FAR AHEAD – New York to L.A. in 45 minutes and New York to China in two hours are feasible travel times according to an article in the May issue of the Club of Amsterdam Journal. Titled “ETT Skyrocketing speed trains and cars” the unsigned piece describes Evacuated Tube Technologies now in the prototype stage. The ETT idea is “to install fast, clean, cheap and safe travel on earth needing only a 50th of the energy of the transportation means used whether it be train or car.”
Invented and directed by Daryl Oyster, an American scientist who graduated in mechanical engineering and worked on aeronautical and marine design and certifications, the evacuated tube transport system consists of using travel tubes eliminating all possible frictions due to speed thus permitting the means of transportation to travel faster and safer once it is set in motion.
The airless vacuum tubes could be made of any one of several possible materials and would be one quarter the cost per mile of a freeway and one tenth the cost of a high-speed railway. Capsules containing four to six persons would zip along a tube’s magnetic tracks at speeds up to 6,400 kilometers per hour but with only 1g acceleration. To learn more: Click here.
NOT SO FAR AHEAD – Scrolling down to the blogs in the same May issue (#148) of the Club Amsterdam Journal is one titled: “Platform Strategy Shaping the Future of Automotive OEMS.” It predicts 45-47% of passenger cars will use one of top 20 platforms by 2015. And, by 2020, the 10 major OEMs (General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Honda, Renault, Fiat, and Daimler) will reduce their platforms by about a third from over 175 platforms in 2010, and will concentrate mass production across a few key core platforms. This will come about through partnerships and consolidations so the OEMS can achieve economies of scale and this will lead to the Nissan V (formerly B) platform, Volkswagen’s MOB platform and Toyota’s MC platform becoming dominant platforms worldwide, according to the article.
This prediction is based on the belief that China, South Asia and South America, with their different vehicle needs and preferences, as compared to the U.S., will account for more than half of the global light vehicle production by 2015. All this consolidation of platforms can mean lower returns and greater risks for manufacturers. The article provides some interesting logic on what will be the near future for the worldwide auto industry.