A modern car, after 120 years of devoted engineering effort since Gottlieb Daimler built the first gasoline-powered vehicle, uses less than 1 percent of its fuel to move the driver.
Lovins explains that only one-eighth of the energy reaches the wheels, the rest being lost in the engine, drivetrain and accessories. Of the one-eighth reaching the wheels, half is lost to friction. So, 6% of the fuel's energy is actually accelerating the car. But 95% of the mass being accelerated is the car - not the driver. The point is that if we made the car lighter, we'd use less energy getting around.
Lovins continues with some interesting information, new to me, about potential use of carbon-fiber composites and thermoplastics in auto design. This leads, Lovins believes, to lighter cars which will be safer and longer-lasting. Not incidentally, Lovins suggests that jobs will be created "partly by having a vibrantly competitive car industry rather than a failing one and partly due to the logical evolution of the auto industry toward computerization [and] the aftermarket for improved and customized software."
Lovins offers more ideas about hydrogen and electricity. On wind energy, he says:
"If I could do just one thing to solve our energy problems, I would allow energy to compete fairly at honest prices...If everything competed solely on merit, wind energy in the United States would be a lot better off. It gets subsidized less than its competitors, and its subsidies are temporary, while its competitors' are permanent."
Why aren't policy-makers thinking this way?