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Old 12-11-06, 06:57 AM   #1
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Energy efficient vehicles in India why not here?

I've been in Mumbia these past few weeks and it's simply amazing that with enough political will (and India is a democracy) fuel efficient/clean fuel vehicles can actually be created and used by regular people. I've been out among clean, 2-stroke autorickshaws and driving in compressed natural gas and clean-burning diesel cars.

If they can do it, why can't we? I smell a conspiracy.

Also, if Indians can drive around with complete acceptance of bicycles going at bicycle speed (5 mph or so) in the lanes, and people pushing carts of fruit in the fast lane, and little kids playing on the freeway, then why can't we in the US slow down two seconds to pass a bicycle safely?
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Old 12-11-06, 07:35 AM   #2
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Diane, are you seriously asking? Or is this somewhat in jest?


Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
I've been in Mumbia these past few weeks and it's simply amazing that with enough political will (and India is a democracy) fuel efficient/clean fuel vehicles can actually be created and used by regular people. I've been out among clean, 2-stroke autorickshaws and driving in compressed natural gas and clean-burning diesel cars.
I don't exactly know where you are getting clean.
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India has some of the worst air pollution in the world.
According to the World Health Organization, the capital city of New Delhi is one of the top ten most polluted cities in the world. Surveys indicate that in New Delhi the incidence of respiratory diseases due to air pollution is about 12 times the national average.

According to another study, while India's gross domestic product has increased 2.5 times over the past two decades, vehicular pollution has increased eight times: Source: US Energy Information Agency
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If they can do it, why can't we? I smell a conspiracy.
No it's called progress. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is debatable. See below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Also, if Indians can drive around with complete acceptance of bicycles going at bicycle speed (5 mph or so) in the lanes, and people pushing carts of fruit in the fast lane, and little kids playing on the freeway, then why can't we in the US slow down two seconds to pass a bicycle safely?
They do because they have to. Same as China. People in these countries aren't riding bicycles because they are environmentally astute. They do because they can't afford anything else. Look at china. As the population gets more affluent people are dumping their bikes for cars.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for the USA getting more bicycle-centric and less car centric. But looking to India as the utopia is definitely not the answer.

-D
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Old 12-11-06, 08:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by derath
Don't get me wrong, I am all for the USA getting more bicycle-centric and less car centric. But looking to India as the utopia is definitely not the answer.

-D
Tend to agree... perhaps Europe is a better example. But the bottom line is the US is way way more wasteful in their use of petro fuels and in their love for "supersized" vehicles.
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Old 12-11-06, 12:36 PM   #4
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Also, if Indians can drive around with complete acceptance of bicycles going at bicycle speed (5 mph or so) in the lanes...why can't we in the US slow down two seconds to pass a bicycle safely?
We can, but we prefer to think it's impossible.

Whenever Mr. Rabbit guns his engine to pass my car, I usually meet him at the light. Sometimes, because I wasn't in a hurry, I also get a better position at the light and in the traffic flow.

I remember some calculation that somebody made in which they translated hours into cash, and cash into hours. They pointed out that driving might be "faster" than bicycling, but if you translate that cash you save by not driving into hours worked, you actually save time bicycling instead of driving.

But our culture is so stressed that we just can't relax long enough to do that kind of calculating. I thought we knew how to, "Work smarter, not harder."

And look at it this way. What are we working ourselves to death for? Life is it's own reward, and when we sacrifice life (hours) for money we might not need, we are getting a very bad bargain. Is riches measured by how much cash we have, or by how much we enjoy what nature has given us? Old proverb: "The fish is thirsty, and it makes me laugh."

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Old 12-11-06, 12:46 PM   #5
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Totally OT, but I hate that they changed the name of Bombay.
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Old 12-11-06, 12:54 PM   #6
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I suspect it's all a matter of practicality. Efficient vehicles make sense when gas costs a huge portion of your salary. Small vehicles make sense wherever space is at a premium. Non motorized transport works great where traffic is slow. You'll find all those circumstances in major Indian cities. The other thing that really impressed me when I was last in India was how calm the drivers are in hopeless traffic conditions.

That's the good news. The bad news is that at least everywhere I went, people drove like absolute lunatics on open roads. Also, the air pollution in the big cities I visited (Calcutta and New Delhi) was absolutely staggering.

Derath's observation that people switch to cars when they can is spot on. Moscow is a great example of this. Absolutely fabulous public transportation (though it is not as nice now as it was in Soviet times IMO), but people are choosing to get cars and sit in hopeless traffic jams.
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Old 12-11-06, 01:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
Totally OT, but I hate that they changed the name of Bombay.
Though if English speakers hadn't assigned that name, we would have been calling it Mumbai to begin with. Same schtick with Beijing/Peking. Lots of places are known by different names in different languages. Every now and then, nationalist sentiments kick up and people switch to an old form that wasn't assigned.

Sometimes, names of things get changed because chowderheads can't even handle being reminded of a group they have an issue with. Now if someone could just pass me the "freedom fries".....
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Old 12-11-06, 01:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Also, if Indians can drive around with complete acceptance of bicycles going at bicycle speed (5 mph or so) in the lanes, and people pushing carts of fruit in the fast lane, and little kids playing on the freeway, then why can't we in the US slow down two seconds to pass a bicycle safely?
I was only able to quickly find old 1998 data:
216,859 fatalities on the road in India (7,203,864 injuries)
49,304 road fatalities in North America (1,670,374 injuries)

2006 population figures:
India: 1,095,351,995
North America: 514,600,000

All else being equal (its not of course*) one would expect only ~2x the fatality and injuries in India.

Look at car ownership per capita too and the numbers become even worse for India.

*just as an example, things like pop growth 1998-2006, post accident medical care, protective equipment, etc.

Al
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Old 12-11-06, 06:53 PM   #9
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If they can do it, why can't we? I smell a conspiracy.
Nah, that just couldn't be. We all know that ours is a nation of laws, not of men, and that our government works just like we were taught in middle school civics. Yes, it works just like that. Nosiree, no, it just could not possibly be any other way. (Looks around, to make sure he has it right...)

On a more serious note, there is just too much money and power at stake. The people that have it are not about to give it up easily. Is the technology there to do it? yeah, I'd say it is. Example, that new electric car called the "Tesla": It will be interesting to see how it develops over time. Its makers have said that if the pricey sports car is a commercial success, they will proceed with a plan to make a mid-priced car, and ultimately, a low-priced (under 30K) car for volume sale. These will be built using the existing technology. What I predict: As long as the folks at Tesla motors only produce a very expensive, niche-market sports car, the oil powers won't be concerned. If they go ahead and start to produce a well-engineered, electric car for the masses, one that is a pleasure to drive and gets the job done, well,,,, Take your thumb, and press it on a table. Slowly work it back and fourth a few times, in a "rub out" motion. Yeah, that's probably what will happen. It happened in the late forties, when the very idealistic Preston Tucker tried to market his Tucker torpedo car. It was a fantastic idea for a car at that time. (An engine that could be swapped out in fifteen minutes. Windows that popped out, in the event of a collision, as safety glass had not been invented yet.) The crotchity old coots at the big three wouldn't stand for this, and they used political mumbo-jumbo to kill the Tucker automobile and ruin Preston Tucker in the process. Have a Read

Sorry, didn't mean to rant. I wll put my foil hat back on now.
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Old 12-11-06, 07:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
I've been in Mumbia these past few weeks and it's simply amazing that with enough political will (and India is a democracy) fuel efficient/clean fuel vehicles can actually be created and used by regular people. I've been out among clean, 2-stroke autorickshaws and driving in compressed natural gas and clean-burning diesel cars.

If they can do it, why can't we? I smell a conspiracy.

Also, if Indians can drive around with complete acceptance of bicycles going at bicycle speed (5 mph or so) in the lanes, and people pushing carts of fruit in the fast lane, and little kids playing on the freeway, then why can't we in the US slow down two seconds to pass a bicycle safely?
Mumbai has money, the rest of the country doesn't. Try Shimla, or go to Tiruvananthapuram (try saying that one fast), or Chennai, Bangalore...I could go on but there is no need, The country is a polution nightmare. When I commuted to work in Bangalore I used this



everyday and the filters basically dissolved after 3 weeks of use (I lived there for the past 2 years). There has been a push in certian cities to improve polution. Delhi replacaed all buses older than 8 years with natural gas, and all autoricshas are to be that way as well. In 2000 spanding a few hours in Delhi had the same damage to your lungs a smoking a pack of unfilted cigarettes.

Bangalore is trying to phase in natural gas ones as well. Problem is outside of a few people, no one can afford to do so. Guys spending 350 000 rupees on a ric, making 300-400 a day can't afford to switch over.

Travel around the country somemore, go to other places, then comment on how the traffic there works. Be interesting to see your perception then.

I'm also curious where you were in Mumbai since ricshas aren't allowed in the city core.
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Old 12-11-06, 07:17 PM   #11
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What I predict: As long as the folks at Tesla motors only produce a very expensive, niche-market sports car, the oil powers won't be concerned.
Nah, the oil powers won't care. The extra power plants needed to charge all of these electric cars would have to run on something.

-D
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Old 12-11-06, 07:24 PM   #12
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I recall recently reading that India banned human powered rickshaws because they were inhumane. Guess you missed it.
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Old 12-11-06, 07:28 PM   #13
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Nah, the oil powers won't care. The extra power plants needed to charge all of these electric cars would have to run on something.

-D
They could run on the natural gas and electricity used to extract and refine the petroleum products. Right now we'd get nearly as many EV miles from the NG/electricity used to refine a gallon of petroleum product, and if we take into account the increased processing/energy requirements needed for gasoline we'd probably get more EV miles than gasoline miles. So in terms of gasoline alone we'd probably get more useful energy out of burning the NG for electricity/using the electricity instead of using it to make gasoline for cars, instead we double our carbon output and put god knows what into the air. We pump/refine/use oil because it's profitable to do so, not because it's more efficient than alternatives.
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Old 12-11-06, 07:38 PM   #14
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I recall recently reading that India banned human powered rickshaws because they were inhumane. Guess you missed it.
Auto ricshas



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Old 12-11-06, 07:50 PM   #15
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Whoa... I quess it is a conspiracy then. No way would Ralph Nader allow one of those powered ones on the road. They could make the Corvair driver relatively... immortal.

Got to admit that that balancing the water bottle on the foot trick at speed is pretty impressive though. I never would have thought it possible.
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Old 12-11-06, 08:44 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by pyze-guy
Mumbai has money, the rest of the country doesn't.
that's right. i lived in varanasi for a year and basically coughed up black junk every morning when i woke up. didn't see anything that ran on anything other than diesel (unless you count the cycle rickshaws). and in most other places in india that i've travelled (outside of major city centers, like delhi, chandigarh, and mumbai where there is at least a little bit of infrastructure), the general rule is: the bigger the vehicle, the more right-of-way you have. so if you're on a bicycle, typically you're at the bottom of the food chain and you'd better watch out for that big truck with the loud horn, because he's not going to slow down to pass you.
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Old 12-11-06, 08:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by derath
Nah, the oil powers won't care. The extra power plants needed to charge all of these electric cars would have to run on something.

-D
Power plants can run on plenty other then oil, currently we have powerplants running on coal, oil, gas, plant material, garbage (theoretically sewage could also be used), gravity, moving water and nuclear fission. The problem with the automobile, is that no matter what you power it with, the automobile is still a major energy consumer. This doesn't even begin to deal with the amount of space the automobile consumes, think about how much smaller a city could be if all roads were 6m wide and there was no space needed for parking space.

The most efficient mode of transportation, is to not transport something at all, driving 50 miles to work, 30 miles to shop, and 20 miles more to socialize is stupid. Now if you move say 5 miles to work, 3 miles to shop and 2 miles to socialize, then you save 100% of the energy used to move yourself 90 miles, and the 10 miles left, is easily within cycling range, the second most efficient method
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Old 12-11-06, 10:03 PM   #18
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Power plants can run on plenty other then oil, currently we have powerplants running on coal, oil, gas, plant material, garbage (theoretically sewage could also be used), gravity, moving water and nuclear fission.
Yea I know. I was replying somewhat in jest. Sorry should have used some smileys. But I would guarantee that if ever in trouble, the oil powers would have a heavy lobby for their products. They would make money regardless.


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Old 12-11-06, 10:13 PM   #19
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Though if English speakers hadn't assigned that name, we would have been calling it Mumbai to begin with.
I think it was actually the Portuguese speakers.
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Old 12-11-06, 10:41 PM   #20
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Yes, Mumbai has money. More money that I have seen anywhere else outside New York City. I have been to shops where the prices painfully high by US standards. I would not be able to afford life here any better than I can afford life in Santa Barbara. In fact, I think my standard of living would decrease on my same salary. And by the way, I have not seen an autorickshaw with that many people on it here.

But back to the energy efficient motor vehicles...Gasoline costs equivalent to $8 a gallon here. That is a lot by my standards. So there's an incentive for other fuels. And these other fuels work. You can stand next to traffic in hopeless traffic jams and you do not choke on exhaust. There isn't any exhaust to choke on unless a bus goes by. I suspect most of the pollution is from burning plastic and trash in the street.

I'm just saying that they've got a whole city here running on clean burning cars and other vehicles. And these cars can go plenty fast (if only there wasn't so much traffic). But the US auto industry wails and moans that it just isn't possible to do. That we don't have the technology. Considering that most people I know sit in terrible traffic idling or stopping and going at 11mph, I can't understand how it just isn't possible to have clean burning cars here. Makes no sense.
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Old 12-11-06, 11:53 PM   #21
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Diane, you really are just too naive or something along those lines.

First off, did you miss the replies talking about India's HUGE pollution? And yes that is from automobiles, as well as factories, although the vehicle pollution far outstrips factory pollution.

Or what about the replies from folks who have lived in India with firsthand longterm experience regarding pollution?

Yes India is working to lessen their pollution, but they have only adopted modern emissions standards (eurpoean standards) since 2000.

You speak of clean burning diesel cars. Funny that NONE of these "clean diesel cars" would even pass California emissions controls.

Natural gas? It is in limited use in the US. I have seen busses and other government vehicles using it. Have you given any thought to what it would take to roll out natural gas pumps all over the USA? That would be an extremely huge undertaking. And it would be necessary before anyone would buy natural gas vehicles (who would want to buy them if they couldn't go to say, a neighboring state who doesnt have the right pumps).

To use an analogy, there are third world contries with superior cell technology grids than we do. Why? Because they started later, so they could take advantage of the latest technology without having to re-engineer an existing infrastructure. That sort of thing makes a major difference.

Not to say we still don't need to work towards better technologies. But to go visit one city in India and come back and say "why can't we do this here" is extremely naive and overly simplistic.

-D
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Old 12-12-06, 12:25 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Yes, Mumbai has money. More money that I have seen anywhere else outside New York City. I have been to shops where the prices painfully high by US standards. I would not be able to afford life here any better than I can afford life in Santa Barbara. In fact, I think my standard of living would decrease on my same salary. And by the way, I have not seen an autorickshaw with that many people on it here.

But back to the energy efficient motor vehicles...Gasoline costs equivalent to $8 a gallon here. That is a lot by my standards. So there's an incentive for other fuels. And these other fuels work. You can stand next to traffic in hopeless traffic jams and you do not choke on exhaust. There isn't any exhaust to choke on unless a bus goes by. I suspect most of the pollution is from burning plastic and trash in the street.

I'm just saying that they've got a whole city here running on clean burning cars and other vehicles. And these cars can go plenty fast (if only there wasn't so much traffic). But the US auto industry wails and moans that it just isn't possible to do. That we don't have the technology. Considering that most people I know sit in terrible traffic idling or stopping and going at 11mph, I can't understand how it just isn't possible to have clean burning cars here. Makes no sense.

Again, Mumbai has money where people can afford to buy new cars and not drive in 30 year old Ambassadors and Mopeds. It's the only cosmopolitan city in India per se and new cars and motorcycles are status more there then anywhere else (according to an Economist article I read there it is the 3rd most expesive city in the world to live in). I've been to Mumbai 4 times and it is one of the cleaner cities polution wise, but only on the island itself. The rest of the city is pretty bad.

The auto is from the Dehli to Agra highway. It's a taxi/bus service. That's how the locals get around, it's the only affordable way.

Mumbai is NOT the city to which you should judge polution and clean burning cars. It's just not "India". Visit Chennai, Calcutta, Varnasi, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad etc. and then see how well the country and government is when it comes to emissions. It's a state mandate, not federal for these issues. It's a horrible country for pollution and emmisions. I loved being there and being immeresed in the culture, but will never miss the black smoke belching vehicles.

I took my Royal Enfield in for service one day, and the 'mechanic' was all concerned it wasn't running right because the exhaust was clean. He thought the engine was broken because no black smoke exhaust was pumping out and proceeded to pour oil in the tank to 'fix' the problem. He also told me I was crazy to pay for gas at the station, I should buy it from the road side vendors where it was cheaper. Cheaper because it was cut with kerosene.
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Old 12-12-06, 12:29 AM   #23
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Yes India is working to lessen their pollution, but they have only adopted modern emissions standards (eurpoean standards) since 2000.-D
The effectiveness of government in India is low to use a polite word. 5th worst country for corruptness. Controls may have been adopted, but onle places there are 'enforced' are in areas with large expat bases/businesses.
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Old 12-12-06, 12:35 AM   #24
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And yet with all those strikes against it, India has managed to fill the streets of one major city, a city with more homeless people than the entire city of Los Angeles, with clean fuel vehicles and we cannot do it here? Is this me being naive or you being hoodwinked by the auto and oil industries?
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Old 12-12-06, 12:56 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
And yet with all those strikes against it, India has managed to fill the streets of one major city, a city with more homeless people than the entire city of Los Angeles, with clean fuel vehicles and we cannot do it here? Is this me being naive or you being hoodwinked by the auto and oil industries?
Both. It is a clean city by India standards. There are no auto rickshas allowed which cuts down on polution. It's the only city with a train service which acts as public transit into the downtown , aside from the now complete Delhi metro, and the buses, like in Delhi have been recently converted to natural gas. It won't happen elsewhere. And please stop claiming the city is full of clean vehicles, some sort of emmisions utopia, its not. A small part of the city is this way, go check out the suburbs, the outlying Nagars and slums.

And it's not India that's pushed the clean cars, it's Mumbai. Thats a huge difference. People there, and the local government have the money to be able to do it. Try convincing the construction workers who were building in my neighbourhood to get a new clean moped. He make 100 rupees a day. That's why kids aged 4 are working on the sites, to earn a few rupees. The average income in the country is $3400. Mumbai does not equal India, as Beverly Hills does not equal the U.S. It is ONE city that has made great strides, but has huges leaps still ahead.
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