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I'm always coming up with ideas for improving products of one kind or another. I have several thoughts that apply to the GM Volt that I came up with late the other night. Sorry if I ramble, I was tired from working a long day. I'm just posting what I wrote:

Here is my first idea, and it really doesn't require any new technology. Why is it that I have to carry a physical object to a car in order to get the multimedia I want loaded onto it? We have a couple technologies available that are well suited to the job. If a car had a small computer system in it (not much more than what's in a Smartphone or PDA), the owner could use either extended range Bluetooth or just Wi-Fi to connect to the car and put multimedia on
it. You could just map a drive on your computer, the drive being inside the car itself, and drag and drop music onto the hard drive. Even better, you could automate it so that PodCasts are copied automatically from your home computer to your car. Every time you
get in the car it would have the very latest PodCasts. You'd want security built into it, just like any other device, but it could be done. Your car usually sits either right outside your house, or in your
garage, either of which would normally fit within a Wi-Fi or extended Bluetooth footprint. Why pay for cell phone broadband, when you already have it in your house?

Loading information from House PC -> Car is one thing, but this would also give you the ability to move data from Car -> House PC. You could get all kinds of data from your car. When you go to a gas pump you could use the car computer screen to enter how many gallons you added, and how much it cost (either number of gallons and price per gallon, or number of gallons and total cost). Make it very simple for the user so they won't hesitate to use it. Then your home PC could download that, along with the current MPG, miles traveled, etc. You could even make modifications to the car from your laptop, have the car e-mail you when service is scheduled or required due to problems. You could configure it to send a service message to your dealer. Or you could configure it to report statistical information to GM to allow them to fine tune the product, update the firmware, and get real-world test results after the change.

But all this starts with a link between the Car and the Home PC. You could have it connect only to your home network via Wi-Fi or PC via Bluetooth, or if you choose to use the Wi-Fi solution you could configure it to use a secure connection to report data to your PC every time it hits a public Wi-Fi hotspot (preferably through a secure connection.)

I've also been thinking about removable battery packs. If battery packs for cars were standardized, and were built into a car in such a way as to allow them to be removed, when you stopped at the "gas" station you could have a robotic system remove your depleted pack, and insert a freshly charged pack. Even if it only made up 50% of your total capacity, at least it could be exchanged in minutes. It would be like propane gas containers, you wouldn't own the battery pack, you'd just use it. You'd pay a little above the electricity charge to absorb the cost of battery maintenance, but it wouldn't amount to much. You'd get the added benefit of always having a good quality battery pack for the added cost, you'd never have to pay for new batteries. You would be paying for them a little at a time with this model, instead of all at once. The power stations (as opposed to "gas" stations), could be the same businesses as the truck stops that service cars and trucks now, just add batteries and the auto-changer. The power stations could even add a wind generator. After the wind generator was paid for, the electricity charge would be almost all profit. If there was another source of cheap power where the station was, it could be used also, or instead. Put a power station near a sewage treatment plant, and use methane to generate electricity. Here in the midwest they could actually pay hog farmers for their waste, and use it to produce electricity, solving the problems of energy production and "factory" hog lot pollution at the same time. Alternative energy sources need to converge locally with point of sale energy stations ("gas" stations.) It distributes the pollution load (small though it maybe), encourages competition between stations for low cost energy, and finances alternative energy resourceswhere the resource exists.

Also, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to be using a standard gasoline engine in the Volt. They should definitely be looking into using a micro-turbine that uses an air bearing. Such designs only have ONE moving part, it generates electricity much more economically, and it can be tapped for HVAC needs (which are useful in a car.) They are smaller and lighter than equivalent combustion engines also. Capstone Turbines have been used on an electric concept bus, so it shouldn't be a problem to build it into a car.

Take a look at

http://www.capstoneturbine.com/

If you combine this with batteries from:

http://www.a123systems.com/

(which I think the Volt is already using, perhaps due
to a previous suggestion by me) and I think you would
have a real winner.

-Lance
 
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