The traffic situation outside a lot of Swedish schools is a matter of complaints among many parents. There are too many cars, the drivers don’t respect speed limits and the air quality is bad. But according to a survey made among school headmasters, what causes most of these problems is actually the parents themselves! Another study, made by the Swedish Transport Administration, proves the headmasters right: according to it 80 percent of the traffic around an ordinary Swedish school consists of mums and dads leaving and picking up their children.
Tag archives for cars
Lars Henriksson, who normally spends his days assemblying Volvo cars in Gothenburg, is quite an unusual car worker. The last few years he has been attracting a lot of attention for arguing that the world already has too many cars – so why not use the factories, with their advanced technology and efficient machinery, to produce other things?
Earlier this year Lars Henriksson collected his thoughts in a book. One of his main points is that a society which is facing both Peak Oil and climate change will need a lot of new technology, like windfarm parts or podcars. He and his colleagues are fully qualified to start manufacturing these things instead of cars, he argues.
Lars Henriksson draws parallells to the Second World War, when the United States managed to switch their car production into making national defence material in just a few months time. Why couldn’t we do that now too, although not being in a war? is his question.
Having been a car worker for over 30 years, this of course isn’t uncontroversial. When a magazine published an interview with Lars Henriksson on the Internet, it soon got a lot of commentaries accusing him of wanting to go back to the Stone Age. Cars give many a sense of freedom and independence. But others seem inspired and hopeful: Could this be a way to keep the jobs in a car industry that has been experiencing hard times lately?
We’re used to car races all being about being first and fastest. Today there’s a contest in Lausitz, Germany, where the goal is quite different. The main objective here is to come as far as possible on one tiny litre of petrol. The world record is 5000 kilometers and now the question is: Will someone be able to beat that?
Teams from all over the world participate, many of them made up by researchers and professors. Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology sends two teams entirely made up by students and the other day I spoke to Jonas Severin, who has built one of the vehicles, “Sleipner”, together with a group of fellow students.
Sleipner runs on petrol, but being much lighter and having a less powerful motor that turns itself off in downhill slopes where the car can roll down by itself, the energy use is very much below a “normal” car.
The speed isn’t exactly breathtaking, Jonas Severin explains, with an average around 30 km/hour. But if the aim is to get as far as possible on as little energy as possible, going there fast can’t be a high priority. Just can’t get both. And as you see on the photos, Sleipner isn’t really the kind of vehicle you imagine packing your family into.
The other Swedish car in the contest, called Spiros, is more like the cars we are used to and has to be able to work in city traffic and pass a normal vehicle test, having proper lights, working brakes etc.
But are these just fun experiments for students? Jonas Severin says that a developed form of Spiros could maybe be out on the market in 10 to 15 years, able to roll for 500 kilomtres on one litre, instead of a max around 40 kilometers/litre for today’s smartcars.
A while left, apparently. But today is the big test for the KTH teams. Will their vehicles make it in the competition?
- Obviously it isn’t easy for a team of students to beat teams of professors, but it’ll be exiting to see how Sleipner does, says Jonas Severin.