One | Part
But What About My Trusty VW TDI?
happy with it, stay happy. But when you want to move on, check out
'cellulosic (flexible-fuel) hybrids'. If there's nothing yet that
you fancy, or they're still too expensive, take a look at the
rapidly expanding (by late 2006) array of E85-compatible
conventional machines. You won't save much money, but that flag in
the yard will look cleaner, and seem to stiffen in the breeze.
Start saving for something really tasty, because you will not be
disappointed. All over the planet, engineers are saying to
marketeers - "Oh, you want our new hybrids to be able to run on E85?
Why didn't you say so earlier? Don't worry, it won't take much extra
effort. I assume you want us to stop playing around with small
If, post Katrina, you now appreciate that we must be doing
something wrong, consider this:- www.ford.se/static/flexifuel/-/flexi_miljo/-/-/-/-.
Yes, of course it's in Swedish, but all you need to read is the
table in 'Engineering' at the bottom! Most European governments are
now even more interested in CO2 output from vehicle engines than in
simple mpg figures, and that applies to all the car manufacturers as
well, with a voluntary target of 140 grams per kilometre to meet,
and the threat of sterner measures if they don't. What we see in the
Ford Sweden table is that a diesel Focus is better (in this respect)
than a gasoline Focus, a gasoline hybrid is better than an ordinary
diesel, and a non-hybrid E85 Focus (at only 32 g/km) is way better
than a Prius gasoline/bensin hybrid (104 g/km)! Imagine how low the
Prius number would be if Toyota made the 2007 Prius E85-compatible.
20 g/km? Now please explain to the Chief Engineer of Toyota why you
need a diesel Prius, costing $1,000 more, rather than an E85 Prius
at $200 more. And be prepared to duck! So the real contest is now
not between gasoline hybrids and diesels, it's between E85
(preferably cellulosic) hybrids and diesels. That's rather like
putting up a 1940 Spitfire against a 1918 Fokker Triplane.
I keep reading road tests of various hybrids in which the
journalist claims driving such a 'virtuous' vehicle makes them feel
good about Global Warming, Peak Oil and helping to eke out the
country's dwindling supply of 'native' gasoline, and why not?
However, this is often followed by some scornful comment about the
Ford Explorer or Chevy Tahoe that just went by, with an 'Old Glory'
decal on the side. But hold on; 4.0 liter 2005 model year and
earlier Ford Explorers and some Chevy Tahoes can use E85 already. If
you drive one and you live not too far from from an E85 pump, you'd
be stupid now not to go (partially) out of your way to use it. On
the other hand, if you live in a city where Big Oil has decided E85
wouldn't be good for its bottom line, are you stupid if you decided
last year to buy an E85-enabled SUV and put gasoline in it until
Washington woke up and smelt the ethanol? Guess what? Washington
just woke up! Who are the real eco-patriots now? An E85-enabled SUV
which runs on gasoline for the first three years of its life will
still be very expensive to run in five years time, but it may not be
much of a problem environmentally – or strategically. On the other
hand, try trading in a gasoline hybrid with a five year old battery
As a colleague observed - "So that's why those big guys in even
bigger SUVs looked down their noses at me when I refueled my Prius
loaner in Detroit last month! They were spending a few dollars more
than me, to help keep the 'three horsemen' at bay - and American
farm and factory workers in jobs - by filling with E85 rather than
gasoline." Now all we have to do is deliver some really efficient,
durable and affordable hybrid drive systems and, as far as I'm
concerned, if those guys want to keep driving tall cellulosic hybrid
SUVs, that's a freedom they're entitled to. But it'll cost them,
even with our glorious kit installed.
Ironically, Ford FFV vehicles won't be available next year in
some of the states where they would be most popular, because
apparently you really can smell the ethanol! See http://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/environmental_vehicles/default.asp
It'll be the Whiskey they'll be banning next! But, however
amusing it may seem from here, I sincerely hope the legislatures in
those states take the nonsense of it seriously enough to fix the
problem, fast. Just needs a temporary exemption. It might well be
the biggest contribution to Energy Security any of them can make
during the coming year.
This would then knock out the principal excuse for there being
almost no commercial E85 pumps in California, the state that one
would expect to have more fans of biofuels than any other.
Cellulosic E85 would immediately make a hybrid SULEV more
environmentally friendly and more efficient than an electric car
charged off the grid or a fuel cell vehicle running on hydrogen
produced either from natural gas or 'grid electrolysis'. That is,
until carbon sequestration is proved commercially viable and is
installed at most electricity generators and natural gas-to-hydrogen
plants. When might that be, do you think? Rather later than adding
solar panels to the roof of your house and a plug-in battery to your
hybrid PZEV begins to look suspiciously like an end game. Remember
the mantra – 'Plug-in Biofuel Hybrid'. You heard it here first. PBH.
California might want some of those....
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