I am sure there is a man walking the streets in all
the major cities of the world, holding a placard stating “The end is
near”, as the automakers are all showing more than a passing
interest in alternate fuels. The idea is to break our dependence on
oil supplies that George Dubbya didn’t manage to get for us from the
sands of Iraq.
E 200 NGT
There are many ways of doing away with our
dependence upon it (oil, not George Dubbya), and many ways of going
about the same concept. This was very noticeable with the dual fuel
Mercedes E 200 converted to run on petrol or Compressed Natural Gas.
This was a very professional approach, with the gas bottles under the
floor of the boot, and even a pair of white cotton gloves to wear,
just in case you had to open the compartment.
By direct comparison was the dual fuel vehicle from
the engineering students at the Chulalongkorn University. This was an
experimental vehicle with a ‘bird-cage’ heavy tube frame and dual
fuel operation. It was a bit too over-engineered for me (they could
have used much lighter tube and got much better performance), but they
all enjoyed themselves building it, so it doesn’t really matter.
Just look at the smiles from the uni students.
Chulalongkorn dual fueller
Toyota showed off their Fine N concept vehicle,
which looked very radical and space-age, but it really was anything
but. This vehicle relies on hydrogen gas to drive fuel cells, which in
turn produce an electric current to produce forward motion. The
electric motors are in the wheels, which looks something new, but
actually this is exactly the same principle used by Dr. Ferdinand
Porsche in the Lohner Porsche of 1902. The wheel has certainly gone
the full circle with this one. However, the styling is certainly
tomorrow, and looked eminently capable of being produced.
While on the electric concept, there was a very
interesting stand from an American company called Wavecrest. They have
a patented ‘adaptive’ motor in the rear wheel of their bicycle
(another Porsche style hub motor), with a battery in the hub of the
front wheel. WaveCrest’s TidalForceฎ line of high-performance
electric bicycles is setting new standards for speed, range and
quality. Powered by the 750 watt WaveCrest Adaptive Motor system in
the rear wheel and a rechargeable NiMH battery in the front wheel,
these electric bicycles provide as much power as needed to climb hills
and cover long distances. Riders can pedal for exercise or use the
variable-speed thumb throttle on the handlebar to activate electric
power for convenience and comfort.
On the same stand they also showed the Adaptive
Motor system applied to locally made motor scooters, capable of speeds
up to 60 kph. The in-wheel design avoids the use of noisy and
inefficient gears and belt or chain drives. The regenerative braking
function provides increased range, shorter stopping distances and
reduced brake wear. Most importantly, the system can be installed on a
variety of light electric vehicles with little to no modifications to
the vehicle. They also had a small roadster there with their electric
motor, but I was unable to see into the engine bay as they had lost
However, for the real ‘petrol-heads’ there were
still some companies not into the doom and gloom mode. One such is BSP
Motorsports which was at the show displaying a bolt-on supercharger
kit for Toyota Corollas, being presented by a delightful young lady in
what must have been the ultimate in ridiculous costumes, complete with
silver leg braces and blue plastic hot pants, featuring silver belt
with twin handcuff pouches!
However, the supercharger was the real deal, a
bolt-on delivering another 20 percent more grunt in Japan, though
their local agent, BSP’s Nontimuk Jotisalikorn, said that they would
be confirming this figure with their own testing in Thailand, as we
are unable to get the 100+ octane fuels they get in Japan. The
complete kit, including installation, is around B. 150,000, and if you
are interested you can get more information from Nontimuk, telephone
02 874 1144. Tell him the Doc sent you!
Last week I also mentioned the numerous 1886 Benz dog cart replicas
which the factory commissioned. What I did not know was the fact that
the first female motorist on record was actually Karl Benz’s wife,
Bertha, who in 1888 traveled 180 kilometers from Mannheim to Pforzheim
and return to demonstrate to the world that her husband’s invention
had real possibilities! She was right! Since the vehicle only develops
0.9 BHP, she had to take their two sons to help push the beast over
some of the higher hills.