The Ergosphere
Sunday, December 03, 2006
 

Renewable energy and the auto industry

Of all the surprises I've had this year, the biggest was probably these words from the head of GM:

First, electricity offers outstanding benefits... beginning with the opportunity to diversify fuel sources upstream of the vehicle. In other words, the electricity that is used to drive the vehicle can be made from the best local fuel sources—natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, and so on. So, before you even start your vehicle, you're working toward energy diversity.

I could have sworn I'd heard similar sentiments before:

if you can make your own "motor fuel" with a solar panel or wind turbine, you will be largely insulated from oil depletion.

Mr. Wagoner continued:

Third, electrically driven vehicles offer great performance...with extraordinary acceleration, instant torque, improved driving dynamics, and so on.

This also sounded familiar:

A car that's quieter, runs its A/C at full speed even when the engine is at idle (or even with the engine off), has superior power steering, can run many kilowatts of electrical loads... is a better car no matter how you cut it.

If the auto isn't going to decline along with the production of oil, it's going to have to shift from petroleum to renewable energy.  Maybe the industry (and the nation) won't drop the ball this time.

 
Comments:
That quote really surprised me too. Call me a skeptic, but even with statements like that I still don't see them pulling their heads out in time. Here's hoping they prove me wrong.
 
Your article states many benefits of cars powered by electricity. However, there are also a few drawbacks. For example, the range is limited. How about hydrogen-powered or bio-diesel powered vehicles?
 
The range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV's) is not limited by the size of the battery pack.  The battery determines the fraction of fuel displaced by electricity for a given driving cycle, no more.  For all concepts under consideration, that fraction is almost always 100% for short trips.
 
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