The Future of Electric Cars in Australia Debate

An upcoming event: “The Future of Electric Cars in Australia” an Engineers Australia presentation by Ashley Sanders from Mitsubishi on Wednesday 13th March 6pm, in Newcastle has sparked a debate on electric vehicle design and cost.

Ballina based Hughes Group’s CEO Howie Hughes disagrees with Ashley Sanders comments on electric vehicle design. “Mr Sanders is coming at the problem of electric vehicles from entirely the wrong angle” said Howie. “We have taken a totally different approach in that we have designed and built a prototype electric vehicle based, firstly, on aviation design techniques and secondly, on what is practical to build in Australia given the initially small demand for energy efficient vehicles, products that will reduce carbon emissions.”

There are two issues here. Most people believe the jury is still out on global warming and it will not be until we have cyclones or these devastating floods every week, that there will be real action taken by Governments or private companies. By real action, Howie means actually producing products that make a real difference.

Secondly, to simply remove a petrol engine from a small car and replace it with an electric motor and batteries, is all but pointless in terms of reducing green house gas if the car is still charged from coal fired power. The design parameters Howie employs includes a totally different set of values which include anaerodynamic body for the vehicle, ultra light weight, regenerative breaking, a home based solar charging station, the elimination of many heavy and unnecessary mechanical bits and pieces and a totally different approach to styling and design. Of course, all this will be totally foreign to a company like Mitsubishi who do most of their design based on the opinions of focus groups and market research, Hughes Engineering, on the other hand, employs a more organic approach (that of  ”form follows function” ) where the end use of the vehicle has been permitted to define almost all of the design parameters.

The end result is what the company calls the Road-E, (see www.road-e.com.au)  a three wheel, two seat long range electric vehicle which is more of a cross between a light aircraft and a super hot motor bike.

The Road-E’s styling has yet to be fully developed however when in production, the vehicle will be a real head turner, unlike any other vehicle on the market and the price, even in limited production, about $30,000should cover this simple vehicle.

Hughes Engineering has been successfully producing 2, 4 and, in the near future,  6 seat light aircraft for the past 28 years.

The Road-E in construction The Future of Cars in Australia

Love Soda Water? Save Plastic Bottles.

On collecting a 10-kilo carbon dioxide cylinder from our local BOC supplier the other day I did a quick calculation as to how many litres of fizzy water this cylinder would produce. A very interesting calculation as my guess is about a thousand dollars worth.

A bottle of soda water from a supermarket will set you back around two dollars a litre and at a guess 15 kilos of carbon dioxide at a cost of about 50 dollars makes each bottle worth just a few cents. But that’s not the point of this Great Green Idea, althought you can expect to save about a thousand dollars on your fizzy soft drinks you will also save hundreds of kilos in plastic bottles.

Overall you would have to have rocks in your head not to adopt this fantastic idea which is based on a simple soda stream refilling system combined  with a simple little fitting (Email us for more info) which allows you to refill  the soda stream bottles.

Even without this fitting your bottle of soda water will still only cost a fraction of the retail shelf cost from the retailer but if you refill your own CO2 bottles the cost is reduced to almost zero… Well to about 2 cents a litre.  Compared to two dollars a litre for off the shelf products.

Now that’s Great!

Carbon Emissions= Water Levels Rise.

In the application for a building permit, I recently visited the  website titled:

Richmond River Flood Plain Management Study, 2010“*.

In this study our city fathers, or the NSW government, presumably under the management of our previous leader, is using as a basis for planning, that by the middle of this century ocean levels will have risen by  approximately half a meter and by the end of this century, the study predicts a rise of one meter.

This is bad enough in itself but also adding two things: this has not been widely published and secondly, it is being used as a basis for council town planning for future coastal subdivisions into the future. This is ludicrous.

I believe quite firmly that a build up in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a bad thing and I believe it should become every business’s and individuals priority to address this problem, in both their business activities and their daily lives. That is: a reduction in the amount of carbon output that we all generate, however – I don’t believe that  such a build up will result in such an outrageous rise in ocean levels.

If this prediction, however, is correct, and it is based on irrefutable data, then the fact that our government  is keeping it tucked away in insignificant reports, such as this one, defies comprehension. If ocean levels are to rise by one meter, the consequences for life as we know it, on the East Coast of Australia, in  particular, will be catastrophic.

Major storm surge protection will be required in the form of Holland style engineering dykes; storm surge gates will be required on all of the rivers on the east coast, and in general terms, if we don’t start planning, real engineering solutions to this NOW, we, or our children, and their children’s children, are going to be severely  compromised, and will not enjoy the lifestyle that us baby boomers have enjoyed over  our lifetimes.

Far more importantly, is the emphasis that must be placed on reducing the amount of carbon production by every single person.

We believe that the solution to possible climate change problems in the future, is in individual companies developing innovative products and services that are carbon neutral or assist in the removal of carbon from our atmosphere.

Designing future coastal subdivisions will not be of any use, if they are simply underwater. Engineering storm surges gates may be a good option. But reducing each and every persons carbon emissions has by far more positive outcomes.

Flood predictions of The Northern Rivers. NSW Australia

* http://rrcc.nsw.gov.au/