From Ridiculous To Sublime

September 24, 2010

The Hummer was the poster child for vehicular excess when Arnold Schwarzenegger put the first civilian version on the roads.  It has since been exceeded by far too many ultra-luxury SUVs to count.   More barrels of oil have been wasted than be counted.  Now, it seems, Hummer wants to take first place once again; this time by proposing the first flying SUV.

As Luxist reports:

The AVX Aircraft Company’s new airborne SUV, a sort of Hummer with retractable wings, or a helicopter with wheels if you prefer, was originally designed for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The AVX (above) does everything a Hummer can do with the addition of Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability. The four-person all-terrain vehicle converts from road to flight mode in a mere 60 seconds, has a cruising speed equivalent to a light aircraft and features automated takeoff / landing flight control. With a payload of 1,040 lbs., it has a range of 250 nautical miles on one tank of fuel and can cruise at an altitude of 10,000 ft. fully laden. The AVX can do an impressive 80 mph on the ground and hits 140 mph in the air.

This is America’s response to the acknowledged truth that they use too much gasoline already?  How bloody ridiculous!

Luckily, there are US companies that are using their heads to meet the challenge. FedEx is trialing the use of electric delivery bikes in Paris (see the story and video here.)

The tricycles require manual pedaling to start the motor. Although slightly bulky, there’s a tall, removable storage container that sits between the back two wheels.  The vehicles can travel at a speed of around 20 kilometers per hour and are welcome traffic in Paris’ pedestrian-only areas and many bike lanes … They avoid the traffic that clogs the streets of central Paris while moving at a decent speed.  During a trial period, the bikes delivered on average 15 packages per hour.  FedEx’s managing director of operations for France, Dirk Van Impe, says the tricycles have improved efficiency, are financially viable, and good for the company’s visibility.

FedEx is a progressive company in these matters, with solar power offices and a fleet of hybrid vehicles.  It would be great to see these bikes in all major cities.