"One-litre car" may help traffic pollution

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Professors at the Energy Science Centre, attached to the Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) in Zurich, have presented their contribution of a car quite similar to Loremo able to travel 100 kilometres (around 62 miles) on a tank with just 1 litre (around 1 quart), equalling to about 235 miles per gallon. They presented their contribution during Swiss Energy Week.

The automobile, which has and will be manufactured by the Swiss company Horlacher, is 75% lighter than an average family car and guzzles a tenth of the fuel thanks to vastly improved aerodynamics.

The Swiss Flag

One drawback to this car is that it has none of the modern safety features found in many cars to-day. But the FIT team is designing technology that lets cars communicate with each other to avoid collisions, using similar computer systems to those in aircraft.

"This car does compromise on style, speed and comfort, but you can't have a free lunch," says Lino Guzzella, one of the centre's members

"Business as usual is no longer an option. If we are to survive in the future, we will have to drastically reduce carbon emissions." Guzzella continued.

There are approximately 800 million cars on this planet and in Switzerland there are 500 cars per 1,000 people, compared with 800 in the United States and less than 50 per 1,000 in India and China.

The Polybahn which takes people up to the University area as well as the FIT

Swiss drivers also favour more powerful, polluting vehicles than the rest of western Europe. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the main lobbying group of the automobile industry in the European Union, the average car in Switzerland has a 2 litre engine compared with 1.6 litres in neighbouring countries.

"The Swiss think they are better at cutting harmful emissions than anyone else, but they are not," says researcher Peter de Haan van der Weg.

He believes Switzerland should introduce incentives to make people buy cleaner cars. Some countries already have such schemes: the US awards tax breaks worth up to $3,000 and the Netherlands offers €6,000 to green car owners. The Swiss authorities are currently thinking about two similar options presented by the city of Bern and the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

"Individuals are not capable of understanding the big picture because it is difficult for people to look 50 years into the future," Mr. De Haan van der Weg said.

"Therefore it is necessary to have government regulations to force changes that will benefit the environment."

Sources

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