News / Science & Technology

Washington Auto Show Highlights New Technologies

Washington Auto Show Highlights New Technologiesi
X
January 24, 2014 10:39 PM
At this week's annual Washington Auto Show, manufacturers are featuring their standard models along with cars that point to the future, both in terms of propulsion and multi-material body structures. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic
At this week's annual Washington Auto Show, manufacturers are featuring their standard models along with cars that point to the future, both in terms of propulsion and multi-material body structures.

Besides old concepts, repackaged in newly designed bodies, many manufacturers are showing models that are test beds for new technologies that point to the industry's future.

One model attracting a lot of attention is Toyota’s hydrogen-powered FCV Concept, which may be offered to consumers as soon as next year.

Its fuel cell converts hydrogen’s energy to electricity that charges the car’s battery.  Hydrogen is abundant and cheap, and the only byproduct of its use is clean water.

The head of Vehicle System Design at South Carolina’s Clemson University, Zoran Filipi, says that fuel cells are the long-term environmental solution.

“Recent announcements about this technology becoming available to consumers are great because it’s going to allow for real-world experience, evaluation of this technology, and will prepare us for the future where, at some point, the infrastructure might become available too,” he said.

Toyota claims the car has a range of at least 500 kilometers and that filling the tank takes no longer than refueling a gasoline vehicle tank.

But cars with regular engines, still the most affordable for ordinary consumers, are also becoming more environmentally friendly, especially diesel engines, which are again making their way into the luxury department.

Clemson University professor Zoran Filipi says internal combustion engines, IC for short, are fighting back.

"What we see is that the near term combination of these very advanced IC engine concepts - downsizing, turbocharging, direct injection and 7, 8, 9, 10-speed advanced transmissions, does allow 10, 15 even 20 percent improvement of fuel economy,” he said.

Hybrid engines are also making their way into the luxury car market. U.S. manufacturer Cadillac won this year’s prize for Green Car Technology for its ELR model, with an electric motor for driving and a small turbocharged gas engine for recharging the battery, thus extending its range.

The other new technology on the rise is recycled and composite materials for the car chassis - like BMW’s i3 - whose passenger compartment is completely made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, making it much lighter.

Filipi says lightweight materials and structures are absolutely critical for vehicles with heavy batteries.

“We might actually see a future with multi-material body structures - steel, aluminum, carbon fiber - all being used for the same vehicle, and a lot of welding replaced by gluing,” he said.

Filipi says that there is also active research on bio-based and biodegradable composites for automotive interiors that can take us to a sustainable future.

Judging by the models exhibited at this year’s Washington Auto Show, cars of the future will be increasingly cheaper to drive while their environmental impact will continue to drop.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid