You probably remember Jack Swigert’s famous announcement from Apollo 13’s 1970 mission, “Uh, Houston, we have a problem.”
More than fifty years later, we are painfully aware of a problem, an energy problem, increasing fuel costs. Gasoline and diesel prices per liter are approaching orbital heights. Even the hybrids and electrics will suffer, as our hydro bills are soaring higher than the turkey vultures over the local dump
The problem can be dealt with if we apply the brilliant ideas of all the boffins, slide rule guys, aerodynamicists, automobile service experts, geniuses, savants and learned ones. There’d be no energy problem, no global warming and no further depletion of our resources. I’ve collected all of the practical suggestions than could be applied to our transportation inefficiency problem.
1) By increasing tire inflation by 10 psi above the normally recommended, rolling resistance is reduced, resulting in a fuel saving of 5 %.
2) Low profile tires have less rolling resistance. Fuel saving of 7 %.
3) By using snow tires with less aggressive tread, and only using them from November 31 to February 31, the reduced rolling resistance results in a fuel saving of 11 %.
4) Removing roof racks that aren’t carrying anything, less aerodynamic drag is created. Fuel saving of up to 14 %. (If you must carry a canoe, transport it inside the car, letting it hang out the rear window. If it’s too wide, open the rear side windows and carry the boat crosswise. Unfortunately that would incur an increase of fuel use of 14 %.
5) Eliminate side mirrors: less aerodynamic drag; fuel saving of 2 %. Most drivers never check their mirrors when lane changing.
6) Deflating tire pressures to about 5 psi will give the vehicle a sexy ground-hugging stance, similar to the Indy 500 race cars. The reduced aerodynamic drag gives a fuel saving of 9 %.
7) If you have a convertible, remove the front windshield and drive topless. The lower profile, you guessed it, less aerodynamic drag and a fuel saving of 7 %. During the winter, be sure to wear a toque. ‘Driving topless’ applies only to male motorists.
8) Up to the 1990s, cars were equipped with a radio antenna. If your old vehicle has one, remove it. Less aerodynamic drag, resulting in a fuel saving of 0.1 %. Use your cell phone to listen to music.
9) If you have a rooftop siren, you must be driving an ambulance or police car. You are therefore allowed to leave it on, but must travel at speeds no greater than 5 km/h when responding to calls. Unfortunately, no fuel saving.
10) If you have rooftop flashing lights, you could be driving a snow plow, a garbage truck or a pizza delivery vehicle. Proceed at normal speed. unfortunately, no fuel saving.
10) As the threats of COVID diminish, get back to covoiturage. If two occupy a car, there’s a whopping saving of 50%. Three: an unbelievable 100% saving!
If all ten of the above measures are applied, a fuel saving of … I’ll let you do the math. I’ve never been much good at sums and science stuff.