Hybrid Cars: Forbes/Newsweek Discussion
Newsweek Middle East regional editor Christopher Dickey and Forbes.com editor Paul Maidment discuss the future of energy. Topics include energy independence and the Middle East, hydrogen fuel cell technology, and hybrid cars.
A few choice quotes and my comments:
"The United States has just about the cheapest gasoline in the industrialized world. In Japan and most Western European countries the price at the pump is three times higher or more. That's largely due to government taxes that are intended to limit consumption--and they do. Outside the USA the public has a much greater incentive to demand better gas mileage, and is more likely to buy the cars that deliver it."
"Those who emphasize hydrogen over, say, hybrids tend to be dreaming about a distant future at the expense of concrete solutions today. " -
Toyota's promotional material for the Prius assures buyers they won't have to plug in their cars. But why shouldn't we have the option to plug in our cars if we want to? Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline and if it's generated from clean renewable sources like wind power produces zero emissions. Companies like Ford who recently scrapped production of an all electric model would prefer to promote a distant hydrogen future than manufacture electric cars today.
"What is the latest on the "strong" hybrids that can be switched to run on electricity or fuel? I hear these class of hybrids would be able to run around town at speeds of say 35 to 40 mph on electricity and not go to fuel unless it had to run at higher speeds for a long distance trip." -
Imagine plugging your car in at home or work or at a free street recharging point. Sound unrealistic? Well we already have an extensive electricity infrastructure whereas no hydrogen infrastructure at all currently exists. By having "strong" hybrids we can plug into a clean renewable electricity supply helping wean ourselves off our oil addiction.
"Few politicians think far beyond their next election campaign, and, as we've seen, no major American candidate has been willing seriously to impose the taxes and regulations that could force the public to change its wasteful consumption habits. So it's politically smart to tell folks the theoretical future is bright--but sometime after the end of the second term--while doing as little as possible to rock the boat in the meantime." -
Our energy problems require long-term and global thinking.
Newsweek Forbes discussion on the future of energy
What are Plug-in Hybrids