Anonymous
Anonymous asked in EnvironmentAlternative Fuel Vehicles · 4 years ago

Why aren't there any steam cars available yet?

I thought it was real interesting to read the history of the Doble Model E steam car. Made back in the 1920's it could:

1. Start with a key, just like a gasoline car with an electric starter. And pressure could build up in a matter of seconds.

2. Was fuel efficient for 1925. The car weight a few tons, yet still got 15 mpg.

3. It wasn't slow. Supposedly at least one of them had hit over 130mph, and 70mph cruising speed was perfectly obtainable.

4. It had a condenser made water from part of the steam so that you didn't have to stop and add water near as often.

5. They could use a variety of fuels. Gasoline, diesel, kerosene. I'm sure one could easily be adapted to use propane or natural gas or even wood pellets or sawdust or corn leaves.

6. Supposedly when the were new the would have met or have been close to present Californian emissions standards for new vehicles.

7. And my personal favorite. They had no transmission.

8. Oh! And they were... silent... Shhhhh!

It makes me wonder why, with all the modern technology, no one has tried to make and sell a steam car these days?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUg_ukBwsyo

Youtube thumbnail

3 Answers

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  • paul h
    Lv 7
    4 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    GM built a couple prototypes back in 69...actually built by Bill Bessler... but they didn't pan out due to high weight, low power, lack of AC and PS, production / retooling costs, etc.. I'm sure they could have done somewhat better with more investment and time but no sense throwing money down a hole on an iffy proposal that may not have been met well by the public and required extensive retooling of production facilities, etc... I've never seen much on fuel economy figures but 15 mpg is nothing great based on what gas or diesel engines are capable of...modern full size trucks can get 20-30 mpg or more highway.

    But I'm like you in that we could do somewhat better today or people would need to adjust to the long startup wait compared to a gas engine (takes around 30 seconds to build pressure) and steam power offers a lot of benefits...very quiet, capable of high speeds, loads of torque and power from a smaller engine size although boilers, condensers, plumbing, etc.. takes up more room...some early condensing models could go 1500 miles without needing water refill and engines could last several hundred thousand miles ...fewer parts to break, etc..some stationary steam engines have been working in place for over 100 years.

    Overall, steam powered auto's are still a novelty and limited market that only a few rich people would pay for...not for mass production. Or could see service in commercial vehicles like buses, trucks, delivery vans, etc.. that are operated all day and do not have issues with long startup wait times...lower long term maintenance costs could be a benefit.

    Steam powered 69 Chevelle...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COP9iGRUQV4

    Youtube thumbnail

    http://gas2.org/2014/06/27/friday-flashback-a-stea...

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    steam cars rely on hydrogen< sounds like steam to me>>

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    They exploded

    • Lv 5
      4 years agoReport

      That's a myth proven wrong.

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