- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

A Sterling, Va., technology company introduced an electric motor yesterday that would use software to control automobiles similar to the computer systems that guide jet fighters.
The motors produced by WaveCrest Laboratories would be embedded in wheel assemblies and eliminate the need for transmissions, drive trains, radiators and other engine components found in automobiles.
Company officials said the motor gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon for an average car. They also said the price of the automobiles eventuallywould be lower than current models because so many engine components would be eliminated.
"You change the world insmall steps," said retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander and chairman of WaveCrest Laboratories. "This promises to be a slightly larger step."
In a twist of former Cold War politics, the technology was developed by two Russian government physicists, both of whom spoke at the National Press Club briefing yesterday.
"This is the only place where you can turn dreams into reality," Alexander Pyntikov, former chairman of the Innovation Board of the Russian Government, said about his joint venture with American partners.
He and Boris Maslov, a Russian physicist and industrialist, worked on the technology for about 10 years.
Automobile industry officials cautioned that any new technology must confront the hard realities of the marketplace.
"The challenges to introducing those technologies are often very difficult," said Charles Territo, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "Not only are there concerns about cost, but these technologies have to be mass-produced and they have to be accepted by the consumers."
The "Wavecrest adaptive motors" can run on a variety of fuels, including gasoline, diesel and alcohol. The fuel runs the engine, which charges the battery that powers the motor, which produces the electricity to turn the wheels.
Eventually, company officials hope to adapt their motors to run on hydrogen-powered fuel cells, for which the Bush administration proposes spending $1 billion to develop as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels.
Putting the motors in the wheels eliminates the need for a drive train to transfer power from an engine under the hood to the wheels. In the process, radiators and transmissions also could be eliminated, WaveCrest officials said.
They had no good estimate for the cost of automobiles using their motors.
UntiI WaveCrest can convince auto manufacturers to use the motors, officials are focusing on smaller markets, such as bicycles used by police and emergency medical technicians for neighborhood patrols.
The bicycles cost $2,500 each. Riders can pedal the bicycles or use their right thumbs to push an electric accelerator. The bicycles can travel 15 miles at 10 mph and recharge in four hours by plugging into an electrical outlet.
Among the customers WaveCrest is courting is the Arlington County Fire Department.

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