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No matter how impressive the Ferrari F430's fabulous V8 engine may be, some British politicians want diesel and gasoline engines on the endangered species list.
British Liberal Democrats call for an end to fossil fuel-based automobiles

Over the past 10 years, automotive manufacturers have become increasingly aware of their vehicles’ impact on the environment. Honda and Toyota were two of the first innovators in the hybrid-electric market with the Insight and Prius. The promise of hybrid vehicles was that by relying more on electric motors and batteries for propulsion, gasoline consumption would in turn drop.

Other manufacturers have been somewhat slow to release hybrid vehicles at the same rate as automotive giant Toyota. The Japanese auto manufacturer currently has six hybrids (three from Toyota, three from Lexus) in its portfolio and plans to make its entire range hybrid-capable by 2020.

Hybrids are definitely a critical step to making highly efficient vehicles – both gasoline-electric and diesel-electric -- that rely less on fossil fuels. Hybrids have given auto manufacturers expertise in advanced battery technology and electric drive motor development.

If some British politicians were to have their way, however, no new vehicles sold in the United Kingdom would be powered gasoline or diesel by the year 2040. The first step to less dependence on fossil fuels will be higher taxes on the thirstiest vehicles.

British Liberal Democrats are proposing a £2000 (roughly $4,000 USD) yearly tax on gas-guzzling SUVs. The hope is that the tax will dissuade consumers from purchasing inefficient vehicles and hence persuade auto manufacturers to further develop efficient all-electric and fuel cell vehicles.

Manufacturers are currently working on both all-electric and fuel cell prototypes for the near future. General Motors is hard at work on its Volt which will be made available in electric and hydrogen fuel cell versions. Ford has also demonstrated its fuel cell capabilities with the HySeries Drive system while Honda plans to make its production fuel cell sedan available to a select few in 2008.

It remains to be seen how feasible such an initiative could possibly be. Auto manufacturers would surely lobby hard against such actions and European companies like Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini have prided themselves on years of developing potent gasoline engines. A Ferrari with a whining electric motor just doesn’t quite have the same appeal as a screaming V-12 or turbocharged flat-6.

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Technology of Tomorrow
By marsbound2024 on 9/18/2007 3:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
It remains to be seen how feasible such an initiative could possibly be. Auto manufacturers would surely lobby hard against such actions and European companies like Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini have prided themselves on years of developing potent gasoline engines. A Ferrari with a whining electric motor just doesn’t quite have the same appeal as a screaming V-12 or turbocharged flat-6.

I am assuming that by 2040, the technology used won't be as powerless as the technology of today. It is quite likely that the future non-fossil-fuel engines will deliver enough power while delivering a satisfying vroom. Of course we may not see the same wonderful roar, but I am sure there will be some voice of power eminating from under our hoods. Let the technology mature before assuming that in 2040 we'll all be buzzing around at 60mph on 85 horsepower electric engines.

PS: The environment is of much greater concern than 0-60 in less than five seconds and hearing that satisfying roar of the engine. I am not just referring to the theory of global warming. Acid rain, smog, oil spills, and other effects from the use of fossil fuels damage the environment and the organisms that inhabit this planet. It is our responsibility as humans to oversee the safety of the planet and everything that inhabits it. To do otherwise will be to lose our morality, our direction and our humanity. Besides, gas is not cheap.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By diskmagnet on 9/18/2007 3:50:11 PM , Rating: 4
"How many kW you got under that hood"

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 3:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
the ferrari 430 has about 490 horsepower which is about 360kW. there's also 465NM of torque, not bad for such a high-output, small displacement engine.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By joex444 on 9/18/2007 4:12:58 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, looks like you meant "How many Ah you got."

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By colonelclaw on 9/19/2007 8:45:25 AM , Rating: 1


car that transforms...


Megan Fox!

hate to say it, but you used the wrong picture to illustrate this piece

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By vortmax on 9/18/2007 3:54:06 PM , Rating: 3
I generally agree with most of your post..good post. The last sentance is a little hard to digest:
To do otherwise will be to lose our morality, our direction and our humanity.

What is our morality? Most people are living with variable morals anyway so to state that we'll lose our morality is not accurate. Now if you believe in moral absolutes, then we've pretty much already lost our morality.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By clovell on 9/18/2007 4:14:23 PM , Rating: 2
Now if you believe in moral absolutes, then we've pretty much already lost our morality.

That seems to be a rather absolute statement.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By vortmax on 9/18/2007 4:17:39 PM , Rating: 2
It was meant to be... :)

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 2:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
If he or she is a really good lobbyist then the politician will take the money, do their bidding, and feel like he's moral, and be blinded to the ramifications, all at the same time.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Samus on 9/18/2007 4:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
We've been using gasoline as a fuel for internal combustion for 150 years. Are they saying we've been living the past 150 years in shame?

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Crassus on 9/19/2007 11:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
Looking back, the gas/diesel engine was a gigantic step forward from horse-drawn carts. CO2 is certainly better than droppings of slowly decomposing solid waste, not to mention "fuel economy".
But technology moved forward in the past 150 years, and we've been for quite some years now capable of moving forward. It's a shame that we don't have the will, even though we have the technology.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Runiteshark on 9/18/07, Rating: 0
RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By darkpuppet on 9/18/2007 4:06:18 PM , Rating: 3
Um, minivans have waaay more space than SUVs... SUVS are a pretty big waste of space, but they look pretty -- that's about it. Not to mention your Hummer H2 won't fare much better offroad than your typical sedan.

People with families are better served with wagons and minivans -- I have yet to see someone take their $100,000 G-wagon offroading in my city yet...

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By themadmilkman on 9/18/2007 4:33:29 PM , Rating: 2
Way to take half of one sentence out of context. He stated that there are families with more than one kid that ALSO do outdoor activities that may require an SUV. It's why I drive one. I need a vehicle that can hold me, my wife, and our two kids, but I ALSO need a vehicle that won't get stuck where I drive it.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By acer905 on 9/18/2007 4:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
You left out the entire "haul" part. Personally i don't think i've ever seen a minivan pull a 25' travel trailer.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By darkpuppet on 9/18/2007 5:17:54 PM , Rating: 3
can't say I've seen them haul a 25ft trialer, but I've seen minivans hauling trailers that dwarf them...

You may want to ask why if you have a car (say a ford focus) in europe, and in the US -- same model, engines, etc...

how come that same car in the UK has nearly 4x the towing capacity?

It's probably due to what the manufacturer had it certified for by the local government. And it makes no sense to have a car rated with the same towing capacity in the US as a truck... you'd be creating competition amongs the leading brands.

And then consider for a moment as well, that the VAST majority of SUV sales aren't for families with 4 kids that want to haul a 25ft trailer up a mountainside. I've never seen more than a couple of bikes latched to the hitch of that $100,000 G-Wagon down the street or the Cayenne.

If you need an SUV, that's fine.. if you have the money for a 25ft trailer, then you'd probably have some money left over for your gas tax. The rest of us can throw our 3 kids in the wagon with tents and sleeping bags to get our outdoor fix.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By theapparition on 9/19/2007 7:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
Great, and then maybe you can tell everyone what they need to drive. Why stop there. Why do we need cars at all. When someone takes your car away, we'll see how quickly you'll change your tune. I'm for freedom of choice . That choice may cost more (in Europe, it already does in some areas), but don't remove my choice.

And that focus in Europe is not the exact same model. There are tons of extras that go into US vehicules for safety and emmisions regulations that are not required in the EU.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:00:34 PM , Rating: 3
Consider this. CAFE standards came about before the public could buy a Hummer. If they had never been enacted then perhaps what would have been introduced, and much more of a potential market failure, would be a low-tech Hummer, without FI and such. The gloom and doom of the original CAFE standards that Detroit cried about was one big myth. After it became law, then we got 500 hp V-10 Vipers and 'Vettes that get close to 30 mpg. The law improved the nation's average mpg and it doesn't appear to have dented your ability to choose one bit, it may have even made it better. God knows how many short sided idiots would still be buying vehicles with carbs on them had the existing laws not been imposed, that nasty government.

And some fundamentalists here would call this socialism. Pity their black or white cranial activity.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Oregonian2 on 9/18/2007 7:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
My '96 T&C minivan has the tow-option. I don't recall the rating but it was fairly significant that I recall (never actually used it, but thought having an oversized battery and the extra transmission cooler would be better for the long run anyway and one never knows if I may want it later -- bought the car new).

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By darkpuppet on 9/18/2007 4:02:58 PM , Rating: 5
I'd actually be a bit more concerned about the toxic factories pumping out toxic batteries that need to be charged by toxic power plants for use in eco-friendly cars.

Just thinking laws of thermal dynamics, what's better? having the energy of combustion directly motivate the car (and charge it's system), or have that combustion take place 1,000 miles away, convert it to steam to turn your rotating assemblies to generate electricity that has to travel that 1,000 miles over transmission lines to fill up a battery in a process that generates further heat and energy losses.

Same with creating hydrogen for fuel cells... have that power plant I just talked about send over power to exert it's influence on separating hydrogen and oxygen from water, just so it can be re-combined later in your car...

Hell, the current power grid can't support people turning on their airconditioners on a hot summer's day, never mind charging their cars so they can drive back home after work as well!

The focus just seems all wrong to me. Sure, maybe gasoline isn't the solution, but there has to be something better than hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells. Hell, even ethanol powered cars lubricated with olive oil could be better with just a little bit more research. If you can make a dirty fuel burn cleaner, I'm sure a little effort could help make cleaner fuels burn even cleaner.

Just my 2 cents of course...

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By clovell on 9/18/2007 4:27:26 PM , Rating: 3
I see your point about the overall environmental impact of using batteries on such a large scale. However, using power plants as an energy source to charge batteries is more economical and more efficient than ICEs.

IIRC, gasoline ICEs currently gets between 25-30% efficiency, neglecting refining, exploration, drilling, etc. Electric motors can hit about 80% right now. Even after factoring in the loss via transmission and generation, you still come out more efficient than gasoline. If you think about, it makes sense - most of the energy your car uses is output not as motion, but heat. Power Plants are able to use this heat to produce electricity.

Don't forget that power companies have had a long time to tweak their infrastructure to minimize losses by increasing efficiency.

The grid may not be able to support the draw placed on it during the summer while A/Cs are running, but if battery technology can continue to progress, most people should be able to make the full commute on a single charge and could plug in when at night. A compromise in the meantime could be a PHEV like the Chevy Volt that runs on Ethanol or Hydrogen as a backup power source.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By PrinceGaz on 9/19/2007 10:19:14 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, electric traction motors typically average around 90% efficiency over the full range of speeds used when operating. Electric vehicles are certainly the way forwards and I would hope that 30 years from now, further advances in battery technology will make them better in ever way than ICE powered vehicles.

If you want high-performance engine noise, if there is enough demand I'm sure you'll be able to buy a kit which simulates it based on speed and a dummy gear-lever :)

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Blight AC on 9/19/2007 12:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
All-Electrics work great as a commuter car, but are still limited by range and the time it takes to extend that range (battery recharging). All-Electrics require a charge (which might take an hour or more). They are also currently limited in range, which of course would be extended by 2040, but by how much?

What about transport vehicles. All Electrics work good in cars, but what about Trucks? Trucks that drive about 65 mph on highways for approx. 14 hours a day.. up to 11 hours at a time means that a range of 11h x 65mph = 715 miles before significant downtime. They can't go 100 miles on a charge, and then wait an hour to go another 100 miles. They'd have no time to get a nights sleep.
(Time based on the DoT's Hours of Service and local highway speed limits) In the South East, they have speed limits of 75 MPH, for even larger range during their 11 hour on-duty time.

And that's only a part of the usage that vehicles get, not including service vehicles, like for instance, phone repair technicians who drive a variety of miles a day to address the trouble tickets they have, as well as other service technicians who drive all over their service area in a day. Do you think all the customers are going to be happy to have them hook up their vehicle to charge up at the customers house?

So.. just because the Electric vehicle is the perfect fit for your own self-centric needs.. doesn't mean it's going to work well for everyone, and it may not even be plausible as a complete replacement in 2040.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By masher2 on 9/18/2007 4:28:41 PM , Rating: 5
Just thinking laws of thermal dynamics, what's better? having the energy of combustion directly motivate the car (and charge it's system), or have that combustion take place 1,000 miles away, convert it to steam to turn your rotating assemblies to generate electricity that has to travel that 1,000 miles over transmission lines to fill up a battery in a process that generates further heat and energy losses
You're missing a few important factors. A car's IC engine is continually starting and stopping combustion many thousands of times a second, which makes it inherently inefficient. A power plant uses sustained combustion, at a significantly higher temperature, which increases efficiency.

Also, since you have to drag the engine around with the vehicle, you're inherently limited on weight. A fixed power plant can be loaded up with efficiency-improving and pollution-reducing gadgetry. Do too much of that on a car, and the parasitic weight will destroy mileage.

Finally, power plants aren't inherently based on fossil fuels. A significant portion of electricity already comes from clean source like nuclear which are, for all present purposes, essentialy unlimited.

By the way, very little power travels "thousands of miles" over power lines. In the US, average transmissions losses are about 7% I believe. For electric cars, a much larger fraction is lost in coulumetric charging efficiency of the batteries, but hopefully this will improve over time....its not a fundamental limitation like the Carnot efficiency of an IC engine is.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By darkpuppet on 9/18/2007 5:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
You're very correct in that I hadn't considered a lot of facts.

But I don't think we've all considered all the facts of electric/hybrid vehicles either.

It's like the huge push to change every light to CFL, without considering all the factors of increased manufacturing complexity, toxic materials, etc -- when you have other technologies like LED that could be just as good, if not better.

And like CFLs, there's this huge push for hydrogen fuel cells. Last time I checked, production of hydrogen gas wasn't the most efficient or environmentally friendly process out there either.

We, as a society tend to focus on things that make the headlines, and someone, possibly the media seems to have put a huge focus on technologies that may not be the most suitable.

And then you leave it to the politicians to make a platform out of something that very people understand the full ramifications of.

Of course, if it weren't for government mandates, you'd never have the current mileage, fuel cleanliness, and catalytic converters we currently enjoy..

I'm all for losing gas-powered cars, but if you're going to replace one evil, I would appreciate very much that it's replacement is truly better.

In the end, how do you moderate environmentalism between the kneejerk reactions and the long term good?

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Chernobyl68 on 9/18/2007 6:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
The energy efficiency of a modern steam cycle is generally about 30%.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:10:22 PM , Rating: 2
A car's IC engine is continually starting and stopping combustion many thousands of times a second,

3600 rpm / 60 seconds = 60 revolutions per second.
At 2 revolutions (4 strokes) per total combustion process you get 30 ignitions per second.

For an 8 cyclinder that works out to 240 ignitions per second. And there not many V-8s doing 3600 rpm down the highway anymore. More like 1800 rpm at 55mph.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/20/2007 2:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
What? No response? Yeah, I guess MAsher exaggerations really aren't news, are they?

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By smitty3268 on 9/18/2007 4:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
Just thinking laws of thermal dynamics, what's better? having the energy of combustion directly motivate the car (and charge it's system), or have that combustion take place 1,000 miles away, convert it to steam to turn your rotating assemblies to generate electricity that has to travel that 1,000 miles over transmission lines to fill up a battery in a process that generates further heat and energy losses.

Actually, it's better to have it done in the factory. The reason is that the factory is enormous and can have lots of technology to boost efficiency, while the car has to fit everything into a little tiny engine and grab as much energy as possible. It's also running on gas, while a factory can use coal or another energy source that isn't as easily portable. I wouldn't be surprised to see 10x better efficiency by getting rid of combustion engines.

I've never been really sold on hydrogen, either, though.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 7:00:45 PM , Rating: 2
Actually only about 15% of the energy stored in the fuel is converted into useful energy in the average combustion engine -- the rest is wasted. Conventional gas turbine power plants are roughly 35% efficient. Whether you lose another 20% in the charging and discharging of the battery is anyone's guess. However, there is always the chance that renewable energy might be used to provide the power.

Believe it or not, economies of scale translate well. You'd think you're saving the environment by driving out to your local farmer's market, but the honest truth is that the food at your supermarket has probably had less energy devoted to its transportation since they move in bulk. Similarly, organic food is highly inefficient compared to non-organic food, since non-organic farming methods produce about four times as much per area.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:25:16 PM , Rating: 2
Actually only about 15% of the energy stored in the fuel is converted into useful energy in the average combustion engine -- the rest is wasted.

Perhaps this will change the current wasteful method that Z and his fellow fundamentalists can't imagine man getting passed:

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/20/2007 2:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
What happened to all the economic nay-sayers that firmly believe that American ingenuity can't get us passed 15% efficiency?

Well TomZ or Ringold?

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Oregonian2 on 9/18/2007 8:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
That other place likely has no "combustion" going on. It's likely nuclear. The amount of energy to be generated to replace all of that petroleum energy will be significant. Maybe something using Tachyon beams will come along, but until then, that's probably it like it or not. Power companies have enough trouble generating enough electricity as it is to run all those cell phone chargers! :-)

And it's not a matter of doing it or not, it's a matter of when. I have no idea how long the petroleum supply will last, but I'm pretty sure it's not forever.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 10:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
Just thinking laws of thermal dynamics, what's better? having the energy of combustion directly motivate the car (and charge it's system), or have that combustion take place 1,000 miles away, convert it to steam to turn your rotating assemblies to generate electricity that has to travel that 1,000 miles over transmission lines to fill up a battery in a process that generates further heat and energy losses.

What is better? The latter.

Despite all the work that has gone into internal combustion engines in cars over the years they are STILL less efficient than burning the same fuel in a power plant, creating electricity and transmitting that electricity over some distance (though virtually never 1,000 miles, typical would be more like 100 miles or less) and charging up the battery. The only assumption here is that you use a good battery design, eg. Li-Ion. If you use some older designs like NiMH then it's a bit more of a toss-up.

The problem is two-fold. First, one of the big problems with car engines is that they need to run at all sorts of different RPMs. An engine designed to operate at only a single rev-range could be made much more efficient and also much simpler. Second problem, attached to the first, is loss through your transmission. Electrical motors can get by with a much simpler transmission since they have a much wider effective power range (often from a couple hundred rpm up to 20,000rpm with almost full power delivered throughout the entire range), so they can use a much simpler transmission with fewer loses.

Now, both of these issues can be somewhat minimized with a switch to a serial hybrid design (eg. the GM Volt). This would be a big step forward from where we are today, but still less efficient than 1970's technology power plants.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By spluurfg on 9/18/2007 6:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
The environment is of much greater concern than 0-60 in less than five seconds and hearing that satisfying roar of the engine.

Actually, electric motors are rather efficient in providing acceleration at the low end. This is because as long as current is provided to the motor, there is torque, even at zero rpms. The Lotus Tesla, for example, provides in the 250 horsepower and 175ftlb for torque, yet can accelerate from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds.

Compare this to the Lotus 2-11, which produces 250hp and 180ftlb of torque at 7000rpm and is about 40% lighter, which accelerates from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds.

It's not really the technology, but the politics really... the fact is, there's an awful lot of energy packed into fossil fuels that can be had cheaply, so making such a political change to simply ban fossil fuel vehicles would make a serious dent in the industry's economics. Imagine if the aerospace industry had to switch to airliners that didn't use jetfuel, or if the defense companies had to start producing fighter jets that ran on batteries. The costs to them would be huge, not to mention all of their R&D costs spent on liquid fuel jet engines down the toilet.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Blight AC on 9/19/2007 10:46:07 AM , Rating: 2
The only thing missing on Electric's is really that satisfying roar...

0-60 in less then 5 is already being done:

Admittedly, that car is no where near as sexy as the Porsche and Ferrari it handily beats, but it's a start for the performance minded. Although, being about half the weight helps too.

Either way, I'm convinced that all electric is not the way to go. It'll work for commuting, but families will still want their road trip car. The Electric/Gas Hybrids look promising but still rely on Fossil Fuels.

It would be nice to be completely off gasoline/diesel by 2040, but we still don't have a solution that looks like it could completely replace our dependence on fossil fuels.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Gneisenau on 9/19/2007 1:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
And the fact that it takes so long to recharge the batteries. I'll be impressed with full electric cars when they can travel 300 miles on a change and charge up in about the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Or use a cell that can be replaced easily (like putting fuel in a car.) and with a similar cost per mile as gasoline. Otherwise, they're worthless as my primary car.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 6:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
The charge time is one of the real tricks of making an electric car work.

There are two sides to this, source and destination. For the destination it's a question of the batteries, getting them to take a LOT of charge in a short period of time. Generally speaking batteries are getting fairly good at this up to ~75 or 80% charge. They aren't yet at the stage where they can scale up to electric car sized batteries charging even just to 80% in ~5 minutes though. We definitely need some advancements in battery technology for this to happen.

The other aspect is simply getting the power there in the first place. For 300 miles on a charge on an all-electric car you're probably looking at about 60kWh worth of electricity (based on GM's Volt estimate of 200Wh/mile for that 160hp electric engine). Now let's assume we want that electricity in 5 minutes. That works out to 720kW worth of power flow!

This is NOT standard household electrical wiring here. Standard wiring in North America is 15A at 120V, or 1.8kW. Even a high powered "oven and dryer" circuit is usually 30A and 240V, or 7.2kW, two orders of magnitude less than what we need (read: will 'fill' the car in 500 minutes, or a bit over 8 hours). So obviously we aren't talking home filing here, but rather at a "fuelling station". To make such a station, capable of filling up 8 vehicles at once, we're going to need an entire electrical sub-station dedicated to it.

This is why, for the time being, I feel that serial hybrids are a MUCH better solution. Electrical for the commute but able to run off gasoline (with all it's infrastructure in place) for long trips, and it does so in a VERY efficient way. Even highway driving on the generator should give equal or better fuel efficiency than a conventional ICE or parallel hybrid (eg. Prius) vehicle.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By Zoomer on 9/20/2007 10:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
Which is why they have hydrogen fuel cell cars.

You replace your NiMH or LiIon batteries with fuel cells. You still get your electric motor. The only thing you drop is the slow recharge time. In theory, you can recharge a fuel cell in about the same amount of time as filling gas.

RE: Technology of Tomorrow
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot which one of the Unser's has tinnitus, but ask him how satisfying the roar of an engine really is.

are electric cars worth it?
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 3:48:00 PM , Rating: 5
two things that have been on my mind about this:

1. it's the factories that pollute, not the cars . sure, cars do pollute, but most newer vehicles are actually quite clean. porsche has claimed in the past that the exhaust from its 911 turbo is cleaner than the air in major cities, and several journalists say the same as well. this is of course due to research on emissions, catalytic converters, ever improving technology; but the factories that produce cars (and planes, petfood, furniture, etc) are still as dirty as ever.

why is it that the little man has to foot the bill (and accept the blame) for the state the environment is in, when major corporations get away with pollution? i think the environment will only really be cleaned up when politicians stop sleeping with industry leaders.

2. an electric cars' energy must come from somewhere.
sure, there is solar and wind power, but that is insufficient right now; so imagine just how insufficient it would be if all cars ran on electricity. either absolutely massive expansion is needed in the development and construction of clean energy projects, or one must accept that electric cars run on "dirty" energy produced by coal and nuclear plants. given that electricity demand would be much higher if all cars ran on it then one would have to construct more coal and nuclear plants to satisfy demand. thus, the electric car is not solving the pollution problem; it merely defers it to power plants.

i think that this brilliant idea by former F1 engineer guy negre should be looked at, but i don't believe that any government in the world would ever encourage it- air is not taxable, after all.

guy negre's air car:

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 4:05:42 PM , Rating: 2
The 'Air Car' doesn't run on air, any more than a hybrid car runs on electricity. Compressed air is simply a means of storing energy. As you state in your point #2, an air car's energy has to come from somewhere.

It's possible, but I doubt, that an gasoline-air hybrid car like this could be more efficient than a gas-electric hybrid. I'm not saying it isn't interesting, but it certainly isn't a magical answer to air pollution.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 4:12:28 PM , Rating: 1
actually the car does run on air; it uses the pressure from compressed air to move the piston in the engine. if the car is equipped with its own compressor it could even refuel itself.

however, the concept is still in the early stages, and MDI's website notes that range would be very limited unless this is combined with a gas or electric engine.

furthermore, i suppose there would have to be some sort of battery (perhaps rechargeable by the air engine?) and manufacturing would still pollute just as much as manufacturing conventional cars. but that is my point, it's not the cars that need to be cleaned up, it's the factories.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 4:17:41 PM , Rating: 3
you get the five star "completely missed the point" award for the day.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 4:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
but YOUR point is well taken... modern cars, in most any form, are remarkably clean. There is little more to be gained by limiting emissions of the cars themselves.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 4:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
what was your point then?

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By MrBungle123 on 9/18/2007 5:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
sure the car "runs on air" but you still have to power the compressor which presurizes the air tanks... because of conservation of energy all you have done is essentially make a high pressure "air battery" that the car runs off of, the energy production problem remains.

In the end we still need more power plants.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 5:56:32 PM , Rating: 1
why? with a compressor on-board the car can refuel itself. and the compressor could be run off an onboard battery that could be recharged using regenerative braking, for example.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 6:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
It's still just a hybrid car. I'm not sure what you find so magical about using air as an energy storage medium. Why is using regenerative braking to charge a battery that then runs a compressor to compress air into a tank so much better than the hybrids we already have that do the same thing without the bother of the compressor and the air tank? The air still doesn't produce any energy, no matter how many Rube Goldberg mechanisms it passes through.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 6:08:59 PM , Rating: 3
wait a minute here.... are you trying to invent a perpetual motion machine? We don't allow that sort of thing around here pal!

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By jtemplin on 9/18/2007 11:40:28 PM , Rating: 3
In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By MrBungle123 on 9/18/2007 6:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
even if you could build a system that was 100% efficent (which is impossible) you would only get as much power out of the compressed air as was spent to compress it. The cars will still be heavy and it will still require large amounts of energy to move them at practical speeds, that energy has to come from somewhere.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By NEOCortex on 9/18/2007 7:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
You sir, have just described a perpetual motion machine, which by the basic laws of thermodynamics, is fundamentally impossible.

I think you might have gotten this from the Discovery Channel program Future Cars. I am a fan of the Discovery Channel is most cases, but I can't tell you how appalled I was when I heard them say that the compressed air of that car could simultaneously power the car and compress more air.

The power you get out of the compressed air can only be as much as the amount of power you put in to compress it. Obviously you have the choice of using that power to drive the car OR compress air (or a little of both). The second option is worthless however, since you are compressing another tank at the expense of the first, and since nothing is 100% efficient, you just end up wasting compressed air.

So I hope you see how this scenario you describe is impossible.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Gneisenau on 9/19/2007 1:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
Just put a "Mr. Fusion" on board and we're all set.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By vortmax on 9/18/2007 4:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
guy negre's air car:

I remember playing with those cool air cars that you'd pump up and let go. I think I broke a ton of them, though, by jumping them off tables, smashing them into walls, or just over-pumping to see how fast they could really

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By SeeManRun on 9/18/2007 4:21:56 PM , Rating: 3
Just because cars are not the biggest contributer to greenhouse gases doesn't meant we should ignore them. These proposed actions are a step in the right direction to actually acknowledge that we have an emissions problems, and surely will go hand in hand with regulations for other polluters.

The fact that the energy has to come from somewhere is always mentioned, but they never mention efficiency. I won't quote numbers, because I don't know them, but I have read in the past that much of the energy released in an internal combustion engine is in the form of heat. If you used a central system like a hydro-electric damn, or even nuclear you are better off than filling your car with gasoline or diesel. And even coal might be better because the pollution is in one place, and steps can be taken to reduce the pollution at the source (like high efficiency burners)

If we didn't have such large SUV's on the road we wouldn't need such heavy cars on the road in general. If I am to get into an accident with a 5000 lb SUV, my car better have sufficient protection for me. But if that SUV only weighed 1000 lbs, I could get away with a much smaller vehicle being just as safe and requiring much less fuel to drive around. Make cars lighter!

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 4:29:14 PM , Rating: 2
If we didn't have such large SUV's on the road we wouldn't need such heavy cars on the road in general. If I am to get into an accident with a 5000 lb SUV, my car better have sufficient protection for me. But if that SUV only weighed 1000 lbs, I could get away with a much smaller vehicle being just as safe and requiring much less fuel to drive around. Make cars lighter!

NO! NO! NO! You can't simply mandate that cars be lighter, or ban SUV's, in hopes of increasing safety. Most vehicles on the road are commercial vehicles of some sort, which are necessarily heavy. Absence of 5000lb SUV's wouldn't make a 1000lb tin-foil car any safer.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By masher2 on 9/18/2007 7:22:41 PM , Rating: 3
> "Absence of 5000lb SUV's wouldn't make a 1000lb tin-foil car any safer. "

Very true. And besides other cars on the road, lets not forget other hazards. The state of Maine alone averages some 4,000 road accidents/year from moose and deer, many of them fatal. Hitting one of those in a 1000 lb vehicle would be far more deadly.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Christopher1 on 9/18/2007 8:47:23 PM , Rating: 1
Unless the stuff used in the 1000lb car was magnitudes stronger than the stuff used in the 5000lb car, which we might have in 5-10 years.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By masher2 on 9/18/2007 9:53:39 PM , Rating: 2
An order of magnitude would be 10X stronger. In 10 years, we're not going to see materials that much stronger for use in spacecraft, much less common-day autos. And even if we did, you still can't get around basic physics. If a 1000 lb car hits a 1500 lb moose, the occupants of the vehicle are going to experience much stronger decelerative forces than if that car weighed 4000 lbs. Even assuming infinitely strong materials, such a collision at high speeds is going to be invariably fatal.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Chaotic42 on 9/18/2007 10:27:46 PM , Rating: 4
Then we need to make softer moose!

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 2:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, we just need to send Cheney up there, hopefully sober.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Christopher1 on 9/18/2007 8:52:02 PM , Rating: 1
Bingo! That's the reason why SUV's were first started into production: people were afraid of getting hit by the increasing numbers of 18-wheelers on the road, which I personally I gotten close to being hit by many times, none of them my own fault.

It is also true that most vehicles on the road are commercial vehicles outside of the 'sour spots', i.e. the early morning hours when people are going to work, the lunchtime hours from 12 to 2, and the going home hours of 4-6pm.

I do think that we should encourage people to buy smaller cars, however we are also going to have to make smaller cars that hold more people if that is going to happen, because most families in the United States today have more than 4 family members to fit into a car at a time, therefore necessitating a SUV or van.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 11:02:05 AM , Rating: 2
Bingo! That's the reason why SUV's were first started into production: people were afraid of getting hit by the increasing numbers of 18-wheelers on the road,

But sadly the SUVs were only designed to make people THINK they were safer, but not to actually be safer.

The statistics have come back year after year, SUVs are absolutely NOT safer than a conventional mid-sized sedan. Having more weight just means there's more metal to come crashing in around you. More weight does NOT make a vehicle safer, intelligent engineering DOES!

Also remember that being heavy means that SUVs need much more braking power to stop quickly to avoid accidents. They are also harder to turn quickly since they're designed TOTALLY wrong from a handling perspective (compliant suspension for going over bumps "off-road" along with a high centre of gravity). This results not only in the much publicized roll-over problem of SUVs, but also simply in the fact that when that 18-wheeler cuts you off you're going to have a much tougher time swerving to avoid them in an SUV vs. a sedan.

As I said above though, the proof is in the pudding. Check the stats for number of deaths per distance driven. Safest vehicles in the world are Japanese and European mid-sized and large sized sedans. SUVs are all over the board (ranging from the very good like a Lexus GX-series to the 2WD Chevy Blazer with the unenviable title of "least safe vehicle in America"). Pick-up trucks, as a general rule, come in damn near the bottom of the pack along with American sub-compacts (American cars, in general, do MUCH worse than their European and Japanese counterparts).

As for families, the average US family has 2 kids (used to be 2.1 kids a few years back, it's dropping slowly). Unless that family is full of horribly overweight people (sadly a VERY likely scenario these days, but that's another story altogether) then they'll have no trouble fitting into a vehicle the size of a Toyota Yaris, let along a mid-sized sedan like an Accord or a Camry. Obviously there are families with more than 2 kids and for them there need to be solutions (minivans are a GREAT solution here, despite the fact that they're generally ugly and boring). However to say that every family needs a minivan or SUV to haul the rug-rats around is hardly accurate.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By Blight AC on 9/19/2007 12:23:10 PM , Rating: 2
Until you consider that the Rug-rats have their stuff too. A stroller for baby.. sport equipment for junior. Could be the commuter (soccer mom) for a group of kids, or people.

Either way.. people don't buy trucks, minivans, SUV's for the daily, average commute, they buy it for what they might need. A 2 kids family could get along just fine in a 4 door econobox from your stereotype. However, getting just your family in the car to move them from point A to point B, is not always the need. Some people may be buying SUV's because the Johnsons are doing it, but a fair number are buying it for more then just getting 4 people in the vehicle, comfortably. They want something they can load up on the weekends for camping trips, in the winter to hold their ski gear. To drive around not only their kids, but their kids friends too, even if it is just occasionally.

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By zpdixon on 9/19/2007 3:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
I think electric cars are worth it because as of today this is the only technology that is technically and economically viable.

And generating most of the electricity from power plants not depending on traditional fossil fuels is possible. France is the best example: they already generate 75+% of their electricity from nuclear power. The quantity of radioactive waste they produce is also much smaller than what most people thinks: about 5000-10000 m^3 per year (the volume of a small warehouse).

RE: are electric cars worth it?
By zpdixon on 9/19/2007 3:43:26 AM , Rating: 2
I like to put it this way.

You can satisfy the electricity needs of a whole country of 60M inhabitants, without releasing a single trace of pollutant in the atmosphere, and by having to deal only with the equiv of a "small warehouse" of radioactive waste per year .

Those who think releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide is a better alternative don't realize the scale of things...

By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 10:39:17 AM , Rating: 2
1. it's the factories that pollute, not the cars

In North America at least, air pollution is roughly split equally 3 ways. 1/3rd for the transportation industry (including cars, trucks, trains and planes), 1/3rd for power generation (mainly coal power plants) and 1/3rd for factories and other industrial sources (mining and metal works are big ones here, though many others exist as well).

Certainly it makes no sense to target one to the exclusion of the others, but all of us have a roll to play here.

2. an electric cars' energy must come from somewhere.

Most definitely, they aren't zero-pollution vehicles. However even if the electricity comes from a coal power plant (the dirtiest fuel in widespread use) an electric vehicle would STILL be better than an ICE-powered vehicle with similar specifications provided that coal plant had at least 1970's level pollution controls in place (ie scrubbers). Sadly only about 1/3rd of coal plants in North America meet that requirement, but there's a BIG push from governments to improve this.

Add in any other energy source to the mix and it gets better. Wind and solar could actually match VERY well with electric cars if smart metering is used. If a car needs eg. 10kWh of charge and can be plugged in for 8 hours then it you could adjust how much power it received over that time according to how much the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. The technology to do this exists and most of the infrastructure is actually already in place. Same goes with nuke plants to a certain degree. One of the real problems with nuke plants is that they can't ramp their electricity production up or down quickly like you can in a coal or (especially) natural gas fired plant.

guy negre's air car:

The air car isn't powered by air, it's powered by the electricity which runs an air compressor to store energy instead of storing said energy in a battery. This is a rather inefficient way of doing things and likely to be horribly unreliable.

However if you make it only a 25 horsepower vehicle, as is the case with "The Air Car" you linked, then it might look efficient to those with little to no understanding of these things.

Would you even need a law like that?
By joex444 on 9/18/2007 4:34:57 PM , Rating: 5
Couple things

1 - By 2040, almost all our freely available (ie, stick a pump in the ground) oil will be used. The majority of oil should be coming from shards in Canada by this time. I'd expect gas to be atleast $35/gal. The free market by itself would drive gas and diesel out of our cars well before this.

2 - Hybrids don't make sense. You put 2 engines a car. Engines have to be built, more energy and materials were used to produce 2 engines and it still consumes gas. Plug-in options need to be available. Estimates from existing modified Priuii (plural of Prius?) show around 120mpg. At least we can say you should be getting 100mpg with a plug-in Prius. Again, though, batteries don't come without some impact to create them. They also don't dispose very easily.

3 - Our power plants are what's causing the pollution. Forget global warming (I attribute 75% of this theory to the sun's natural activity -- see the Medieval warm period and contrast to the Little Ice Age), we are damaging the environment. All this talk of global warming being caused by CO2 emissions. That's not even the worst offender. Try NOx. It easily causes a green house effect, pound for pound, 10x greater than CO2.

There is NO REASON we should be using COAL or OIL or GAS to produce electricity. What should we use? Ideally, wind. Solar panels aren't exactly easy to create, and I'm not sure if we should put all the raw materials required into such a project. Wind plants, however, is relatively easy to produce, and use abundant materials. They have no emissions and require little maintenance. In the US, a wind farm the size of Wyoming would be able to power the Southwest. There are several key states for this, Wyomng, Kansas and Ohio, as I recall. To a lesser extent, North Dakota. They all have higher than average wind speeds (on average, of course). Also, relatively low population density (maybe Ohio is the exception).

This isn't all that feasible, though. That is a LARGE area required. More simply, nuclear. That's right. Nuclear. The pollution caused by nuclear? Water, and spent uranium. Look, though, the uranium rods are really small, in terms of mass compared to all the pollution from coal and oil and gas, as well as the production of the coal (mining, transportation, possible refinement of oil from 1/2 way around the world). We know how to handle these spent uranium rods -- stick them in water for 40 years then bury them in a mountain. It's not hard, and is a whole bunch less pollutive than any of our more popular methods.

4 - Stop being a dick. You don't need a Hummer to bring an infant to the doctors. There is NO NEED for military vehicles as civilian transportation. The automotive industry found that the largest group that purchases SUVs are 30-something women who reportedly feel "unconfident about their driving skills." So, give them the only vehicles guaranteed to kill. Maybe if you don't feel you can't drive, you really can't. Without these large SUVs, and really the small ones suck just as much, people in cars wouldn't ever have to consider getting an SUV just to see the road. So, now your shitty driving caused you to get a death machine, but also your neighbors now want death machines just to see where they're going. "I like to sit up high" they say. Bullshit, sit close to the ground, you won't fall over. Pickup trucks should only have Commercial plates on them. If you do repairs that often on your house that you need a pickup to haul stuff, maybe you should make it your job. Rent a commercial truck instead, it will cost less than driving a pickup year-round and hauling three or four items once a year.

5 - Politicians, CEOs, and management. I could easily write a 100 page rant on these assholes. Basically, they don't want to do any research. They don't do any thinking. They have others do that for them. But, guess what, they don't even read the reports. They have someone read the reports for them. So, what do they know? Surprisingly, jack shit.

Who should be guiding (whatever country you're in)? The intellectual elite. That's right, your friendly Ph.Ds. They have a fucking clue about WTF is going on, what a god damn pollutant is and where the fuck they come from. Instead, we've created a society that is afraid of intellectuals, and children are being taught that science doesn't apply, and is very very hard. Well, maybe we need more people listening to the actual people who know how, why, what, when and where things happen.

By TheGreek on 9/18/2007 5:00:42 PM , Rating: 1
4 - Stop being a dick. You don't need a Hummer to bring an infant to the doctors.

It appears from your rating that you've offended some of the local dicks. Boys will be boys.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By TheGreek on 9/18/2007 6:11:36 PM , Rating: 1
For the edjamacated around here all your logic goes out the window when weighed against a $13,000 price reduction on an H2.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By joex444 on 9/19/2007 12:15:38 AM , Rating: 2
See point 5. The CEOs have been told such a thing would increase sales. It's completly detrimental to society as a whole, a complete slap in the face to nature and the environment.

By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
I threw in the consumer to complete the range of dummies.

No wonder we use them to test vehicles, they represent the average driver.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By rdeegvainl on 9/18/2007 6:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
1. Where is a source for that? they told me when i was a child that i would be out of gas by now, and still are not.

2. Hybrids do make sense, both types of engines have their strengths, why not make them work together, though our current implementation leaves something to be desired.

3. I would attribute more like 99 % or more to the sun

Unnumbered. have you seen the size of these wind farms, and note how much energy they actually produce? not that feasible as an ideal source of energy, if they make some huge advancements soon that might change my stance.

4. Stop being a dick and trying to decide what others buy. If you feel you are not safe on the highways don't drive yourself, i own a 4 cylinder tiny escort, but know how to drive correctly and how to not put myself in a situation that i am at the mercy of the other drivers, ( there are always unavoidable circumstances) And people should be allowed to own a truck whether or not there official job requires it. Allot of people do the undick like thing of helping not only themselves, but people in their community.

5. I completely agree about politicians.

By joex444 on 9/19/2007 12:38:36 AM , Rating: 2
1. Granted, Lester Brown isn't all that accepted, but is the source I'm using. Also, I read it (cover to cover) last summer, so I may not be remembering everything exactly. No, actually, he claims that the easy oil will be done by 2020. Think about it, too. Consumption is increasing, China is (or has) taken over the US. Oil just hit a record close last week, $79.xx/bbl. I'm nearly certain that by 2040, if we haven't abandoned fossil fuels, we'll be using Canadian oil shards (ironically, they have enough to last us several generations, at least, but is so damn expensive to actually process into usable oil).

2 - For the consumer, a mileage driven before it pays off, based on gas prices, is generally in the 20,000 mile/year range. Now, I don't know many people who drive that much. For them, it would be a benefit. But, if you fail to achive 20,000 miles, you've lost money. It's a niche market now. Check out the Nissan Altima Hybrid. 36 mpg, city. Who cares, it's pathetic compared to diesel, let alone diesel hybrids (70+ mpg). And even though diesel pollutes more per gallon, you get proportionally more miles, so you pollute less per mile. Neat, huh.

3 - No, global warming has been observed on other nearby planets, but not to the extent the Earth has. With CO2 levels and NOx beyond record highs for the medieval warm period (ice blocks retain this information), and sharply increasing in the 1950s/60s, it's clear that pollution has had an effect. Had we began the industrial revolution and got the motorized era to start just as the little Ice Age hit, nobody would have noticed -- the climate would've been nearly the same throughout. Instead, we're trapping more heat while the sun produces more energy.

A single turbine can produce more than 2.5MW, depending on conditions. I'm talking huge scale, like state-sized -- as in there is a state that has 0 people, just turbines. That should work. Feasible, no. Best solution, no. Nuclear was.

4. Although I readily admit that the amount of pollution - CO2, NOx - produced from civilan transportation is relatively insignificant (10% or less), if you have no actual need for a large SUV, then you shouldn't have one. We live in a democracy, and I'm certainly not able to choose what others buy, but I'm also able to tell people why they shouldn't buy SUVs -- whether they listen is up to them, after all, it's a democracy. So, if you don't have a need to have an overly large SUV that seats more than you've ever thought of transporting, can haul more than you've ever hauled, and can tow more than you know how to tow, there is no reason why that vehicle is best suited to you. Safety? Is it more safe for you to be driving something that handles poorly, is too slow to manuever properly and rides so high you have the chance of tipping over or is it safer to be a careful, defensive driver, with an agile car and well equipped driver in a car that has numerous safety features? Up to you. Everyone in cars probably feels better having a bunch of cars on the road than constantly going by oversized behemoths, mainly occupied by a single occupant.

5 - Thanks.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By Christopher1 on 9/18/2007 9:24:49 PM , Rating: 1
"Rent a commercial truck instead, it will cost less than driving a pickup year-round and hauling three or four items once a year."
Wrong. Most pickups today get the same gas mileage as small cars. My father big pickup (which he hardly ever uses except when he is going to West Virginia in winter when a SUV or other 4 wheel drive, sits high, vehicle is mandatory, he drives a Honda Hybrid to work and other places) gets the same gas mileage as a sedan that I was looking at myself, and I was shocked at that because the sedan was nearly 2,000 pounds lighter.
I drive a Chevy S-10 pickup to work when I have to drive to work (do most of my work from home recently), and it gets 20-25 miles to the gallon, quite good considering it's nearly 10 years old!

"Maybe if you don't feel you can't drive, you really can't."
Now, this is a load of bunk. Personally, I feel safer in an SUV myself as well, because I don't have to worry about trying to see over obstacles in the road and I can see over hills faster when I am driving because I can see further.
Let's compare the amount of people who are in accidents with SUV's to the amount in small cars..... Oh, what's that? The SUV's get in LESS accidents than the people in the small cars, usually attributed to their larger 'see things in front of you' distance.

"By 2040, almost all our freely available (ie, stick a pump in the ground) oil will be used."
Now, THIS is a load of BUNK! Even the people who are saying "We are running out of gas!" unless they are extremely fanatical idiots, say that gasoline will last into the next century at least, with advances in gas mileage, hybrid cars, gasoline/bio-diesel hybrids, etc.

"Plug-in options need to be available."
I agree with this, however the main reason that people don't want a plugin model is that people are FORGETFUL, and they don't want to have to worry about plugging in their cars when they are in a hurry or running out of power MILES away from a outlet on a deserted highway in Nevada.
And what about if you are on vacation? Is the hotel you are staying at going to allow you to plug your car into their electrical outlet? I don't think so!

"Basically, they don't want to do any research."
This is quite true. Politicians, CEO's and Managers do not want to do any research, because research is EXPENSIVE. They would rather let the guy in his back-alley garage do all the hard work, so that they can steal it from him at a later date.
Problem with that though, is that the guy in the back-alley doesn't really have the stuff necessary to make a big advancement in the field of energy production.

"Our power plants are what's causing the pollution."
Sad, but true. Though, nuclear power plants are not anymore clean than other power plants, contrary to what you say. I personally want them to find a way to take 'depleted' rods from an older nuclear plant, put them into another reactor (specially-made) and re-use them till they are TOTALLY depleted, meaning non-existant.

"Stop being a dick. You don't need a Hummer to bring an infant to the doctors."
True, but in some parts of the country where they get heavy snowfalls, you absolutely NEED an SUV to get around. West Virginia and Maryland being two that I have lived in or vacationed in, where that is an absolute necessity and why my parents ALWAYS have a big SUV or now, a BIG 4-wheel drive truck that my father has said is only for winter use or for use when one of our cars is in the shop.

"Who should be guiding (whatever country you're in)? The intellectual elite."
Guess what? They are already doing that. The problem is that the 'intellectual elite' have this problem of not thinking about the reality of their 'plans' being put into effect and only about their plans themselves.
Also, some of the 'intellectual elite' are actually dumber than me when it comes down to it (140+ IQ tested recently after a tumor was removed) and are not very 'elite'.
PH.D.'s mean absolutely NOTHING other than you have book-learning. I have met people who are book-learned who are STUPIDER THAN SHIT and take everything at face value, never doing their own research.
Society isn't afraid of intellectuals, RELIGIONISTS are afraid of intellectuals because most intellectuals turn into atheists when they realize "Wait a ****ing minute! There is no evidence that 'god' exists and the sun does not go around the earth! We are being taken for a ride by the churches and religion!"
The problem with the fearing of intellectuals is that religion HATES them. But it's past time that religion was wiped off the face of this planet anyway, because "RELIGION DISTORTS REALITY!"
I've even had some people say that "We don't have to try to clean up the Earth because 'god' is going to fix everything when the Rapture comes!" I swear, I honestly have to check myself really HARD to keep myself from beating their heads in with a crowbar when I hear them say that, and I usually LIKE them until they say that.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By joex444 on 9/19/2007 1:18:35 AM , Rating: 1
Thanks for replying.

The pickup trucks I was referring to were the large Ford F250 and above class trucks. Often times these are equipped with the more powerful, tow your neighborhood, type of engine. They don't get anywhere near a small car (which should be able to get 30 city, 40 highway). These end up getting around 12mpg city, 15mpg highway. Also, I can tell these people are not using them for their intended purpose with 1 simple reason -- when they accelerate the engine noise revs up and drops down instantly. The meaning? They have an automatic transmission. Nobody who has a need to tow 3 other trucks and a farm would not use the manual transmission. Why do you think tractor trailers have 18 speed manuals? I don't consider a Chevy S-10 to be a large pickup; the new ones almost are marketed as a sports truck...that's just something that shouldn't exist. Side note: Ford Rangers are not trucks. They're truck shaped, yes. Not trucks.

The US is in the notable #27 least death by car crash per capita. Notice something about the countries ahead of the US? Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Norway, Japan, etc? Yea, no SUVs. Mostly cars over there. Also, most cars in the UK have manuals. A lot of Europe is like that. With a manual it ensures 2 things
a) The driver knows how to drive. They understand exactly how a car works and what is the optimal way to drive.
b) The driver is far less likely to do distracting things such as eat a taco or use a phone. You're stopped on a hill at a red light. You're left foot is on the clutch, right foot on the gas, left hand on the wheel and right hand is on the e-brake, you've already selected 1st gear. Exactly how do you do anything else? All your extremities are in use! If you had an automatic, you'd have your right foot on the brake and move your foot over to the gas, 1 hand on the wheel. You could even eat a Big Mac! That's safe.

OK, I already said about that 2040 thing was the gas disappearing. I meant the freely available gas. Canadian oil shards are the one thing that will be guaranteed to last into the next century. The stick a pipe in the ground oil is going to be gone by 2040 if we haven't abandoned it earlier. China is or has exceeded the US in oil consumptions as a country. Demand is increasing, not decreasing. Supply is decreasing. New oil reserves found have been decreasing, and are often smaller new finds than previous year's finds.

Plug-in hybrids would also require a sort of fast charging system, off to the side of the gasoline pumps (sparks and whatnot). Given, the laws of physics should state the charge won't have as many Ah as a slow charge, but it should still be enough. If you can either plug in the car at night or pay for gas, you're a moron to buy gas. Rejecting a great idea because of USER IDIOCY is at best a poor reason.

Nuclear power truly is cleaner than oil, gas and coal. The waste products are uranium and water. We know how to handle both. Nuclear plants, unlike solar and wind, are feasible and produce a substantial amount of power.

What I've observed is that the large majority of SUV owners drive them year-round, drive them to stupid things like the toy store, and say they are needed to fit their kids. What an illogical statement. In order to fit these smaller than average humans, I need a larger than average vehicle. How about, no? Certainly some places in some conditions need some sort of better equipment. Now, we're talking about the parts of the country where it snows a couple feet and the plows don't get around to moving it away for, y'know, a couple weeks. OK, fine, if you live in the north of Alaska, get an SUV for the year (same as winter). All other parts of the country shouldn't really have this problem. BTW, why won't an AWD sedan work? I think it should.

True, some Ph.Ds are not very useful. I've met my fair share that were very intelligent and understood very complicated problems in their field, but could not understand common every day things. That said, I would value the opinion of a Ph.D whose field applies to the topic more than I would the elected official of the area (city/state/country) or the CEO of the nearest company, especially one that hired said Ph.D.

Not to get too far into this, but every religion of every type that suggests that we, as human beings, aren't here to live our lives needs to disappear. If you want to become a Ph.D or an alcoholic, they're equally viable options. The continuing debate between science and religion is honestly retarded. As a member of the science community, I want this debate to end. Religion claims all these fantastical things about "God" and yet they can't prove any of their claims. Unfortunately, for science, it's impossible to disprove the existence of anything, so we are stuck not saying that religion is wrong. Well, I'm taking a stand. ALL RELIGIONS ARE WRONG. Science wins, there is NO GOD, there is no HEAVEN, there is no hell. You are here while you are still breathing, enjoy it! Don't be fucking blowing each other up because "My god said I can kill you." It's fucking stupid. All you are doing is murder, something sane people get fucking put into a damn hole for, treated like common pond scum that they are.

I'm not even saying that a non-violent, un-zealotesque approach towards unorganized "yea, I suppose I believe in God but don't go to church" sort of lifestyle is acceptable. It's wrong. It's a fantasy, a comforting thought for your final days. It was created by prehistoric and ancient man to explain things they were too stupid to understand. Praying to a Sun God because they want the sun to rise in the morning. It's what it does, by fucking definition.

You side tracked me, tricky tricky.

By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 4:15:51 PM , Rating: 2
a) The driver knows how to drive.

Are you implying the Egg McMuffin in one hand and cell phone in the other American driver doesn't know what the hell he's doing?

Since the answer has to be yes that leaves one question - What took you so long to say something?

By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 2:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. Most pickups today get the same gas mileage as small cars.

Is that shy all the local Dodge dealers are loaded with trucks, jeeps, and SUVs, that all have highway ratings in the teens? I pass 4 such dealers on the weekend, and they are all the same; gas hog heaven.

RE: Would you even need a law like that?
By jskirwin on 9/19/2007 10:09:05 AM , Rating: 2
What should we use? Ideally, wind

Forget covering the state of Wyoming with windmills (and Nebraska with the feathers from the birds killed in Wyoming by the windmills)...

Where are you going to get your energy when the wind isn't blowing - or slows down, dropping your energy supply below demand? One of the problems with alternative sources is variability . Our grid is designed for a steady supply of energy that is used as soon as its created.

Plus there is no good way of storing this energy. One way would be to use excess electricity to pump water up a gradient, and then generate electricity from it during shortages. However we are talking about scale here. How big would your reservoir have to be?

Besides, what kind of losses would you sustain by generating power in Wyoming and sending it to Texas? It seems to me that these alternate sources work best when they are close to where the electricity is being used.

Unfortunately where I live too much wind is rarely a problem.

By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 12:25:54 PM , Rating: 2
Wind power isn't the end-all, be-all source of power, but the problems with it sometimes get overstated.

First off, the bird-killing thing is a total fallacy. There is a grand total of ONE wind farm in the world that has been shown to have a noticeable impact on birds, and that's because they were using wind turbines that are now horribly dated (1970's stuff) placed in about the worst possible location. All other wind turbines have about the same level of bird-killing potential as a similarly sized building.

As for wind variability, it can be an issue, but modern turbines work with even very low levels of wind. With a bit of geographic spread and some effective planning you can get a very accurate estimate of just how much power you can expect from your wind farms at any given moment.

Wind isn't going to provide 100% of our electricity, ever. However it CAN be quite effective for about 10% of our electricity (up from about 1% right now in the North America). Solar, run-of-the-river hydro, geothermal and other sources of renewable and low environmental impact technologies can probably make up another 10% (up from less than 1%). Add in some nuke plants for base-load generation and dam-based hydro for both some base-load and especially for peak loads.

With all of this we could eliminate oil from our electricity generation (probably a good idea for economic reasons alone) and greatly reduce the use of coal, eliminating it in many areas with a reasonable amount of hydro power. In some areas coal might still be required for peak loads, though natural gas would be a preferable solution here environmentally. Of course, economically it probably makes more sense to use natural gas more for heating, especially combined heat and power systems with large industrial users.

Basically what I'm getting at here is that there are BIG improvements that can be made to our electrical grid, and wind is likely to play a part in that, but there is no one-solution to solve the problem. One thing that is clear in my mind though is that we MUST get rid of coal power plants and the tens (hundreds?) of BILLIONS of dollars worth of "subsidies" they receive through health care bills for their pollution. An lot of that is paid for by us taxpayers and I, for one, am sick of spending my tax dollars because coal plants don't pay to deal with their own waste. Nuke plants pay to take care of their waste, coal plants should to.

My suggestion is just as likely to happen
By arazok on 9/18/2007 4:08:45 PM , Rating: 6
I'm calling for an end to politicians by 2040.

By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 4:18:10 PM , Rating: 2
i second that motion.

By johnsonx on 9/18/2007 4:23:10 PM , Rating: 2
lol, wish I could mod you up to 5, but I already talked too much in this article so it won't let me.

I hearby call for KK to 6 your post!

RE: My suggestion is just as likely to happen
By TomZ on 9/18/2007 5:02:20 PM , Rating: 2
At least an end to British politicians making ridiculous proposals!

By Hoser McMoose on 9/19/2007 11:05:31 AM , Rating: 2
Saying both "British politicians" and "making ridiculous proposals" is redundant :)

RE: My suggestion is just as likely to happen
By TheGreek on 9/18/07, Rating: 0
RE: My suggestion is just as likely to happen
By TomZ on 9/18/2007 8:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
^--- Sounds like someone who should try to unplug from the grid for a few days and see who's an "addict."

Get a clue - we're all dependent on our energy infrastructure. Judge it as good or bad as you like, but our civilization is built upon it.

RE: My suggestion is just as likely to happen
By Bluestealth on 9/18/2007 11:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on that our civilization is dependent on energy, but I think everyone could use the energy we have with a little more sense. There is no need to waste resources.

Trying to live off the "grid" with anything but a small farming community is difficult. Modern cities cannot run without power.

By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 2:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
There is no need to waste resources.

As an American that's Z's God given right. Who are you to decide if 8 mpg is not good enough, you lousy socialist!

/their logic.

By thartist on 9/18/2007 4:02:42 PM , Rating: 1
I just have one thing to say: i support the cause.

Forget big engines and idiotness, it's the planet in game.

RE: .
By Gul Westfale on 9/18/2007 4:13:17 PM , Rating: 2

RE: .
By TheGreek on 9/18/2007 4:57:38 PM , Rating: 2

Childishness would be a better word. And he forgot something as well; good riddance! Cars have always been little more than money pits.

Imagine the wonderful quiet of not having any Harleys or teenagers, with their coffee can exhausts, reducing everyone's quality of life.

RE: .
By thartist on 9/18/2007 5:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
thanks for making it clearer, TheGreek.

by "idiotness" i mean't all of those insignificant personal fantatisms that would act as reasons strong enough put the health of the planet in second place (politics and politicians aside).

Readers are happy now? duh

RE: .
By MrBungle123 on 9/18/2007 5:20:05 PM , Rating: 1
"Cars have always been little more than money pits.

Imagine the wonderful quiet of not having any Harleys or teenagers, with their coffee can exhausts, reducing everyone's quality of life. "

Imagine spending all day to walk the 20 mile round trip to the mall, imagine the 2hr long back breaking task of lugging a 35 lb bucket of laundry detergent 5 miles back to your house from the grocery store, imagine spending 35 mins to go the 2.5 miles to work in the morning, imagine freezing your ass off to run errands in the winter or carying a dry change of clothes with you to wear when you get to your destination because it raining, yes just imagine how our quality of life is "reduced" by all the noisy automobiles.

RE: .
By TheGreek on 9/18/2007 6:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
Just because your world is technologically stagnant doesn't mean the rest of the world is.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Of course you need to have a brain.

RE: .
By Ringold on 9/18/2007 9:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
And whats your glorious solution, a solution not discovered by an adventurious engineer or capitalist in the past century?

I can see only two alternatives. Soviet-style massive condominiums located in central areas such that people only need to walk a couple blocks to both a government-provided job and government-stocked general store, or an astounding breed of genetically modified stallions that eat weeds and can be trained not to crap in the street. Perhaps not crap at all. It must also not be vulnerable to neither the extreme cold of the North nor the heat of the tropics.

Necessity leads to innovation, true enough, but I find it hard to work up a lot of respect for a political ideology that would uproot the existing system for ideological goals (that being that the state of the Earth circa 1800 is so important that humans should suffer to try to maintain it) and let the poor human species simply writhe around until someone manages to save a fundamental part of civilization. Smacks of a little Mao, Stalin, Khmer Rouge, etc.

RE: .
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 2:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
I loved the same old socialist argument. It ranks up there with comparisons to Hitler. Basically says you have zero concrete to work with.

But lets do it your way, and let lobbyists run us into the ground, the way nature intended. That's just so much more patriotic.

Pity you in your little fundamantalist extremist world.

What happens to the empty oil chambers
By stilltrying on 9/19/2007 12:57:11 PM , Rating: 2
I have always thought that if we are pulling these huge amounts of oil from underneath the earth and nothing is left but a vacuum whats to prevent a catastrophic earthquake from happening. Think about it with oil in the ground, land and air are equalized, pull the oil out and add more weight to the air/ground above which equals more pressure below with lots of space for the ground to sink into we are bound to have massive earthquakes in the forseeable future.

RE: What happens to the empty oil chambers
By TheGreek on 9/19/2007 3:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
If you're a true American you would see the great opportunity that is, a whole new market in earthquake insurance.

Yes life just gets better and better.

/economic fundamentalist's view

By TheGreek on 9/20/2007 2:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Gee Ringold, I figured you would have been tickled pink with this economic assessment, being a graduate of the Ken Lay School of Ethics and such.

By Polynikes on 9/18/2007 6:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
When will politicians ever learn? Legislation cannot force technological innovation. It *might* accelerate it, but simply telling companies to make something better doesn't mean it's just gonna happen.

RE: *sigh*
By pjpizza on 9/18/2007 9:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it will! If they don't have a choice, they'll come up with something. There actually ARE smarter people out there, doing R&D and such, trying to make stuff better :)

You must be a company owner...

Hell Yeah!
By Captain Orgazmo on 9/18/2007 10:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm totally for this. Gasoline and diesel engines are OLD tech. Kinda like the horse. Or legs. I want a car with a fusion reactor that can go zero-to-sixty (kilometers per second) in a second, has 5 million horsepower, and has big ass laser beams and crap. I would save the gas for a large useless batmobile type bunsen burner thingy on the back that doubles as a BBQ.

RE: Hell Yeah!
By jtemplin on 9/18/2007 11:42:12 PM , Rating: 2

National Geographic and CO2
By Kuroyama on 9/18/2007 4:27:56 PM , Rating: 2
Got my National Geographic today. The first article and map insert are on CO2, which is presumably the alleged reason for the Brits wanting to get rid of gas and diesel autos.

A lot of you guys posting on this and related articles are gonna blow your tops if you subscribe to NG. Actually, the back side of the map contains some very nice plots, one of which even refers to the oft repeated claim on here that, to paraphrase, "it's the sun stupid".

I want to see...
By bravacentauri83 on 9/18/2007 4:49:30 PM , Rating: 2 the petrol heads like the Top Gear boys (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond & James May) respond to this.

"...And on that bombshell note..."

Lets just all go...
By StillPimpin on 9/19/2007 10:36:49 AM , Rating: 2
Why don't we just end this debate by putting all our research into "nucular" vehicals. Hell, the navy uses it on almost it's entire fleet, why not just adapt the technology for civilian use. Then this whole arguement goes away... Along with a large portion of several city blocks if you have a crash..;-)

Waste of Money and Environment
By stilltrying on 9/19/2007 12:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty soon we wont have to worry about car choice as gasoline will be so expensive that the gas guzzlers wont be able to afford it even with a decent paying job. Gas is dwindling, more people are using it especially in 3rd world countries. Electric and batteries are no better than gas on the environment (do you want the toxic stuff in the air or in the ground?). People that complain about having a choice kill me, youll have a choice to use it all up now in a wasteful SUV carrying one person 80% of the time and triple the current costs a few years down the road. Then youll be trying to sell that dud when nobody wants to buy it off of you. So basically you wasted money on the gas to go into it and the price for resell on down the road. So keep up guzzling and waste your money, your kids environment, your kids college money and be hard headed over your choice to make unwise decisions. This post only reflects money who knows what may happens to the environment (storms, floods, whatever else you want to throw in there).

By initialised on 9/27/2007 8:07:24 AM , Rating: 2
It's all very well to look towards fuel cells as a means of storing energy but it still has to come from somewhere and for now this means coal, oil, gas and nuclear.

Nice idea but by 2040 we wont have replaced the fossil fuel industry with nuclear and renewables so you may have a more efficient vehicle at the user end but how much of the gains are lost in the design, production & fuel conversion processes. Is there any net drop in the vehicles carbon footprint?

Over-Regulating, Over-Politicizing
By clovell on 9/18/2007 4:08:23 PM , Rating: 1
I understand that some more environmentally conscious folks may see the industry as dragging its feet a bit, but this is taking it to the next level. I mean the battery technology isn't quite there (almost though) for electric in many places - and most of those where it is rely on subsidies.

But we didn't get to pushing the envelope on battery technology via government intervention. Some may say automakers like GM or Volvo have been dragging their feet on hybrid production. Keep in mind, though, that battery technology has really only allowed parallel hybrids to be feasible until late. Serial hybrids offer much larger gains in terms of overall economy. So, like Carville says - 'It's the economy, stupid!' that has brought us to this point, not the government.

That aside, I fully expect that the auto industry will have made a clean break with fossil fuels by 2040 - regardless of government intervention. So, I call shens, as I simply see politicians trying to stir the pot to get votes over something that's probably not an issue.

2020 or 2040?
By ninjit on 9/18/07, Rating: 0
By JonnyDough on 9/30/07, Rating: 0
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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