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Ride-sharing: A technology for the long emergency

JMG, Gristmill
Avego makes ride-sharing a normal reality

The thing about energy-driven collapse is that it’s uneven — it’s not like the calendar flips back and we all return to having the things we had in the past.

Rather, we’re going to have this huge overhang of technology from the peak period of affluence and abundance. Sometimes that’s going to be bad (buildings that are unlivable without massive inflows of energy) and sometimes it will be fortuitous.

Even if the satellites and cellphones fail, we will need to learn sharing — making the maximum use of each resource, such as an auto trip.

Here’s a good start: Avego. Today it depends on fancy gadgetry to work, but the real breakthrough is in helping people become reacquainted with the idea of sharing rides as a perfectly normal way to live. Here’s a video introduction:

Avego Shared Transport (YouTube)
(23 November 2008)
We don’t usually do plugs for products, but this is an exception. Sean O’Sullivan gave me a demo several months ago, and I was impressed at the vision behind Avego. About the technology I couldn’t judge (I saw a very early version), but a system like this seems inevitable. Two applications come to mind. First, if there is a severe gas shortage, this system could provide an immediate way to cut gas needs. Second, it would be easier to implement and promote of a system like this in a specific community (e.g. an army base or a university) . As JMG points out, the real breakthrough is cultural – relearning to share.

Pat Murphy at Community Service had a similar idea: Smart Jitneys. -BA

Always-on headlines in the EU – accelerating peak oil?

Brian Delle, Motoring in Spain
… The proposal that all motor vehicles should have their headlights ON when being driven within the EU is being met with some resistance especially by the environmental groups. In this case I support them. I can see, being an ex-motorcyclist myself the sense in have motorcycle headlights on at all times …

The point is taken that millions of vehicles with their headlights on will use up a lot of fuel which will speed the peak oil situation, as well as cause pollution, even if it is only an increase of about 2% overall, is well taken and I agree with them. In Scandinavia where this has been a law or decades, the headlights are on all day and it is a good idea due to the weather conditions with snow and the cars there often have headlight washers and wipers to help. But most have special “headlights” that come on when the engine is running but they have only 18 watt lamps (normal is about 55 watts) in them so fuel consumption is much lower. But one problem we have elsewhere even in sunny Spain is where many drivers only switch on to see where they are going, not to let others know when visibility is poor.
(24 November 2008)
UPDATE (Nov 30)
EB reader Paddy Casey writes:

This is in response to the article written by Brian Delle ‘Always-on headlines in the EU-accelerating peak oil’ (excerpt at EB0. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but how does running your vehicle with its headlights on burn more fuel? That’s like saying playing your radio while you’re driving causes greater fuel consumption.

The headlights are a compenent of your vehicles electrical system, not the fuel system. The headlights, radio, GPS, computer systems, electric seats, heated seats, sunroofs, DVD player, etc. etc. run off of battery power which is charged by the alternator which is belt driven. The alternator is driven at a constant speed relative to engine speed and does not impead on a vehicles performance in any way for it does not cause any resistance on the belt. Air conditioners are a different story though, they do cause a power drain when the compressor kicks in.

So, to think that running headlights causes an increase in fuel consumption is beyond me, unless of course the author was speaking of electric cars, which was not noted!

Would someone please ask him and all of his “environmental groups” friends to realize that headlights do not increase fuel consumption. If that were the case all cars should not have any electrical options available, especially fuel gauges. Thank you

BA responds:

Good question. Not being an engineer, I had to think about it for a while.

I would have two responses:

1) Theoretical. Lit headlamps represent energy being expended, as does the use of any electrical device. The energy does not come from the car’s battery, since the battery serves only as a temporary repository for energy. The only other possible source of energy is gasoline. Therefore, driving with headlights would require more gas. I would guess that the alternator would require more energy to turn, thus reducing mileage. An engineer could be more precise and calculate how large the drop in mileage would be.

2) Experiential. Have you ever ridden a bicycle with lights powered by a generator? The old-fashioned kind that is turned by a knurled knob pressing against a tire? When you activate the generator, you definitely feel a drag.

Someone should make a collection of questions like this – questions based on our everyday experience that help us understand the nature of energy. Another of my favorites: Could a hyperactive hamster power your house?.

How US is Losing the Plug-in Race

Bill Paul, Energy Tech Stocks
How US is Losing the Plug-in Race (Part 1 of 2) – Washington Giving Japan Technology Developed with US Taxpayer $

“At the moment, GM is ahead of the Japanese on plug-in hybrids because it is the only company with a production date,” Felix Kramer, one of America’s foremost advocates of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), last week told

But even though U.S. taxpayers may soon have to pay for a car industry bailout in part to keep General Motors in the plug-in race, Washington recently licensed to a Japanese firm a technology that is expected to enhance both the performance and safety of the lithium-ion batteries that will go into PHEVs.
(24 November 2008)