Published by the Colorado Daily 1/?/95
AS THE MILLENNIUM TURNS by Evan Ravitz
(still 5 years ahead of its time)
Don't believe the auto manufacturers' PR campaign against higher
fuel economy standards, locally called the "Colorado
Coalition for Vehicle Choice", masquerading as a "consumer
Their letter to this paper in December said "CCVC believes usefulness, size, power and safety should not have to be compromised for increased fuel standards. Until the technology exists to allow both, stricter fuel standards would be a mistake."
The technology has existed for years, and is explained and documented in an article in the current (Jan '95) Atlantic Monthly magazine by Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. (RMI is famous for getting electric companies around the country to stop building most new power plants and instead encourage energy conservation.) These "hypercars" far exceed the proposed new standards coming before congress, being, as they say, "safe, affordable and otherwise superior family cars getting several hundred miles per gallon and able to carry four adults".
For decades, automakers and their mouthpieces like CCVC have fearmongered that lighter, more efficient cars would be dangerous, ignoring the words of Henry Ford that "You do not need weight for strength", and fighting against the airbags that do make cars far safer. As the Lovins say, "Advanced composites, being amazingly strong and bouncy, can make ultralight composite cars much safer than today's steel cars." Our "Stealth" fighters and bombers are 100% composites, as are race car bodies.
I called CCVC's Director, Pierre Dubois (595-8725) and he gave me the historically revisionist line that the car companies manfully agreed to meet the first federal fuel standards in the '70s, and did. I remember well they said it was impossible and were forced to do it. They'll spend millions to repeat the lie, while the Japanese again seize the initiative and do the job. Three-fourths of the U.S. trade deficit with Japan is due to cars and parts.
There are other reasons to use hypercars besides ecological and economic: As RMI writes, "We Americans recently put our kids in .56 MPG tanks and 17 feet-per-gallon aircraft carriers because we didn't put them in 32 MPG cars- enough, even if we'd done nothing else, to eliminate the need for American oil imports from the Persian Gulf."
To order the complete, unedited "Reinventing the Wheels" or other materials about energy, water, agriculture and economic renewal, write RMI, Snowmass CO 81654-9199. Include $10 for their fine newsletter. You can take a self-guided tour of their incredible energy-independent building and greenhouse Monday to Friday from 9 to 4. For a guided tour, Tuesday or Friday at 2PM, call (303)927-3851 first. They are located at 1739 Snowmass Creek Road, some 15 miles from Aspen.
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Here's a tip on how to save your car's battery and starting system, and, possibly, your life. If you insulate your battery, you may never have problems starting again. Here's why: A cold battery doesn't actually charge for about ten minutes until it warms internally. If you drive less than ten minutes, you're wearing down the charge each time, until you need a jump. So keep your battery warm! Regular fiberglass or styrofoam insulation duct-taped around and if possible under your battery will keep it warm enough that it will start charging much faster each time you start your car. Don't insulate the top or you'll overheat and destroy your battery! You can leave the insulation on in the summer. Your car will start easier, with far less wear on the starter. Ask an Alaskan.
Evan is the director of the
Voting by Phone Foundation, chairs
the Transit Committee of
Bolder Bicycle Commuters, and is a board
member of the Boulder chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union. He sold his car five years ago and owns two bicycles.
He wants to hear from you: 440-6838 or firstname.lastname@example.org