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Susanne Chess  and  Bob Evans of Force Fins/Gas Pods at their Santa Barbara offices.

Paul Wellman

Susanne Chess and Bob Evans of Force Fins/Gas Pods at their Santa Barbara offices.


Gas Pods Save Money, Maybe Planet

A Sneak Peek at ForceFin Bob Evans and Susanne Chess’s Latest Creation for Your Car


How’d you like to save about $6 per tank of gasoline and know that you’re doing a little extra to help save the planet?

That’s the possibility presented by Gas Pods, the newest invention from Santa Barbara’s engineering wizard Bob Evans, who revolutionized swim fin technology with his Force Fin designs but recently set his sights on bettering the dry life. “I had the idea about 20 years ago with my fin business,” said Evans, whose underwater mastery of fluid dynamics is now utilized by everyone from recreational SCUBA divers to Navy SEALs. “I always knew that they had another application on land.”

So while driving back and forth from Los Angeles to care for his dying father a couple years ago, Evans made his car more aerodynamic by affixing golf ball-sized wings to his Volvo. Upon returning home one day, he noticed that he’d used nearly a quarter-tank less of gas, and thought, “Holy shit! These things might work!” Many moons and $30,000 or so in expert aerodynamic studies later, the proof was there: about a five percent reduction in drag and corresponding five percent boost in fuel efficiency. One of the researchers was so excited by the results that he personally drove the report to Evans from L.A., and exclaimed that car companies “kill” for even just a two percent boost in efficiency.

Gas Pods
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Gas Pods

“It’s pulling more air into the low pressure area behind your car,” explained Bob’s wife and business partner, Susanne Chess, last week at their Kimball Street studio, “so that’s pushing you forward rather than pulling you back.” Evans already has 33 patents for his fin designs, so he’s “confident” that his application for the Gas Pods — which are removable thanks to the use of super-strong “rare earth” magnets, although there will be a cheaper stick-on version available too — will be approved. And while newer models of the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and other cars are incorporating somewhat similar ideas into their designs, Gas Pods — which help with mileage all the way down to 35 mph — appear to be the only after-market efficiency enhancer available.

“I want to be able to weave the air like a woman weaves her hair or how a cloth is woven,” explained Evans, showing off the graphical evidence that reveals his ideas at work. “This isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a beginning.”

Right now, Gas Pods are available in the custom-made model for $159, but this summer, the mass-produced versions ($60 for magnetic; $30 for adhesive) will be available. Evans will also be at The Santa Barbara Independent‘s Earth Day booth on Sunday, April 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to discuss his new invention. See gaspods.com for more info.

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