(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘automobiles

“The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.”*…

What’s true of threats is also true of opportunities. Could Ford’s new truck be the pivot to a new, greener personal transportation future?

As the top-selling model line in the U.S. for 40 years, Ford Motor Co.’s F-Series pickups hold special weight in the auto ecosystem. The lineup, led by the F-150, generates more than $40 billion in annual revenue. Only one other U.S. product—Apple Inc.’s iPhone—tops F-Series sales.

Given this, Ford’s decision to electrify the F-150 stands as one of the boldest strategic decisions in 21st century business. An electric F-150, more than any other vehicle, will persuade rural America to go green, leading the way for almost every automaker that finds itself challenged by the electric transition.

Costs for Lightning owners will be considerably lower than for those owning the F-150. The $39,974 base price (factoring in federal subsidies) is 17% less than that of an entry-level F-150, according to Atlas Public Policy.

Operating costs are lower too…

The most highly anticipated EV is about to hit the U.S. market — and raise the stakes for automakers’ efforts to cut emissions: “How Ford’s Electric F-150 Pickup Truck Will Cut Carbon Pollution,” from @business.

* George Washington

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As we plug in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1924 that map and travel publisher Rand McNally published the first edition of Auto Chum, which went on to become the best-selling Rand McNally Road Atlas.

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“There are two kinds of pedestrians- the quick and the dead”*…

The story of one of the greatest public opinion campaign “victories” in American history…

In the 1920s, the auto industry chased people off the streets of America — by waging a brilliant psychological campaign. They convinced the public that if you got run over by a car, it was your fault. Pedestrians were to blame. People didn’t belong in the streets; cars did.

It’s one of the most remarkable (and successful) projects to shift public opinion I’ve ever read about. Indeed, the car companies managed to effect a 180-degree turnaround. That’s because before the car came along, the public held precisely the opposite view: People belonged in the streets, and automobiles were interlopers…

In the 1920s, the public hated cars. So the auto industry fought back — with language: “The Invention of ‘Jaywalking,” from Clive Thompson (@pomeranian99).

Bill Vaughn

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As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1923, at the outset of the campaign to push pedestrians off of streets, that the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (supplier of tires for Ford’s Model T, and the largest tires company in the U.S.) introduced the first production “balloon tire.” Unlike earlier solid rubber or simple pneumatic tires, the balloon tire fitted an inflatable inner tube inside a rugged outer tire, providing both better handling and a smoother ride. Firestone also bragged of greater longevity and more economical driving, though those benefits never clearly emerged. But what, of course, Firestone’s innovation did usher in was the era of the flat tire.

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“The future is electric”…

One of the many Fritchle electric cars manufactured in the early 20th century

And also a thing of the past…

For a brief period in the early 20th century in the United States, the electric car was high society’s hottest commodity, sought after by socialites and businessmen alike…

During the early years of the “Automotive Age,”—from about 1896 to 1930—as many as 1,800 different car manufacturers functioned in the U.S. While innovators in Europe had been working on battery-powered vehicles since the 1830s, the first successful electric car in the U.S. made its debut in 1890 thanks to a chemist from Iowa. His six-passenger was basically an electrified wagon that hit a top speed of 14 mph.

By 1900, electric cars were so popular that New York City had a fleet of electric taxis, and electric cars accounted for a third of all vehicles on the road. People liked them because in many ways early electric cars outperformed their gas competitors. Electric cars didn’t have the smell, noise, or vibration found in steam or gasoline cars. They were easier to operate, lacked a manual crank to start, and didn’t require the same difficult-to-change gear system as gas cars.

Electric cars became extremely popular in cities, especially with upper-class women who disliked the noisy and smelly attributes of gasoline-powered cars. A New York Times article from 1911 reported, “The designers of electric passenger car-carrying vehicles have made great advances in the past few years, and these machines have retained all their early popularity and are steadily growing in favor with both men and women.”…

Like today, one of the challenges for early electric car owners was where to charge them. But by 1910 owners could install their own charging stations on their property, and an increasing number of car-repair shops popped up that allowed electric cars to charge overnight.

One of the most eccentric and interesting manufacturers of early electric cars was Oliver P. Fritchle, a chemist and electrical engineer who began as an auto repairman until he realized he could build a better electric car himself. Fritchle sold his first vehicle in 1906 and set up a production plant in Denver, Colorado, in 1908.

Fritchle made one of the best car batteries in the business, which he claimed could travel 100 miles on a single charge

An advertisement for a Fritchle electric car. Via American-Automobiles.com

What’s old is new again: “Before Tesla: Why everyone wanted an electric car in 1905,” from Megan Barber (@megcbarber) in @Curbed.

J. P. Morgan

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As we recharge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that the U.S. Federal government standardized the size of license plates throughout the U.S. Originally, owners had been responsible for their own tags; then individual states had designed– and dimensioned– license plates, resulting in wide variations.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 5, 2021 at 1:00 am

“The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, ‘You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done”*…

Inventions so fundamentally important that we take them for granted…

You might find it impossible to imagine a world without your smartphone, or have trouble remembering a time when Wi-Fi wasn’t everywhere, but many of today’s most relied-upon technologies would not have been possible—or even dreamed of—if it weren’t for the game-changing inventions that came before them. And while it’s easy to take many of the marvels of design and engineering we interact with on a daily basis for granted—think toilets, seat belts, and suspension bridges—it’s just as easy to overlook how a handful of more surprising inventions, like the Super Soaker or the pizza saver, have affected the world around us…

For example…

Duct tape was the brainchild of Vesta Stoudt, an Illinois mom whose two sons were in the Navy. Stoudt worked at Green River Ordnance Plant packing and inspecting boxes of ammunition. The boxes were sealed with paper tape, dipped in wax, and had a tab to open them. Stoudt noticed that the boxes had a flaw: The tape was flimsy and tabs often tore off, which meant that soldiers couldn’t quickly open the boxes when they were under fire. Why not create a cloth-based waterproof tape to seal the boxes? She asked her supervisors, but they weren’t supportive, so she escalated the matter … straight to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “I suggested we use a strong cloth tape to close seams, and make tab of same,” she wrote. “It worked fine, I showed it to different government inspectors they said it was all right, but I could never get them to change tape.”

The president sent her letter to the War Production Board, her idea was approved, and the rest is history. Duct tape has been a quick fix for everyone from your average joe to physicists (who use it on their particle accelerators) to astronauts (duct tape helped them make repairs on the moon). When the three crewmembers of Apollo 13 were forced to transfer to the lunar module, duct tape helped them survive—according to Northrop Grumman, the vessel was designed to hold two people for 36 hours, but after the accident, had to hold three for over 86 hours. They used the adhesive (along with cardboard, plastic bags, and space suit components) to adapt their square carbon dioxide filters to the module’s round holes. Jerry Woodfill, a NASA engineer who assisted the team from the ground, later told Universe Today, “Of course … the solution to every conceivable knotty problem has got to be duct tape! And so it was.”

Blood banks, barcodes and beyond: “The Stories Behind 20 Inventions That Changed the World.”

* George Carlin

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As we exalt ingenuity, we might spare a thought for one of the protagonists in the story above, Nils Bohlin; he died on this date in 2002 (though some sources suggest that he passed on September 21 of that year). An engineer who had worked on avaition ejection seats (and restraints) before joining Volvo, he developed and patented the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelt– considered one of the most important innovations in automobile safety. Volvo introduced the seatbelts in 1959– then made the design freely available to other car manufacturers to save more lives.

In 1974, Bohlin was awarded The Ralph Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, and in 1989 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Safety and Health. He received a gold medal from Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 1995 and in 1999, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. He retired from Volvo as Senior Engineer in 1985 and was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Bohlin, demonstrating his invention

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“Teach Your Children”*…

Values around the world, graphed…

What’s more important for a child to be encouraged to learn: imagination, hard work or both?

And what do you value the most: family, work, friends, leisure, religion or politics?

These are questions asked by the World Values Survey, “a large non-commercial, cross-national, longitudinal investigation of human beliefs and values.” The comparative social survey polled 1,000-3,000 people in countries around the globe to get a consensus on where they stood on varying principles and ideals.

Anders Sundell, a political scientist at University of Gothenburg, scoured through the data and put the results on a line graph, with each country represented by a dot.

Many Nordic countries said they wanted to encourage children to learn imagination the most, with Sweden being the country to list hard work as the least important attribute. Guatemala and South Korea were the countries that overwhelmingly valued both imagination and hard work. Zimbabwe was the country that listed imagination as the least important quality.

Sundell also mapped the countries around the globe that valued family, work, friends, religion, leisure and politics the highest, e.g.:

Dive more deeply into the data at “The Countries That Value Family, Work, Friends, Leisure, Religion And Politics The Most, Visualized.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash (written by Graham Nash)

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As we compare cultures, we might recall that it was on this date in 1899 that Henry Hale Bliss, a 69-year-old local real estate dealer, was alighting from a south bound 8th Avenue trolley car when an electric-powered taxicab (Automobile No. 43) struck him. Bliss hit the pavement, crushing his head and chest. He was taken by ambulance to Roosevelt Hospital; but upon arrival the house surgeon, Dr. Marny, said his injuries were too severe to survive, and Bliss died from his sustained injuries the next morning… becoming the first recorded instance of a person being killed in a motor vehicle collision in the U. S.

Bliss in 1873 [source]
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