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The Six Million Dollar Car

Mercedes bionic car prototype with BLUETEC diesel system

Okay, maybe not, but it is “bionic“:

While the TV show was just make-believe, the bionic car is the real thing. And in this case, the word bionic is condensed from a quite recent field of scientific discipline called “biomimetics,” which is derived from the words biology and mimesis (imitation).

Biomimetics is an interdisciplinary subject which combines engineering science, architecture and mathematics. The basic principle is to make nature’s problem solutions usable for man. The reason is simple: Nature, through billions of years of trial and error, has produced effective solutions to innumerable complex real-world problems.

Mercedes bionic car prototype with BLUETEC diesel system

The bionic car averages 70 mpg and tops out at 84 on the highway, and it isn’t even a hybrid. Its fuel efficiency is largely due to its aerodynamic design, based on the shape of a boxfish. Note that to reduce drag there are no side mirrors; that function is served by rear cameras.

It also apparently has plenty of room inside and puts off few emissions due to a system that converts nitrous oxide to nitrogen and oxygen.

Obviously I am really impressed by this, and I think the design is awesomely cute and weird, but I do wonder why they didn’t go for the extra step of adding hybrid technology…just as I wonder why Toyota doesn’t offer a Yaris hybrid.

It seems like automakers are focusing on bringing huge cars down to fuel efficiencies that already exist in small cars, and maxing midsize cars only to about 60 mpg. Do they think there’s no market for the most fuel efficient vehicle possible? Is there some kind of rule that automakers have to step up the gas mileage gradually, to keep the oil companies from suddenly losing money?

Why, if we have the ability to go further, don’t we go as far as we can?

(Maybe the change is coming, and it’s just taking too long for my tastes. This article indicates that Toyota executives want to have hybrid versions of all their vehicles.)

I don’t know if the bionic car will ever make it to market, but if it does I hope that by that time we are seeing gas mileages well past 100, and I hope that in order to keep up they will add hybrid or some other technology.

If all that comes to pass, maybe the car I buy after the Yaris will be a Mercedes Bionic ;>

I am, of course, interested in alternative fuels, flex fuel vehicles, and fuel cells too. (I’m still waiting for Mr. Fusion.)