By on August 3, 2012

In the eternal quest to adhere to “sustainability”, Lamborghini will apparently be fitting the Aventador with a start-stop system and cylinder deactivation. Am I the only one that finds the recent trend of eco-friendly supercars ridiculous?

We can argue over their relevance in today’s wider world, what direction they should take (lightweight and pure, like a McLaren F1 or obese but rapidmissiles like the Bugatti Veyr0n) and what even qualifies as a supercar when there are record numbers of Ferraris and Gallardos being built, to the point where they no longer turn heads in major urban centers.

One thing we can agree on is that the supercar, in all its forms, is the absolute zenith of what the automobile can achieve in terms of performance and technological achievement. That doesn’t mean that they can’t strive for greater efficiency. I see no negative effect on making cars more efficient. But it must be done in the right way, rather than in a manner that panders to the pseudo-religious zeitgeist that demands we be “green” without ever really explaining why, beyond a bunch of theoretical doomsday scenarios that would send us back to pre-Industrial agrarian communities (which is a positive development for some hairshirt green types…but that’s another topic). That path is why we have all kinds of technological solutions which impose significant weight penalties while returning minimal gains in fuel consumption and emissions reduction.

Nowadays, you can’t attend a Porsche product demonstration without hearing their spiel about a committment to the environment and the planet. It’s so transparently contrived and disingenuous that it’s almost nauseating. My driving partner and I sat through it at the 2013 Porsche Boxster launch, and after a minute of dealing with the start-stop system, we promptly hit the “Off” button. On the other end of the spectrum, we have silly systems like GM’s eAssist, which are pseudo-hybrid systems that don’t give the car a competitive advantage in terms of “MPGs”, but take up weight and space.

The one true path to creating a “greener” supercar – or any car – is light weight. There is no way around it. Yes, cars have become heavier, and despite what the auto-dork purist crowd will tell you, it’s not all bad; you probably won’t be horribly mutilated or killed in an impact anymore, and they’re quite nice places to be, what with satellite radio and heated  and cooled seats (which are apparently more efficient than using the climate control system) – but something has to give.

Imagine if the next Acura NSX didn’t have a hybrid system; just an Earth Dreams V6, making 350 horsepower (say we sacrifice some efficiency in the name of power) but the car was radically light weight – kind of like what Honda did last time around. Yes, the NSX wasn’t terrible fuel-efficient by our standards, but the powertrain and the mindset behind it, is now 20+ years old. What could be done with current knowledge in the fields of engines, aerodynamics and lightweight construction, minus the heavy battery packs and hybrid motors?

The NSX is a supercar that can theoretically be driven every single day. The Aventador isn’t. Focusing on a efficiency for a car that will be used sparingly seems like a foolish misallocation of brainpower and resources. Even if it does get 11 mpg around town (likely less with all the revving at stoplights and burst of acceleration the cretin owners are likely to engage in), it’s on the road for perhaps a couple of hours at a time, once or twice a month. The net gain in carbon emissions is inconsequential. The V12 engine is an endangered species, and anyone looking for that carnal blast of noise would be let down by the pedestrian drone of a V6 once the cylinder-deactivation system kicks in.

This is why the Lexus LFA is so admirable. There is a contingent that cannot look past the numbers, and can only type out a spastic admonishment that “(Insert supercar here, or a Nissan GTR) would smoke this thing”. The accomplishment at hand is lost on them, as well as those who rightfully appreciate the amazing, hand-crafted V10 and gorgeous styling. The LFA mostly exists as a test bed for carbon fiber vehicle construction, a way to justify the costs of all of this R&D in the guise of a halo car marketing exercise for Toyota and Lexus.

Subsequent breakthroughs will allow us to have our cake and eat it too; all the safety and supplemental comforts that we are used to, with no drop-off in performance and efficiency. It is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, which is why most car companies are unable to explore radical solutions for reducing mass at this time. And lest we forget how pleasing it is to drive something free of unnecessary mass, light on its feet, with sharp reflexes and the unparalleled feeling of not knowing where you end and the car begins.

The likelihood is that we’ll continue to see more of these measures, like start-stop systems and hybrid drivetrains in the dream machines of tomorrow. In some cases, like the Porsche 918 and the Acura NSX, they do exist in the name of pushing the performance envelope. In the case of the Aventador, they are a naked PR move to appease a contingent of people who are not going to be Aventador customers, and often have a reflexive distaste for “the rich”, without ever realizing that they too are human beings, with insecurities and regrets and a hankering for escapism through consumption. Which is what compels them to buy the Aventador in the first place.

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65 Comments on “Eco-Friendly Supercars: A Fool’s Errand?...”


  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I’m holding out for the Veyron 2.0L TDI

    • 0 avatar
      Ron B.

      Count me in too , But i want overdrive on 6th and cup holders and a place to put the babies capsule with a in car surveilance cam with blue tooth so the grandparents can watch when we go to the drive in at ( insert your choice of fat food palace here ) and and and …

    • 0 avatar
      kuman

      i’m looking forward caterham S7 with TDI engine with 6 speed :D

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Ed Begley can now buy a supercar and feel good about it.

    This is simply silly. Anyone who spends $50k+ on a car that is driven for fun doesn’t give a darn about the MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      So, is that like saying they don’t care about the cost of tires, brakes, or other maintenance costs?

      It doesn’t matter how much you spend on your car or how you use it, not caring about costs is just plain dumb. (After all, the less it takes to run, the more car you can buy in the first place.)

      • 0 avatar
        NotFast

        I disagree. They money spent on a supercar is, itself, irrational. The millionaire made his money by counting pennies and dimes will never buy one.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        No, it’s just at the economic scale of those owners, these costs are little more than “rounding errors.” It’s like the quote attributed to one of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s heirs about yachts: “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford one.”

    • 0 avatar
      another_pleb

      What about the millionaire who wants to drive his charismatic and rapid automobile from John O’Groats to Land’s End without stopping for fuel too often?

      Audi do quite well in LeMans with their diesel race-cars.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Neither start-stop or cylinder deactivation are terribly complex or questionable technologies, both having been used in much more pedestrian applications for many years now. Neither will detract from the absolute performance of the Aventador, but both will save marginal amounts of fuel, and add padding to the spec sheet. When you’re talking about a car that costs near as makes no difference half a million dollars anyway, then why not? It’s not like they’re making it in to a hybrid or something. Continuous improvement is something that all manufacturers worth their salt are committed to, whether they be making sub-$20k penalty boxes or supercars.

    Apparently internet car nerds aren’t the only ones that can’t see “past the numbers” on the LF-A. Got $381,000? Then you can park a brand-new one in your driveway tomorrow, courtesy of Ebay. Of course, if you want to keep up the myth, I suppose you can always call Lexus headquarters and get a few words of reassurance.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    When are the pedestrian-impact friendly supercars coming?

    • 0 avatar
      Ron B.

      When pedestrinas and cyclists realize that roads have cars on them and they hurt if you are stupid enough to walk in front of them.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        +! >xD

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Having recently been the victim of a vehicle impacting me while being on bicycle and spending the requisite amount of time recovering.

        I STILL don’t want pedestrian friendly vehicles. I think it’s stupid and people need to understand that when you leave your door you are accepting risk.

        The government of any country shouldn’t be trying to remove risk from our lives. That’s how you end up with [email protected] who claim that everything isn’t their fault. Sorry but if you leave the house you are accepting a level of risk and being forced to drive around in vehicles that are more tank like that open and airy I can do without.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    In all fairness, driving around in a 700bhp supercar in city is also pretty ridiculous, so I don’t see what’s wrong with letting the engineers build ‘exotic’ eco-tech.

  • avatar
    racingmaniac

    I am more interested in the hybrids like the 918 or the next NSX in their potential benefits for performance. Inwheel motor opens up possibility for torque vectoring that is not only feasible but also easier to implement compare to convential “mechanical” drivelines. You can potentially have cars with GTR-like sophistication in handling without all the complicated diff and driveline setup, on top of the added efficiency in hybrid system…

  • avatar
    ott

    Goodbye TTAC,I can only take so many pop-up video ads that will not stop playing with every. single. post. I click on. It’s been fun.

  • avatar
    James2

    While part of the act is to show that they “get it”, another reason for giving the Lambo some green tech is undoubtedly regulation-based. The EU bureaucrats in Brussels have probably mandated all car makers meet a certain CO2 level and, V-12 be damned, Lambo has to somehow meet it.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      I’m not exactly sure of the regulations, but I thought that being part of the larger VW Group, Lambo was able to meet these compliance regulations off the backs of the diesel Polos and Golfs that VW sold.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Your point is good and valid, but why throw in a Fox “News” soundbyte (“a bunch of theoretical doomsday scenarios that would send us back to pre-Industrial agrarian communities “)? So anthropogenic global warming is a hoax? It’s understandable when Fox does it, because they have a political agenda, are not scientists, and are pandering to the ignorati. I know TTAC writers are not climate scientists, either, but you should have enough technical insight to know not to try to make arguments in areas where you know nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Throw your virgins down volcanoes elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      There are elements of the climate change wing that do advocate for this (see James Howard Kunstler for more, also “The Authenticty Hoax by Andrew Potter, a self-identified liberal, does a great job deconstructing these nutjobs and how they hold back the environmental movement)

      • 0 avatar
        MarkP

        Maybe, but why paint (other than for literary purposes) the entire, and entirely validated climate science with a paintbrush that should be reserved for nutcases on either side?

        Climate science has nothing to do with politics, whether liberal or conservative. It’s just pure physical science. One side of this absurd debate (anthropogenic global warming denial) tries to claim that because their position is dictated by politics, so must the other side’s position be. These are the same people who claimed that government regulations on the use of Freon could not possibly have an effect on the observed reduction in stratospheric ozone. Even today they refuse to accept that government regulations have, indeed, had a net positive effect. They simply do not like the idea that government regulations can accomplish their stated goals.

        Added: I checked out Kunstler, who I didn’t remember. He’s a writer, for Pete’s sake, not a scientist and not representative of the greater community that accepts the science of global warming. Plenty of people who are worried about AGW don’t expect industrial society to end, although there are plenty who worry about things that climate change bring, like increased occurrences of widespread drought, reduction in both summer and winter ice cover, and increasing sea levels.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Actually, MarkP, …..

        …Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is not universally seen as politically neutral at all, a mere dispassionate scientific conclusion to which we, the pandered ignorati, must adhere. It is often perceived as a socialist wealth-equalization movement that attempts to suppress progress in more advanced countries (e.g., USA) and allows more primitive ones (e.g., China) to get a free pass on pollution in order to get them “up to speed”, and to compensate for our capitalist crimes of the past.

        I am a scientist and I have indeed studied this issue for some time. I don’t want to use this forum for a large discussion on the truth and falsehoods of the AGW movement, or on any other complex causative factors that account for the cyclical rise and fall of planetary temperatures. But let me just say that AGW isn’t what you may believe, and that you also may want to be careful stating that the TTAC staff is making arguments in which you allege they “know nothing”.

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        DK that actually sounds interesting. And ya the nut jobs of any particular belief usually make it so that normal reasonable people don’t want to listen.

        Even if some of their points are valid.

      • 0 avatar
        MarkP

        @nmgom
        Actuall, nmgom, I am an atmospheric scientist (PhD, atmospheric sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1985), and I can tell you that AGW is almost universally accepted by reputable climatologists worldwide. It is entirely a matter of atmospheric physics and the science has nothing to do with politics. There are a few (a very, very few) reputable scientists who have doubts, and they address them in the appropriate forums (which does not include Fox News). I would say that they make up about the same percentage of climate scientists as does the AGW-deniers whose beliefs are not politically motivated. In other words, in general, scientists believe AGW for scientific reasons, AGW deniers don’t believe in AGW for political reasons.

        AGW denialism is manufactured in exactly the same way, and in some cases by exactly the same people, as the “cigarettes don’t cause cancer” crowd – by people with a vested, financial interest in not taking action.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        @MarkP

        Scientists do not make up the sum totality of AGW supporters, and not all of it’s supporters support it because of the Science.

        The actual details of AGW are greatly muddled by politics, not just the dubiousness on the one side going, “Move Along, nothing to see here!” but the equally dubious, “WE ALL GONNA DIEEEEEEEEE… unless we buy new light-bulbs.”

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        MarkP,

        Thank you for your comment directly above, and I certainly respect your background and your views on this.

        Nonetheless, there are some little issues that have gotten swept under the rug; and in fact it is true that some members of the IPCC have been proven to have used falsified data and allowed political influences to be involved.

        The little troublesome fact is this: all respiration and petroleum-combustion processes emit twice as much water vapor as they do CO2 on a molecular basis. Water vapor has many times (100’s) the specific absorbance of radiant energy as either CO2 or methane, for that matter. Are we going to ban H2O-producing entities on this planet as well? And, of course, we do have those nasty oceans to deal with….

        So, the issue is not that human activiites don’t produce CO2 (they do); the issue is that the HUGE first-order effect on any global temperature rise (my preferred apolitical term) is water vapor. And then there is the situation of its volatility: small inherent changes is planetary temperature by any mechanism DO cause great increases (or decreases) in atmospheric water vapor that will produce anything from the hot-house, dinosaur-era earth at one extreme to the ices ages at the other—-all independent of human activity.

        So, in this era, do human activities have at least some influence, i.e. AGW? Yes, no doubt. Is it the only influence? Decidedly not. Is it even a first order effect? That’s unlikely, and has not been rigorously proven by scientific standards. Popularity does not constitute legitimacy.

        There is also the untidy issue of the Martian equatorial temperature: when first measurements were made in the 1970’s, it was near freezing; now its in the balmy 70’s (deg F). How could this occur without some solar influence being the culprit? Mars, is, of course, not greatly subject to human terrestrial activity (^_^)….

        Please see the links below, presenting some opposing views:
        http://kansas.sierraclub.org/Planet/2007-1201/TopTenSkeptic.pdf
        http://sciencespeak.com/NoEvidence.pdf
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_conspiracy_theory
        http://issuepedia.org/Global_warming/skepticism/arguments
        http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110421/NEWS/104210327

        So, should super-cars have CO2 regulation? I’m afraid I really don’t think so. Sorry.

        ———–

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Heat and emissions are manifestations of wasted energy that could be used to propel the vehicle. Why not give the engineers something useful to do? If the technologies have to be packaged like Flintstones chewables to get the public to accept them, then get to it.

  • avatar
    Toucan

    > Focusing on a efficiency for a car that will be used sparingly
    > seems like a foolish misallocation of brainpower and resources.

    Perfectly said.

    Yes. “Green supercars” is the purest of BS. Ferraris, for instance, are driven what? 30k miles in 10 years? And they want to make a hybrid. To save what? Money? No. +100 USD on fuel -5000$ on tires. Fuel? No. Cars are barely driven and when they are, they are driven well outside hybrid-efficiency-enabling conditions.

    There is, however, a very logical explanation to why green superscars make do.

    Anyone who ever worked for a large company knows that they frequently do some moves that make absolutely no sense at all. It is the delegation of responsibility, the decisional inertia, complexity of resource allocation, lack of ability to avoid false economics and staying under the influence of “opinions” that makes them do that. In automotive business the effects are especially visible.

    And since they are large enough, they can afford the BS spending and still survive. So they do as there are no factors that would make such BS decisions lethal.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Ferraris, for instance, are driven what? 30k miles in 10 years? And they want to make a hybrid.”

      Or better yet, why are Ferraris driven at all? As best I can tell, it’s either simply to drive something amazing or to be seen in somehting amazing. The simple fact is that people consider green tech to be cool and they want to drive it. (That is the only reason for Ferraris to exist, right?)

      But, “Oh, no! Some ‘enthusiests’ online said that I’m a fool for thinking anything could be cool other than what they think is cool and that I shouldn’t be able to buy it because it somehow hurts their sensibilities.”

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        The only amazing thing about a hybrid Ferrari is how amazing it is that something wicked and passionate can be channeled into such trite vanilla greenwash for the masses.

    • 0 avatar
      Georgewilliamherbert

      Ferraris, for instance, are driven what? 30k miles in 10 years?

      Not always true. John Carmack for years only owned Ferraris, and used them for going to the grocery store for milk and food as well as commuting to work every day. He said about one trade-in he did that his dealer had never seen one with as many miles as his had, so perhaps it’s generally true, but there are exceptions.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I’d have to agree that weight is the biggest problem. When you have to push around 4000 lbs or car just to get a 200 lbs human being from A to B that is bound to be inefficient.

    Nothing wrong with green tech but in its place. The latest crop of luxury sports sedans are significantly less fun than their previous models. The gearboxes are programmed to always lug the engine until your right foot is at the firewall at which point they go into full acceleration mode. That way it get good EPA ratings and meets 0-60 expectations but it sure isn’t fun to drive a “two-mode” car.

    Don’t get me started about EPS – does BMW seriously thing that people who pay $50K for a sports sedan would trade steering feel another 0.5 MPG? If they really wanted to help their owners save money they could make their engines run on 87 octane.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …electric steering is unfairly maligned; like any driver-assist technology, it’s the tuning of its implementation which makes all the difference…case in point: lotus’ evora offers arguably the world standard in steering feel for a road car, and it’s an electric-assisted unit which i can vouch from personal experience is every bit as good as a manual-steering elise…

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Isn’t electric assisted different than drive by wire that many systems are now?

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …i’ve not read of any steering-by-wire systems in road cars, no: EPS systems are still based on a mechanical linkage between the steering column and wheels in the event of system failure, and merely provide additional torque to that linkage to assist in steering effort…

        …some EPS systems electrically modulate the gearing ratio of the mechanical steering linkage, i imagine with a planetary gear arrangement similar to some CVTs, but i’ve yet to read of anyone doing away with that core mechanical failure mode entirely…

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      In BMW’s case, specifically, EPS is just a part of their whole “EfficientDynamics” thing, where it’s combined with a number of other small tweaks for a cumulative gain. Things like an electric water pump, a ‘smart’ alternator that avoids charging when possible (The BMW electrical system is needlessly complex, by the way), and of course, the lugging gearbox, and throttle maps that barely cracks the throttle, and the herky-jerky Auto Stop. More than likely, it’s due to C02 taxes in europe, and scoring higher on their driving cycle, where auto-stop cars can gain fuel economy numbers.

      You could run the cars on 87 octane, but you’d probably lose a few horsepower and MPGs. I remember reading on InsideLine that they ran several tanks of 87 through their 1.4L turbo Chevy Cruze, and compared it to 91, and it ended up costing slightly more in fuel than if they’d run 91.

      In the context of cars like the Aventador, it’s probably spec sheet padding for PR and marketing, and something Lambo can spin into part of the car’s “character” since they know Lambo owners won’t care much about any consumption taxes or the fuel economy.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Re: NSX

    I think when we collectivey look back at the 2014 NSX in 2020, we will find it was again a pioneer in a few technologies that will become mainstream much the same way we view the Prius now. Therefore, I dont think it deserves to be painted with the ‘overweight hybrid green for greens sake’ camp.

    Why?
    1. Bilateral torque distribution across the front axle
    –> Who has this? Who has dared to try?

    2. 7 Speed Dual Clutch Transmission with integrated electric motor
    –> This is the future of the automatic transmision.

    3. 4WD without a driveshaft linking the front and rear axles
    –> This is the future of all drivetrains

    The NSX presages the evolution of the high performnce automobile; it will be seen as the first true mass produced and commercialized attempt to bridge the gap between internal combustion, electrification of the driveline, and high performance.

    The Porsche 918 is also attempting this. But at what cost? $900K.

    I dont see this as a commercialization on a mass scale.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Yes, hybrid supercars are dumb, Eco-tack on’s are stupid on the supercar. I agree, in that price range, the best “eco” feature would be light weight.

    Personally, I think a good “eco” supercar would be a modern interpretation of the early 90’s 4-cyl Lotus Esprit.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Kind of curious that both the Mazda Miata and the Lotus Elise were pretty thirsty.

      2012 Mustang 5.0 6MT: 17/26/20
      2006 Lotus Elise 1.8 6MT: 19/27/22
      2006 Mazda MX5 2.0 6MT: 21/28/24

      You’d think they could do better with almost half the curb weight and 35-40% the displacement.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Its such a waste, and is very depressing

    AT THE WORST, green tech should come from the track- I am still confused as to why KERS hasn’t come up as a strategy for going green in supercars. It could be used for short bursts of max power or it could be used for stop and go driving.

    I feel the same way about diesel performance cars. The new x50d Bimmer engine just seems like such a waste. Who is going to spend $80K on a 550d when a 550i will perform just as well, sound a million times better and cost not much more to run?

    I salute Ferrari and Lamborghini for not bothering with that garbage. Hopefully they stick to it. One upside of the progression of car tech is all the old high emissions cable throttle cars I love are still available so this stuff doesn’t really bother me just yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Toucan

      > I feel the same way about diesel performance cars. The new x50d
      > Bimmer engine just seems like such a waste. Who is going to spend
      > $80K on a 550d when a 550i will perform just as well

      In regions of the world with high fuel prices – everyone. In Europe, gas V6 and V8 do not exist.

      > sound a million times better

      They won’t. Modern high performance diesels much improved their aural byproducts.

      > cost not much more to run?

      You know better than all those business people buying their high performance diesel company cars? Which will cover lots of lots of miles at high speeds where diesel does twice better mpg than gas?

  • avatar
    TireIrony

    Come on, kids, you know they’re not doing this because they believe it’s important to the planet.

    They’re doing this to show the econuts that, hey, we’re doing something.

    There’s nothing wrong with adding start/stop and cylinder deactivation. The technologies are practically free and have no impact on peak performance. And you can bet there will be a switch to override them for those times you want to hear the car growl.

    Remember, there is a not-insignificant group of econuts who believe that these vehicles should not exist AT ALL and are ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING to introduce laws that kill them. Arrogant defiance is not the best way to keep them at bay. If there’s easy stuff you can do that doesn’t hurt your product, do it.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I agree with you about the cause. Someone dropping half a million on a car doesn’t care if it gets 17 or 20MPG at highway speed. They just don’t care. Ever.

      If this were a true green movement, the V12 would be replaced by a turbo 4 or V6 with deactivation. I’d love to see the repercussions of that move.

    • 0 avatar
      lurker

      +1

      Not dissimilar from how McDonald’s now sells grape and walnut salads. My sense is that it’s lawyer-driven. Unit volume is no doubt low, but they’re building a defense against tobacco style lawsuits 20 years down the road that they knowingly tried to give the entire American population diabetes 2.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Good column all around, especially the point about vehicle weight. Those of us of a certain age who were privileged to drive “sports cars” weighing less than a ton can certainly attest to the driving pleasure that results. Now, they weight twice that. I am amazed at what they can do, given sufficient application of power and technology. But, it’s hard to escape the feeling that you’re driving the automotive equivalent of the bumblebee: the amazing thing is that it flies at all.

    Stepping back from supercars to the more mundane, what’s also lost in the discussion is the tiny incremental benefit of many of these steps (EPS, PWM-driven water and oil pumps, etc.) on relatively modest vehicles, like, say, the MINI COOPER, in comparison not only to their initial cost but also to maintenance costs. The independent shop who services my BMW services them and MINI COOPER exclusive. The guy who runs the outfit was telling me how insane he thought it was that the MINI COOPER has an electric oil pump, which uses a variable speed, pulse width modulated, motor. Talk about complexity! Talk about reliability! Talk about expense to repair or replace!

    And for what?

    • 0 avatar
      TireIrony

      People said the same thing about fuel injection and dual overhead cams.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      Ever pre-oiled an American pushrod V-8 using an electric drill? I am not a small guy. I have a big, honking Milwaukee 1/2″ portable drill. The first time I tried it, the drill almost yanked my arms out of their sockets. It’s amazing the amount of power an oil pump uses. Anything that reduces that parasitic drag is going to give you more power and better mileage.

  • avatar
    John

    I will buy a supercar when a carbon fiber, V-12, hybrid minivan, that weighs under 2,000 lbs. becomes available. Yes sir.

  • avatar
    meefer

    You can employ all the nifty stuff you want, just have it turned off by default and all wired to a single button to turn the green tech on or off. If it allows the V12 supercar to make 700 bhp and still be sold, I’m all for it. As long as I can control it.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    It depends on why a supercar manufactured chooses to use “green” tech. The reality is that the amount of global energy used by so called supercars, and their related emissions, pretty much rounds to zero compared the the annual rate of fuel burn for all vehicles in aggregate. So, one can consider this greenwashing if viewed through this lens. However, there are plenty of rich folks that are into the highest tech, and some are actually concerned with environmental issues. For those, going green, or at least offering tech that appears green might make the manufacturer some green. And it is purely driven by whether the rich buyer has any interest or not. Should these potential buyers express their disappointment/lack of interest by not buying the cars, the trend will end. And since they sell in such small numbers, there is no social impact either way. So it is kind of a non issue, except for those hung up on anything that smacks of environmental responsibility.

  • avatar
    Les

    “I see no negative effect on making cars more efficient. But it must be done in the right way…”

    I agree, McLaren developing a V-8 engine with displacement like a V-6 and building a competent Ferrari-fighter around it? ..that impresses me. Slapping Stop-Start and cylinder-deactivation onto a monstrous fire-breathing V-12 is like gelding a triple-crown winner.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Derek: that is an excellent article – thanks.

    This issue is a bit of a mess, and may raise more questions, many of which hint at trade-offs and compromises:
    1) What is a “super-car” in the first place? (I have some definitions, but am not sure they’re “tight”).
    2) Has any market research been done to see if buyers of EACH of these marques really care about the new wave of eco-goodies? (Ferrari customers may respond differently from Lambo customers – we may not be able to lump them together).
    3) Do eco-goodies cause a violation of “purity” in concept, perception, or driving experience?
    4) Does the added weight from some eco-goodies (e.g., larger batteries) negate or diminish their benefits?
    5) Is the energy-to-maufacture the added eco-goodies, and their recyclability energy, included in the net benefit that we call “better fuel milage”?
    6) Does better efficiency lead to greater complexity which leads to poorer long-term reliability? (I.e., efficiency at all cost may not be efficiency at all, if it breaks down at 50K miles and you need to spend $5K getting it fixed. For example, Mike Miller, writing in a BMW magazine, already bemoans the potential repair costs of the twin-turbo 4-cylinder that BMW is using in its 328i cars. Will this thing last for 100K miles? What if I spend $300K for an eco-goody Lambo, and it requires $30K to fix in a few years?)
    7) How many super-cars are there in the world?
    8) What % of all CO2 pollution from all cars can be attributed only to super-cars, even now? If that number is less than 0.1% (which I suspect is the case), then why bother with eco-goodies for super cars?
    9) Buyers rights. If I am about to spend $xxx,xxx (you choose), don’t I have the right to say what I don’t want in my future super-car or to buy one that already meets my criteria? Or are we going to do the socialist government thing of forcing eco-goodies down everyone’s throats regardless of the cars they may buy?
    10) If I do configure a “pure**” super-car with a manufacturer (say, Pagani), can’t I drive it here and simply pay both a CO2 tax and a gas-guzzler tax, and be done with it?

    ** For me, something that would be an example of a “pure” super-car is a Lambo LP550-2 Coupe with RWD only and manual transmission (yes, that is still available).

    ————-

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Here’s where I am actually not offende by the Aston Martin Cygnet. The more I think about it, I’d rather see Lamborghini offer prospective owners the option of choosing between having a rebadged a $15k VW Lupo “included” with every their purchase to help the CAFE numbers stay up and keep the Aventador a pure supercar, or saddling it up with $15k worth of heavy awkward but potentially technically interesting hybrid and other fuel saving technologies. CAFE doesn’t look at how the cars are driven, only what’s sold, and there’s no law (yet) saying that I’d have to drive the city car. There may be owners that want to drive the little car in situations where the supercar wasn’t practical anyway, especially since at least initially you couldn’t have a Lambo Lupo unless you also bought a real Lambo, making the obligatory “my other car is a Lamborghini” bumper sticker unnecessary as the rest of the world would now know what you have sitting at home in the garage.

  • avatar

    I wish I could say that I would be delighted to buy a Lambo that was eco-friendly. But I’m just not ready for that, my Aventador better growl like all the others! And Porsche’s hybrids get the same mileage as their traditional models, no matter what it says on the sticker– although I do like the way the Hybrid Cayenne drives. Bottom line– it’s not for me but if it keeps the a**hole who drives the Prius covered in Ferrari stickers off PCH, then I”m in. (see my Dude or Douchebag: Chastity Belt On Wheels entry on my blog)
    Oh and TTAC– thank for removing the pop ups! I heart you.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    “But it must be done in the right way, rather than in a manner that panders to the pseudo-religious zeitgeist that demands we be “green” without ever really explaining why, beyond a bunch of theoretical doomsday scenarios that would send us back to pre-Industrial agrarian communities (which is a positive development for some hairshirt green types…but that’s another topic).”

    Derek’s debating style is all too common among the auto gearhead media. Instead of acknowledging that there are a vast range of perspectives among those who see global warming as a legitimate public policy issue, he zeros in on the radical fringe. It would be one thing if the likes of Kunstler were politically powerful, but the opposite is the case. It’s a sloppy argument that undercuts the credibility of his essay.

    You would have had me agreeing with you if you’d stuck to cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      that’s right, Derek forgot all the radical leftists who see propagating the myth of human induced climate change as the ultimate tool to sink capitalism, or the statists who find this to be a very helpful justification for taking away more basic freedoms and micromanaging more and more of our lives, people who like to worry because they just like to worry, politicians who see this as an issue to win votes and $ from the environmental movement…yes many other perspectives.

  • avatar
    stuki

    The common denominator between supercars and “green” cars?: A target market preoccupied with projecting an image through what they purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      No doubt, Stuki…

      But there may be other factors as well, including self-delusion or aggrandizement.
      Those may play a large role in the “green car” phenomenon, since buying them contributes only “5th-order” results to diminish planetary warming. But jet aircraft and China’s coal-fired power plants more than remove any “green” benefits!

      Gee, and here I was saving my pennies to get a Lambo because I actually thought there were good cars that performed well…. Guess I’ll have to keep my delusions at home. Shucks.

      ———-

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    I think auto start-stop is fine to add to all cars on the market. There is very minimal weight gain, maybe a few more pounds on the starter motor as they may make a heavier duty version of the motor.

    I also agree with GM’s E-assist, if it doesn’t deliver significantly better city MPG than the non e-assist version then it isn’t worth it because (from the photos I’ve seen) the lithium ion battery takes up as much room in the trunk as a full hybrid, and so if it can’t deliver then why bother. Added weight for no reason.

    A full hybrid, I welcome on all cars because that delivers a significant boost in MPG. Useful for super and sports cars too.

    Ultimately I hope all cars have full hybrid options, auto start/stop, and HCCI engines. If HCCI still can’t be made reliably in the coming years then OTTO cycle engines that can act as atkinson cycle engines on the fly when throttle is low (Honda Earth Dreams engines).

    Anyway, I don’t think they’ll have a choice if they want to continue to sell cars in the USA for 2020+.

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