One thousand years ago, Peter Salaverry ran a company that helped our company’s Web site. That’s how I first met him and about the last time I saw him. He now runs Skinz Wraps, a company in Deep Ellum that wraps cars–you know, for a radio station’s promotional van or to put wicked flames on your IROC-Z’s hood or whatever. Peter called the other day with a story that he wanted to send our way before he went national with it. The big, official announcement is tomorrow at 10:00am, unless you count this here blog item. The story has to do with car wraps, Olympic swimmers, fuel efficiency, and female motorcyclists setting land speed records at the salt flats. Read on.
Peter is a nice guy with manic, salesman-y energy. He talks passionately and a lot. But when he told me over the phone about his latest, patent-pending invention, his enthusiasm seemed warranted. Now, I’m no aerodynamics expert, but the idea seems to make sense. That idea: Cut tiny holes in the car wrap and you’ll cut down on the vehicle’s drag. “It’s like the swimsuits that helped those swimmers break all of those records,” Peter told me. “Or think of a golf ball.”
“A golf ball” is what Peter and his cohorts wanted onlookers to think of when they saw a gray Scion covered with a white, dimpled car wrap, dubbed FastSkinz. Peter wanted to keep the project under wraps–sorry, but you knew I was going to have to use that at least once–so he added “Titlelist” to the windshield to make the car seem as though it was a golf-lover’s ride, rather than what it is: a daily-driver test vehicle that tracks fuel efficiency. I watch a lot of Discovery Channel and Science Network, but the physics involved is slightly above my head. It’s above Peter’s head, too, for the most part. But it doesn’t matter, so long as it works.
The other day, Peter took me on a test drive, showing off the Fast Wrapped Scion’s gas mileage. Tooling around the vast, empty parking lots on the northeast side of Fair Park, Peter pointed to the something-ometer, a digital gizmo that gives an even more accurate and up-to-the-minute readout of MPG than the one on the dash. Peter notes that the EPA’s site says the Scion in question should be getting 22 city driving and 28 highway. On Monday, we were getting about 28 with stop-and-go, 34 on the highway. He says he’s been seeing 27-29 city, 32-35 highway. Not bad. And when you apply such cost savings across a broad fleet, like, say, for UPS (“What can we do for Brown?” Peter wondered often and not at all rhetorically), that adds up to millions pretty quick.
Did I mention that Peter can talk? During our ride and our tour of the nondescript warehouse where the wraps are applied, he excitedly told me about the wind tunnels that some NASCAR people let them use and how they knocked off seven points of drag in the first run, wowing all who saw it. He told me about his possible collaborations with Lockheed Martin, with Amory Lovins, a group competing for the X Prize, the Pickens Plan people, and others. Oh, and FastSkinz likely helped local motorcyclist Leslie Porterfield become the fastest woman on a motorcylce at the Bonneville Salt Flats, with an average run of 232 mph on a 1650cc Hayabusa, setting a land speed record last year:
Again, the science stuff is over my head but seems legit. The results certainly seem to bear out. And the business side could take off in a huge way, as people and carmakers would be highly interested in retro-fitting for better fuel economy. In short, FastSkinz = Ka-chingz?
Update: Peter just uploaded some YouTube vids, for those who are interested.