Friday, February 02, 2007

Ecology friendly cars

Hybrid cars

What: Toyota scored big with the Prius, which runs on an electric motor and a gas motor: in the city, it mostly runs on electric, but switches to gas on the freeway. General Motors wants to cut the use of gas further with its Volt. In the Volt, which could be ready in two or three years, the gas motor doesn't run the car. Instead, it exists to recharge the battery. In the end that leads to less fuel consumption. Ford, meanwhile, is touting the Edge, an SUV in which a hydrogen fuel cell recharges the battery. The battery in the Edge also gets charged by plugging into a wall.

Similarly, several small companies have touted plug-in hybrids. These are similar to the Prius, but the battery for running the electric motor can be recharged through a plug.

Pros: The less the gas motor gets used, the greater the gas mileage and the lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Ford has also minimized the tasks for the hydrogen fuel cell so you won't have to worry about refilling it too much, especially if you charge the battery.

Cons: None that are too big. The public clearly likes hybrids. Still, Toyota has been the big success story here. It is unclear how well GM and Ford will do. Also, questions remain on whether the public really will buy hybrid SUVs and sedans. SUV customers tend to look at features beyond fuel efficiency, but the data isn't conclusive yet.

Electric cars

What: Better batteries are allowing car manufacturers to run cars wholly on electricity. Tesla Motors, Think Global and Wrightspeed are marketing all-electric sports cars and economy cars. Zap says it will do a mid-size sedan. Some companies are selling electric scooters and rickshaws into India.

Pros: The more a vehicle runs on electricity, generally the less pollution it creates. An all-electric car produces no tailpipe emissions. Emissions are created indirectly because the power plants that charge the batteries in these cars often run on coal. But in most cases, you see a big reduction in greenhouse emissions. Battery makers like Altair Nanotechnologies and Valence Technology hope to score big.

The mileage is fairly astounding; it only costs a few cents per mile to run an electric car. Tesla and Wrightspeed have also shown that electrics can hang with Ferraris and Porsches.

Cons: The range. Most of these cars can only go 100 to 200 miles before they need a recharge, although Zap says its car will go 350 miles. Forget conspiracy theories: earlier electric cars died out because they didn't get very far and had ornate charging procedures, say execs at Toyota, and even electric car advocates. Batteries also cost a lot of money. Building an all-electric car like a Honda Accord today would probably cost you $20,000 or more in batteries, says Ian Wright, founder of Wrightspeed. Progress is occurring and sales are growing, but it will take time to improve the battery technology.

from here


Blogger theBike said...

Finally, some sanity.

6:22 AM  
Blogger theBike said...

I see that at least someone on the web can toss off "Who Killed the Electric Car?" as the pure fiction that it is. It's a sad commentary on our media and education system that logic as flawed as Paine's
was in that film is actually believed by many. Of course, 80% also believe we've been visited by aliens (and there's proof!) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the level of ignorance that threatens to overwhelm.

6:28 AM  

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