The Hybrid Phenomenon
By Norma Carr-Ruffino, Ph.D. and John Acheson, MBA
Energy independence by 2020 was the cover story of the January 2007 issue of The Futurist. Tsvi Bisk set the tone:
“In the opinion of many foreign-policy experts, the greatest threats to world security and peace are Iran’s nuclear program, international Jihadist terror, and radicalization among the Muslim populations in Europe and North America. What is the common thread among these various threats? All are financed by Persian Gulf petrodollars.”
Gary Yohe added his bit: “U.S. dependence on foreign oil endangers our national security” and “our emissions-heavy activities may be endangering our very civilization.” Recent surveys indicate this story has widespread support:
• 86 percent of Americans say the government should require better auto fuel efficiency. (Pew)
• 82 percent of policy and security experts say we must reduce foreign-oil use in order to combat terrorism (Foreign Policy)
Enter the Hybrid Phenomenon. What’s that? Mainly, it’s about millions of automobile owners choosing hybrid and alternative fuel platforms to promote the greening of the automobile business. Automakers are being impacted by energy instability and prices, and customers are pushing for cleaner and more efficient solutions. New vehicles and fuels are gaining traction as Americans jumpstart a new future.
New, highly efficient, clean-burning vehicles are disrupting the automobile industry and offering consumers the first wave of sustainable options. By 2006, over 250,000 drivers of America bought Toyota hybrids to reduce oil dependence and help the environment.
Toyota’s hybrids have logged more than 5 billion American miles and have saved over:
• 4 billion barrels of crude oil
• 3 million pounds of smog-forming gases
• 900,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide
• 125,000 gallons of gasoline (Toyota)
Globally, Toyota reported over 500,000 hybrid sales. Toyota’s one million hybrid sales target for 2010 was getting closer, and hybrid costs had been almost halved since 1997 (Toyota).
The Hybrid Phenomenon is about saving time and money at the fuel pump, but it’s also about saving a part of the world every day. Transportation is responsible for about a quarter of greenhouse gases, and the United States is the greatest contributor. Carbon emissions are correlated with climate change: gasoline smog and diesel particulates with premature death; and hybrids reduce emissions by up to 95 percent.
The Hybrid Phenomenon is a movement that allows drivers to change the world and feel good about it. Hybrids save natural resources. They result in cleaner air in our communities. They also provide hope for a brighter future, inspiring future generations to adopt sustainable practices. In business and commerce, hybrid dollars help stimulate economies and create jobs. The movement also creates global virtual communities, empowering people to promote environmental sustainability. The Hybrid Phenomenon shouts globally and acts locally every day!
Back to the Future
It’s amazing to think that the Hybrid Phenomenon emerged from the Toyota Prius, originally an odd-looking car developed by 1,000 engineers who threw out 80 designs. Managers finally settled on a 100-year-old technology, the hybrid, which simply increased efficiency resulting in twice the mileage.
In the 1890s, when the horseless carriage was as likely to run on steam or electricity as on gasoline, a young engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, was asked by his boss Jacob Lohner to design a better electric car. Lohner-Porsche successfully offered a hybrid alternative a few years later. It filled up on gasoline, but electric motors turned the wheels. The hybrid solved the electric-vehicle problem of limited speed and range. Although electric cars were more efficient, the world’s first hybrid was about four times more efficient than today’s conventional vehicles.
Gasoline-powered cars had taken over the passenger car market by the 1920s, thanks to the electric starter and Henry Ford’s assembly line, which made Model T’s affordable for most families. Still, industrial uses for hybrids flourished during the rest of the 20th century. Diesel-electric hybrid trains and heavy equipment helped to industrialize America. As for cars, many incarnations of hybrid concepts were built but none took significant market share until the Prius, which emerged in Japan in 1997 and in the United States in 2000. Actually the Honda Insight 2000 was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, but the 2001 Prius, and its successors, have been the runaway best sellers.
At the turn of the millennium, the hybrid moved out of the industrial age and into the information age. After almost 100 years of being confined to industrial uses, it went mainstream fast. Hybrid technology finally returned to passenger cars, which were in mass production by 2000. Providing efficiency and flexibility, hybrids are sustaining an auto industry in crisis. More efficient power management and the ability to recycle energy serve to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Hybrids have become the most visible product that walks the green walk: reducing oil consumption, ranging from inputs of oil and gasoline, through consumer use and behavior, connecting to outputs that affect the economy and environment.
From 1997 through the first half of 2006, aggregate global hybrid sales for new cars and light trucks totaled 820,000 units. In 2005, 20 percent of sales took place in Japan and 68 percent went to the most important market, the United States. Toyota dominated the market with over 720,000 units sold by July 2006 or almost 9 of every 10 hybrids in the world. The demand for the Prius exceeded everybody’s expectations, and the hybrid market grew faster than any other (Raskin).
Hybrids have become the most efficient, disruptive and flexible transportation platforms ever invented, compatible with just about any fuel and vehicle; for example:
• Fuels such as gasoline, diesels, ethanol blends (E10, E85, E100), electricity, hydrogen, natural gases, hydraulic gases, air, steam, nuclear, and alternative fuels, such as ethanol and methanol, and biofuels made from corn or sugar.
• Vehicles such as cars, trucks, trains, buses, ships, submarines, and spacecraft
Hybrids fall into four main platforms: full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, light hybrids, and mild hybrids. Full and mild hybrids recycle electricity through regenerative braking. Full gasoline electric hybrids are the most prevalent hybrids followed by mild then light. Plug-ins are expected to hit showrooms within the next few years.
Full Hybrids are the most efficient and widely used hybrids. They can run on electricity alone. At low speeds, full hybrids can use batteries, computers, and a complicated transmission to move the car without burning any fuel. The Prius has enough technology to run electrically for several miles. This feature increases gas mileage and eliminates smog and noise pollution, which impresses consumers.
Full hybrids require complicated transmissions that constantly juggle two fuels to deliver one smooth connection to turn the wheels. The extra computerized drive train costs make full hybrids the most difficult and expensive to manufacture. However, leading automakers have provided an array of consumer benefits through hybrid drivetrains. Toyota has branded its Hybrid Synergy Drive to several models, and licensed technology to Ford and Nissan who also produce full hybrids.
Mild Hybrids rely primarily on an internal combustion engine. The electric motor increases efficiency by assisting the engine. But it cannot move the vehicle on electricity alone. Mild hybrids provide the same driver benefits of full hybrids to a lesser degree. They use conventional transmissions and are cheaper to manufacture than full hybrids so they cannot be converted to plug-ins. Honda and Saturn make mild hybrids.
Light Hybrids reduce fuel consumption by shutting the engine down when the vehicle is stopped. The stopping and restarting of the engine is computerized so the driver need not be bothered with this process. But light hybrids cannot recycle energy.
GM is the leader in this technology and markets light-hybrid trucks to contractors and similar business persons. GM’s light hybrids use oversized starter/generator technology that produces 120-volt electricity that can be accessed via electrical outlets for power tools, in addition to saving fuel.
Plug-In Hybrids take full hybrids a step closer to electrics; they have larger battery packs that can plug into external electricity. Drivers enjoy all the benefits of full hybrids to a greater degree and can fill up with electricity. This provides the flexibility to be able to rely on two fuel sources including high voltage electricity that is available free by many governmental and some private organizations.
By 2005 aftermarket plug-in kits were available for Prius owners who want to convert their full hybrids to plug-ins, which achieve over 100 mpg. Toyota is developing a plug-in Prius and GM has developed the world’s first plug-concept, the Volt.
From 1997 to 2006, four automakers successfully put hybrids into U.S. showrooms: Toyota, Honda, Ford and General Motors (GM). In 1997 Toyota released the world’s first mass-produced hybrid in Japan. Honda followed with North America’s first in 1999, followed by Toyota in 2000. Ford released the world’s first “Made in USA” hybrid as well as the first hybrid sports utility vehicle (SUV) in 2004. GM followed a year later with two of the first hybrid pickup trucks.
In 1997 Toyota announced the world’s first modern hybrid passenger car. Toyota’s hybrid platform consists of a full hybrid power train called the Hybrid Synergy Drive. It is user friendly and versatile. Toyota balances high quality with some of industry’s lowest manufacturing costs.
Toyota’s hybrid technology is the most advanced. The hybrid leader is two generations of patents ahead of rivals, and has been able to increase efficiency while bringing down the hybrid cost premium. Ford collaborated with Toyota in 2004, and Nissan’s hybrid also relies on borrowed Toyota technology.
Toyota now has several hybrid models available around the world. In April 2006 Toyota’s Kentucky plant rolled out Toyota’s first “Made in USA” hybrid. What a long way it had come since it debuted the Prius in Japan. Models that will release over the next few years include a performance car, mini-van, truck, cross utility vehicle and possible wagon. Toyota is also developing diesel and plug-in hybrid technologies.
Toyota plans to produce one million hybrids annually by 2010—and to operate 15 manufacturing plants in North America by 2008 (Toyota).
Honda beat Toyota as the first automaker to sell hybrid passenger cars in the United States. Honda’s 2000 Insight was released to the United States in 1999. It was the highest mileage car rated by the EPA, with up to 70 mpg on the highway.
This Japanese company makes more internal combustion engines than any other company in the world (over 20 million per year). Honda’s core competency delivers engines to a variety of vehicles from lawnmowers to airplanes. The strategy is to focus on the most efficient and versatile gasoline engine, whereas Toyota’s strategy is to focus on the hybrid transmission. Honda has shown the willingness to collaborate and share its mild hybrid technology. The engine leader is also developing clean diesel technology.
The first Japanese automaker to build a factory in America offers a handful of hybrid models including the Civic, Accord and FCX fuel cell vehicle in limited quantities. Future models include the CR-V, Fit and Ridgeline. Honda has run second place to Toyota in hybrids sold almost every year since Toyota entered the U.S. hybrid market.
Ford was the third automaker to enter the American hybrid market. In 2004, the long-time truck maker beat both Honda and Toyota to market with the first hybrid sports utility vehicle (SUV). It was the result of Ford’s newfound commitment to the environment under the lead of Bill Ford, Henry Ford’s great grandson.
The Ford Escape Hybrid was certainly more environmentally friendly than any of its other vehicles. It gets up to 60 percent better mileage and produces up to 80 percent less smog than similar gas vehicles. Ford collaborated with Toyota on the Escape: they shared about 20 hybrid patents of the 350 Ford uses and the 650 Toyota has grown.
The Ford Escape has been expanded to include 4WD and ethanol compatibility. In addition, Ford produces a luxurious version under its Mercury make. Future plans include a SUV and family sedan while concepts work towards hydrogen and diesel.
Bill Ford global plan is to produce 250,000 alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles annually by 2010.
In 2004 General Motors (GM) rolled out the world’s first hybrid truck to fleet customers. In 2005 consumers were presented with the Chevy Silverado Hybrid, also available as the GMC Sierra Hybrid: these “light hybrids” came with electric outlets.
GM’s strategy was to start with the biggest vehicles first: buses, trucks and SUVs. In early 2004, hybrid buses and trucks were available under GMC and Chevrolet. In 2006, GM was the No. 1 producer of ethanol compatible vehicles and also rolled out a Saturn Hybrid SUV. GM’s future includes more electrically driven platforms.
The world’s No. 1 automaker researches a range of future technologies including hybrids that can provide towing power and high mileage, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric cars and plug in hybrids that can run on electricity alone.
Nissan collaborated with Toyota to put out its first hybrid in early 2007. BMW was working with GM and DaimlerChrysler while Audi, Porsche and Volkswagon worked together on hybrids. Mazda plans to release a hybrid based on parent company Ford’s hybrid technology (Job).
Collaboration or Trade War?
From 2000 to 2006 the world’s farthest-reaching industry changed drastically. Markets, technologies and consumer behaviors all changed. More than 40 different hybrid and alternative fuel models representing eight million cars and light trucks traversed American roads. Thirty-five more would be introduced through 2007.
Macro Forces at Work
Automakers are scrambling to find new strategies in a rapidly evolving industry. Toyota has passed Ford as No. 2 in global sales, and GM at No. 1 is in the hot seat.
Several macro forces are influencing consumer behavior:
• cheap oil has reached “peak production”
• governmental regulations are beginning to encourage green consumption
• information technologies are disrupting the manufacturing sector
• innovations are helping consumers to choose green
Hybrid makers changed strategies several times, as multiple options for vehicle platforms and fuel choices were considered. CEOs are challenged to bet on numerous new technologies and vehicles being developed all over the world.
Engineers hacked hybrids and increased gas mileage. Entrepreneurs started up battery, electric car, and fuel companies. Environmentalists collected used cooking oil and filled up old diesels. Farmers increased corn production for trucks, vans, and SUVs. Home owners with natural gas units filled up in their garages. Venture capitalists sunk billions into alternative fuel industries and clean technologies. Politicians planned energy independence and a cleaner future.
On November 14, 2006, President Bush met with the Big 3 CEOs to address the financial crisis that domestic automakers faced. The Big 3 emphasized Detroit’s impact on America’s economy, and spokesperson, Rich Wagoner, GM CEO said in a speech to the president and American people: “In June, we also agreed collectively to double annual production of vehicles capable of running on renewable fuels to two million cars and trucks by 2010 (Reuters).”
Why did these powerful CEOs, whose companies are responsible for one in every three new vehicle sales, decide not to mention the word “hybrid” in this crucially important meeting? Only months earlier two of the Big 3, DaimlerChrysler and GM along with BMW invested over $1 billion and opened The Hybrid Development Center. They deployed over 500 engineers to focus on the development of a next-generation hybrid for trucks and larger vehicles. The alliance was intent on leapfrogging Toyota.
Just months earlier, Toyota’s North American President Jim Press, delivered a pivotal speech about the importance of the automobile industry (Toyota Press). He said:
• The U.S. auto industry is the largest manufacturing industry in the nation... responsible for one out of every 10 American jobs, and generating nearly 4 percent of the nation's GDP
• It spends more than $15 billion ($22.7 million per day) on Research & Development, more than any other manufacturing industry
• It buys more metals, plastics, rubber and textiles than any other business, including more computer chips than even the computer industry!
• All the top 12 American Fortune 500 and Global Fortune 500 companies are either automakers or support the auto industry in some significant way.
Yet many observers noted that the Big Three U.S. automakers are so far behind in the Hybrid Phenomenon that we might view this situation as the largest trade war ever to invade the U.S. auto industry.
On one side are Japanese automakers armed with hybrids. On the other side, Detroit’s Big 3 hunkering down with alternative-fuel vehicles. Both sides directly impact the two largest economies in the world—the United States and Japan. Every car or truck sold goes straight to the trade war’s bottom line. Every slow-selling vehicle is a casualty that waits for extinction, as plants are shuttered and model lines replaced. Fast-selling alternatives and hybrids promise marketshare, new jobs and a new future.
Clearly, the Hybrid Phenomenon is playing a major role in the future of jobs, companies, economies, and countries—as well as in our worldview of energy, transportation, and the environment. After all, our cars connect everything in our lives: from family to work to entertainment to the environment. And trucks deliver almost everything we consume.
Hybrids provide numerous consumer benefits through increased efficiency and incentives. Higher efficiencies lead to lower fuel costs and less smog. For most fuels, hybrids are about twice as efficient as conventional vehicles. In terms of incentives, governments and private industries encouraged hybrids and rewarded drivers.
But what about the choice of different fuels when combined with different hybrid platforms? Let’s consider costs and savings for the average hybrid owner, and then take a deeper look at overall efficiency through “well-to-wheel” analysis.
Costs and Savings
What do hybrids have to offer car owners and society in general?
• Hybrids are twice as efficient as conventional vehicles.
• They are 50-100 percent cleaner than the majority of vehicles on the road.
• Average hybrids get 30-60 percent better mileage than counterparts (EPA).
In actual use reported by drivers, hybrid mileage varies widely because of many variables, including driving style, terrain, tire pressure, wind, weight, type of gas, temperature, and condition of vehicle. Optimists view hybrid mileage as a challenge, urging them to find the “sweet spot” mph range. Pessimists criticize automakers because the mileages they experience fall below EPA ratings. The EPA plans to lower ratings.
An analysis of hybrid costs and savings is shown in Table 1. It is based on a Consumer Reports study of six models: Ford Escape vs. Escape XLT, Honda Accord vs. Accord EX, Honda Civic Hybrid vs. Civic EX, Lexus RX 400h vs. RX 330, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Ltd vs. Highlander Ltd and Prius vs Corolla LE.
Many costs involved in buying, driving and selling vehicles were measured over five years. Use taxes, license and registration fees, tolls and parking and state income tax or environmental benefits were not considered in the study.
Consumer Reports did include a benefit often overlooked by many studies: resale value. Because of the shortage of available Priuses, for example, at least one owner estimates a $? savings in the trade-in value of a 2001 Prius for a 2005 model, rather than the reported $2,494. This same owner also indicates that maintenance and repairs were actually 10-20 percent less, rather than the higher costs shown (Carr-Ruffino).
Table 1: Hybrid Costs and Savings
Purchase Price including sales tax 22-34% more
Insurance on 5 of the 6 vehicles $262 to $961 more
Fuel 10-30% more
Maintenance and repairs Up to $323 more
Income tax credit $650 to $3,150 less
Gasoline $670 to $3,314 less
Insurance on the Honda Civic $282 less
Resale value $1,163 to $2,524 more
Source: Adapted from Consumer Reports.
The Hybrid Phenomenon led to political support and very strong demand. Many governmental organizations offer free parking and tolls and sales tax credits that lower costs even further. Hybrid statistics show that the majority of drivers are safer while allows some insurance companies to offer hybrid discounts.
The main technological advancement that enabled higher mileage, lower smog and noise pollution, was increased efficiency. Hybrids recycle energy and are compatible with a variety of fuels. As fuel infrastructures come with their own efficiency ratings, it’s imperative to look at efficiency in making future transportation choices.
Efficiency: Well to Wheel Analysis
Well to wheel analysis is the leading holistic approach in measuring the impact of fuel and vehicle choices. A conventional car uses only about one barrel of oil of every 100 extracted from Earth to move its driver in weight. Since only about 15 percent of any fuel power ends up turning wheels, efficiency analysis is very insightful.
Wheel to well measures everything from fuel extraction to the turning of the wheels. In a conventional vehicle, value chain activities might include oil extraction, pipeline or truck delivery to a port, tanker delivery to another port, truck transportation to a refinery, gasoline delivery to a station, and finally the burning of gasoline to provide propulsion.
Measuring energy loss that occurs before the gas station is called “well to pump” or “well to station” analysis. Vehicle efficiency measures everything from the pump or station to the turning of the wheels: “pump to wheel” or “tank to wheel” analysis.
Value chains differ around the world, but generally, most well to pump/station studies rank diesel No. 1, followed closely by gasoline. Electricity almost always ranks last. Overall, it can be estimated that diesel value chains deliver 8 or 9 units of energy to the pump for every 10 extracted to the pump, with gasoline at 7 or 8 and electricity at about 5. So for every 10 barrels of oil extracted from Earth, one to five are lost along the way to the gas station or electric outlet.
Vehicle efficiency is many times worse than fuel efficiency. For conventional vehicles, only one or two gallons of diesel, ethanol or gasoline purchased at the gas station make it to the wheels. Hybrids double that, plug-ins are even better, and electric vehicles either powered by batteries or fuel cells can convert up to 90% of electricity into movement.
Well-to-wheel analyses bring fuel and vehicle efficiency together. For a conventional vehicle, the first measurement could be gasoline at 90 percent multiplied by a typical car at 15 percent resulting in 13.5 percent well to wheel efficiency. That is, for every 100 barrels of oil extracted, only 13 or 14 turn the wheels of our conventional cars.
This analysis brings forth the importance of fuel choice combined with vehicle choice. Well-to-wheel analyses show how complicated fuel efficiency actually is. For example, switching to alternative fuels or plugging into grids may look cleaner, but maybe not. It’s easy to say I’ll drive an electric vehicle powered by a windmill, but the reality is that we will probably fill up or plug into an infrastructure with its own legacy leaks.
The future is changing energy infrastructures and vehicles. Most research into measuring choices relies on collaborative studies that bring together experts from various fields such as government, energy and transportation.
12 Future Choices
Dr. R.E. West and Dr. Frank Kreith of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers conducted one comprehensive study that included hybrids, which was published in Mechanical Engineering Power. The analysis compared efficiency across 12 energy and vehicle combinations (see Figure 1).
The study isolated natural gas as the primary input because it’s the most flexible fuel; all the fuels in the study can be produced from natural gas. Russia (27.5%), Iran (15.9%) and Qatar (14.9%) hold almost 60% of global natural gas reserves versus Saudi Arabia (20.4%), Canada (13.8%), Iran (10.3%) and Iraq (8.9%) with just over 40% of the world’s oil (Energy Information Administration).
The study compared gasoline, hydrogen, diesel and electricity using the same natural gas input, whereas in actuality, gasoline and diesel come from oil. Hydrogen and electricity are a mixed bag that might include coal as an input in the real world. This one-input approach gives an apples-to-apples comparison of “12 significant technologies that could power the U.S. ground transportation system (Kreith and West).”
Figure 1: Well to Wheel Efficiency
Source: Adapted from Kreith and West, “Gauging Efficiency.” All fuels rely on natural gas as a feedstock. Conventional vehicles burn fuel to produce propulsion; hybrids burn fuel and consume electricity; fuel cell vehicles (FCV) convert hydrogen to electricity to propulsion; electric vehicles (EV) convert electricity.
Interestingly, the top three technologies were all hybrids—two diesel hybrids and a natural gas hybrid. Not surprisingly, conventional vehicles ranked near the bottom at 19 percent for diesel & natural gas and 14 percent for hydrogen. Theoretically, most of the almost hundreds of millions of vehicles on Earth sling 8 to 9 units of fuel into the air as heat or smog before moving end user vehicles.
According to a Toyota well to wheel analysis, the Prius gasoline hybrid nearly matched the diesel hybrids. Toyota reported the Prius at 37 percent vehicle efficiency; including fuel efficiency gave a comparable well to wheel result. Toyota’s gasoline value chain was 79 percent efficient. Multiplying vehicle efficiency by well to pump efficiency produced the well to wheel rating for the Prius at 29 percent efficient overall (Toyota).
In other words, the Prius used three of every 10 barrels of oil extracted and paid for, versus only one or two for most conventional vehicles.
Beyond the Numbers
Benefits of hybrid technologies go well beyond gas mileage and saving money. They lead towards new applications and platforms. Bringing flexibility, the hybrid has the potential to cross the chasm to greater innovation in a variety of situations. By increasing the efficiency of almost any fuel and type of vehicle, the tradeoff in price seems minimal compared to the growing number of benefits. If users continue their present rate of investment in hybrid technology, it will firmly establish itself as the core technology in the automobile industry.
Surveys indicate that many hybrid owners joined the Hybrid Phenomenon to help themselves, but also to help the world. Drivers save money on gas, leaving more oil for other purposes. They enjoy quiet rides, allowing others to breathe cleaner air. They get to feel good about the car they drive. Their hybrids recycle energy and demonstrate how to enjoy life while saving our oil reserves and our planet.
The Hybrid Phenomenon is helping the world in a variety of ways. Participants include hybrid owners, fleet managers, automakers, researchers and politicians. Following are some types of actions that these stakeholders might take to expand the movement.
What can hybrid owners do? Actions might include:
• learn how to get better mileage and teach others
• buy and sell new hybrids every few years
• let your family and friends drive your hybrid
• join a hybrid community and network
• write letters to automakers and policy makers extolling the virtues of hybrids
Fleet Managers might take these types of actions:
• buy/lease and donate new hybrids every two years
• collaborate with automakers and researchers to improve technologies
• share and show your fleet to organizations and schools
• teach future generations
• promote hybrids
Automakers might consider the following types of actions:
• disclose efficiencies
• collaborate to accelerate sustainable technologies
• use open source designs and/or collaborate
• research real world fuel and vehicle combinations
• focus on making hybrids cheaper
• make the concept-to-reality process shorter, cheaper and driven by buyers’ needs
• give customers what they want
• give back to society through more sustainable transportation options
Anyone interested in expanding the research on sustainable forms of transportation can consider these types of questions:
• Who should be responsible (ranked by key players) for sustainable transportation?
• How efficient (including rate of change in real time by geography and demographics) are real world fuel and vehicle combinations?
• How correlated is well-to-wheel efficiency to variables such as gas mileage, emissions by pollutant, automaker profits, jobs, economic activity?
• Why do buyers switch vehicle platforms?
• Why would hybrid owners switch to other platforms?
• What are differences among American, Asian and European hybrid buyers?
• What are some low-technology transportation solutions that are affordable for all?
Perhaps the best place to begin additional research is well-to-wheel analysis. Instead of using static data, measuring rates of change can forecast the future. Some solutions are moving towards sustainability faster than others.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is taking the phenomenon serious and planning our future, “I promise to do everything in my power to achieve energy independence ... and to stop global warming.” A house majority passed her legislation looking to eliminate $14 billion in big oil subsidies and tax breaks to startup an alternative fuel, energy conservation and renewable energy research and development fund (Environmental News Service).
The rest of us thinking about our next car or truck can consider the following:
• Walk, run, bike, bus, train, car pool, rent
• car share and rent alternatives or hybrids
• buy an American built ethanol truck or van
• buy an old cheap diesel and run biodiesel
• buy a cheap high-mileage hybrid and turn it into a plug-in
• research your next vehicle with energy and vehicle efficiency in mind
What really serves to expand the sustainable transportation phenomenon are those everyday choices that we perceive—new vehicle platforms and alternative fuel choices. Such choices are what really matter in the quest for sustainable ways to live the good life—for everyone, not just the affluent few. The Hybrid Phenomenon is one of those choices accelerating towards oil independence and a cleaner world—perhaps our best bet at this point in time.
Bisk, Tsvi, “The Energy Project: Independence by 2020,” The Futurist, Jan-Feb 2007
Carr-Ruffino, Norma, interview
Consumer Reports, “Hybrids versus Similar All-gas Models,” April 2006, http://www.wsj.consumerreports.org/wsjreport166b.html
“International Energy Outlook 2006”, June 2006, Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html.
Job, Ann, “Hybrids are H.ot,” MSN Autos, http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4023397.
Foreign Policy magazine surveyed 100 policy and security experts for their opinion on how to combat terrorism. “Reduce foreign-oil use” was the most popular of 7 proposals, favored by 82 percent. 2005.
Kreith, Frank and West R.E., “Gauging Efficiency, Well to Wheel.” Mechanical Engineering Power, 2003.
Pegg, J.R., “House Revokes Oil Industry Subsidies and Tax Breaks,” Environmental News Service, January 18, 2007, http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2007/2007-01-18-10.asp.
Pew Center polled the American people to gauge their support for conservation and alternative-fuel policies. “Require better auto fuel efficiency” was the most popular of the five proposals offered, favored by 86% of respondents. 2005.
Raskin, Amy and Shah, Saurin wrote “The Emergence of Hybrid Vehicles” for AllianceBernstein Investments, Inc., July 14, 2006. The analysts concluded that hybrids were “game changing technologies that will have a major impact of the next couple of decades” and predicted that “hybrid models will eventually become the new automotive standard,” http://www.alliancebernstein.com/investments/us/StoryPage.aspx?nid=5347&cid=37755.
Reuters provided the text from the most significant meeting the Big 3 have had with the president in recent years, “TEXT-U.S. Automakers Statement After Bush Meeting,” http://today.reuters.com/news/articleinvesting.aspx?view=CN&storyID=2006-11-14T195705Z_01_N14323482_RTRIDST_0_BUSH-AUTOS-STATEMENT-TEXT.XML&rpc=66&type=qcna, November 14, 2006.
Toyota’s electronic billboard along Highway 405 in El Segundo, CA tracks gasoline saved by hybrids. The two tone light blue beacon reads, “Doing Our Part, One Gallon at A Time,” and looks like a progressive jackpot. It’s updated every 4 seconds and read 124,008,084 on February 28, 2006. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., “About Toyota - Toyota Billboard Marks 100 Million Gallons of Gas Saved by Driving Hybrids,” http://www.toyota.com/about/news/environment/2005/11/28-1-billboard.html; “Billboard Tracks Gasoline Saved by Toyota Hybrids: 120,000,000 + gallons,” http://www.toyota.com/html/hybridsynergyview/2006/winter/updates.html.
Toyota ran a well to wheel study comparing the Prius to its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and reported the results in the “Hybrid Synergy View Newsletter–Hybrids or Hydrogen?” The results went against the misconception that fuel cell vehicles are the most efficient choice. The holistic approach and results are available at http://www.toyota.com/html/hybridsynergyview/2005/fall/hybridorhydrogen.html.
Toyota North American Press Room: Speeches, “Jim Press,” July 18, 2006, http://pressroom.toyota.com/Releases/View?id=TYT2006071879732.
Yohe, Gary, “Gasoline Taxes Needed to Stave Off Disaster,” The Futurist, Jan-Feb 2007.
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