Interview with Dr.-Ing. Peter Maskus, Acabion


I want 400 mph speed for everybody


 Dreams, cars and bionics – Dr.-Ing. Peter Maskus is the driving force behind one of the most revolutionary concepts regarding the automotive future, the Acabion GTBO. A speed-freaks dream come true.

The Acabion GTBO is quite something. How did you come up with this revolutionary concept?
The "mental preparation" took me 26 years of being a 100% automotive enthusiast. And the "breakthrough" came, when I had tested each end every Porsche Turbo after 4 years of being a Porsche engineer myself in Stuttgart Zuffenhausen. I asked myself: "And what now? Will this be it for the next 120 years?" And I literally "saw" that the answer is "definitely not": I want our grandchildren to go much faster, much more secure and above all much more efficient. I want 400 mph speed for everybody, and not 200 mph for a little, exclusive circle, and I want to have it solar powered.

What inspired you?
Watching seals along the Oregon pacific coast or seagulls gliding over wild ocean waves in a storm. That inspires me. If it is possible to "yawn pitifully", well, than a "super sports car" makes me yawn pitifully. An admiral butterfly in the gentle wind, crossing the Alps without breaking a single blossom, that is mere fascination. Bionics inspires me, and passion as well. Passion for the future, to make it bright for a mobile and peaceful humanity. To make the future bright we have to be bright. It is simple.

You quote Harriet Tubman saying "Every great dream begins with a dreamer". Are you a dreamer?
Back in 19th Century, Harriet Tubmann was fighting against slavery all her life, and I guess she knew, what a hard time especially "the dreamers" can have. I think she was right saying "it begins with a dreamer" and all I know is that I was a big dreamer whan I was 3 to 9 years old. Today: Yes and no. "Yes. I am a dreamer" in terms of the future. I dream about an elevated 400 mph "high-speed silk road" or about going to Lake Baikal – solar electric and for a weekend. I dream about traffic networks non interfering biotopes.. I dream about global warming getting stopped. "No, I am no dreamer" in terms of two things: A) As to my own "future dream" I know it is no dream, and it can and will be done. All technologies to do it exist already and the longing for it will come, and it will be very, very powerful. And B) talking about today's car industry, sometimes I think I am the only one who is awake, and they are all crowded in the wrong old cinema, sleeping deep and dreamless in the heat of the global warming, covered with tons of money. If they have all the connections? Well, I don`t mind, because we have the concepts, and we will shake them up a bit in their old and wrong movie. Anyhow, I still have my "6 years old dreamer phases", and I have them a lot. And then I really dream. I dream about a mankind in peace that was achieved by worldwide and free mobility and by worldwide amicable encounters from early childhood onwards. This is still a dream, and I know it. But the global traffic system is a precondition and it is my way "not to dream my life, but to live my dream".

Dreaming is one thing, but unfortunately one also has to live.

How is Acabion financed?
Privately. 100% privately.

Who supports your exentsive research?
Between 1986 and 2000 no one. (If I could have sold obstacles, I would have been a Billionaire then). Since 2001 Lenka Mikova and her strategic consultancy Mikova Systems supports the project. She is Acabion CEO since 2003 and makes sure I can fully concentrate on technology and innovation matters. Since 2004 we see Switzerland as supporting us: We found our new home and a marvellous place for innovations at the D4 Business Center in Lucerne. Here we get best support and best conditions for true innovators. And hence Lucerne is and will be our headquarter.

You critisize the current development of cars, which still is based on carriages of the 19th century. What is so wrong about that?
Well, carriages were beautiful. But there were never as many of them as we have cars today. And they did not burn up global resources. They were made for travel at low speeds. Cars as our "modern carriages" have huge engines now, with hundreds of "horsepowers". But lets us talk about facts: With a car we drive Lucerne-Hamburg and back in 16 hours and doing so we burn a bathtub of fuel (150 l / 40 gallons) for an average of 1.1 passengers. And we get home tired, if we get home at all. From these burned 150 liters, 1 liter was used for the passenger, and 149 liters for the "impressive 1.5 ton car". This is a fact. And if we take an "SUV" we can burn even two bathtubs, again for 1 liter of effective human mobility. That's what's wrong: We burn "bathtubs of fuel" for getting almost no mobility. Mass-enthusiasm is not always enthusiasm about the right thing. History showed this, and today is no different: Cars are heavy and inefficient in such an insane way. It's like a refrigerator without any insulation. But in the case of cars the "refrigerator industry" is powerful and has even psychologists and PR professionals on its huge payrole to make us all believe, these "refrigerators" are just fine. And since no fridge-maker offers an insulated fridge, we can not compare, and so we believe it. We believe it since 120 years. It is a true disaster! Mankind leads wars to get energy to uselessly "burn it in the bathtub" for their non-insulated fridges. It is totally insane.

Is building hybrid-engines and more fuel efficient motors the way of the future?
A "hybrid drive non-insulated fridge" makes as little sense as a "hydrogene fuel cell airplane with a parachute permanently fixed at its tail". Insulation makes sense, and building "airplanes without parachutes" does. And if we insulated the fridge, we will find out that it is so unbelievably efficient now, that we can operate it on pure solar electricity. The electric Acabion will be as beautiful as the best of all classic Bugattis ever were, and it will give a revival to what Ettore Bugatti himself had in mind: Ultimately sophisticated solutions by concentrating on what is needed and on what is effective. Hence the Acabion E will go 420 km/h at a power setting of 46 KW or 250 km/h at a power setting of 9 KW. This is almost unbelievable. But it is anyhow true. It is physics! This happens when you "insulate the fridge" or "remove the airplane's parachute".

Looking at the Acabion GTBO many people think that it's just a covered motor-bike. From a designers point-of-view isn't this a bit frustrating that the revolutionary aspect is a bit lost?
Compared to any covered motorbike the Acabion concept is totally different. Four steps make a covered motorbike: 1) Take a bike, 2) make it longer, 3) put seats in between and 4) finally build a body around it.
The approach for the Acabion is a 180 degrees different – regarding sequence and priority: First it does not take a bike. It takes a perfectly shaped cockpit in a form of a dolphin or a seal. No. 2 it does not have to be elongated, because the aerodynamic form already is long. No. 3 it integrates perfectly ergonomic seats and finally as no. 4 it integrate innovative chassis components like a sophisticated front axis and a super-efficient engine/gearbox combination. The result can be given in data: Projected area is just 50% of a covered bike. So the Acabion is more a rocket than anything. Some journalists named it "rocket on wheels". We like that. So the revolutionary aspect is not lost at all. The opposite is the case: It is not even discovered yet. More than 99.99% of all mankind do not know it. And yet it is here. It is right here in Lucerne, just waiting for the real ignition. Come and see us, we go for a testdrive and we show you 2140 hp per ton in a streamlined craft. That is four times the punch of a 1001 hp Bugatti Veyron plus the aerodynamic advantage of the jet body, and all of this for a fourth of the fuel consumption of a Golf Diesel. The GTBO is powerful like a fighter jet.
Below 200 mph it is Ferrari F 40 feeling delivered at quarter throttle and from 250 mph onwards it just tares your senses out of their socketsl. At the next parking space you may stop for a break and put them back in place. It is huge and unbelievable fun. Just out of this world, even for someone who has ten 1200 hp super sports cars in his garage. It is all just old stuff. The GTBO is acceleration is way beyond Formula 1, and still not burning up the fuel of even a compact car.
As to the "designer" I can`t say anything. I am no designer. Even though a lot of people, even artists say they never saw a more beautiful and more thrilling craft than the Acabion: I am a physicist. And a mathematician, and a bionic oriented engineer. I have a good feeling for music, this is what I can say. And if the Acabion is something different than applied physics and bionics, it is Arts. "Fast Arts". Very fast I must say.
What do "automotive designers" do? They give you bow and arrow, and the bow is shaped like a huge "S", with LED lights and a navigation system, and the arrows are bricks with "spoilers". It does not work. It takes a hell lot of energy for a 5 meter "shot", you almost crick your arms and it badly hurts your fingers every time you use it. "But it looks cool, and it is different"! Well, give me a break!

How important is Bionics for your work?
To make it work, in the past ten years we defined our own principles of applied bionics here at Acabion research in Lucerne. We did that to really use it and to really apply it into consequent bionic high tech. It defines us. With getting to know and to structure bionics, we turned engineering upside down, and after we did that, we found, that we actually had turned it downside up.

The current price tag of the Acabion GTBO is at 1,83 Mio. Euro, construction time three years. What will take to get to the next, more efficient level?
The GTBO is worth every cent of that, because it is built according to Formula 1 standards using fighter jet material- and production-settings, Swiss quality standards and technologies like even telemetric systems or a carbon fiber monocoque. And it will be the fastest road-legal craft ever. Without governor limit it could race all the way up to 800 km/h. To make it come true we invested 35 Million Euro private money, direct and indirect costs, plus 20 years of hard and consequent work. This is what it took to crank our fourth generation craft of high-speed long-distance 21st Cenury traffic up to 750 hp 550 km/h. The GTBO is the new guiding star, making all our children - and ourselves - stop dreaming about the wrong idols like sports cars or Formula 1 racers. If you want to see the fastest anachronisms the world ever saw? Go see a Formula 1 race!
As to achieve new mass mobility, we completed a proposal these days, making contacts on states presidents level around the world. We will right now start a worldwide process, to push the development and the coming up of electric streamliners. Ultra efficient crafts, that profit from the 750 hp GTBO and bring up a "second species", mass production tools included. We will launch that project in the country that provides the best innovation-conditions. The Acabion brand and the GTBO will stay in Lucerne anyhow. But the electric mass production might grow up somewhere else. We will see.

Your vision of a mobile future only begins with the Acabion. You propose an international high-line net for high-speed commuting. What can you tell us about that?
If cars root in carriages since 120 years, roads root are the really sad act: They originate almost 1:1 in the Via Appia, 2300 years ago. No wonder there is a need of new tracks. Worldwide, lean, dead straight, elevated at 20 feet, superfast,  cost- and mobility-effective, fully automated, extremely secure and thrilling in their potentials: Lucerne Hamburg will be 90 minutes in 2020, and maybe in less than 50 minutes in the year 2200. And who wants to build the silk-road as a standard highway or as a TGV-track? It is just not possible. The new, cost- and function-effective system will make it possible, and it will be done. It will even bring mass mobility to Africa or East Siberia. It will bring new dimensions of mobility to the whole world. But only with solar powered, from day one. 

At the third European Futurists Conference Lucerne you will be giving a speech. What can we look forward to hearing?
As a strategic consultant, I want to talk about the future of earthbound global traffic.. An innovation of such a potential that it will not only define the successor of the automobile. Within the next 100 years it will even replace trains - because it runs fully automated and you can rent a "shuttle" for each tour you want to undertake, even transcontinental trips: If our grandchildren can reach Bejing from Zurich in just 12 hours, individually, in their own streamliner, "first class" and any time they like, door to door on a highspeed track, with solar electric power delivered from the track, why should they then fly "airport airport" and need 16 hours travel time. Even more so if it comes to short-distance flights. They will have just no chance to compete. Neither regarding environmental friendlyness, nore comfort or travel-times and -costs. So – nobody knows it yet – most of them will be gone in a hundred years. There will be nice nostalgic "museum-trains" and  "museum flights". But the true traffic will roll earthbound on the new "silk roads", super fast and tempting.

Peter Maskus was born on April 25th, 1960. Since early childhood, he was fascinated by nature and technology. In 1972 he met Dr. Prinz (later CEO of Mercedes-Benz) and Prof. Fiala (C.Res.O. of Volkswagen) privately and got his first direct impressions about car industry management and technology for several years and in a quite intense and unique way, especially taking his age into account. 1977 he started studying engineering, economy and bionics in Aachen, Karlsruhe and Berlin. In 1990 he was hired by Porsche in Stuttgart. He met Ferry and Alexander Porsche and in 1993 he personally explained to them how future cars should look like and suggested, that bionics and efficient design should play a much more significant role. In 1995, Peter Maskus was hired by Masaaki Imai's Kaizen Institute - a top lean production and continuous improvement consultancy in Tokyo, and became one of the key experts in Toyota production system and Kaizen. He ran Kaizen- and lean production-projects at several leading companies around the world. In 1997, he founded his own consulting group, leading Kaizen- and innovation-projects in Japan, Italy, England, the USA, China and Germany, especially a very intense and long-term improvement project with the Mercedes-Benz car group. Other contacts were made with General Electric, NASA, GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Ferrari as well as industries like heavy industry, pharmacy or electronics. To bring commonly known management systems to a next higher level, he initiated personal high rank contacts to people like Nobel prize winner Prof. Manfred Eigen (evolution strategy) or Prof. Ingo Rechenberg (Bionics). After these contacts, within five years Peter Maskus summarized all known successful management approaches and harmonized them under the roof of evolutionary strategy. Additionally he sees bionics as the essential key to high-potential and environmental friendly technical solutions. Parallel to his consulting career, in 1986 he started working on true innovations for the 21st Century. One result are his new global traffic concepts, which took four generations of constantly improving revolutionary crafts, meanwhile achieving airplane speed in an environmentally friendly way.

Dr. Peter Maskus, Acabion
Keynote Speaker «Mobility of the 21st Century»,
Culture and Convention Centre KKL, Lucerne, Switzerland

November 21, 2007; 09.50 h


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