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January 11, 2008


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The New York City High School Math Teacher

Something like a genuine kei-car? An Indian Honda N-360?

There's something to be said for the smaller car. We had a Yaris in PR (me 2200ft, Mrs. NYCMT 580mi.) it was a pleasantly nimble vehicle. But this Tata has no power anything.

The New York City High School Math Teacher

And, having had to replace wheel bearing on the old Dodge, having shoddy low spec. bearings is a bad idea.


As I understand it, the Nano is explicitly designed with the Indian urban road environment in mind, which apparently makes Metro Manila look like the Bonneville Salt Flats.

If it's unlikely that you'll ever be driving 45 mph, having bearings whose upper limit is 100 mph is wasteful over-engineering.

I'd be very interested in seeing their production cost analysis (like _that's_ going to happen). The Tata firm is based on very canny cost analyses.

Syd Webb

When evaluating a design one has to consider the intended users. For the Indian worker with a $1500 motor-scooter who takes his wife and two kids on it for a weekend drive the Tata represents a huge step up.

Biofuel? It's like, totally, so 2006. The ecological issue is no longer finding substitutes for fossil fuels but slowing down the rate of extraction and burning of said fossil fuels. Whether a car burns petrol or bratwurst it's all adding to the CO2 burden.

Noel Maurer

Syd: that's not right. It depends on the amount of fossil fuel consumed in the production of the biofuel. Cane ethanol, according to the report on my desk, adds an order of magnitude less CO2 per vehicle-mile.

Of course, it's a Brazilian government report. So, uh. If you could point me in the direction of better data, I would, in fact, be professionally grateful.

Syd Webb

Hi Noel,

As you can probably guess the calculations for CO2 per vehicle/distance - or CO2 per volume - depend on a number of parameters. These can include:

* the type of forest cut down to make the cane field;

* the mechanism used to make the ethanol; and

* the locations of the sugar-cane, the manufacturing plant and the consumers.

It's the weekend so I'm away from the office. However a quick Google with the parameters:

"sugar cane" ethanol carbon GHG

throws up an number of sites supportive of the Brazilian government.

A critique of corn ethanol, in favour of fuel from prairie grass, from New Scientist can be found here:


This carbon stuff makes me feel like I'm living in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. I'm still waiting for the Antarctic volcano to cut loose. And life-extension.

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