The first details of Government Motors two new and much awaited new-fuel automobiles have been leaked to several popular auto blogs. No photos are yet available, but this is what we know at this time.
The first of the two to arrive at your local dealer will be the Chevrolet Cetacean. This is the cardinal showpiece in a long line of vehicles that GM is expected to produce which will run on whale oil instead of gasoline. The President issued the directive for his company to begin their design and manufacture simultaneous with his announced plan to get the "oil monkey off our country's back" by converting the USA to a whale oil economy.
The Cetacean will be available as a full-size family sedan or wagon, with exterior proportions harkening back to the largest of the Chevy Impalas of the early 1970's. We know very little about the vehicle's appearance, but Cetacea is the scientific name for whales, and chief designer Dan Houselfritz said that his team worked hard to invoke qualities of that aquatic mammalian in the exterior design. This is also true for the car's running gear and suspension. Performance team leader Wilbert Kanootin said his engineers worked relentlessly to mimic different aspects of a whale's gracefulness and speed in the new vehicle's performance. "This car performs like no other car, foreign or domestic. It certainly raises the bar far higher than we here at GM ever could have dreamed without our President's inspiration." he said.
The Cetacean will be powered by a Boxer-style horizontally opposed six cylinder diesel engine. The cylinders' thirst is quenched via a novel gravity-drip fuel rail system. Kanootin said that the new design is amazingly simple and robs no power from the engine. The new fuel system required a new style of intake and exhaust valves that Kanootin himself designed. They are operated by a type of elastic band. The band stretches as the engine revolutions increase, thereby increasing the dwell time and improving the combustibility of the new fuel. Whale oil has an extremely low cetane rating. The new engine has only a 2 to 1 compression ratio. It puts out 23 bhp and a torque of 18 ft lbs.
Early track tests on the Cetacean show a 0-60 sprint of 3 minutes and 49 seconds, and an anti-skid g-force rating of 0.11. Fuel economy of the Cetacean is expected to be 12 to 14 mpg on the highway. Sale of the car is expected to be heavily incentivised by Uncle Sam.
The other upcoming car that is receiving much attention is the Cadillac CH4. It will be available only as a compact sport utility of about the same exterior dimensions as a Toyota Rav-4. Unlike the Rav, it will seat only two. The area between the front seats and rear hatch will be occupied by a 61 cu ft stainless steel digester reaction vessel. The owner will "fill the tank" with vegetable matter or organic waste. As it decomposes in the digester, methane gas is produced. Methane is the fuel of the CH4.
The original intent was for the CH4 to have a power-train that would run on pond scum (algae), consistent with the President's promotion of that material as a fuel, beginning last February. But ingenious government engineers soon realized that the car's digester could be used to decompose almost any kind of organic material. To date they have successfully experimented with garden compost (including rotting leaves), dinner scraps, pig manure (especially effective) and even dog and cat fecal waste. Apparently human waste has not yet been tested, but Cadillac design spokesman Bill O'Deary, or BOD as he likes to be called, said this idea is being pursued. He noted that a variety of health regulations need to be surmounted before the EPA will approve human waste as a fuel source for the car.
The advantages of going green do not come without a price. Tester's found the CH4 to be fairly responsive and nubile. However, it has a range of only 9 miles. The range limitation is aggravated by the fact that it takes from two to five weeks after recharge with organic material (depending on the type of material and on the ambient temperature) before the digester produces enough gas to fully recharge the car's fuel supply. A longer range could have been achieved if the engineers had employed a gas compressor and a compressed-gas storage tank, but it was decided that the added weight and complexity were not consistent with the President's desired de-minimus concept of this vehicle.
GM admits that the range and gas productivity limitations of the new Cadillac might be a deterrent for some buyers, were it not for the 90% government-sponsored rebate that will applied at time of purchase. GM will attempt to market the car in packages of four, and the rebate will increase to 95% when eight or more are purchased. GM says that a personal inventory of eight CH4s will keep the typical equatorial commuter on the road from three to five days a week.
BOD expects the EPA to fast-track the approvals needed for dumping of the spent digester materials at local waste treatment facilities.
Due to the variability of fuel type and concentration, the EPA has not published gasoline-equivalent economy data for the CH4. BOD said their tests show an owner can expect 9 miles per 1500-1800 pounds of high quality organic waste.