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Auto exec admits his company may have to develop a hybrid powertrain in the U.S.

Harald Wester -- CEO of Fiat S.p.A.'s (BIT:F) high-end subsidiaries Alfa Romeo and Maserati -- admits his performance luxury car firm may be forced to make a hybrid powertrain to satisfy U.S. CAFE standard regulations.  But while his peers like Ferrari S.p.A.Porsche Automobil Holdings SE (ETR:PAH3), Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) AG (ETR:BMW), and McLaren Automotive are at least feigning genuine enthusiasm about their upcoming hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) sports cars, Mr. Wester didn't candy-coat his opinions: he thinks that EVs are "nonsense".

At the Shanghai Auto Show he said in a keynote:

It looks like something we will have to, but the only reason to do it is to meet regulations. We don't see it as a significant business.

All this discussion about zero emissions is nonsense. Nobody talks about the efficiency of how the battery is charged. It varies strongly from region to region, depending on how the energy is produced, nuclear, coal and so on, but even the best is not ahead of the internal combustion engine.

Diesel and CNG are the more obvious answers if CO2 is the focus. Both are more viable answers than hybrid. If they gave us a CO2 target instead of imposing technology then we would go that way.

If we want a realistic solution to emissions then the regulators need to be more honest in how they calculate emissions. Electric cars are not the answer.

2014 Maserati Ghibli
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli -- not an EV

By his estimates electric vehicles have a plant-to-road lifecycle output of 86g of CO2/km in Europe, 110g/km in the USA, and 191g/km in China.  In other words, he's arguing that EVs are far from zero emissions -- and he's right.

To be fair, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency tasked with CAFE regulation, does somewhat take this into effect via its mpg-e (electric vehicle mpg) numbers.  That said, the numbers do seem a bit skewed -- EVs are scoring 100 MPGe or more.  To put that in context the 1.4L engine Chevy CRUZE from General Motors Comp. (GM) puts off only about 161 g/km, meaning that it may produce less emissions in regions like China where much of the power comes from "dirty" sources.

Source: Autocar

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Emissions do not matter
By CaedenV on 4/26/2013 12:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
They do not matter to the general public, and they do not matter to car companies.
Electric cars will only be relevant if they can fit any one of 3 criteria:

1) Ultra powerful, instantaneous power for fast luxury devices. See Tesla, enough said, there is a decent market for this.

2) Cheap daily driver commuter cars for the masses. Sure, you may still need a larger gas vehicle for the family or for long trips, but a car like the Smart ED3 coming out soon has a lot of people like myself very curious. If the promise holds true then my daily transportation costs would drop from $6 per day down to $1 (or possibly less if I get a peak power plan). Saving $1,300 per year on commute costs means a lot to people like myself, and the only thing standing in the way are the up front purchase price which normally negates most or all future savings. But again, I think we are going to start seeing EVs get much closer in price to their gas counterparts, which is exciting to see.

3) If a real gas crisis ever actually hits. For all of the talk about 'peak oil' over the years, it sure seems like oil is still coming out of the ground plenty fast these days. But, suppose that oil ever were to slow down, or even suffer a major distribution issue, then gas prices will no doubt shoot up like nothing we have seen before. On the electric side there is built in safety because the fuel (electricity) is disassociated from source (coal, nuke, solar, wind, natural gas, etc.). If one source of electricity becomes expensive or prohibitive then there are other sources to take its place. The only expensive part about electric is storage, and we are beginning to see that fall finally. Electricity production is cheap, and is much more guarenteed to stay that way than gas is.

Outside of that, I dobut there are many who really believe that their electric car is going to save the world. I mean, the batteries of essentially made via strip mines in China, and we don't know how we plan to recycle the huge ammounts of car batteries 10 years later when cars start coming off of the road. On top of that, while the ideal is to have solar power charge your car, the reality is that most electric cars will be powered by coal, and loose most efficiency long before the power even hits the battery.

RE: Emissions do not matter
By Spuke on 4/26/2013 12:52:05 AM , Rating: 2
They do not matter to the general public, and they do not matter to car companies.
I don't know one single person that does not care about pollution AND consequently does not care about emissions.

RE: Emissions do not matter
By Nutzo on 4/26/2013 4:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
If the promise holds true then my daily transportation costs would drop from $6 per day down to $1 (or possibly less if I get a peak power plan). Saving $1,300 per year on commute costs means a lot to people like myself

Except you are ignoring some of the additional cost of an electric car.
Since you are not buying gas, you are not paying to maintain the roads. Some states are talking about a yearly tax on electric cars, so your saving will eventually be a few hundred less.

Also, it really depends on your electical prices. Unless we invest in more hydro-electric and nuclear power, your electrical prices are going to go up. All this renewable energy they keep pushing cost several times as much.

Also, switching to a peak power plan only helps if nobody is home during the day (no young kids or stay at home parent). If I bought an electric car and switched to the peak power plan (to get cheap over night power to charge the car), I would end up spending more due to day time energy usage, especially during the summer. The other option is to install a a dedicated curcuit for the charger, but that would cost even more, and take years to break even.

If you want to buy an electic car, go ahead, but don't expect they are the solution for everyone.
Also don't subsidize the purchases with tax dollars.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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