|Published March 12, 2013 Uploaded: April 2, 2013 12:27 a.m.|
Whiting: He see his part saving the world
|By DAVID WHITING
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
So-called impossible dreams are what push us forward, and sometimes a little stubbornness helps too.
When I meet Serge Monros, he announced he hopes to accomplish nothing less than to "save the planet, one vehicle at a time."
Inventor Serge Monros shows off a DynoValve kit which is being installed in the vehicle behind him. His motto is "Saving the planet, one vehicle at a time." The device causes engines to run more efficiently with less emissions and better fuel economy. Monros, founder of SaviCorp in Santa Ana, has over 30 patents and patent applications, with more on the way.
JEBB HARRIS, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
It's an audacious statement. But the conviction in Monros' voice rings true and so do the surroundings. Monros is founder and CEO of a company called SaviCorp and we walk through a 70,000-square-foot warehouse. The space is dominated by a brother corporation that specializes in converting out-of-state vehicles to meet California emissions standards.
With a Ferrari here and a Lotus there, the big boy appears to be on solid ground. But the upstart, SaviCorp of Santa Ana, gets the buzz.
Monros' device called a DynoValve promises to increase car performance, reduce emissions and save gas. With pollution eating the air, and gas at $4.25 a gallon, that's no small thing. But is this $400 gizmo that resembles my lawn system's solenoids the real deal? Or is it what some online reviews call a unicorn? For the moment, it doesn't matter. The inventor has enough passion to fuel a fleet of cars.
Monros gets little respect in online reviews. Instead, he's mocked for being a fat man in an ill-fitting suit.
Yes, this isn't an era for the timid to venture in public. I'll also mention Monros has more than one suit and some fit just fine, thank you.
The comments are typical Internet. Some are thoughtful. Others quickly dismiss the DynoValve for not already being on every car, which would be difficult since it just hit the market.
Monros' patent was approved Jan. 29. The valve also has an installation stamp from the California Air Resources Board. The stamp isn't a recommendation. It merely means the board believes the device does no harm.
So I reviewed the air board's "Executive Order D-677" and compared the board's baseline for emissions to when a DynoValve was used. Board-certified laboratory results showed Monros' invention decreased pollutants by at least a 50 percent.
Talking race car fast, Monros reels off test result after test result on a variety of gasses. Then he explains his invention in language I understand.
Instead of expensive catalytic converters breaking down compounds, the DynoValve feeds the fuel residue back into the engine.
Instead of emissions, the valve also feeds gasses back into the engine.
And instead of unwanted pressure in the engine ... yes, Monros maintains, the DynoValve helps with that, too.
"It's like a track star trying to breathe through a tube," Monros explains of normal engine pressure. "The DynoValve is like the track star opening his mouth."
As SaviCorp has evolved, so has its marketing. My favorite video was shot at an Asian trade show in Southern California. It lasts 3 minutes and spends one-third on dancers wearing something mildly akin to native costume.
Over the din of the show, sales executive Chuck Nelson interviews Monros. Spending as much time talking up Facebook as he does DynoValve, Monros concludes his invention "is good for business and good for the environment."
Then, it's back to dancers in native costumes.
What comes through isn't about the product, but about the very human excitement that goes with introducing a new product.
As we settle into the conference room, Monros and SaviCorp President Victor Chu take me through several commercials they hope will spur interest.
One features an endorsement from a reviewer I read online. Her name is Lauren "Car Coach" Fix, and she has a car family. Her daughter, Shelby, calls herself the "Teen Car Coach." Her husband, Paul, is a professional Trans-Am Series driver. Along with appearing on Fox and CNN, Fix has written several automotive books including a "guide to loving your car."
But it's not Fix who impresses. It's Robert Picardo, also known as Dr. Dick Richards on television's "China Beach," and the doctor on "Star Trek: Voyager."
I'm not kidding about Picardo impressing. I tell Monros about a time before DVRs when the worst parental punishment was forbidding me to watch an episode of "Star Trek."
From a big screen, Picardo proclaims that he doesn't do endorsements but that he believes in the DynoValve.
And I believe Picardo despite his minor fib. A few years ago, Picardo was kind enough to endorse a fan movement to have actress Mary Czerwinski in the latest Star Trek movie. Czerwinski wasn't in the film.
For car people, I'll mention that the DynoValve connects to something called the positive crankcase ventilation valve, an engine component that reduces emissions and has been around for nearly as long as seat belts.
Monros' invention replaces the PCV valve. Along with feeding residual fuel back into the engine, it's also designed to regulate engine vacuum problems with the help of a tiny computer.
Other bonuses, Monros adds, are a cleaner engine and oil. If he's right, that means fewer oil changes.
But should we believe a guy with no more credentials than some classes at Orange Coast College and a slew of certificates?
Freshman year, I went to a place called Reed College. The next year, I left for a university with a big student newspaper. That same term, a classmate I didn't know left Reed and never returned to college. His name was Steve Jobs.
When it comes to cars, I'm good with a guy who earned his credentials on the streets and enjoys getting greasy.
A bit more background: A grandfather of four, Monros has twin daughters. His resume includes chief technology officer at Integrated Micro Systems in Vista and senior systems analyst for Rockwell in Downey.
Pointing to the DynoValve mounted on an engine, Monros exclaims, "It's like adding another gas tank to the car."
Like a television disclaimer, Chu agrees with the ever-exuberant Monros' main points about cutting emissions, improving performance, decreasing gas consumption and saving, on average, about 5 cents per mile. But Chu cautions results vary.
Telling statements from a team accused by some of believing in unicorns.
David Whiting's column appears four days a week. email@example.com
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