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Green Car | 02.10.2013 - 20:54

A Greener Future for the Car Manufacturing Industry?

Is it possible that the car industry is helping to create a greener future?
Image source: manufacture-green.com
Image source: manufacture-green.com
Every corporate decision hinges on one of two things: save money or make money. The more cynical among us apply this philosophy to anything bearing the ubiquitous label, "green." Puns notwithstanding, the idea that going green does tend toward intelligent finances is a hard truth to swallow for anyone looking to bash a corporation for being heartless. From the other side comes a retaliatory question: How can anyone be considered heartless who has the seventh generation in mind? Standing a safe distance back from the debate, anyone can see that green ends justify their own means. This is a good thing, for if the future is going to be saved, let it be saved in part by those with the finances to do so; like, for instance, the automobile industry.
 
Same fuel, different parts
 
Often we point to fuel source as the scapegoat for anti-green progress. The truth is that greenification is no different from any other technological overhaul in that progress of any sort has always occurred—and always will occur—in stages. To paraphrase a slightly more obscure source: Fuel alternatives will come, but they may tarry. In the meantime, car manufacturers are experimenting with a different kind of transmission. The variable gear ratio of continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology enables the gears to work at optimum efficiency at all times. An efficient powertrain equals better fuel economy. Recent tests show a 6-8 percent increase in fuel efficiency, and a 10 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
 
Optical camouflage
 
Japanese researchers have one-upped rearview backup cameras by rendering the entire back seat of the car invisible. By equipping the back of an object's surface with cameras, the front the same object is then transformed into a screen onto which the imagery is projected. It is a simple concept with incredible possibilities. Any technology aimed at reducing accidents leads to good green numbers, as traffic congestion due to accidents alone is enough to swell those numbers.
 
Interactive cars, AI, and cars that drive themselves
 
Ray Bradbury's seminal work, "Fahrenheit 451" contains a passage featuring "beetle" cars of the future. The cars are the nightmare versions of the smart car, taking bestial pleasure in their dominance of the road. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about AI becoming sentient to that degree. Self-driving cars are being tested with great results. 
 
Virtually limitless is the idea of interaction and AI when it comes to avoiding accidents, monitoring efficiency, and reducing waste by regulating speeds in accordance with the driving situation—an ultra-modern cruise control.
 
It's not easy seeing green
 
In 2008, the Australian government embarked on an ambitious journey toward revamping Australia's automotive industry. Introducing a number of programs specifically aimed at promoting innovation, the government set a course for change that could have served as a model for the rest of the world. These programs helped to move the car industry towards more green practices, including everything from more green cars to more environmentally friendly ways to create car parts including tires, spherical bearings, and more. Unfortunately, in 2011, the programs were cut in order to redirect funding. Greenification is still being seen as a superfluous endeavor by those who control purse strings. In a free economy, let it not be said that there isn't an opportunity to act wisely and for our own good.
 
For those who accuse corporations of an ulterior motive, so it seems the double edge of the sword may dull over time, for when the ecological benefits are finally realized, it won't matter from whence they came. Until that time, critics must hold their breath for their sigh of relief, for it takes fresh air for such a sigh to be executed properly.
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