On Cars…

I am not sure if it is just me or the past few days seem to be all about cars. New cars, old cars, concept cars, and more. Here are a few interesting things that I discovered about cars in the past few days:

  • While going downhill, does it consume more fuel to coast on neutral or in gear? As it turns out, the car consumes almost no fuel when coasting in gear! When you coast in neutral, you consume as much fuel as an idling car, that is about 1 Gallon per hour. Surprised? Don’t take my word for it, refer to the source: Popular Mechanics. This applies to all fuel injected cars because when the accelerator is not depressed, the engine maintains minimal idling engine RPM (which is about 1000) or more. While coasting downhill in gear, if the transmission can provide at least 1K or so RPM to the engine (via gravity), then the fuel injector pretty much shuts off consuming zero fuel. However, when you are coasting in neutral, the transmission is not connected to the engine. So the fuel injector is forced to use idle running engine with fuel like it was stationary.
  • Is it more fuel efficient to use air conditioner or to drive without it? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this one. The most concise answer is that if the car interior is too hot, then first let it cool down the old fashioned way by rolling the windows down even before you start the car [source: ezinearticles]. Next, if you are driving in the city, then you are better off will windows rolled down and A/C off [sources: carjunky, bankrate]  . However, if you are driving over 45mph, then the drag created by open windows increases to the extent that you are probably better off rolling them up and turning your A/C on [source: wikihow]. The exact numbers on this aren’t very clear. It depends on how aerodynamic the car is, how old the engine and the A/C compressor are, and so on. Apparently, for newer cars, the fuel consumed by the A/C compressor is negligible [source: edmunds, AASA].
  • Speaking of the summer and car A/C, do you have any idea how hot in gets in Qatar? Hot enough to bake cookies in the car! I am not kidding: check out this blogpost by Sybil Knox. She used her car as an oven to bake cookies. She even has the recipe for anyone interested.
  • Oh, and would you like to be able to start your car from anywhere (where there’s a cell phone signal)? There’s an app for that (available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry)!
  • Remember the flying car from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? This one:

    Flying car from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car". Source: http://www.badmouth.net/top-five-flying-cars/

    Well, it’s now a reality.. well almost. Terrafugia has come out with Transition that has been cleared by FAA. But it looks a little different. Like this:

    Terrafugia Transition: Flying Car

    For more information on the story behind the car and the technical challenges in designing the car, check out this article in Boing Boing.

    Check out this link for a brief history of  attempts at flying cars shown as a slideshow in Popular Mechanics.

  • Moving on, looks like the future cars are going be a lot more audacious than your stereotypical backseat driver. They are being designed to spray vitamins on your face and tell you how to drive, constantly! Don’t believe me? Check out this PopSci article then. Nissan really is building such a car.

I will end this post with a link to the Huff. Post slideshow of the finalists for the Progressive Automotive X Prize. Enjoy!

Comments are disabled for this post