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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 3:28 pm | Fair 69º


Santa Barbara-Based Gas Pods Company Aims to Save Drivers Money, Carbon Emissions

Local founders begin marketing products to increase fuel efficiency by improving vehicle aerodynamics

Santa Barbara-based Gas Pods has collected data to prove its product, placed on the top rear end of a vehicle (especially a hatchback), can save drivers gas and money.
Santa Barbara-based Gas Pods has collected data to prove its product, placed on the top rear end of a vehicle (especially a hatchback), can save drivers gas and money.  (Gas Pods photo)

Drivers hoping to save some money on gas — and maybe the environment, while they’re at it — are the targets of a Santa Barbara startup.

Streamlined GasPods by AeroHance are exterior accessories that can be placed on vehicles to enhance airflow and efficiency through aerodynamics, reducing fuel consumption for most ideal users by at least 5 percent, founders say.

To visual 5 percent, picture a 10-by-10-foot prison cell full of carbon emissions, said Susanne Chess, co-founder of the GasPods project.

That’s what a person could save annually, helping to fight global warming.

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, Chess said, if just 133 average drivers reduced fuel consumption by 5 percent, the amount of carbon dioxide saved would fill Chicago’s Sears Tower.

AeroHance runs out of an office in the rear of Chess’ other business, Fine Fabrics, at 1307 State St.

Chess and her husband of 30 years, Bob Evans, have more than 30 years experience and more than 33 patents in fluid-form product design. They launched Bob Evans Designs, Inc. in 1985 and Fine Fabrics in 2004.

GasPods came out of yet another business. The longtime locals have designed and manufactured high-performance fins for water activities for the past 25 years under their Force Fin venture, which recently moved into a Pennsylvania manufacturing facility.

Evans is the idea man, and Chess is the businesswoman ironing out logistics.

“Fuel savings, they can’t work, some people say,” Chess told Noozhawk.

“A lot of things hit the market early on that didn’t work. We decided we wanted to get a lot of data."

AeroHance had a soft launch at Santa Barbara’s Earth Day celebration in 2012, offering 40 percent off a $40-60 GasPods purchase if testers agreed to share their results and photos.

Nine of these Gas Pods could be placed on the top of a vehicle near the back in an attempt to save gas, money and the environment. Click to view larger
Nine of these Gas Pods could be placed on the top of a vehicle near the back in an attempt to save gas, money and the environment. (Gas Pods photo)

Each GasPods kit comes with nine small pods that attach magnetically when placed 4-to-5-inches apart on the rear roof or spoiler of a vehicle.

Research finds GasPods work best on blunt-back vehicles like hatchbacks or mini vans, Chess said, creating a low-pressure area behind a vehicle.

“If you make a vehicle more aerodynamic, it will save fuel,” she said.

Seeing desirable results, GasPods ramped up efforts this year, marketing the pods as a much quicker fix than what the government is proposing — incentives for making fuel-efficient vehicles, which Chess said won’t absorb into the U.S. market for about 45 years.

If just 2 percent of the world’s drivers reduce fuel consumption by 5 percent, it would prevent 1.26 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year, Chess said.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, an environmentalist, oceanographic explorer and son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, endorses GasPods on the company’s website.

Chess said a Prius owner saw as high as 17 percent in savings for long-distance driving, noting GasPods might not work on big trucks or buses because of their poor gas mileage and that pods don’t really kick in until a car hits 45 mph.

She was hopeful even the slightest savings might inspire drivers to do more for the environment in general.

“People want something to motivate them,” Chess said.

“They don’t want to take the bus one day a week. People don’t like changing behavior. If you just put these on your car and you have a car that works, it takes nothing to do. Save fuel to save money to save the world.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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