Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ethanol AND Hybrid Technologies

I've said this is previous posts but I will say it again. The only way that the United States and the rest of the world is going to come to a reasonable answer relating to the complex topics of environmental impact, foreign oil dependency, and others relating to transportation fuels is to combine several meaningful solutions. By doing a quick search of the major automakers in America, it becomes horrifyingly clear that there is absolutely no interest by these companies in helping the public solve any of these problems. To illustrate my point, think of all the flex-fuel vehicles on the road today. Save the Chevy Malibu I would have to say that every single one is an SUV. And the hybrid-dominated companies don't have clean hands either. I can say that there is not a single company that has the foresight and innovation to build a hybrid car and install components capable of running 85% ethanol. Think of how easy it would be for Toyota to equip their prius, for only $100 to $200 dollars, with ethanol capable components. They would be able to corner the entire market, particularly here in the Midwest. So why won't they do it? I honestly don't have an answer. Combining the two most promising emissions/cost reducing mechanisms that are available seems like the right way to go.
Thankfully, a company out of Stolkholm Sweden named Scania, has already made 14 hybrid-electric city buses. I know that this isn't the answer that I was looking for in personal car production but it is a good step. These buses are already running and the data indicates the the combination of the two technologies has reduced GHG emissions in the buses by 90%!! And the buses are able to extend their fuel economy by 25%. Incredible. Hopefully Scania's lead will help push automakers here in the US to start thinking about the big picture and not just about ethanol versus hybrid versus hydrogen versus fuel cell -- that kind of thinking will get us nowhere.

If any of you are interested in this combination of technologies, I encourage you to write a quick e-mail to your car-maker. I did and the more they hear from us the less they will be able to ignore the fact that we want a combination of solutions capable of solving all of the issues.

For more info. on the hybrid-electric bus:

1 comment:

berfunkle said...

Yes, I agree that a few Swedish busses won't turn the tide, but you are right about the reluctance of those with the economic and tech know-how; they could work for solutions (we should have be going after these solutions decades ago). By the way, one of the nightly news crews (NBC?) did a broadcast last night about the many ways that Sweden has worked to make "green systems" a natural part of their lives. Maybe they do have something more to offer than recycled ABBA songs. By the way, Liverpool 1, Chelsea 1 in the first leg.