Friday, December 21, 2007

Stanford Statement of Purpose

This statement of purpose headlined an extensive application to
Stanford's Management Science & Engineering doctoral program
that's reported to accept half of all applicants and half of those
are international students.

I come from the lowest socioeconomic quartile and submitted
a 174 page master's thesis, several transcripts including a
3.60 overall MBA GPA as well as long VITA and published
article title The Hybrid Phenomenon!

In my gut, this application ranked in the top half of all
and definitely in the top quartile of American applicants
from the lower socioeconomic quartile that don't have
the resources to buy or attend test prep courses and
materials and have to work part time jobs while earning
GPAs that may appear lower than rival upper class applicants.

This is one of the best pieces I've written in 20 years,
full of passion, research, facts, qualifications and specific
doctoral research interests that fit the MS&E program.

Statement of Purpose by John Acheson

CarLab changed everything! We were still anxious about the thought of leaving the West Coast to continue my master’s research. Over a year ago, I had to decline an interview from McKinsey’s auto research group out of Chicago because my wife and I couldn’t relocate. Two months ago, after sending my thesis to the only Automotive Engineering PhD program in the United States, I was flattered and surprised to get an email back from the faculty at Clemson. “Please, go ahead and apply.” It was completely unexpected because I didn’t have an engineering degree…

After mulling it over, I politely declined due to geography and was about to put the three year doctoral search on the shelf again... But my wife urged, “Your thesis topic is in season right now!” She reminded me that I had gotten published this year and next year would be too late. She was right, and I continued to search for the right program…

There were only a few other labs in the country, mostly around motor city. But Detroit was still studying the century long run of the internal combustion engine, and most replies I got back from professors described research on improving yesteryear’s technologies. Who was studying the automobile’s future, particularly out West?

UC Davis pioneered plug-in hybrids but lacked any doctoral offering in management. I had heard about a UCLA professor doing a hybrid engine project, a master’s racing lab in Colorado and a teacher tinkering on hybrids in Washington but I couldn’t find any groundbreaking research here in the West. Research like Dr. Cui’s recent Lithium breakthrough that will revolutionize hybrid and electric car batteries! [[1]]

I had looked at both MS&E and the GSB a few years ago. But coming from the lowest socioeconomic quartile, I’ve always assumed Stanford was out of reach. When Stanford announced plans to build a “state-of-the-art facility for vehicle research on campus,” [[2]] I couldn’t believe it! I took another look, visited the campus again, and realized that the future was happening right now in the Bay Area. With CleanTech booming in the valley, it dawned on me that Stanford could help jump start the next-generation automobile. So I started digging and was pleasantly surprised to find several automotive and related research projects (see Why Stanford?). Wow! Here was a place for my master’s research and MS&E fit my MBA major and specialty.

That’s when the news about Terman announcing CarLab hit me! Like an epiphany, I felt like a first-time home buyer that walks into that perfect house: the one you dream about for years. For me, it was the address “Quonset Hut.” [[3]] Suddenly, it seemed like I had found a place. CarLab’s research mission tapped into my passion and changed my thoughts of Stanford from an ivory tower to friendly lab. SOE now felt like a dream home: world-class multidisciplinary research, perfect geography and a family home.

I’m writing this statement to apply to the doctoral program in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford’s Terman School. My areas of interest (automotive technology, entrepreneurship, strategy, energy economics) build on my master’s research. My thesis (see The Hybrid Phenomenon master’s project)[[4]] studied oil/fuels, environment, culture, markets, consumers, technology and global impact on the automotive industry.

Why Stanford?

Joining the Stanford automotive network and CleanTech community are the most important purposes. Terman brings together vibrant innovative research that studies the future. Collaboration with Volkswagen to form CarLab is a perfect example.

Stanford’s CarLab will be the only automotive research lab in an American university poised to lead the digital future of the automobile. There’s no competition. I’ve contacted research faculty at Clemson and several schools in Michigan. I’ve visited Claremont, UCLA, USC, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Santa Clara and Cal; U.C. Davis has an excellent transportation program but lacks business, entrepreneurship, management and strategy. I’ve collected brochures from MIT, Yale and other East Coast doctoral programs, just in case I had to replace the automotive dream with a research name.

CarLab is both. Professor Chris Gerdes explains "The mission of CarLab is to radically rethink the automobile.” CarLab “will engage the Stanford community and generate research and teaching opportunities.”[[5]]

Dean Jim Plummer is looking “forward to the state-of-the-art facility for vehicle research, where students can help develop the next several generations of automotive transportation” with an “initial focus on vehicle safety and environmental performance.”[[6]]

Stanford’s long history of auto industry research backs up the CarLab mission:

· Volkswagen and CarLab are creating a $5.75 automotive research and teaching program[[7]]

· General Motors (GM) R&D established a major Collaborative Research Lab in Work Systems with Stanford University.[[8]] Along with the NSF, GM and MS&E’s Center for Work, Technology & Organization collaborate on auto industry research for two of MS&E’s main research projects & grants.[[9]] GM is also a partner of the SOE’s Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing[[10]] as well as being one of the current MS&E industry affiliates[[11]]

· GM, Honda R&D, Nissan and Toyota are members and supporters of the Stanford Global Supply Management Forum, another MS&E research group[[12]]

· BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Volvo have all been design affiliates and members of the ME Design Industrial Affiliates Teaching Program[[13]]

· Over 25 years ago, Toyota hired Stanford Research Institute for a feasibility study to look into building its first United States factory.[[14]] Today Toyota runs 15 factories in North America while investing $50 million into Stanford’s Global Climate & Energy Project[[15]]

I would like to join Stanford, Terman and MS&E to “radically rethink the automobile.” The desire to study how the auto industry and its global users can overcome a climate, economic and energy crisis defines my purpose.

Dissertation Interests

Conducting research at Stanford’s world-class auto network is an opportunity to study big interdisciplinary problems. As the impact of transportation challenges mankind on a global level across our largest systems, digital is the common theme. Stanford’s position in software and innovation makes Terman researchers poised to lead a potential CleanTech automotive revolution. I want to help model this scenario.

The auto industry is America’s largest manufacturing industry. The business hires more than 1 in 10 employees in our economy. Automakers spend more on R&D than any other company. Worldwide, the most powerful industrialized countries all rely on car-making for global economic success. Cars and trucks enable growth and success while driving the largest infrastructure man has ever built.[[16]]

But the impact of the fleet is massive. Millions are injured or die each year from accidents and smog related deaths alone. Running the fleet consumes more than half of the world’s oil and produces over 50% of the emissions in many large cities. Alternative fuels are exacerbating the demand for feed stocks. With billions of first time buyers coming online in the next decades, the fleet is projected to grow two or three times: straining economics, energy, health, infrastructure and the environment.[[17]]

Our global fleet (all the world’s cars & trucks) is accelerating towards the end of our non-renewable resources while increasing societal costs and global emissions.

I would like to learn how to model the fleet and some of its systems, to measure costs and impact, while studying the digitization of the automobile as the leading answer to this global challenge. I applaud CarLab’s mission to “radically rethink the automobile” and would immediately take this challenge to heart!

Research and Passion

My master’s culminating experience best summarizes my academic excellence and teaching potential (see CV), research potential (see thesis), intellectual independence and vitality (see thesis Preface), ability to communicate research (see The Hybrid Phenomenon article) and passion for automotive technology:

During a three year period that included moving four times, a 700 mile commute, a graduate assistantship, volunteering and more, my research abilities blossomed. I…

· drove, rode, attended, talked, watched, listened and participated

· analyzed, interviewed, read, researched, wrote and edited 1,000+ pages

· distilled a 174 page MBA research project that included 186 footnotes, 24 references, seven tables, 24 figures and four appendices that summarized events, captured ten primary interviews and listed hundreds of hybrids

· earned an A+ and co-published a derivative article after graduation

I also worked part-time, ran businesses, joined academic honor societies and gave back to my alma mater’s community. Driven by curiosity and passion, three years of multiple drafts changed me from grad student to researcher to writer.

My passion for mobility started on a Big Wheel; I’ve been interested in transportation technology every since. From trikes to bikes to go-karts to mini-bikes to motorcycles to automobiles to hybrids including life without a car, I’ve gone from driver to owner to thinker to researcher to concerned citizen about the impact of mobility on mankind.

Accepting my application to the doctoral program in Management Science and Engineering can let my master’s research bloom as Stanford’s CarLab takes root. There has never been a better time and place to learn the multidisciplinary research skills and technical knowledge required to study a “brighter future”[[18]] for the automobile at MS&E’s “interface of engineering, business and public policy.”[[19]]

[[1]] Stanford Report, “Stanford’s nanowire battery holds ten times the charge of existing ones,” Stanford News Service, December 18, 2007. Available:

[[2]] S. Keyes, Volkswagen to Contribute $5.75 million to Stanford University,” Volkswagen of America, Inc. Official Online Newsroom, November 15, 2007. Available:

[[3]] Stanford Report, “Stanford, Volkswagen team up to create automotive research lab,” Stanford News Service, November 28, 2007. Available:

[[4]] J. Acheson, “The Hybrid Phenomenon.” M.B.A. thesis San Francisco State University, 2006.

[[5]] See Footnote 1.

[[6]] See Footnote 1.

[[7]] See Footnote 1 and 3.

[[8]] Stanford University, “MS&E | about us: Graduate Student Handbook 2007 - 2008,” Department of Management Science & Engineering, pg. 7. Available:

[[9]] E. Pate-Cornell and Y. Ye, “MS&E | corporate: Industry Affiliates Program - PPT presentation,” Department of Management Science & Engineering. Available:

[[10]] Stanford University, “MS&E | Industry Partners,” Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing. Available:

[[11]] Stanford University, “MS&E | corporate,” Department of Management Science & Engineering. Available:

[[12]] Stanford University, “Global Supply Chain Management Forum - Members & Affiliates,” Graduate School of Business. Available:

[[13]] K. Burns, Design Industrial Affiliates Teaching Program - A Sampling of Design Affiliates, Past and Present,” Stanford University Department of Mechanical Engineering. Available:

[[14]] Sato, Masaaki, The Honda Myth, New York: Vertical, Inc., 2006, pg. 252.

[[15]] Stanford University, “About Us - Sponsors,” Global Climate and Energy Project. Available:

[[16]] See Footnote 2.

[[17]] See Footnote 2.

[[18]] Stanford University, “Stanford Engineering - Imagine a brighter future,” School of Engineering. Available:

[[19]] Stanford University, “MS&E | about us,” Department of Management Science & Engineering. Available:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

nano Lithium

Raw blogged response to
Lithium Ion Batteries

nano Lithium
By John Acheson on 2007-12-21 02:50:02The breakthrough that Stanford's Dr. Cui changes everything! This could be the breakthrough that everyone's been searching for. The main problem with Lithium batteries is that the small hairs or fibers that hold the electricity have to expand everytime they are charged and then contract everytime used. That's why you don't want to recharge you batteries often and rather let them go down all the way. The reason is that the small fibers start cracking after too many reps. This phenomenon works great in weight lifting because additional fibers grow after the muscle is torn and overall the unit gets stronger. For batteries it's just the opposite. The more charge cycle, them more cracks, and pretty soon you need a new cell phone, etc. Dr. Cui found a way to use nano fibers that I interpret as a much denser sponge with many more reps. So the result is a battery that can last 10 times longer. Why is that so important? Because automaking is capital intensive and automakers have to provide 100,000 mile warrranties these days. For them, that means making batteries that last 150,000 or 200,000 so there are no bad apples that pull a Pinto or Corvair black eye on the technology. So Dr. Cui's work will revolutionize the Lithium we have now, but cause another problem. The search and mining of new Lithium deposits to keep up the tremendous demand. Fortunately for the U.S., the Americas hold an estimated half of the world's Lithium.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

5,000,000,000 people dreaming of buying their 1st cars or trucks…

September 14, 2007, 8:05 am
Frankfurt Motor Show: A Look Back at Tomorrow’s Engine Technology

By Nick Kurczewski with comment by John Acheson

1 comment so far...

When you compare the Internal Explosion Engine’s 122 years of evolution to other innovations it lags far behind. 1 power stroke per 4 for a theoretical max efficiency of 25% is that same as today’s cars slinging 8 of every 10 gallons of gasoline into the atmosphere as heat or smog.

Other innovations like the battery powered (several generations of chemical engines to Lithium today) mobile phone or computer (two generations of engines from vacuum tubes to transistors) or even the typical hybrid washer/dryer (from hanging things outside to natural gas-electric hybrids in almost every home) have leapt ahead in efficiency? Why? Electricity is cheaper than gasoline…

Could it be that the largest business in the world makes more money the less efficient our cars are???

It may not even matter, because even after 122 years of flat development, we only have a billion vehicles on Earth running the same theoretical engine as Mr. Benz’s patent.

I wonder what the other 5 of 6 human beings that have never bought a car will be driving next???

Do you remember what your 1st car was and how much it cost???

There’s still 5,000,000,000 people dreaming of buying their 1st cars or trucks…

— Posted by John Acheson

Why was the Prius designed?

In response to
RE this car was designed mainly for congested city streets and stop/start driving

Correction: this car was designed under the G21 project for Global 21st Century. The vision was about energy and environment. The mission was to double the mileage of a concept in R&D. The manager in charge of the 1,000 engineers demanded doubling the mileage so the team had to throw out 80 designs to get to the funky little car that became the Prius. It was designed to get twice the mileage of a standard Toyota compact to unveil right around the Kyoto Protocol. It was being driven as a visionary concept, not as a city car. It became that type of car after the popularity exceeding everyone’s expectations after celebrities bought them and the American version were modified. Did you know that Japanese version has an electric only switch? I imagine it would create lawsuits by hard users in America that would burn up the SynergyDrive 650 patents, so they left a blank spot on the dash. The Prius design was very simple, double kilometers per liter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hummer vs. Prius

This topic goes on and on, so it's about time to post something on it.

In response to
Hummer vs. Prius
Have you heard the one about the Hummer that's greener than a Prius?

So have we, and Sierra magazine's Mr. Green has done the math to settle the question once and for all.

I sent the following email to Mr. Green at the Sierra Club:

Mr. Green,
Excellent energy analysis in the Hummer vs. Prius,
but although I'm a big hybrid supporter and spent
3 years waving the flag captured in The Hybrid Phenomenon,
there is some truth to a dust to dust analysis.

You only looked at fuel energy, and did not take into consideration
the energy to manufacturer, distribute and assemble each product.

The key difference in the Hummer vs. Prius
is Made in USA vs. Made in Japan.

Cars and trucks have what 2 to 3,000 moving parts
from around the world,
all transported by btus you didn't count.

Whether or not components are recycled,
there is still a transportation cost
both in energy AND carbon AND economics
that is rarely brought together in the same study.

How much energy is required to mine the nickel,
ship it to China, process it, then on to Japan,
then into a battery, then into a car, then onto a ship,
and then back to Los Angeles, and then onto a truck,
and then to a dealership, etc?

I heard its 500,000 gallons of heavy oil one way
for about what 2,000 cars?

Great analysis for btus on one component of 2,000
but you left out transportation and carbon impact.

It might be more green to buy local,
and fill up with the closest grease...

What if green depends on where more than what???

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hybrids vs. Electrics

This is the most recent interview in response to The Hybrid Phenomenon.

I'm quite impressed with her deep questions
for a research paper of her choice in a
College English course as a high school student!!!

It's good to see the next generation of drivers
think before they buy that first jalopy!


1. Why choose hybrid electric vehicles over the other options- especially over fuel cells, a favorite option of the Bush administration?

According to several studies and interviews with hybrid owners, the main reasons to buy hybrid electric vehicles (hybrid) are
1) mileage
2) statement or image

The research was mostly American, where cars and trucks represent two major parts of our persons:
1) the most expensive household purchase and expense
2) fashion that we sometimes wear everyday

Choosing hybrids allows people to be selfish and giving at the same time.

In terms of technology, most hybrid buyers I talked to were not aware of the details of types of hybrids or benefits over fuel cell vehicles, which in my opinion, are all hybrids as well. Those are what I call hydrogen-electric hybrids because all fuel cell vehicles need batteries or capacitors and electric motors to work, just like gasoline-electric hybrids.

The main reason to choose gasoline-electric hybrids over hydrogen-electric hybrids is cost. Cost has several components including down payment, financing, leasing, insurance, fees, tolls, registration, maintenance, fuel, oil, etc. Convenience is the other major reason. Gasoline is everywhere, but hydrogen is very hard to find and much more expensive than gasoline. Could you imagine the insurance costs if you got in an accident with a million dollar fuel cell vehicle?

Politically, the reasons are quite different. Since carbon has become a top issue, new vehicle regulations have becoming more important. Both types of hybrids are very clean, and in fact, cleaner than most of the vehicles we have every produced. But hydrogen looks cleaner at the tailpipe.

Unfortunately, few are using overall cleanliness of the entire fuel to vehicle cycle to compare technologies.
So, hybrids are still addicted to oil, and to make hydrogen requires turning electricity into hydrogen and back into electricity.

In other words, hybrids are the best of the best in terms of efficiency,
but along the way, energy is always lost. So the reason to choose
hybrids is to save energy for the next generation.

2. Could you explain more clearly the section in your paper titled, 'Efficiency: "Well-to-Wheel" Analysis'? I was confused by the percentage values for efficiency and some of the statements, such as this one: "So for every 10 barrels of oil extracted from the earth, one to five are lost along the way to the gas station or electric outlet."

I'm not sure if it's possible to explain well to wheel clearly. It's a very complicated topic. It's kind of like explaining where the lead came from in a dangerous toy or following mercury in an unborn fetus in Oregon from a mother that ate a fish that had ingested mercury from acid rain over the ocean that might have originated in another part of the world at one of thousands factories that were powered by equipment from another part of the world and ingredients mined from some other part of the world. Every step of the way, something bad happened, but most of us just think the fish is bad...

The concise version is that there are hundreds of steps to make a car go down the road.
Since energy can never be made, at each step, energy is lost. Usually to heat.
Someone has to pay for that loss, both in terms of economics and the environment.

Well to wheel attempts to measure the loss in a holistic or full cycle way with things we can relate to,
such as efficiency, or the amount of carbon being released causing global warming. Carbon is created from heat.
Most of the 800 millions cars and trucks driving Earth have a well to wheel rating of 15%.
In other words, we pump and pay for 100 barrels of oil, and in the end,
the equivalent of 1.5 barrels turn the wheels in the last vehicle.

But what happens in between the well to the last wheel?

Helicopters, planes, heavy equipment, pumps, electricity, trucks, trains, ships, pipes, more pumps, cars, trucks and more!!!

All those things are counted in the price of gas we pay, but we don't see them.
Well to wheel wants to see them and measure them and compare the options.

Let's look at some of those steps...

According to physics, energy cannot be made. It can only transfer from one form to another. But at every transfer, there is a loss of energy someone has to pay for. It's usually heat that are lost on the way to a gas station or let's say your TV. Feel the back of your TV. It's warm or hot because it's converting electricity to video and losing energy in the form of heat. Fortunately, your TV is much more efficient that your car.

Heat represents the loss or the cost of making the electricity in a sense.
Just as heat is how your car loses most of all the gasoline you pour in.

Gasoline and fuels are exploded, thousands of times per minute,
so that you can drive your car. Explosions turn fuel into up and down motion
and then circular motion that can turn your wheels. Every step along the way,
more energy is lost. So your car's engine loses or wastes 8 of 10 gallons you
pay for and the last 2 get turned into motion. Of those last two, more gets
lost in the transmission and other parts before the wheels turn.

We didn't even count the pump that pumped the oil, the truck that transported it,
the refinery that burns it, the other trucks that deliver it again, or ships,
and all the other energy losses before you fill up at the gas station.

According to the oil expert Amory Lovins, only 1% of the energy from the beginning of the process
actually moves the drivers body (not counting the weight of the car) down the road in the end.
The rest is wasted or paid for by consumers. We pay for losses.

Now that we see well to wheel is an apples to apples way to compare,
how do the most popular cars and trucks fair?

Rough well to wheel estimates in ultimate conditions:

Gasoline powered = 15%
Diesel powered = 20%
Hybrids = 30%
Diesel hybrids = 40%

Electrics depend on how the electricity is made,
and unfortunately the electrical grid is only 50% efficient.

3. How high do you think the fuel economy standards could be if the fleet was made up of all hybrids as opposed to being all conventional vehicles?

I'm not sure because of the several articles I've read, the rules for measuring the average of the fleet are changing.

For example, the economy standards for light trucks is not the same as heavy trucks.

So I think the economy standards depend more on vehicle class,
and in America we have different classes than abroad,
so our standards will probably be the lowest in the world.

I would like to see a restructuring of the car classes more along the lines of the rest of the world.

The Honda Insight was rated at 70 MPG and many plug-in hybrids are getting 100 MPG.
But there are few heavy or large vehicles in the world getting more than 20 MPG.
Wal-Mart is trying to convert their fleet to hybrids because semi-trucks get very poor mileage.

So for the smallest class of cars, the standards could be 100 MPG using hybrid technology.

But as you move up in weight, it takes more energy loss,
and a semi truck that goes from 10 MPG to 20 MPG
is like a hybrid Prius going from 50 MPG to 100 MPG.

It's impossible to set an average with a political number such as 35,
without a breakdown analysis of the entire 230 million cars and trucks
how many in each class, and the current hybrid technologies in each area.

Even so, I feel that price is much more important than mileage,
because there are billions of first time car buyers entering the global market.

Of the 100s of hybrid owners I've talked to, none of them were first time buyers.

In fact, most hybrids owners have owned several cars and come from the middle or upper class.

A fuel economy standard without classes is like one flat tax rate for all...

4. Many people don’t believe hybrids truly get better mileage than say, diesel engines with other efficiency features often found on hybrids. How would you respond to this kind of statement?

This is an illusion caused by ignorance or a numerical illusion.
All cars and trucks get plus or minus about 20% around EPA.
The reason hybrids stick out, is that 20% of high mileage like 50 MPG is 10 MPG.
Compare that to a semi-truck going from 6 MPG to 7.2 MPG.

When an unskilled driver gets -20% down to 40 MPG,
we tend to think it means more than a truck going from 10 MPG to 8 MPG.

In fact, driving and numbers are often misunderstood.
The ignorance stems from the fact that very few people in the world
know how to drive to maximize gas mileage. Everyone knows how to
drive to maximize horsepower or from a physics standpoint, energy loss.

Theoretically, we'll have to go back to the pump to wheel part of well to wheel.
That is, everything from the fuel pump to turning of the wheels.
The explosions, heat, idling, waste, starting, stopping
and all the parts like transmission, drive shafts, wheels, etc.

In apples to apples, full hybrids are more efficient than diesels,
but diesels are more efficient than gasoline engines.

Put them together, and hybrid-diesels are the most efficient,
disregarding issues like deadly particles, environment, etc.

If we are just talking about gas mileage and gas mileage only,
and not concerned with how we make the electricity,
electrics and hybrids are at the top because they recycle energy.

Most of the other 800 million vehicles shoot energy right out the tailpipe,
and don't recycle any of it, aside from the few turbos.

In summary there are hundreds of ways to get better mileage, just increase efficiency:

Here is a list of some examples any vehicle could use,
but every hybrid has already decided to use:

- turn the engine off when the wheels aren't turning
- use electric steering, air conditioning, etc.
- better tires, higher pressure
- more slippery bodies

Diesel-hybrids would be the best of both worlds,
but generally, cars are like fashion, and you don't
see rival groups coming together.

5. I’d like to borrow one question from the interview you linked:
Is the hybrid vehicle an intermediate step to gasoline free vehicles, or will future vehicles always require some gas? If you could first answer the exact question and then add any further or new thoughts, that would be great.

Hybrid vehicles are compatible with any fuel: gasoline, diesels, E85 and biofuels, propane, natural gas, electricity, hydrogen, air, water, and more...

But hybrids are more expensive.

So in terms of which step from a science standpoint,
they are in between fuel engines and electric motors.

Assuming that gasoline free vehicles are electric vehicles,
then hybrids are a natural technological step because all
the high voltage components in a hybrid are theoretically
the same as an electric, but simply less powerful.

But humans are emotional and the best technology doesn't usually win.

Some prefer luxury, image, speed, horsepower, prestige, price, and other things over hybrids.

Others may want cheap, small, reliable, easy to see and drive, not complicated and simple.

What I'm getting at, is that cars are fashion, and demographics matter!
From socioeconomics to race to gender,
steps in the evolution of vehicles
is much more emotional than logical.

There are hundreds of thousands baby boomers and elderly that
have bought hybrids as their last step, but remember, they have
money and wanted to make a point.

My thoughts are that the upper classes will only buy hybrids for image,
maybe a 20th car.

The middle class that wants to save money and wants a green image,
might buy a hybrid as a last step.

The billions of first time car buyers coming into the marketplace from the lower classes,
cannot afford to buy hybrids.

The consumers that can afford a hybrid are using it as a last step.
They will always buy hybrids again, according to the interviews I've done.

Hybrids owners do not go back to regular vehicles,
so you can generalize that hybrids are a last step
for the people who have already bought them.

Otherwise, it depends on image and price.

6. Also- are hybrids just an intermediate step specifically towards completely electric vehicles? (as opposed to gasoline free cars that are not purely electric)

See above answer.

Do you think the 500,000 people in the world that bought hybrids
are planning to trade them in for electric cars???

Do you think the 2,000,000,000 people that want their first car,
can afford to even think about a hybrid or electric car???

It would also be helpful for me to know your credentials as an expert in this field- so if you could, list the ways you are involved with this topic and your background in it.

My main credential is the fuel for the article you read.

A California State University Master of Business Administration

culminating experience and research project that came out of

1,000 pages of research, dozens of interviews, dozens of events,

dozens of hybrids driven, three years of data collection, several drafts,

and much more in the 183 pages with hundreds of sources I could provide...

It's copyrighted and covers oil, fuels, environment, politics, pop culture, technology and the auto industry.

From a personal standpoint, I have worked on and studied cars for over 20 years,

have owned and driven and car shared and rode more than a dozen hybrids and electrics,

and am currently studying in an auto technology program that has three hybrids to study.

Academics: CSU MBA Management, UC BA Statistics

Hope this helps and let me know if you need anything else.

If you would like to share your results, I would be happy

to post them to my blog for you.


Oil and Lithium Reserves

Our oil civilization is facing its doom. Where did oil come from? The sun right... But why can't we agree on how much oil and Lithium are left? As for oil, it doesn't matter because the demand will exceed any amount of supply, due to overpopulation of the world's cars and trucks. But for Lithium, it's WAY TOO EARLY to make any estimates on global reserves. That would be like counting the world's oil when Texas ruled the global oil supply and thought it would never run out. Very few people if any, know how much oil and Lithium are left...

We have barely scratched the surface of the oceans and other planets in our solar system.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Oil vs. Alternative Fuels

Another student is writing a research paper. Here is our interview on alternative fuel vs. oil published straight up from the email:

WOW!!! We've got a deadline so here it goes:

1. why is still gasoline is the first choice for motor vehicle?
It's cheap, widely available and powerful (high energy content).

It generates more money for companies and government (through taxes)
than well over half the world countries make each year.

There are quite a few business reasons,
so how about looking at this question from different perspectives:
automobile company, oil or gasoline company, consumer, airline industry

If you are an automobile company, make a non-gasoline engine is a huge financial risk. Your customer base drops from 2 billion potential drivers down to a few million with access to alternatives. It does not make short-term financial sense to design and manufacture a non-gasoline vehicle because of the investment and time it takes to bring a car or truck to the showroom.

Take the innovative EV-1 for example. It was a great car, people loved it, it didn't use any gasoline and if you had one today, it would be worth a million dollars. But why didn't it work from the standpoint of being an automaker. That's pretty simple, there were only a few hundred customers, compared to the 230 million Americans driving cars and trucks, and it lost GM more money that you can imagine. Try over $1,000,000,000.00 invested with more than 1,000 leased for hundreds each month, it lost millions each month. GM only brought in a million or so so it's easy to say that they lost a billion or so dollars, including an expensive black eye from the public, which leads me to the 2nd reason...

Until recently, making a non-gasoline vehicle was not cool, kosher, politically correct, etc. This is changing fast! Toyota is a great example. They developed the multi billion dollar Prius for the long-run. But they could afford to lose a billion for the first 10 years before they made any profits. Even today, rivals accuse Toyota of selling the Prius for below cost. This may be partially true, as the 650 patents in the hybrid drive cost an arm and a leg (1,000 engineers, lawyers, MBAs, multiple countries, etc.) but Toyota can afford to lose money for now.

So if you're an automaker, let's say like NUMMI over in the East Bay that has to pay PG&E $1,000,000.00 each month for electricity, do you think you can afford to take a chance on a non-gasoline vehicle? How would you keep the lights on?

Tesla does, and found $50,000,000.00 in free money to try and get a license plate on the first car in a few years. Incidentally, the battery pack has over 6,000 batteries and is estimated at $40,000 vs. a typical gasoline engine at hundreds times cheaper. Which would you build?

Oil or Gasoline Company
These companies are just the opposite of automakers in a way. They make all kinds of products from crude oil. Everything from the roads we drive on to plastics we use everyday to jet fuel that delivers the majority of our perishable foods to areas that don't grow it. They have no shortage of customers, unlike automaker. Why don't they make less gasoline?

Probably money and costs. Gasoline brings in plenty of profits, satisfies Wall Street with record profits for any company for all time, and the cost of making gasoline, distributing it, with thousands of gas stations ready to buy more without additional R&D, is like owning a gold mine and shutting it down to start mining for silver somewhere else. Why stop the money coming in?

Why should oil companies lose money to make less gasoline? Why do oil companies invest so little of their profits?

Maybe they would like to maximize the investment they've made, just like any other person or company.
Maybe oil will run out so far in the future, that it really doesn't matter on Wall Street (all the majors are publicly traded held by insurance companies and other financial houses that do thing like pay for our grandparents retirement) which tends to be very short sighted focused on quarterly earnings.

The proof is in the pudding. Most all biofuel, Ethanol, Biodiesel, and alternative fuel companies are losing money so far.

Alternatives will take off when they are cheaper
and at that moment, oil and gasoline companies
will probably start heavier investing...

PS An oil company owns the patents on hybrid batteries
so for every hybrid that sells, some money goes back
to an oil or gasoline company...

Again, it's all about the money, well mostly. There are a few drivers that will pay extra to make a statement, such as those driving $40,000 hybrids or flex-fuel vehicles, but the bottom line is that consumers can't afford to pay more for non-gasoline.

That could change QUICKLY!!! In fact, with E85 was first released it was more than 20% less than gasoline (the break even price point because E85 is 20% less powerful than gasoline = 20% less miles per gallon). But, with so many farmers selling corn to biofuel plants instead of tortilla factories, Coca Cola and soft drink corn syrup suppliers, beef, pork and chicken producers, etc. the price of corn has gone up... So has the price of food from corn chips to steaks!

So unfortunately, E85 is an example that looked really good at first, but the price has come up higher than gasoline on an equivalent energy content comparison. Right up the street from my apartment, the gas station always sells E85 for only 10 cents less than gasoline, even though both prices change everyday. If you use simple math and take the 10 cent difference and divide by the 20% less energy, the break even point at my local gas station is 50 cents per gallon. So if gasoline was 50 cents per gallon and E85 was 40 cents per gallon, they would be the same price.

Anything more than 20% price premium is too expensive for the consumer. What's more, the price is being held low by politicians giving our tax dollars to farmers and biofuel plant operators. So in theory, E85 on the West Coast is much much more expensive than gasoline.

So why would a consumer or driver or customer buy non-gasoline?
To pay more to make a statement.
Otherwise, gasoline is the first choice!

Airline Industry
Although other transportation industries such as trucking can switch over to bio-diesel (and will so long as it's cheaper), the airline industry can't. There are no planes that run on lower octane alternatives. Planes last much longer than vehicles; it's easy to find a 50s plane at any airport in perfect condition. Planes are also owned by the upper class. Millionaires aside from green celebrities can afford to buy gasoline until the end.

The good news is that visionary entrepreneurial millionaires like Richard Branson care and see biofuels in a different light. Just like the Indy 500 guys and girls filling up every race with moonshine. Why, because it's powerful and they have to buy the gasoline anyway. So again, it's attempt to reduce major costs with a feel good fringe benefit.

We can stop driving but the airlines HAVE TO keep delivering
us, our mail, our food, our goods, etc.

I'm not an expert on jet fuel, but I know it's one of the most expensive components of running an airline and there are no alternatives today!

Gasoline may the first choice until the end of the oil or airlines.

Where does a barrel of oil go?
Half to gasoline for now,
the cheapest, most available,
easy to transport and powerful fuel...

Nothing can replace gasoline!!!

We will have to be shocked into using something else
when gasoline gets up around $10 per gallon and airplane flights are triple.

If our oil civilization collapses,
let's save the gasoline for delivering
food to parts of the world that can't afford oil anymore...

2. why do we need an alternative source of energy?

I will say this twice or three times because it's not what you read elsewhere:

because the daily demand for oil is accelerating at the same time the daily supply is flattening
in other words we will soon not be able to pump enough oil every day,
in more words, the potential growing gap between DAILY supply and demand is
a MUCH BIGGER problem than global warming or cheap electricity getting less cheap.

Why? We can barely keep up today with only 800 miliion cars and trucks
or about 1 in 15 people on the planet. The number or cars and trucks
is growing daily, 2,000 new ones hit the streets of Beijing EVERYDAY!!!

Imagine 2,000 new cars and trucks in your city tomorrow,
and then 4,000 the next day, and then 12,000 on Day 3,
we're talking about as many cars and trucks in the world
that took 100 years to get to, getting rolled out into our
streets for the first time in history, all over the next few decades!!!

That's why traffic cops die in their 40s in Beijing
and everyone on the street is wearing a mask.

The worldwide fleet is expected to double and then triple soon!!!

How much oil will we need everyday, if there are a few billion cars or trucks???

There might be enough in the ground, such as the Canadian oil sands,
but those are like having a million dollars in the bank and only being
able to go to the ATM everyday and withdraw a 20 dollar bill.

Many argue that there's plenty of oil, but does it matter?

I don't think so, does 10 extra or 20 extra years matter?

Not in terms of the shock point: when the daily demand
accelerates away from the daily supply!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We need an alternative source of energy that can reduce the
DAILY DEMAND for oil. A source that can accelerate fast,
like plugging in 100 million cars at night to a socket and saving
millions of gallons of gasoline every day of the week we are not
allowed to buy gas, like in the 70's, not experimental cars that
cost millions and can only serve a few millionaires here and there.

We will not run out suddenly, we will have to ration suddenly,
and society will slow down, so alternatives are required
if we expect to continue the growth path we're on...

We need to find alternatives because of fundamental flaws in economic theory.

Under the assumption that all suns supernova
and humans will still be living here until it does:

Free trade is not free, i.e. solar energy (slow energy) is finite and NOT renewable.
All resources approach zero as time goes to infinity.
i.e., there are no renewable energy sources.
Economic growth assumes resources do not approach zero,
so economic growth will also approach zero
and wealth, money and everything tied to the
economy will also have to correct to zero.

Bottom line, without energy, there will be no economies.
If oil is finite, we need alternatives to keep an economy.
Without oil or alternatives, there will be no economy.

3. What are some ways for hydrogen to compete with oil in global market?

Hydrogen is not the same thing as oil. Oil is banked energy just sitting there.
Oil has a high energy content and more importantly we can make hundreds or
even thousands of products from oil.

What can hydrogen make? Expensive electricity
Where is it sitting? Compare drilling to catching ghosts

Physics tells us that energy can never be made and can only be transferred.
Every transfer costs energy in the form of heat or friction.

An example, natural gas and tremendous electricity and water
transfers into hydrogen while losing 50% on the electrical transmission lines
and a lot of heat into the water. So we lost a lot to get to hydrogen.

Then we have to turn the hydrogen back into electrical energy
because MOST ALL hydrogen vehicles are HYBRID-ELECTRICS!!!

Why did we change the electricity two times???

So the only way for hydrogen to compete is efficiency
which will bring the costs down.

Hydrogen transportation will have to become more efficient than oil and fuels.
Hydrogen distribution will have to become more efficient than gasoline and diesel.
The fuel cell or engine will have to become more efficient than above!

If the infrastructure beats the estimated
85% gasoline and 80% efficient diesel supply chains,
hydrogen has a chance.

But take Arizona public fleet for an example:

the natural gas starts in Canada to form hydrogen
then liquified using tremendous electricity
then filled in large tanker cars and finally shipped to Arizona
then it awaits filling into buses a minus hundreds of degrees...

Compare that with the gasoline pipeline from Long Beach harbor (one of the biggest ports in the world with oil tankers avail everyday)
to Las Vegas that feeds just about every gasoline station and fueling company. Just pump the gasoline and out it comes 350 miles away.

The hydrogen infrastructure will have to get to 90% efficient,
and that is not possible without pipelines and slow energy.

What taxpayers and companies will pay the billions for that?
California has been trying for 10 years and there's only a few pumps and a few trucks
out of tens of thousands of gasoline pumps and 230 million cars and trucks in America!

4. what can government do to convince to buy hyfrogen powered vehicle?

Government taxes us and spends the money in exchange for politician votes or support.

So they could use tax dollars to make hydrogen vehicles look cheaper.
Maybe if it increased votes or lobby dollars,
but I doubt hydrogen can become sexy like hybrids.

We're trying to convince people to buy E85
and it looked cheaper because we all paid for the corn and stills.

Hybrids are a good and bad example.

They were made cheaper with tax credits, free parking, free commuting lanes, free bridge tolls, etc.
in other words, us tax payers paid for hybrid driver benefits...

Did politicians make a difference?

According to my research, of the dozens of hybrids buyers I studied,
two main reasons came up over and over:
1) mileage
2) image

Saving on taxes or free parking or free tolls was NEVER a PRIMARY REASON
for buying a hybrid, even after the govt convinced us the breaks mattered.

So for hydrogen, there would have to first be main reasons such as
1) mileage or cost
2) image
then with those in place, govt could stimulate additional sales through incentives...

There's no sense in spending tax dollars
to lower the price of a HYDROGEN VEHICLE
from $1,000,000 to $900K with tax breaks is there?

The wild card might be govt getting into the grey areas of conversions,
such as plug-in hybrids or hydrogen conversions on regular gasoline cars and trucks...

But in the end it won't really make a dent in the 230 million vehicles America is in love with!

5. How important do you think it is for U.S. to reduce its dependence on foreign oil?

That's a loaded question because it focuses on the U.S.
as if the U.S. is the only customer for foreign oil.

Take Japan for example, it's been importing 99% of its oil for decades,
and runs an estimated 40% nuclear. France runs 70% plutonium I believe...

Everyone is dependent on foreign oil in the industrialized world.

Brazil and Iceland are outliers that I don't have time to talk about,
but it can be done, much like a addict goes on medication.
For Brazil it's destroying the rain forest for sugar cane Ethanol
and for Iceland I believe there's natural geothermal accelerating
due to global warming, which is basically geographical luck,
like the Middle East sitting on the largest free bank accounts
in the history of our civilization!

So if we are focusing JUST ON THE U.S. then we have to think about
the U.S. in terms of geopolitical terms. We have a lot of natural gas,
we make half our electricity from coal, we have less than 1% overall
solar and wind after 25 years of welfare and development, etc. etc.

We also have 230 thirsty addicted cars and trucks than need
NEXT MONTH, ETC. that's about 3 of 10 cars and trucks in the world.

So we've got one of the largest fleets in the world,
one of the largest demands for electricity in the world
and we have the largest military in the world.

We also have the world's most powerful economy.

If you believe in survival of the fittest,
the U.S. will be the last country that
will be able to control and consume
foreign oil. Who will stop us?

How important is that? Depends if your American or not...

So reducing our dependence is more of a political show right now,
and you've got politicians mistakingly placing global warming above oil.
That's like cutting out a lung cancer and smoking a pack through the hole in your throat.

I'm saying the problem is the GLOBAL daily supply and demand,
the cigarettes, not the sick lungs...

It's like there's one milk to go around for each school lunch,
but suddenly, there are twice then three times more students,
as one to two billion worldwide and global citizens buy their
first TVs, VCRs, PCs and they plug in... Then they buy their
first cars and trucks and go down the gas station and fill up...

The U.S. is the biggest bully in the cafeteria,
we pay the cheapest price for gasoline in the industrialized world,
so why should we reduce our oil dependency,
when we pay the least and spend the most?

When it becomes a moral issue!

If our oil dependency kills people, in other words if you believe
that deaths in IRAQ or asthma deaths in Long Beach from
kids breathing the ports and trucks emissions is related to
our foreign oil dependence, then we have to do something!

I think it's VERY IMPORTANT to reduce our oil dependency
if it's directly related to killing human beings.

As far as global warming and other reasons,
are polar bears more important than American kids
dying early from lung problems due to breathing foreign oil byproducts?

Death is a very important reason to reduce dependency on foreign oil.

6. is it possible for U .s. to be free from oil?

It's more possible for the U.S. than other countries.
We have more money and more power and more guns.

If there was something out there more valuable than oil,
let's say the diamond planet they discovered larger than Earth
as a fun example, the U.S. would probably get there 1st,
if diamonds could fill up our gas tanks that is...

9 of the Top 10 Global Fortune 500 companies ranked in terms
of money coming in every year are either oil or car companies.
The 10th is Wal-Mart which has the largest truck fleet around.

These companies make much more money than more than half the countries in the world.

If you made as much money as a country,
would you give that away to corn or hydrogen?

We are very lucky to have the cheapest gasoline prices in the modern world,
and in fact, I believe that is why we maintain the strongest economy in the world.

The only way to free ourselves from oil is to find a co-addiction,
something either cheaper and worse than oil
or better and more expensive.

Could it be Back to the Future space ships powered by
banana peel reactors and Lithium batteries?????????

Probably not in our life times, so we should probably focus
on the one or two billion cars and trucks coming online soon
as most first time buyers can't afford non-gasoline vehicles
and want the same things we have, a car and a mobile phone.

A cheap clean vehicle for every grandchild
is just as important as leveling off our oil demand.

In fact, if we don't start making cheap alternative fuel vehicles,
even if we manage to get off half the oil, we're going to need
three times as much for the rest of the world anyway...

One thing is for sure,
electricity is making a run for oil.
Look at Tokyo for a glimpse of the future,
99% imported oil, don't need a car or truck,
electric trains are connected to everything,
but 40% nuclear and bad air and water...

Oil is too powerful and too cheap to be replaced,
only shock treatments can change our behavior now.

We (U.S.) will start to slowly move away from oil at 10 dollars per gallon,
but the one or two billion people that are buying their first car or truck
can't really be stopped from buying a cheap gasoline vehicle
unless we "radically rethink the automobile!"
by Prof. Gerdes at Stanford's CarLab.

I say focus on the new cars and trucks NOW,
remember that hybrids have already saved
500,000,000 gallons of gasoline already!

How much oil have hydrogen or electrics saved?

Running out of oil is probably the only way to be completely free of it as a civilization,
as I said before, airplanes may never be free from oil.

We can work together to
free parts of our society,
certain communities
interested in freedom from oil.

I heard cars and trucks maybe be banned
in some large cities around the world soon...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How Much Lithium or Oil is there?

How Much Lithium or Oil is there?
in response to
The Road to Lithium Car Batteries
Avail at

By John Acheson on 2007-11-13 02:25:05

Our oil civilization is facing its doom. Where did oil come from? The sun right... But why can't we agree on how much oil and Lithium are left? As for oil, it doesn't matter because the demand will exceed any amount of supply, due to overpopulation of the world's cars and trucks. But for Lithium, it's WAY TOO EARLY to make any estimates on global reserves. That would be like counting the world's oil when Texas ruled the global oil supply and thought it would never run out. Very few people if any, know how much oil and Lithium are left...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hybrids vs. Oil Civilization

It's always a good idea to give back, so when I was approached by a student who found our hybrid research and wanted to conduct an interview, I was thrilled. Ideas started flowing and my thoughts deepened. I had no idea the answers to a handful of questions would run 7 pages and one of the common themes would be the end of our oil civilization based on thoughts in Stephen Leebs's book The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel.

So here's the fairly raw and edited once piece I will now upload here at the same time I email it back to academia (which incidentally seems like my destiny).

Q: Why do hybrids seem to have such a wide range of fuel efficiency?

They don’t; that’s a myth and numerical illusion. I estimate that all technologies experience about plus or minus 20% around the EPA ratings. Because drivers, driving and vehicle conditions are so diverse across our US population (fleet) of over 230 million cars and trucks, it looks like hybrids vary more, but they don’t.

Let’s compare some extremes to define a 20% range:
• +20% is a skillful driver, drafting behind a semi-truck, on the highway with no wind, rain or snow, on a level surface or slight downhill, with a maintained car or truck including minimum weight in the vehicle, maximum tire pressure, recent tune up and optimal running condition.
• -20% is just the opposite, stop and go city driving, hard on acceleration, hard on the brakes, tail-gating, windy, hilly, older car, tires a little low, needs a tune up, lots of junk in the trunk and not optimal.

So let’s apply the range to some vehicles to see the illusion:
• 2000 Honda Insight at 70 HWY + 20% = 84 MPG or +14
• 2006 Hummer H3 at 18 HWY + 20% = 21.6 MPG or +3.6
The hybrid above grabs everyone’s attention, but the Hummer isn’t that shocking. Funny, the numbers are the same +20%. Let’s look at the low end of the range:
• 2000 Honda Insight at 60 CITY -20% = 48 MPG or -10
• 2006 Hummer H3 SUV at 14 CITY -20% = 11.2 MPG or -2.8

The hybrid above suddenly looks like something is wrong, why only in the 40s on MPG whereas the 11.2 MPG doesn’t really stand out for an SUV. So the ranges are identical, from minus to plus 20%, but numerically, 48 to 84 looks wider than 11.2 to 21.6 MPG. It’s not! It’s the same 20% range.

Range in gas mileage has do with driving behavior and conditions not technology, but hybrids put up such large numbers, 20% looks like a lot more or less.

Q: Is the hybrid vehicle an intermediate step to gasoline free vehicles, or will future vehicles always require some gas?

Hybrids might be the LAST STEP before our oil civilization collapses! There is no energy source or technology that can replace the amount of power we use to drive our oil civilization. Oil and cars connect everything in our daily lives and oil tankers, diesel trains and trucks deliver everything we consume.

U.S. hybrids are often bought by baby boomers or elderly retired drivers who are buying their LAST vehicle, not intermediate step. Any the majority of those drivers usually come from the middle-class and wear hybrids to make a statement, not to wait for an electric or hydrogen car.

The future will probably look a lot like the past from a societal class point of view. The upper-class will continue to drive luxurious inefficient cars and trucks until there is a catastrophic war over oil or society breaks down. The rich will afford oil until the bitter end of haves and have nots. Hybrids won’t change this scenario.

The middle class has already bought into the hybrid as a last stop, not intermediate step. For the dozens of hybrid drivers I’ve interviewed and talked to, the only reason they might give up their beloved hybrids is to buy another one. Middle-class hybrid owners tend to love their hybrids, because saving money at the gas station in front of others actually matters (unlike the upper-class) and it happens in front of everyone else.

In terms of the lower classes, hybrids over $10,000 don’t matter. There a larger growing problem at work here. There’s a fleet crisis going on, and hybrids are more of a 5th or 10th car for many people that are about to buy their 1st cars and trucks. Let me count back, I believe that my 1st and only hybrid was $10,000 used and it was my 7th vehicle in my 20th year of driving; I come from a lower class in the rich America.

When will the billions living on a dollar a day be able to buy a hybrid? Never, if our oil civilization collapses. The problem is that the global population of cars and trucks is projected to triple by the time oil starts running out in a few decades: less oil and many more cars. How can our world afford an imbalance many times worse than today?

More than 5 or 6 human beings have never owned a car or truck. Many of those billions of customers are thinking about buying their first cars or trucks. They are buying entry level vehicles, like derivatives of the basic Corolla (the most successful vehicle in history with over 35 million units sold) such as the Vitz (Yaris) or even cheaper vehicles designed for first-time car buyers, like Tata’s $2,500 car from India.

If we all think back to our first car, the mileage it got and the technology under the hood, did it really matter in the purchasing decision? Probably not… The lower class wants what everyone else wants, a vehicle to get from A to B, a paying job, clothes, mobile phone, etc. Hybrids are off the radar screen, unless they come down below $10,000.

Hybrids are not a step for the world’s rich, a last step for the U.S. middle class and off the radar screen of 5 billion lower class citizens dreaming of their first rides. Our oil civilization will probably face a catastrophe long before the upper classes change their minds or the lower classes acquire enough wealth to buy hybrids.

Q: What will happen in the future to the automobile companies that are not producing hybrid vehicles?

The auto industry is the largest manufacturing industry in the United States responsible for at least 1 in 10 jobs. Globally, including related and supporting industries from suppliers to sales and service, the auto businesses are the world’s largest.

The impact of this massive operation will probably go along the lines of the civilization theory outlined above. The automakers that serve the upper classes will hold on until the end, putting out one or two hybrids to satisfy environmental critics.

BMW and Porsche are a great example. Both serve customers that can buy any technology they want, but they don’t want hybrids. So they recently announced a few SUV hybrids and targeted the environmental critics more than the customers. Again, the upper classes will continue to drive what ever they want, and it probably won’t be hybrid, electrics or alternative.

Of course there are celebrity millionaires that buy a few Toyota hybrids, but again, the goal is to make a statement and it’s probably a 25th vehicle in the driveway…

The middle class is really doing a job on the automakers. They support the ones that are doing a good hybrid job and criticize the ones that are falling behind. In this case, there has been some impact, because the middle class holds a lot of auto industry jobs, tends to vote actively at the same time paying taxes. So automakers, union bosses and politicians listen to the middle class.

I would argue that the middle class along with a few celebrities is responsible for the rise of the Prius, the current Union efforts, gas mileage legislation and other environmental movements right now. Can they overcome the upper class in control of the world’s biggest business? I don’t know, but I do know that over the past decade and rise of the hybrid fleet, the hybrid leading automakers have set record profits, are building factories, hiring people and paying taxes, while some of the laggards are putting up worst ever performances by any companies on Wall Street ever. So there has been an economic impact by the middle class, but it may not change the course of luxury automakers.

Again, hybrids really don’t affect the lower class. But companies like Tata Motors out of India and most Chinese manufacturers are experiencing a boom due to the industry-wide focus on smaller cars. Those companies aren’t producing hybrids, but are growing rapidly and may do just fine making cheap small cars and trucks.

So for the companies that do not and will not produce hybrids like let’s say Ferrari, it won’t really matter, hybrid, electric or not. The upper class will still have to put a down payment in at a dealership and wait two years for delivery of a vehicle that gets terrible gas mileage and costs the price of a house. For the middle-class, hybrids may play a key role in the automakers they serve and the initiatives they support. Finally the lower class will be served by automakers that focus on cheap, simple and small, not expensive alternatives such as hybrids or electric cars.

Q: What is the next break through in the hybrid industry?

From a technological stand point, it’s Lithium. Lithium is an element mined from the ground used to manufacture light yet high voltage (power) batteries. Many consider it to be a silver bullet because it provides a lighter vehicle (every few hundred pounds can earn a mileage point) without compromising power.

There is only one Lithium vehicle that I know of at this time, a Toyota Vitz (known Yaris in the U.S.) special edition. Most all hybrid-electrics today rely on Nickel, which has its own dirty little secrets. Toyota’s Nickel is mined from Canada creating a wasteland around the plant, shipped via oil burning ship to China for processing, then shipped again burning more fuel to Japan for making batteries, and then put into most of the hybrids on the road aside from the Camry Made in USA, and then shipped again to our ports, and trucked on diesel fuel to our dealership.

This dust to dust analysis was the basis behind the study that compared Hummers to Prius concluding that the Hummer was more environmentally friendly. There is some truth to buying locally to avoid the tremendous energy and environmental costs we tend to ignore from transporting everything we consume. Back to battery technology…

The other problem with Nickel battery technology is that oil companies hold some of the key patents and collect royalty money or make profits for every hybrid sold. Lithium shares many of these problems except the patents for high voltage batteries appear to be held by smaller start-up companies. But of course, those companies could be bought or already indirectly owned but the existing oil civilization power base.

In other words, oil money and power could easily control the next break through!

Lithium is a break through for not just hybrids, but electric cars, mobile phones, power tools and advanced technology like aircraft and aerospace. So it’s expensive, has lots of competition from other industries and is a limited resource, just like oil.

The main difference between Lithium and oil is the geopolitical makeup and what many tend to overlook reserves. The mining situation would move power to the Americas. North and South America together produce a slight majority of the world’s Lithium today, the rest is produced in the Australias and China.

Is there enough Lithium to go around? No, there is not enough Lithium to replace oil. There is not enough Lithium in the ground (reserves) to convert the projected two billion vehicle fleet coming on line in the next few decades. But there isn’t enough time anyway, the coming oil collapse will happen sooner than later. Even if the break through happened tomorrow, it won’t matter for the billion new car buyers coming into the market for the first time; as I argued before, the lower-class can’t afford Lithium anyway.

Lithium is the next break through in hybrids and electrics, and there is probably enough to serve a portion of the middle class home owners that can afford solar panels and buying expensive electrics as a 10th vehicle, but the upper class will continue to buy the benefits from Lithium, such as long battery life on a mobile phone, not the Lithium itself. As for the lower classes, it’s the same story as hybrids, Lithium probably won’t make it past mobile phones before our oil civilization collapses.

Q: What is your take on the incentives that consumers receive for purchasing hybrids (tax breaks, HOV access)?

This goes back to my firm belief that the middle-class is driving politicians in the United States to clean up the environment. It’s not because the upper class politicians care or don’t care about the environment, or want to get on board with the rest of the world, I argue that it’s about the votes.

The U.S. middle-class tends to be the most active voting demographic. They drive hybrids, write letters to politicians and complain openly to automakers.

So, the hybrid political phenomenon is really about garnering votes from a strong contingency that are all on the same side of many large societal issues. What more could a politician want? Large national issues where all the middle class hybrid drivers actively vote the same way from town to town.

Middle class voting hybrid owners won’t complain about tax breaks or privileges such as HOV access, BUT that is not why they bought hybrids. Remember that hybrid owners of American bought hybrids to save gasoline and mainly to make a statement.

From my research, it’s pretty clear that tax breaks and HOV access had nothing to do with WHY buyers lined up to buy, own, drive and wear hybrids. Political incentives had to do with power shift in politics away from oil powered by votes.

Q: How will hybrids affect the U.S. oil dependency in the future?

Globally, the hybrid fleet is estimated to save about 500,000,000 gallons of gasoline in its first decade. Gasoline is the primary product from oil aside from oil derivatives to make our roads, plastics, etc. Unfortunately, oil is also used to make diesel fuel, which delivers everything we buy at every store.

So even if we all stopped buying gasoline, daily life would require oil, and the rest of the world coming online buying a billion more cars and building more houses and buildings would exacerbate the demand beyond what we could save. In the global scenario, technology cannot beat human behavior and growth. So in the oil civilization collapse scenario, hybrid, electrics and most technologies are just buying time.

So it might be easier to think of a more local scenario. When the oil runs out, it’s not going to run out all over the world at the same time. The U.S. has already reached peak production, so we’ll run out earlier than other areas around the world. Japan never had and oil and in effect has already run out and imports 99% but also runs quite a bit of nuclear, I believe over 30% or maybe closer to 40%. Remember that making electricity is the #1 cause of carbon emissions, and that scenario may not fly here…

Back to gasoline, let’s take California as an example. It’s got the most hybrids in the world, one of the cleanest electrical grids and yet highest prices for gasoline. Californian gasoline can thank Alaska for the volume

Let’s think forward, oil is running out, for California that means Alaskan crude is going dry. That would mean California would have to fight other regions for let’s say foreign oil. In a free market, California will win because of its buying power, strong middle and upper class, and comfort with the nation’s highest gas prices.

So I’m thinking 10 dollars per gallon and the end of life in suburbia…hybrids or not…

During a gasoline shock in California, I can imagine that hybrid drivers who bought hybrids to save gasoline and make a statement will be proud of their actions. Most hybrid owners are very happy to hear that the global hybrid fleet has saved an estimated 500 million gallons of gasoline equivalent to 10 billion pounds of CO2.

The best thing about hybrids is strength in numbers. The impact of hybrids has to do with the size of the fleet, its approaching a million vehicles and growing rapidly. So in a sense, the fleet will save millions of barrels of oil that will be used for other purposes such as delivering and making everything we buy, or filling up airplanes to deliver emergency supplies to regions that have run out of energy.

Q: Will hybrid technology go into other industries?

That’s an interesting question because hybrids have already done that and come back. Porsche built the 1st hybrid before 1900. At that time, electrics dominated the market along with steam hybrids. So in the beginning, hybrids and electrics were the majority.

The convenience of the electric starter motor and the power and range of the internal combustion engine opened up America’s roads and the most powerful and most important industrial economy in the world. Hybrids entered other industries decades ago.

From the 30’s to the 70’s hybrids went into many industries including but not limited to military, transport, real estate, mining and aerospace. Some examples
• Oil-water (steam) hybrid ships that transport everything we consume
• Nuclear-electric hybrid submarines that delayed World War III
• Gas-electric hybrid homes and buildings that provide shelter for the modern world and workplace
• Diesel-electric heavy equipment that built our infrastructure and connected America together
• Chemical-electric spaceships that provided the satellite technology that brings us everything from Google Earth to TV

If you include gas-water electric power plants, hybrids power almost every industry and touch every part of our lives. Hybrids are compatible with any fuel source, such as gasoline, diesel, biofuel, E85, electricity, natural gas, nuclear and more. Hybrid vehicles recycle energy. Hybrids increase efficiency. Hybrids are not new and we use them everyday when we take a shower, cook a meal (gas-electric appliances and homes) or wash our clothes (gas-electric dryers).

Hybrids have been a part of most industrial industries for decades. They will continue to experience growth, deployment across more diverse fuel sources to save energy for our insatiable global demand.

Unfortunately, the oil and energy that hybrids save will be burned and consumed by other more inefficient areas of our oil civilization. They will not stop an oil war or the end of our oil civilization, but when measured as a global fleet, hybrids are making the largest impact towards recycling our world’s energy and showcasing efficiency!

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