The Chrysler Turbine Car Started Out as a Ford
We’ll probably never again see something like the combination real world test and publicity campaign that put 50 Chrysler Turbine cars in the hands of American families to test drive for a few months in the mid 1960s. That we’re talking about it more than 50 years later shows just how effective the PR for the Turbine was. Consequently, the Chrysler Turbine is undoubtedly one of the best known concept cars ever. Less well known is the fact that the Chrysler Turbine as we know it started out as a Ford.
Jaguar C-X75 Dead
Even though some blogs were reporting engineering breakthroughs regarding the Jaguar C-X75’s innovative powertrain, Jaguar has confirmed that the car is dead.
Are You Ready For: The Thorium-Laser-Steam-Turbine Electric Powertrain?
Steampunks and Atomic Age nuts rejoice! WardsAuto reports that Connecticut-based Laser Power Systems is “getting closer” to developing a prototype electric car which develops its power using the radioactive heavy metal Thorium. According to LPS’s CEO,
when thorium is heated by an external source, it becomes so dense its molecules give off considerable heat. Small blocks of thorium generate heat surges that are configured as a thorium-based laser… These create steam from water within mini-turbines, generating electricity to drive a car. A 250 MW unit weighing about 500 lbs. (227 kg) would be small and light enough to drop under the hood of a car… Because thorium is so dense, similar to uranium, it stores considerable potential energy: 1 gm of thorium equals the energy of 7,500 gallons (28,391 L) of gasoline. Prototype systems generate electricity within 30 seconds of firing a laser. This can feed power into a car, without the need for storage.
What about radioactivity?
LPS says Thorium’s low levels could be blocked with aluminum foil. Yes, tinfoil. Terrorism? Because the Thorium is not superheated, it does not produce fissile material. Where does Thorium come from? Let’s just say the US has the world’s largest known reserves. General safety? The U.S. Geological Survey’s former senior advisor on rare earths calls the concept “both plausible and sensible.” So why aren’t we driving around thorium-laser-turbine EVs already? According to LPS CEO Charles Stevens. “The issue is having a customized application that is purpose-made,” he says, admitting that developing a portable and usable turbine and generator is proving to be a tougher task than the laser-thorium unit. “How do you take the laser and put these things together efficiently?” he asks rhetorically. But once that is achieved, “This car will run for a million miles. The car will wear out before the engine. There is no oil, no emissions – nothing.” Sounds great… but we’re not holding our breath just yet.
The Truth About Why Chrysler Destroyed The Turbine Cars
The video showing the destruction of 46 of the 55 Chrysler Turbine Cars we posted recently generated lots of heated discussion. The key issue is, and has been for years, whether import tariffs played a material role in Chrysler’s decision. There is a wealth of sites and reprinted vintage articles dedicated to the TC, and the import duty conspiracy theory reoccurs throughout them. Interestingly, Wikipedia, which is not to be trusted in all things automotive, is the only source that throws some doubt on that story: “The story at the time that this was done to avoid an import tariff was incorrect[ citation needed].” Lacking that citation, it was time to do some further sleuthing, and either join the tariff theorists, or put a stake through it once and for all.