Will this incredible solar innovation by Ford make Holden irrelevant?

C-MAXSolarEnergi ford cocept car image www.energy-options.info

Last week we discussed how remarkable innovation in the renewable energy sector will change the way  energy is sourced in buildings such as office blocks and factories. We looked at how recent developments in photovoltaics allow office windows to be both transparent enough to let in sufficient light, as well as sensitive enough to act as efficient mini solar panels.

This week sees us delve into the traditional Holden vs Ford wars, though with a renewable energy twist.

If you have grown up in Australia you may well be aware of the Holden vs Ford preference. Actually this is more a deeply-ingrained prejudice than a simple preference. It’s a blokey thing that runs back to the dawn of time (well the arrival of the internal combustion engine in Oz anyway). If your father was a Holden man, chances are that his Dad was one too. The same applied to Ford men and to a lesser extent women in my experience.

The tribal loyalties played out in backyards and pubs and came to the fore during racing events such as Bathurst when no quarter was asked, none given.

There were exceptions of course, my Dad being one of them who moved to Toyota. However this was an economic decision after the oil shocks of the mid-70s. But Australian Dads in general continued to retain their brand loyalty.

Now Holden has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. After announcing it is pulling out of its Australian manufacturing, leaving many hundreds of Aussie workers high and dry, the brand has suffered a major public relations setback.

A high-powered advertising campaign, designed to convince Australians that it still cares (read wants to you buy their products) has done little to shift this sense of disgust. I should point out here that my polling data is highly unscientific, limited as it is to my extended family and the er…people I hang around with and chat to. However you get the idea. Please feel free to challenge this theory mercilessly in the comments below.

Meanwhile bitter rival Ford has kicked a goal, at least in renewable energy innovation and motor vehicles.

News from Ford HQ this week has the car manufacturer boasting (yes boasting) of the C-MAX Solar Energi family sedan which it estimates can power up to 75 percent (count it) of all trips made by an average driver from a Sunpower solar panel system in conjunction with a concentrating fresnel lens designed to replace your carport roof. And to make it even more sci-fi the car will autonomously move slightly backwards and forwards to keep the lens focused on the panels when it is parked. All is explained about 1:20 into this video:

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive edition this week quotes the car manufacturer as saying annual greenhouse gas output would be reduced by approximately 1 billion metric tons should all light duty vehicles in the US adopt the system.

The Solar Energi, which is to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, has huge potential for the Australian car market. Not only because of our exploding interest in domestic solar systems as people come to realise the potential destruction of damaging climate change but also due to our almost limitless availability of sun.

According to Ford the solar technology can easily be adapted to suit any of the manufacturer’s current models, leaving its competitors in the dust when it comes to powering vehicles using renewable energy. Ford estimates the savings in traditional fossil fuel-based energy to be enormous, with fuel consumption cut in half (2.5L/100km). Multiply that across the gas-guzzling world and you have enormous savings!

Could renewable energy powered motor vehicle ads replace the current whingeing set of excuses for promotions in the future? More importantly will Holden men and women sit up, take notice and change brands? This is far more serious of course and would involve some form of elaborate ceremony akin to renouncing one’s previous religion. We’d need to get our good friend Pope Frankie at VaticanHQ to consult on something this important. However here at SQHQ we’re of the opinion that the car company that can be seen as trumping the field in renewable energy will win the hearts of people throughout the land.

Renewable energy innovation vs Holden and Ford rivalry, which runs deeper? We say the first by a country mile as we approach the new oil shocks, global warming catastrophe and pollution hazards of the 21st century.

Henry Sapiecha

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