Monday, March 26, 2007

The Hybrid Phenomenon by Carr-Acheson

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 is the hybrid phenomenon? It’s 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 global 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 in America bought Toyota hybrids to reduce oil dependence and help the environment.

Toyota’s hybrids in America have already logged more than 5 billion miles and have saved more than:
• 4 million 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 well over 500,000 hybrid sales. Toyota’s one million hybrid sales target for 2010 was getting closer, and the extra 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 concept developed by 1,000 engineers who threw out 80 designs. Toyota 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 still 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.

Hybrid Globalization

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 aggregate 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, diesel, ethanol blends (E10, E85, E100), electricity, hydrogen, natural gas, hydraulic gas, air, steam, nuclear, and alternative fuels, such as biofuels made from anything from garbage to plants material to wood.
• Vehicles such as cars, trucks, trains, buses, ships, submarines, and even 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

The most efficient and widely used hybrids are called full hybrids. They can run on electricity alone. At low speeds, full hybrids 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

Some hybrids rely primarily on an internal combustion engine and are called mild hybrids. 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 so they cannot be converted to plug-ins. They are cheaper to manufacture than full hybrids. Honda and Saturn currently make mild hybrids.

Light Hybrids

Light hybrids do not recycle energy, although they perform as typical hybrids at stop lights. They 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.

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. The power can be accessed via electrical outlets for generators, lights, tools, etc. in addition to saving fuel.

Plug-In Hybrids

To take full hybrids a step closer to electric vehicles; the plug-in variety is emerging. Plug-in hybrids use 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 rumored to be developing a plug-in Prius targeting 94 mpg with a much farther electric only distance. GM recently showed the world’s first plug-in concept hybrid, the Volt, while developing their Saturn hybrid into a plug-in. Ford closely followed and showed a hydrogen-electric Edge Crossover concept with the flexibility to swap the fuel-cell for a diesel engine.


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 continuously improves high quality and 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 halving the extra hybrid production costs. Ford collaborated with Toyota in 2004, and Nissan’s hybrid also relies on borrowed Toyota technology.

Toyota has over a dozen hybrid models available for sale around the world. In April 2006 Toyota’s Kentucky plant rolled out Toyota’s first “Made in USA” hybrid, the Camry. What a long way it had come since it debuted the Prius in Japan. Hybrids that may release over the next few years include a performance car, mini-van, truck, cross utility vehicle and wagon. Toyota is also researching ethanol, diesel and plug-in hybrids.

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. 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 is 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; Ford licensed diesel technology to Toyota in exchange for 20 full hybrid patents.

The Ford Escape has expanded to ethanol compatibility. In addition, Ford produces a luxurious version under its Mercury make. Future plans include more SUVs and family sedans while concepts work towards hydrogen and diesel platforms.

Bill Ford is working to produce 250,000 alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles annually.

General Motors

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.

Future Hybrids

Over the next five years, several more automakers including Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Porsche, Nissan and Volkswagen plan to deliver dozens of new hybrid models to showrooms. The future hybrid lineup includes Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Dodge Durango, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Sienna, VW Jetta, Ford Fusion, Honda Fit as well as next generation technologies that leverage Lithium-ion batteries with current hybrid models.

Hybrid patents drive progress. Use of hybrid electrical components including Lithium-ion battery patents will grow tremendously over the next decade. Toyota was first to use a Lithium-ion battery in a production vehicle in Japan called the Vitz.

Toyota developed over 650 patents on the Prius, and Ford relied on over 350 for the Escape including 20 borrowed from Toyota. Nissan collaborated with Toyota on the Altima. BMW is working with GM and DaimlerChrysler on more powerful hybrids for trucks, while Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen work together on cars (Job).


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

Hybridmakers are changing strategies constantly as consumers switch to new vehicle platforms and fuels. CEOs are being challenged to bet on numerous new technologies and vehicles, while innovations sprout up around the world.

Engineers are hacking hybrids and increasing gas mileage. Entrepreneurs are starting up battery, electric car, and fuel companies. Environmentalists collect used cooking oil and fill up old diesels. Farmers are increasing corn production for trucks, vans, and SUVs that can run on ethanol. Home owners with battery chargers or natural gas units can fill up in their garages. Venture capitalists are sinking billions into alternative fuel industries and clean technologies. Politicians are planning energy and oil independence and a cleaner future.

Detroit Collaborates
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 (the Big 3) 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.

Trade War?
Just months earlier, Toyota’s North American President Jim Press, delivered a pivotal speech about the importance of the automobile industry (Toyota Press Room). 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 think 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 market share, 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 financial incentives. Higher efficiencies lead to lower fuel costs and significantly less smog. For most fuels, hybrids are about twice as efficient as conventional vehicles. In terms of money, governments and private industries are encouraging the purchase of hybrids and rewarding their owners.

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.

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 Hybrid vs. Escape XLT, Honda Accord Hybrid vs. Accord EX, Honda Civic Hybrid vs. Civic EX, Lexus RX 400h Hybrid vs. RX 330, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Ltd vs. Highlander Ltd and Prius vs. Corolla LE.

Several costs involving buying, driving and selling the vehicles were measured over five years. Use taxes, license and registration fees, tolls, 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 $4,000 savings in the resale value of a 2001 Prius for a 2005 model, rather than the reported average of $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
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 enjoys governmental support and very strong demand. Many governmental and some private 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 and some insurance companies offer hybrid discounts.

The technological advancement of increased efficiency enables higher mileage and lower smog and noise pollution. 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.

What is the impact of our choices of different hybrid platforms and fuels? Let’s keep in mind the costs and savings for the average hybrid owner, and take a deeper look at overall efficiency through “well-to-wheel” analysis.

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 the weight of its driver down the road. Since only about 15 percent of any fuel power ends up turning wheels, efficiency analysis is essential.

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.

There are a lot of activities we pay for with each fuel and vehicle choice For example, the fuel burned by the tanker or delivery truck reduces overall efficiency. 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 as number one in efficiency, followed closely by gasoline. Electricity almost always ranks last. In summary, it can be estimated that diesel value chains deliver 8 or 9 units of energy to the pump for every 10 extracted from the ground; gasoline ranks 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 most cars and trucks. Conventional vehicles use only one or two of every ten gallons of diesel, ethanol or gasoline purchased at the gas station turn 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 might 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 most conventional cars.

This analysis brings forth the importance of fuel choice combined with vehicle choice. Well-to-wheel analyses show how complicated our future choices will be. For example, switching to alternative fuels or plugging into grids may look cleaner, but maybe not from a holistic viewpoint. 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 costs and leaks.

Well-to-Wheel: Comparisons of Vehicles and Energy Sources

Dr. R.E. West and Dr. Frank Kreith of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers conducted a 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 West and Kreith study is different in that it measures natural gas as the primary input. Most studies measure different fuels against each other while West and Kreith start with the same basic fuel assumption. All the fuels in the study can be produced from natural gas: diesel from natural gas, hydrogen from natural gas, electricity from hydrogen from natural gas. All the vehicles tested were either hybrids that combine fuels and electricity or conventional vehicles that burn the primary fuel.

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 - Comparisons of 12 Energy-Vehicle Combinations

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 four technologies were all hybrids—two diesel hybrids, a natural gas hybrid, and a hydrogen hybrid. Not surprisingly, conventional vehicles ranked near the bottom at 19 percent for diesel and natural gas and 14 percent for hydrogen.

Almost all of the hundreds of millions of vehicles we rely on are conventional. They convert energy to motion through very inefficient explosions that produce deadly byproducts. Conventionals waste 8 to 9 units of fuel as heat or smog for every 10 extracted. In other words, for every 10 barrels of oil paid for by the average driver, only one or two end up turning the wheels on their gasoline cars or trucks.

The Prius solves the waste and pollution problem through efficiency. According to a Toyota well to wheel analysis, the world’s most prolific hybrid nearly matches the diesel hybrids. Toyota reports the Prius at 37 percent vehicle efficiency; and including fuel efficiency results in a comparable well to wheel figure. Even with Toyota’s gasoline value chain at 79 percent, multiplying vehicle efficiency by well to pump efficiency produced the well to wheel rating for the Prius: 29 percent efficiency overall (Toyota).

In other words, the Prius uses three of every 10 barrels of oil consumers pay for, versus only one or two for most conventional vehicles. The Prius effectively doubles vehicle efficiency and reduces pollution by up to 90%.

The future will bring cleaner and more efficient energy infrastructures and vehicles. Ethanol and hybrids will be the leading disruptors over the next five to ten years. Over the next 50 years, greener electricity production will help electric vehicles challenge hybrids because electricity is the cheapest yet dirtiest fuel.

Beyond the Numbers

Hybrids serve as a bridge from an inefficient past to a cleaner and greener future. 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, hybrids will firmly establish core technologies in the automobile as well as other transportation industries.

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 changing the world in a variety of ways. Participants include hybrid owners, fleet managers, automakers, researchers, politicians, and all consumers. Following are some types of actions that these stakeholders might take to expand the movement.

Hybrid Owners

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

Managers who make fleet buying decisions 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


Executives in the automotive industry 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 infrastructure and vehicle rate of changes in real time by fuel, technology and geography) 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 green solutions that are affordable for all?

Perhaps the best place to expand the research is through more well to wheel studies. But instead of using static data, information technology can measure and report rates of change at websites that can help consumer make choices. Some solutions are moving towards sustainability faster than others. Rather than focusing on one answer, a collaborative effort around continuous improvement can forecast a real future.

Politicians and Government Administrators

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is taking the future of the Hybrid Phenomenon seriously. Her solutions set a new course for America: “I promise to do everything in my power to achieve energy independence ... and to stop global warming.” In January 2007 a house majority passed her legislation looking to eliminate $14 billion in oil subsidies and tax breaks to startup an alternative fuel, energy conservation and renewable energy research and development fund (Pegg). In creating a global warming committee, she added, “It says to the American people, we are about the future (San Francisco Chronicle).

All Consumers

The rest of us, thinking about our next car or truck, can consider the following:
• How often can you walk, jog, run, bike, car pool, rent or take a bus or train?
• Car share and rent alternatives or hybrids
• Buy an American-built ethanol truck or van
• Buy a diesel and run biodiesel
• Buy a used hybrid and turn it into a plug-in
• Buy an electric car/bike/scooter and/or install solar panels
• Buy a car or truck manufactured by your closest economy
• 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 us 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,

Job, Ann, “Hybrids are Hot,” MSN Autos,

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,

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,”

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,”, November 14, 2006.

San Francisco Chronicle, “Pelosi Creates Committee to Deal with Global Warming,” Chronicle Washington Bureau, January 19, 2007, pg. A12.

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,”; “Billboard Tracks Gasoline Saved by Toyota Hybrids: 120,000,000 + gallons,”

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

Toyota North American Press Room: Speeches, “Jim Press,” July 18, 2006,

Yohe, Gary, “Gasoline Taxes Needed to Stave Off Disaster,” The Futurist, Jan-Feb 2007.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chrysler Dreaming

Reader's Response
John Acheson On Dreaming Of A New Chrysler

It's impossible to out-innovate competitors when you're back peddling, shrinking, downsizing, reorganizing, rolling 80,000 American jobs or pursuing any of the other tactics the Big Three are today.

The output of innovation is patents from R&D cost centers. Writers often assume there can be more innovation with less dollars going to cost centers. How can this be?

The most innovative vehicles in terms of patents and sales growth cost a $1 billion or more to develop. For example, 1,000 engineers making good salaries, and a plant running triple shifts developed the Toyota Prius, which has seen more than 2,000% sales growth over the past decade.

How? Innovation in a tornado not a vacuum, and the ability to be able to steer the ship through oceans of red ink.

Back to geriatric Chrysler/Jeep building the same models for decades: How many of those ideas are products you want to innovate from the ground up?

How many patents and engineers do you want to pay for? How many cost centers do you want to run in the red before your new idea becomes a concept or showroom hit?

Where is the billion dollars per idea available for any shrinking company to pay 1,000 engineers to develop 650 patents before a car even arrives at the dealership?

And where is the time or three to five years of cash to burn into new ideas?

John Acheson

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Innovation in a Vacuum?

In reaction to Jerry Flint's kind invitation to share opinions after reading,
"Dreaming of of a New Chrysler" at

I wrote and sent him the following email:

From John Acheson Wed Mar 14 19:16:18 2007
Received: from [] by via HTTP; Wed, 14 Mar 2007 19:16:18 PD
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 19:16:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Acheson
Subject: Innovation in a Vacuum?

Dr. Flint,
Thank you for your invitation to share an opinion:

Your articles are always sharp and dead on in terms of criticism,
so I'd like to share my own opinion,
for any company in any shrinking business...

It's impossible to out innovate competitors when you're back peddling,
shrinking, down sizing, reorganizing, rolling 80,000 American jobs,
or other tactics the Big 3 are pursuing today...

The output of innovation is patents, from R&D expenses centers,
and writers often assume there can be more innovation with
less dollars going to expense centers... How can this be?

The most innovative vehicles in terms of patents
and sales growth cost a billion or more to develop.
For example, the Toyota Prius with over 2,000%
sales growth over the last decade,
was developed by 1,000 engineers making
good salaries and a plant running triple shifts.

How? Innovation in a Tornado not Vacuum,
the ability to be able to steer the ship right
through red waters halfway to the home run profits???

Back to geriatric Chrysler/Jeep building the same models for decades,
how many of those ideas are products you want to innovate from the ground up?

How many patents and engineers do you want to pay for?

How many expenses centers do you want to run in the red,
before your new idea becomes a concept or showroom hit?

Where is the billion dollars per idea
available for any shrinking company to
pay 1,000 engineers to develop 650 patents
before the car even arrives at the dealership?

And where is the time or 3-5 years of cash to burn into new ideas?

John Acheson, MBA



Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 15:17:15 -0400
Subject: Re: Innovation in a Vacuum?
From: Jerry Flint
To: John Acheson

leadership. If the leadership is there, the answers will come. Alas, where is lee iacocca now that we need him.



Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 20:43:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Acheson
Subject: Re: Innovation in a Vacuum?
To: Jerry Flint

Thanks for your reply! Who are tomorrow's leaders?

Generation X (born 1956 to 1980) has no leaders,
name one beside Gavin Newsom, we are loners
and don't trust anything or any organization having
lived through the reality of World War III...

NOPE, too independent to give to the man...

Generation Y and Z, outnumbering the boomers,
at 80 million are buying their first cars ever,
don't know what an Dodge Slant 6, Olds or Chevy is,
have never hand written a letter (Jack Welch secret),
never sent an email (and call them letters), send
4,000 text messages per month and have never
picked up a land line phone to make a call...

NOPE, to dependent on the group to make tough decisions,
and too much dirt avail on the internet to get shot down...

The great leaders are gone, you're right,
who are the Iacoccas, Fords, Hondas, Edisons,
Gates, Jobs, Welchs of tomorrow???

I can't think of a single 15-39 year old world leader,


FORBES EDITOR REQUEST TO POST "Innovation in a Vacuum"

Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 18:11:47 -0400
Subject: Your e-mail to Jerry Flint about Chrysler
From: "Paul Maidment"

We'd like to post your e-mail to Jerry Flint on as one of a
selection of Readers' Responses to his piece on Chrysler. Would you please
confirm by return of e-mail that we have your permission to publish it.


Paul Maidment
Editor, & Executive Editor, Forbes

Subscribe to Notes On The News with Paul Maidment via iTunes


Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 08:54:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Your e-mail to Jerry Flint about Chrysler
From: "Paul Maidment"
To: "John Acheson"


We'll add a link to your letter to Jerry at the bottom of the original column,, It should be there within 24 hours. We are adding batches of readers' letters daily.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Interviewed by middle school student...

writing a report on hybrids, electrics and social impact:

1. What do you believe is the main reason that many electric cars are not being mass marketed? Any others?

I believe that the main reason electric cars are not being mass marketed is because of money. Money can be broken down into several factors including Research & Development (R&D), marketing, sales and profits.

Using the EV-1 as an example, General Motors spent an estimated $1,000,000,000.00 for R&D and a little into marketing. According to Wikipedia, 1,117 units were produced which included 650 lead acid battery and 457 NiMH versions.

Assuming each EV1 was leased for $500 each for an average of 18 months, estimated total revenues for the EV1 fleet was about $10,000,000.00. So GM spent $1 billion to mass market the EV1, leased every unit except for two, and lost 99% of the investment.

This may not even include the salaries and other expenses paid to clean up the mess after the cars were developed. So, it’s safe to estimate that GM lost $10 million per EV1.

Not very many people, companies or organizations can afford to lose $10,000,000.00 per unit of a new mass marketed product, so why did GM develop the EV1? Because the California Air Resource Board’s mandated that 2% of vehicles had to be zero-emissions.

Comparing mass marketing a new gasoline car to an electric, the money is completely different. For a gasoline car, dealers are setup, showrooms, service departments, mechanics, etc. Then there are oil changers and gasoline stations and all the jobs to keep cars on the road. The auto industry hires 1 in 10 Americans and that does not even include things like rubber to make tires, or clerks working at the gas station.

Compare all those jobs to what’s available and ready or the costs of developing an infrastructure for electric cars. If the EV1 cost $10 billion to develop, the infrastructure to fuel, service and recycle electric cars could cost the world trillions. How many of the six billion people on the planet own their homes and have access to solar panels or windmills and reliable electricity?

Millions of people around the world can grab a can of gas, oil or diesel and vote.

Jobs, voters and politics are the other reasons that people, groups and organizations do not want to kill off the existing oil based infrastructure.

2. Is there any major flaws in hybrid and electric cars that you believe should be fixed?

Assuming you are asking about technology and the cars themselves, looks, performance and size are probably the most common complaints by non-owners. Owners and buyers love their hybrids and will rarely go back to a conventional vehicle.

The main flaw is aesthetics or looks. Since some hybrids are as slippery as fighter jets, the body designs are unusual for most consumers. In fact, the majority of hybrid buyers are female, and calling hybrids cute has been cited in many studies.

The cars are also small, so a buyer looking for space might call it a flaw, whereas in Asia, small cars are an advantage where streets are narrow. For example in Japan, many city streets have mirrors to see around the tight blind corners that few SUVs could handle.

Another traditional trait for cars has been horse power. Hybrids lack horse power because electric motors provide more torque, not horse power. This flaw is being challenged by miles per gallon (MPG) as gasoline prices are correlated to hybrid sales.

American buyers may see hybrid cars as feminine and small, Asian buyers see them as too expensive because they do not value the environment as much, and European buyers may view hybrids are lacking in performance

Aside from minor flaws like not having a masculine sound, electric cars have always been flawed in range, top speed and fueling. Batteries limit range and electric cars do not perform at racing speeds. For some Europeans it’s very hard to provide electric cars that can keep up with traffic on the German autobahn for example. In Japan, top speeds are moot in a country with few open highways.

Tesla Motors has increased the range flaw with a very expensive climate controlled and computerized battery pack of over 7,000 individual cells. It’s wrapped in a very sexy and masculine car, but top speed is only 130 mph. On one charge an average driver might be able to drive 250 miles in a Tesla, 400 miles in a gasoline car, 500 miles in a diesel car and 700 or more in a hybrid.

Electrics also have a major flaw outside of the home owner population with access to cheap, safe and convenient electricity. For buyers and drivers that cannot park near a safe charging station, electrics do not help lower income renters.

For example, my cousin lived in San Francisco, and had to plan each car trip 10 minutes ahead to walk to his $3,000 per year parking space two blocks away, warm up the car,

drive back to the house, pick up his wife, and then drive her to work. How could he do that with an electric car? Every night, his two block long extension cord would have to cross intersections including a cable car line, and any cords or equipment would probably get stolen or vandalized every night. Cords could also cause hazards and lawsuits.

Electric cars do not help those people that do not have their own garages with expensive custom charging stations. Of the six billion people in the world, very very few have their own garages. Many more can get to a can of alcohol, gasoline, diesel, pond of algae, etc.

That brings up another flaw when talking worldwide use of electrics, standards. I don’t have time to talk about AC vs. DC other than there is a lot of efficiency lost in conversion and AC motors are required for regenerative braking whereas all solar panels are DC, but I will say that the plugs for all the electric cars are different.

Why? Because when companies R&D new things, the main way they protect themselves and make money in the future is to file patents. For example, the Prius has over 650 new patents and the Ford Escape hybrid has over 350 with over 20 borrowed from Toyota.

When companies file patents, other companies developed a different idea or variation. All these different plugs, voltages, charging units, battery packs, etc. hurt the customers.

The EV1 has a different plug than the RAV-4 and wouldn’t you know it, Tesla created a whole new system so that they could patent it, get customers locked in, and hopefully sell them a sister company produced compatible solar system.

So the major flaws with electrics have to do with use around the world regardless of income or living conditions.

3. What to you believe is the more common reason to developing hybrid and electric cars: the fact that oil is a non-renewable source, or environmental related issues like global warming?

The more common reason automakers are developing hybrids is because the other car companies (rivals) are developing them. Big businesses tend to copycat each other because of not wanting to risk money on new things. Small businesses on the other hand, such as Tesla Motors, like to take risks and may develop electric cars because they are angry, frustrated, curious or just rich and bored.

World’s first hybrid
Porsche invented the first hybrid over 107 years ago because he wanted to build a faster electric car. At that time, most of the cars on the road were electric or coal/wood-steam hybrids. There were very few electric plugs available, so his hybrid allowed for more speed and range. In fact he was able to win races, set world records and make a splash at

the 1900 World’s Fair with his world’s first hybrids. So the first hybrid had nothing to do with oil or the environment, it was developed for performance.

World’s first mass-produced hybrid
The Prius was led by an engineer with a background in vibration and noise (note that noise is a form of pollution and one reason people buy hybrids). He led a team of 1,000 engineers hired by a manager of the Global 21st Century Project G21 at Toyota’s secret factory in Japan around 1993. In this case, the main reason in developing the world’s most famous hybrid was to respond to the Kyoto Protocol. At first, the manager challenged the engineers to make a car that got 50% better mileage. But as the deadline got closer, he doubled the goal to 100%. After throwing out 80 designs, the G21 team came up with a concept that became the Prius. It was 32% efficient, that is, it used 3 of every 10 gallons of gas to turn the wheels. Most of the world’s cars and trucks only use 1 or 2. Today, the world’s most famous hybrids accounts for almost 90% of all of the almost one million hybrids around the world, and it was developed because of environmental reasons.

I would say that in the 90s, hybrids were developed for environmental reasons. In the 2000s, hybrids were bought for both gasoline prices and environmental reasons. And after Al Gore’s movie came out, more consumers are buying for global warming reasons.

I would say that the car companies are developing new cars to survive because of the patent game (once a rival lands a patent, it’s hard to copy the same idea), and are looking to get ahead in any new technology for money.

Oil will run out regardless of which cars we develop because there are over 5 billion people that do not have a car yet. After all, how many people can afford a hybrid or electric when they’re buying their first car?

Electrics don’t really make any money, yet. Tesla is the first to develop a performance electric and is landing large male dollars. I don’t think that the people who develop electric cars understand the global impact of adding a billion electric cars to the world.

If every family has a two car garage, is there really enough electricity and battery components? The problem is that there is enough coal for the electricity, so could you imagine 10 times more smog because more electric cars that need more electricity from the grid which is primarily powered by coal.

So I think most electric cars are developed by people who are angry at the infrastructure and I would answer back in angry question? How many people in the world can afford an electric and can plug into a solar panel or windmill. The answer may be a dozen people in the Bay Area, and when you look at the big picture of every electric vs. hybrid or gas, electric car are irrelevant in reducing oil or smog.

4. What is your stance on other alternative energy automobiles like hydrogen, solar, biodiesel? Are they as effective as electric types?

This is a great question, and the answer changes everyday. The only accurate answer is a moving target, possibly based on well to wheel analysis + a real time dust to dust analysis + social impact metrics.

In other words, the best alternative energy automobile depends on many different variables. The most important is probably the how the end user operates the vehicle.

Here’s a list of some examples:

The average driver that doesn’t own their home:
A used hybrid or natural gas vehicle to reduce oil dependency and smog by up to 90%

The occasional urban driver without access to parking:
Carshare hybrid and mixed fleets with vehicles for specific uses, such as pick up truck borrowed for a few hours to move a couch, hybrid for shopping trips, SUV for carpooling, family or group events, etc.

Restaurant owner or food service worker with access to used grease:
A cheap biodiesel conversion

Middle to upper class technologist and home owner:
A new or used hybrid converted to plug in fueled by off the grid electricity

Middle to upper class home owner with solar panels and short commute or deep pockets:
An expensive electric car that can be charged in a private garage off the grid

The rest of the world:
Think globally and act locally. For example, if there are ponds around, try algae biodiesel. If you live near an oil well, try a clean diesel. If there is biofuel garbage or feedstock for alcohol (ethanol) use that.

The answers are numerous and the main point is that most efficiency is lost moving things around. Make the fuel, impact, vehicle etc. closer and/or smaller.

5. Now that hybrids are commonly used on the roads, what is the next step we should take in manufacturing alternative energy cars?

There are already millions of alternative vehicles on the road and in the showroom. The next step is to buy new ones every two years.

The next step is already being taken by California consumers. Consumers are buyers who go and take a chance with their wallets on something new and different. There are plenty of people talking, but consumers are the next step.

It’s not up to us to decide the answers; it’s up to the people of the world. Give them choices and they will take their own next step in the way they see fit.

In America so far, over 4 million have taken the next step on Ethanol vehicles and almost 1 million on hybrids with very few hydrogen and electrics on the road. Why waste time talking about and taking next steps with cars that aren’t even on the road yet?

In other words, buy a hybrid today, buy a plug in tomorrow, and buy an electric when they’re ready. Stop talking and put your money where your mouth is.

I divorced my hybrid almost two years ago, walk up to 60 blocks on some days, ride electric or diesel buses and trains almost every week, car share hybrids and occasionally bike and job. The next step is to use your wallet or legs to buy less oil.

6. Some of the electricity used by electric cars comes from power-plants that use non-renewable sources. Is this problem easily fix-able?

Actually, I would say that most of the electricity in the world comes from coal. Of course all the power plants can’t be fixed easily. Why fix them? To lose money and clean up the air? Why would a company want to do that?

How much do you think a power plant costs? What about the wires and grid computers and transformers and equipment under our city streets that maintained everyday? There is a huge established system that can’t just be fixed.

Today, the electric car fleet hardly matters, only a few people are driving them, and even those people who have solar panels, still pay for electricity. If they were all unplugged one day, it really wouldn’t create a global difference. Now if every regular car stopped going to the gasoline station one day, the world’s oil demand would go into shock.

If you add up all the smog reduced by all the hybrids versus all the electrics, the electric cars are losing badly, as a fleet.

No matter what is said, the truth is that the impact of the electric cars on the roads of the world is not really part of the world’s energy problems. The power plants will be fixed for early deaths, climate change, policy and green business, not electric cars.

7. With your experience with hybrid cars, do you find them reliable and easy to use?

In addition to owning and driving everything from mini-bikes, motorcycles, go-karts to muscle cars to trucks, I’ve personally driven 6 different hybrid cars and light trucks and have ridden in 4 others. I’ve also ridden in a RAV-4 and electric kit car.

My opinion is that the hybrids built in the last 10 years were built with more attention to detail than any other modern cars every made. I know that the Honda Insight was hand built by the world’s best auto engineers.

I had an Insight and drove it very very hard; it never broke down while I owned it. My dad, on the other hand, get’s a big bill every time he takes the same exact model of Insight into the dealer, because mechanics can always find something wrong with any car, and that’s part of the big business that exists and is reluctant to go away.

Hybrids are very easy to use. There is no required change of behavior if the driver does not care about gas mileage. Many buyers don’t even understand how hybrids work, but they know how to push a button and fill up. That’s one reason why hybrids are popular and effective, practical and simple change.

Overall, reliability and ease of use has contributed to the success of the hybrid phenomenon.

8. With the world dependent on oil, do you see electric cars as a way of solving this problem?

Not today, because most of the people in the world don’t own modern electric houses, have windmills or special solar panels, converters, safe garages and expensive charging stations. On the other hand…

Over 5 million Ethanol and Hybrid cars and trucks are solving this problem every minute of driving as we speak right now all over the world.

According to Toyota, their American hybrid fleet has already saved
• 4 million barrels of oil
• over 125 million gallons of gasoline

How many barrels have all the electric cars in America saved?

Oil for energy
2/3 of the world’s energy is from oil. So 2/3 of electric cars would actually increase the demand for oil, unless they ran on pure DC. I have talked to many electric car owners, and have yet to meet any who were not plugged into the grid. Most will tell you that their meter runs backwards for credits, but throughout the year, the credits eventually get used and the electric car home owners end up consuming a net amount of electricity.

This situation could change if there are millions of electrics plugged in at any moment allowing the various world grids to share and equalize energy production, but that is a question for another interview and global solution.

Oil for cars and trucks
99% of every vehicle man drives including the ones that deliver almost everything we use for daily life, are addicted to oil. But, all the cars and trucks in the world only use about 25-35% of the world’s oil.

So if 2/3 of the world’s energy is addicted to oil and cars and trucks use the rest, more electric cars simply shift consumption to power plants. Whether or not this shift takes place, the world’s oil will run dry in a century or two.

So the real question is, how can we stop the world from becoming addicted to coal (the dirtiest fuel in the world) when there is much more available, and half the world’s electricity is produced by it?

Collaboration (no patents), efficiency (eliminate waste) and diversity (different answers for different areas and communities) are the only way to make the oil last a bit longer and avoid a future of even dirtier coal. Even oil can’t handle the world’s two car garage, when 5 billion people buy their first cars.

9. Should the government act on developing electric cars? If so, should they pass laws to promote electric cars or give money to developers?

Let’s see if we can use collaboration, efficiency and diversity as an answer.

If the government can provide something like the following example, it might work. Let’s say a tax break or incentive to a developer that build green and clean energy, shelter and transportation solutions as a system.

For example, 200 condominiums powered by solar and wind, with standard electric parking spaces for electric cars and plug in hybrids as well as anything else such as scooters and bikes. Buyers would pay for housing, energy and transportation all in one.

The development would have to be off grid and various players would collaborate with tenants to pick a diverse mix of clean and green solutions.

10. Do you believe that people are leery of electric cars? Are electric cars too different and are many people not willing to change?

Of course! Are people leery of any new device with a plug you’ve never seen and could kill you if not handled correctly? When people go to the dealership, are they ready to install solar panels, junction boxes, charging units, etc. without being leery?

Gasoline stations all have the same size nozzles and gas tanks are all about the same size. Why can’t electric cars get this right? Hybrids fill up and go; electrics are for America’s upper class at this point, wealthy technological savvy home owners and mainly golfers.

Here is the reality of the electric vs. other fleets:
Fuel/Vehicle 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Growth
Gasoline-Electric Hybrid 0 50 11951 19843 34689 50,357 88272 139595 279090%
Diesel-Electric Hybrid 7 3 6 29 31 175 419 311 4343%
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle 0 0 0 0 2 6 31 74 3600%
Alcohol Conventional 217034 426724 600832 581774 834976 859261 674678 743948 243%
Electric 1844 1957 6215 6682 15,484 12,395 2,200 2,281 24%
Gaseous Conventional 16221 19420 14347 14,715 10,802 8,344 10,038 4,072 -75%
Total 235,106 448,154 633,351 623,043 895,984 930,538 775,638 890,281
Source: adapted from the EIA

The electric fleet is very small, slow growing and not very successful. It’s hard to deny the public benefit of over half a million hybrids compared to 50,000 electrics (most of them neighborhood vehicles). As a fleet, Alcohol vehicles and Hybrids are having the biggest impact.

So the questions should be about the electric car fleet vs. the hybrid fleet vs. the ethanol fleet. Rather than asking if people are leery, the question is how many are leery?

Because as a whole, fleets will change the world’s air and oil addiction. With five million ethanol vehicles on the road, America’s corn has double in price and pretty soon everything from meat to cereal to cola may go up.

With five million more electric cars, our internet bills, electric bills, computer related and electronic costs would probably change too, along with the costs of building houses and other things.

So the important answers break down the world’s fleet and question the two car garage. With only 1 car per 9 people in the world, can our planet, oil and coal handle 5 to 10 times more vehicles of any kind?

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