The 2004 Auto World

The 2004 automobile world seen by an environmentalist

Keywords: global, automobile, Sun Diesel, Diester, BioDiesel, vehicle, innovations, energies, alternatives, gas, CNG, LPG, electric

Here is the testimony of Michel Villeneuve, (GE 13), a generation ecology activist about the 2004 Motor Show. Testimony that we obviously share.

Our comments are inserted in italics between () in the text and certain passages, completely irrelevant, have been deleted (…).

I took a tour of the 2004 “automobile world” with the eyes of an environmentalist.
The first thing that strikes you is the luxury, the smell of petrodollars wafts throughout the living room. (see article the economic weight of transport ) O
It is far from agricultural or craft fairs. Then, it is the crowd (more than 1.5 million visitors) which proves that the automobile remains an essential preoccupation of the French.

Finally, it is the poverty of the hall devoted to “new energies” (hall 2/2) which shows that the environment is not the major concern of builders and even less that of visitors. (as also shown by the "poor" photocopies of the NGV defenders to compare with the glossy or glossy files of the big manufacturers)

This world tour of an ecologist obviously begins with that of Hall 2/2 pompously announced, as that of "alternative energies". In fact, this Hall is mainly occupied by the media and insurance companies. I had to ask where were the alternative energies which are reduced to natural gas producers (Elf and TFE). Just next door, in the corner, is the tiny stand of the "Handisport club", echoing the stands radiating from the "police" and "road safety". (...)

Electric vehicles

Electric cars are only represented by the superb "Venturi" (photo1) but worthily since it is a sports car equipped with a 180kw electric motor and using 100 lithium-Ion batteries (350kg in total) from a capacity of 58kw. It is a car that runs at 170km / h at top speed with a range of 350km. (We doubt that the autonomy is 350 km while driving at 170 km / h) Charging is done in 3 hours and a half. Let us wish the Monegasque manufacturer the best of luck who has given the cover.

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Gas vehicles (CNG and LPG)

There are more cars running on natural gas (which guarantees 20% less CO2) from the small Smart (with gas cylinders under the cabin, photo 2) to the bus and passing through service vehicles (from 3.5 t at 26 tonnes) produced by Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat, Mercedes, etc. The inhabitants of the South-West will be happy to find the vehicles of their childhood (already 3,5 millions of vehicles run on gas in the world). (??)

We can regret the lack of success for Ciroën's brilliant idea of ​​using town gas as CNG thanks to a compression device at home. (see this article on the C3: click here )

There are also cars running on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) with Peugeot (photo 3) but also Deawo which has equipped almost all of its range with LPG. In addition to its more interesting purchase price than gasoline (-50%) and diesel (-35%), LPG allows you to obtain premiums for the purchase of a vehicle (1525 euros). 3 million cars run on LPG in Europe but this is not thanks to the manufacturers who have not made a particular effort on this type of fuel (which nevertheless reduces Nox emissions by 68 to 96%). Fortunately, the producers of LPG generously provide you with the location maps of the service stations equipped for. Almost as polluting as gasoline in terms of CO2 emissions and existing for 30 years, LPG has the enormous advantage of being waste from petroleum extraction and refining: not recovered in LPG form, it is burned in flares. In France, its development seems to have always been boycotted, in particular by the few service stations, see more precise figures in this study on transport in the city, click here

Fuel cells

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“Fuel cells” considered to be the engines of the future are not the primary concern of manufacturers. Only Nissan has equipped an X-trail (photo 4) and Peugeot a Quark. Queen solution of recent years and shows, would manufacturers admit that this technology is indeed limited? Patented before the internal combustion engine and used in the Apollo lunar missions (it is also the fuel cell that posed, among other things, problems to Apollo 13), this technology still presents many obstacles. IFP stopped its PAC research program in 1982 because the problems of hydrogen supply and production were insurmountable technologically and economically. The situation did not really change in 2004. On the other hand, we have great hopes for fuel cells that can use biofuels, ethanol or methanol and we would like to recall reading this article: click here )

SunDiesel or Sun Diesel.

Fortunately, the American-German manufacturer Daimler-Chrisler has innovated by offering an engine running on fuel (the Sun diesel) drawn from biomass (photo 5). This fuel derived from the transformation of plant waste (photo 6) succeeds in running engines (photo 7) ranging from small displacement to buses which equip the city of Frankfurt. Five tons of biomass produce 1 ton of "Sun diesel", ie 1300 liters. (Be careful, this fuel has nothing to do with BioDiesel or Diester, methyl esther derived from vegetable oil, here all the vegetable matter is used) In Europe alone (unfortunately not in France) more than 90 billion liters of "Sun diesel" have been produced, which corresponds to 20% of current fuel needs. (It seems to us that this is the potential of the Sun Diesel, by no means what has already been produced) Hats off to the manufacturer who calls the “Sun diesel” energy of tomorrow.

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This solution seems very promising to us without doubt currently the most promising with crude vegetable oils. This is because agricultural and forestry waste is often numerous and poorly valued, but like anaerobic digestion, public aid should give a boost to the development of this technology. We hope that the Biofuels 2005 plan will contribute to this. From a technological point of view, this solution is similar to the Makhonine process for liquefying coal: click here )

The prototypes.

The range of ecological vehicles would not be complete without vehicles running on solar energy (photo 8) or vehicles consuming less than one liter per 1000km (photo 9). These machines, which are the results of the efforts of technical high schools or engineering schools, will not be family cars or public transport for some time, but they have the merit of showing that we can tackle the problem. waste. Well done to "Helios" and to the HEI students who finished 12th in the "World Solar Challenges" with an average speed of 65km / h and a top speed of 130km / h (on a solar car) and to the students of the Saint -Sebastien sur Loire, for their “microjoule” (photo 10). These vehicles remain prototypes and there is no chance that, in the medium term, they will have their place on the market. In short, these are experimental toys.


We cannot close this chapter on ecological vehicles without talking about the small vehicles without a license produced by "Aixam" which can reduce traffic jams and provide great service (photo 11).

These micro vehicles are an interesting solution to urban congestion, like Peugeot's Tulip from a few years ago (see here ) they would still need to be sold at competitive prices in relation to their performance and / or to obtain state subsidies.

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