There is a definite compressed sense of time in the auto industry right now. A year’s worth of activity now needs to be crammed into a matter of months as carmakers scramble to innovate the vehicles of future and survive in the process. But let’s take a step back from the whirlwind of gloom and doom for a moment to take note of two plans in the works that could prove to be small steps in the right direction, not just for vehicle sales, but for transportation as well.
It’s a relatively small step, but a significant one that the Society of Automotive Engineers is currently working to settle an issue called SAE J1772, that would standardize a plug-in format for all electrical cars to recharge with.
During the upcoming SAE World Congress in Detroit this week, SAE will discuss just which version of the plug, like the universal gas pump will become the model used by all electric car manufacturers. Once the plug-in is standardized, it would remove one of the major barriers standing in the way of adding electric recharge docks to gas stations and people’s homes and make electric cars a significantly more practical option for consumers.
“With SAE J1772, we’re defining what a common electric vehicle conductive charging system architecture will look like for all major automakers in North America,” said Gery Kissel, Energy Storage Systems Engineering Specialist, “but more importantly, we’re working to resolve general physical, electrical and performance requirements so these systems can be manufactured for safe public use.” (1)
Kissel evaded his engineer’s language to add,
“Think about it, if you have no reservations or confusion about charging your vehicle, you’re probably going to be more likely to drive one.”
The commander in change, President Barack Obama outlined a plan April 16 for regional high-speed rail routes in the United States. Instead of hopping in a car and dodging cop radars to make good time, passengers of the system would be able to board new trains capable of speeds up to 110 mph between regional destinations.
Planned routes include a station in Chicago, the California corridor (Sacramento and San Francisco and south past LA) and the southeast corridor (DC down to Florida.) After the initial routes, another 10 would be completed.
If all goes as planned, the federal government could spend up to $13 billion from the stimulus plan over the next five years on the project.
Keep in mind these are only REGIONAL high-speed rail routes, meaning that the new speedier trains probably would not replace the plane or car for cross-country trips. But, as Obama put it:
“Building a new system of high-speed rail in America will be faster, cheaper and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already overburdened aviation system –- and everybody stands to benefit.” (2)
Pardon the cliche, but let's hope so.