Just when you thought the motor industry was headed in a definite direction, something happens to change your mind all over again.
It’s a fact that within the next 20 years or so there will probably be more electric vehicles than internal combustion-engined vehicles around, but all is not lost for the petrol heads as new developments keep coming along to make the petrol or diesel engine more attractive.
One of the things that grabbed my interest this month was news that a British engineering shop has developed a small gas turbine engine which tips the scales at only half the weight of a comparable piston engine, and 40 percent of the size, yet has 30 percent thermal efficiency, coupled with extremely low emissions. And it can run on a variety of fuels, no doubt including renewable biofuel.
This little engine has been designed as a range extender for electric vehicles, and could well almost immediately “hurry up” the adoption of EVs to a much greater degree, since the EVs wouldn’t need such big battery packs for longer trips – and it’s the batteries that weigh and cost so much – with emissions still dramatically cut.
A 30 percent thermal efficiency is a little bit less than the latest direct injection GDI petrol motors, but adding a bigger heat exchanger can bring the turbine up to speed against the GDI engine.
As I said, extremely interesting stuff!
On a different front, just before deadline last month I went to Thames to visit Toyota’s Vehicle Operations Plant, and I’ve included a picture story this month to complement the article I wrote last issue.
What struck me most about the plant was how happy everyone working there seems to be.
They toil along with quiet efficiency, but seem as happy as Larry while doing it, and that’s a really heart-lifting thing to see in a world where so many people seem to spend all their time complaining.
Remember, most of us only work because we need to – leisure is much more pleasurable – but if you can enjoy your work, that’s a huge bonus, and means you usually do a better job!