The Ergosphere
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
 

Scribblings for October 2005

This post will collect links and calculations posted in comments elsewhere.

UPDATES:
Wednesday the 26th:  Item 3 added
Friday the 7th:  Old post, new discussion (links only)
Tuesday the 4th:  Item 1 added
Tuesday the 4th:  Item 2 added

 
Comments:
We have stopped spending on things that aren't necessities, and we've been forced to halve our grocery bill. The kids no longer get fresh fruit or vegetables and no longer get turkey sandwiches. Now we buy only canned goods and the cheapest lunch meat possible.

Lovely. Vegetables for the childern aren't a necessity.
 
Nota bene. This is posted by a citizen of Australia, where similar considerations apply. Americans must use their own best judgement.

One proposal emerges from this. Evangelize at the appropriate level for appropriately chosen taxi fleets to be subsidized to switch to hybrid.

Do it on a triage basis. Fleets which have already gone to diesel get their turn later. Fleets which are locked into petrol economically are left to fend. Those which can make the shift at a relative profit are assisted over the investment fence.

The intention is for Prius etc to be rewarded by sales, and for a few corporations to gain experince with the infrastructure.
 
Diesels have been rare to non-existent among Detroit's car offerings since the disastrous GM offering in the late 70's.  I believe that the standard vehicles used in taxi service (Ford Crown Victoria, Chevy Caprice) have never been offered with diesels.  If you want a diesel in the USA, your choices come down to a.) a truck or b.) something from Europe.

I picked b.); specifically, a diesel Passat.
 
Good analysis. Seems like coal (followed by wind) will be the choice for increased electrical generation. I should think it would be cheaper than oil and gas even after pollution controls (sulfur scrubbing, CO2 sequestration) to make it as clean as oil.

On the CNN article: a couple of the comments seem to support an optimistic view that the majority of households with multiple vehicles (100M households, 200+M vehicles in the US) can very quickly increase fuel efficiency by switching to their more efficient vehicle.
 
Things like taxis, buses and company fleets are a nice way to start, because they get round the "first telephone" collective action problem.

That is, it's irrational for the individual to invest in a non-oil vehicle because the supply chain isn't there yet. Why? Because there's no market for it, and your demand alone isn't enough to make building a SOLZINC plant (or whatever) worthwhile. Who could the first telephone subscriber call?

But if you're operating a fleet of vehicles, you might have the critical mass of cash to set up your own alternative fuel supply - which is a good way of getting some schemes in operation on a commercial scale.
 
I'm convinced that the plug-in hybrid is the "killer app" because electricity already has nearly 100% penetration in US homes and businesses; you don't have a critical-mass issue for fueling infrastructure.  Natural gas is perhaps half as available.  Does anything else come close?

Fleets (FedEx, UPS, city buses) have already been test-beds for NGV's and the like.  Using them to roll out e.g. zinc-air fuel cells seems pretty obvious.
 
I don't know about the rest of the world but here in Victoria the majority of Priui (plural of Prius?) on the road are taxis. Purolator, a Canadian courier company, is running plug-in hybrid vans with a 1.5 km all-electric range. Not much, but it's a start. Couriers (either frieght or people) have the greatest to gain financially from hybrid technologies.
 
Could that be the Dodge Sprinter that's been written up on Green Car Congress?
 
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