An affair to remember
A Wisconsin man’s 1991 truck has gone through four radiators, three gas tanks, five transmissions, six water pumps and more than 300 tune-ups. But it’s no lemon. All that work adds up to a very impressive figure: 1 million miles.
Frank Oresnik of Catawba, Wis., bought his 1991 Chevrolet Silverado in 1996 with 41,000 miles on the odometer. He began using it for his work as a seafood delivery man, racking up an average of 85,000 miles a year.
After nearly 12 years of faithful service, the truck passed the million-mile mark in February on a delivery trip to Chicago.
To put this achievement in perspective, 1 million miles is the equivalent of 40 trips around the world, or three round-trips to the moon.
What’s even more impressive is that through all those miles, the Chevy’s engine has never been replaced.
Oresnik attributes the truck’s longevity to a little luck and a lot of maintenance. He also advocates good driving habits, like easing on and off the gas, and always giving the engine a chance to warm up, even in summer.
Oresnik plans on retiring the truck now that he’s hit the milestone. He hopes that General Motors will buy the truck back from him and replace it with a new Chevy. Short of that, he figures that with all the zeros on the odometer, he can try to resell it as a low-mileage classic.
Following the green brick road
Students at the University of South Australia have spent the past several years developing what they believe is the ideal commuter vehicle. They call it the Trev.
The Trev is a three-wheeled electric car that uses 1/5 the energy of a conventional car. It weighs less than 600 lb and can travel 93 miles before needing to be recharged.
Not to be outdone, American car maker ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) is putting the finishing touches on the ZAP Alias, another three-wheeled electric car. This one, however, features two electric motors, one powering each of the car’s front wheels, giving the ZAP enough zip to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, even faster than a Porsche Boxster.
The Alias is expected to be in production next year and will cost around $30,000.
Now sure, three-wheeled electric cars are great, but what about those rugged individualists who need a vehicle they can drive over the fallen trees and landslide debris in their suburban culs-de-sac?
Not surprisingly, Hummer has the solution. At the Detroit Auto Show in January, GM introduced the Hummer HX, a two-door Hummer convertible that runs on E85 ethanol.
Of course, the HX is just a concept design, much like last year’s Hummer O2 that would have supposedly run on algae. Unfortunately, the closest GM ever got to manufacturing the O2 was its super-efficient 14-mpg Hummer H3.
Fill ’er up
For the time being, if your vehicle can’t be efficient, maybe your gas station can.
Dutch engineers have created a gas station robot that allows motorists to refuel without having to get out of their car—or having to disturb the teenage attendant napping in the service center.
They call it the TankPitstop (or in Dutch, De TankPitstop) and developers hope to have models installed at gas stations throughout the Netherlands by spring.
The robot is essentially a robotic arm attached to a fuel pump. It uses multiple sensors and a car database to accurately identify a vehicle, home in on and open the gas flap, unscrew the cap and fill up the tank with gas.
The developer of the TankPitstop said that he was inspired by a robotic cow-milking device he observed on a farm. He figured that if robots can milk cows, they ought to be able to pump gas. After all, the requirements are quite similar: locate the right target, squeeze gently and, most important, avoid scratches.