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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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, http://www.wsj.consumerreports.org/wsjreport166b.html
Job, Ann, “Hybrids are Hot,” 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.
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,” 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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