Green-Gimmicky as you can get. But that's a story for another posting. You can check out BMW's efficiency initiatives and technologies here.

In an age where companies like Boeing are changing their materials to offset gas costs/add fuel efficiency as is Airbus with their "more efficient than a Prius" A380, it's nice to see Europe's top automaker looking down the road for change. Once again it's a concept car, not for production, but the concepts herein should inspire all manufacturers taking a gander to head back to the drawing board in pursuit of new, efficient designs. Let's hope this is the beginning of something real.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Do you always need your SUV?

With the average barrel of oil climbing $10.00 today to a high of $139.00+ and a recent Goldman Sachs report claiming that the US might see $7.00/gallon of gasoline within the next twelve months, you have to wonder if Al Gore's hiding in some basement somewhere, in charge of some organization not unlike CHAOS, forcing the prices up so that America's forced to find new ways to move from place to place.

Such a busying activity would certainly explain why he wasn't present to quell the craziness that leading up to the recent de facto nomination of Barack Obama.

Regardless of such imaginings what's real is that with gas prices at a place where Americans aren't willing to pay, people have begun looking around for something other than the SUV or even the standard sedan to get them from place to place. Here are some tips I've heard thus far that'll keep your carbon footprint smaller and keep your checkbook a little fatter.

(1) Lend the kids the Luxury car or the SUV
The idea here is that the drive to work is longer than the drive to school so take the long trip in the smaller, more fuel efficient car, and let your high-schoolers bling it out during the week from now until the end of school

(2) Coordinate and consolidate trips-- there's no reason to pull out of the driveway twice-- make sure that before you get home you've picked up the dry cleaning, the groceries and take care of any other chores you need to take care of before pulling in for the evening.

(3) Travel light.
You gotta pick-up with some extra gear in it? Get rid of it. Large items like farm or automotive equipment might be handy or even necessary for your business from time to time but that stuff literally weighs tons, and while your suspension can do the work fine, it's gonna need more juice do do it, so lighten the load.

(4) Rent.
Trade in your pick up or SUV and get a smaller car. Rent yourself a larger automobile for long hauls and other activities that need it. Or better yet, empty your truck of all your personable belongings and put an ad on craigslist or your local paper-- let people pay you for your torque.

(5) Seasonal ride.
Some people really need an SUV in the winter. If you live in Co. Or Ut., a hybrid's just not gonna cut it when the champagne powder begins to dump in foot by glorious foot in the late fall and all the way through to the spring. So put that gas-guzzling truck on cinder blocks in the garage during the off season and save yourself a few bucks.

(6) Carpool.
It seems like it's simple but everyone knows it's not. Carpooling's trouble. The coordination's a pain, especially between households but if you can pull it off, more power to you.

(7) If you can, telecommute. If there's no need to leave home, then why spend the $$$ on gasoline.

These suggestions are among the extreme, to be sure, but the make a lot of sense. Take a look at your lifestyle and see if they work for you. Or track down Mr. Gore in his underground lair and sell the gas he's been hoarding.

From Verbose and Loquacious to Quick and Clean

As the world gets smaller through various technologies fueled by globalization, we've got to begin to think on more than just one level. In addition to the $$$ that's to be made in emerging economies such as China, India and various bits of the African continent, we need to take a step back and make sure we're making sure to move forward with not only the monetary spoils of the gentrification of the world's westernizing settings, but with their social and environmental welfare in mind too. In an effort to win the Cold War weird rationalizations and compromises of our ideals during the lead to many failed policies; (some of which haunt us today both politically and militarily) and while we won that conflict, with forms of capitalism running all over the freeing world, we've still got some work to do.

Human development is something I take passionately. It's probably because I'm American and I recognize that traditionally, we're pretty good at it. In the following blog posts, I'm going to be talking about development in a way that I hope bridges the divide between the money grubbers and the tree huggers; between activists and the establishment. I look at places like Zimbabwe struggling to free themselves from tyranny via a peaceful electoral process, despite the Mugabe regime's obvious acts of deceit and cowardice and I think to myself: when they come through, when they vote them out, the people will be looking for the kind of government that supports them rather than exploits them but who knows what's to come next. The new regime will certainly open up trade but when that happens what will we do to ensure that the sort of process that made Mugabe what he is today won't happen again?

There are resources there that the world needs the market to develop. But in order to create a stabilized trading platform, the world's going to have to keep the social situation stable as well, which means unfettered exploitation of the lands are also a no-no. What we need is equilateral development; that is development adhering to the vaunted "triple bottom line."

The idea is that you can develop a city, tract of land, an economy, a business, even your household as if they were built on an equilateral triangle-- each side the same length as the next, each side being just as important as the next, yet each side having a crisp an clear separate meaning and yet all sides working toward your goal of development while allowing you to promote not only capital growth but social and environmental growth as well.

So welcome to Quick and Clean, where I try my best to limit the loquaciousness found in this post and present current perspective and opportunities for us to basically make a killing through equilateral development. Rather than it be quick and dirty, it's quick and clean.

D. De Freitas