so much thought going into this, and simultaneously, so little
Attacking a minor thing said above, then moving on...
"A 60hp car will be screaming at 5000rpm to maintain 70mph" ... in which universe? Up what hill? Against what hurricane force headwind? Never mind that we're probably talking about electrics anyway, where the idea is moot (a higher spin speed is only slightly less efficient as it's rotary and basically frictionless apart from the bearing, vs all the whirling reciprocating parts and massive friction of a piston engine or even rotary ICE).
Slight reality check for you. With reasonable slipstreaming, 25hp is just about sufficient to maintain 70mph. 30hp if your vehicle is a total brick.
45hp, brickular car I owned? Stock gearing, 5000rpm was about 88mph (with an absolute still air/level road max of about 91). I swapped that for one that made 4150rpm at the same speed... downhill. Wasn't *quite* on-cam by that point, needed 4th to get above 85. But it would cruise quite happily all day in top gear at 70, or about 3300rpm, on part throttle. And I can tell you for now, mathematically, that it would have sustained a higher gear - from the manufacturer's torque figures, it had a touch over 29hp available down at 2800rpm, or just about sufficient for a "6th" gear just as high again, on full bore.
(OK, you had to thrash it to get up to speed, 0-60 in 19 seconds at maximum attack, but cruising? Fine, quiet and reasonably refined. Just chuck some kind of supercapacitor electric booster motor on it to make the launches and overtaking a bit more sprightly)
69hp one that followed it would make about 105-110 terminal velocity, and had a motorway cruising gear that hit 70 at *2800* and would pull from it pretty strongly (a little over the max torque, giving all the power the other car ever had at an even lower rpm). Only really suffered a little in that gear when an ignition lead failed and took it down to 3 cylinders (52hp). Come on now...
All the same, I don't really support the ideal for a few reasons:
* Acceleration. Acceleration is good. I have now a car with about 100hp/ton and more torque over about 90% of its rev range than the previous one had at peak (so I can get 60/ton at fairly low rpms). It's a good level of thrust for daily use, I finally don't feel a pressing need to "get something faster" (the 45 was pretty slow, the 69 certainly getting there, an 80 I borrowed was fine most of the time except its delivery was peaky as all hell, and a 130 diesel flicked between "take your head off, uncontrollably" and "nothing"). Particularly as when I've gathered the cojones to max it, it's managed 120+, motor wailing and everyday-tyres probably in danger of delaminating. But it darts through lower speed traffic like some kind of predator.
You wouldn't want the computer or a human driver to use this ability 24/7, as it's both a bit frightening (for the passenger) and uncomfortable. However, for either emergency use, or merging into a congested roadway, it'd be invaluable.
* What would stop manufacturers just making very heavy vehicles with powerful engines to satisfy that regulation... and stuff that could easily be stripped out to lower the weight?
* Towing/loadhauling capacity. Torque isn't everything, as I've tried to beat into the skulls of many a diesel evangelist (well, until Renault came along and offered up 300+ Nm at 2000rpm, which is an awful lot of compensation). You also want torque (roughly = pulling force) x speed - a formula more commonly known as Power, which is just as true at the roadwheels as at the crank.
* 60 is a fairly abitrary figure that I think vastly underestimates what a person can handle if they're actually concentrating ;) - yet in a future environment of electrical/hydrogen generation, charging and motive force, may be too much in a lot of cases, as you'd burn through an awful lot of power if allowed to do so with any regularity.
If limits were raised or abolished in light of autopiloting (let the system choose the most appropriate pace) you may - on a long but uncongested motorway commute, particularly in Germany - be cracking along at a full 60hp, doing your engine/batteries/fuel cell no favours and, in electrical terms, blowing hot to the tune of 45 kilowatts. Or if charged off a domestic supply, 45 units (more than a fiver) per hour... to get all of, what, 100mph?. Cheaper than petrol, maybe; sustainable with current supplies, hell no.
A more satisfactory solution may be to allow quite sharp acceleration or towing slog for short periods (pulling into traffic, overtaking, hillclimbing), perhaps upto the level of 120hp/ton, but limit the continuous/average output to more like 30, which will be sufficient to sustain cruising speeds around 75 (or probably 60 with a caravan).
Your practical average is probably about 3.4kW averaged over a full waking day, whatever that actually comes out to when driving (the car may have to do some complicated statistical fudging to adjust how much oomph is available over the course of a trip), if we assume access to a good 8 hours of charging from a 30amp, 230 volt circuit can be secured every single night. Vs that 60hp-ish (for a typical one-tonne hatchback), that's maybe 35 minutes of maximum attack. Or just about managing a 2-way commute of 40 minutes each way, running up to about 70-75mph on a cruise in the middle. Long and high speed, yes, but not uncommon enough to be discounted at the design and planning stage. Unless you want to, say, go all totalitarian and ban people from working more than 10 miles from where they live.
Also, what of bikes? Because of the weight/aero drag imbalance vs 4-wheel vehicles, 60bhp/ton wouldn't get you that far. I've probably got 40 just with my 125cc learner bike (11hp all-up) once my fat frame and baggage are all aboard, and it's hardly a speed beast. 60mph is a reasonable target most days but not guaranteed. Need to double the output to reliably get past 80, i.e. to keep up or beat the cagers. And good luck fitting any kind of autopilot or even a comms system to 2-wheeled machines that require weight shifting as part of the steering control and tend to barely generate enough (poorly shielded) electricity to run their lights and essential systems...
This whole thing bothers me, same as the speed cameras, same as ISA. Human beings are nowhere near as stupid as a lot of snotty people high up or on these boards like to think. I'd love to see a demo of, say, a couple hundred of these systems working properly in deeply congested but still fast-flowing (above limit most of the time in fact) and fairly safe conditions as I faced on the M6 and M5 this morning, with no radio clashes or interference, sensor faults (such as my own car occasionally suffers, and my wetware compensates for), etc. But the humans on the go there all managed it fine with no incident. We're built for that kind of running-with-the-herd stuff.
Well, ok, apart from that occasional herbert that sits in the outside lane at 68, breezing past the people doing 66 who are considerately keeping out of the way of faster traffic... Perhaps we could promote autopilot systems (that would stick in the middle at 66 and only nip into the outside lane to overtake - at a more acceptable pace - when there was a fairly clear run available unless they chose to override it... which they probably wouldn't).
One of the things with this is that it won't ever excercise any civil disobedience with ignoring badly- or nimby-set limits (rather than those that are actually for safety... yes, some DO exist, though their efficacy is diluted by the former spoiling people's attitudes to the idea), and will religiously stick to the advised speeds posted on those "Max XXmph" bend warnings. Which are intended for trucks, in the wet, on legal minimum tread. It's 50 round the bends between J1 and J2 of the M5, and again on another just after J2. I can tell you now that a well appointed, yet decade-old passenger car can, in the dry, clear them at twice that. Unneccessary slowdowns, minutes out of your day, time lost off your limited lifespan in the pursuit of "saving lives" that wouldn't have been lost anyway, AHOY.
Final thing: They mention leaving your car in the parking lot, but not needing to wait to get the same one back. What, do germans not go shopping in more than one place and leave the purchased goods in the boot in-between? Decorate the interior with personal trinkets? Keep a map and first aid book in the glovebox? Spare change and tapes/CDs/ipod adaptor in the door pocket? A handy jack & tyre wrench (better than the crappy manufacturer-fit), can of tyre-fix and some high vis jackets in the boot? What if the person before you nicked the spare or used up all the fuel even though you left the last one about half-full as was advised? Etc. The communist ideal is all well and good but unfortunately doesn't account for the human factor - which, when you're designing systems FOR HUMAN USE, IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.
Sorry for the time burn, but, yknow. NNNGH. The stupid, it burns.