QOTD: Hybrid Hype or Hope?
August 17th, 2006 8:35 AM Share
I recently visited Stanley Sheinbaum. Back in the day, "Citizen Stan" was a Vietnam protester, a member of Daniel “Pentagon Papers” Ellsberg’s defense team, a US contact for PLO leader Yasir Arafat and the head of the police commission that forced Chief Darrel Gates to resign in the wake of the L.A. Riots. In other words, his liberal credentials are flawless. "You write about cars?" Stanley demanded. "Have you seen 'Who Killed the Electric Car?" Stanley's in his 80's, but he still has a team of Prius-driving people working for him. Obviously, Stan and his friends have their hearts in the right place vis-à-vis hybrids and saving the environment and all that, but where are their heads? Is there really a Detroit/Big Oil conspiracy working against high mileage passenger cars? Or are the electric/hydrogen/hybrid car supporters so enamored with their own politics they can’t hug the forest from the trees? Don't they understand that the power has to come from somewhere? Your thoughts?
Published July 20th, 2006 1:51 PM
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zoomzoom writes: I am a former Mazda, BMW, and Corvette owner. I???ve owned other cars too, but I am a two-seater, open-top roadster fan. Balls-to-the-walls, pedal-to-the-metal, wind in my face, and all that. All ???catch-me-copper RED???. And only one traffic citation in nearly 20 years. I want to know how you avoided citations all those years. Do you actually obey the speed limit in the BMWs and Corvettes? (With a screen name like zoomzoom I doubt it.) Are you expert at spotting freeway flyers before you pass them, as they hide behind the bushes by the side of the road? Do you always have state of the art radar detectors? What else??? Help your fellow car nuts!
The Prius is super-efficient on the highway, often obtaining at least 50 mpg, or about 22 mpg better than our other mid-sized V6 non-hybrid car can obtain, largely due to the Atkinson cycle engine, and aerodynamic efficiency. I thought the reason was that the ICE on the Prius is much less powerful than that on a typical car, therefore operating at a higher % of its maximum output at highway speeds, and therefore operating more efficiently, since ICEs are most efficient at high output.
We often look to technological solutions to our problems. Attaining better fuel economy is one of those KISS issues. I want a car that achieves good fuel economy, but I don't want increased (expen$ive replacement part$) complexity. Automakers can do it, but they won't, because a non-sexy solution won't garner the "green buzz" that hybrids/fuel cells/etc do. Here's Fred's 4 point plan: 1) WEIGHT: Keep the lard off automakers! There is no reason automakers can't come up with a 2,200 pound, 100 cu. ft. interior, sedan. Use aluminum or composites. A lower weight car allows use of a smaller engine. The added cost of light weight components will be partially balanced out my the lower cost of a smaller engine. 2) AERODYNAMICS: A sleek body adds little to no extra cost. 3) EFFICIENT ENGINES/TRANSMISSIONS: Within a class of cars with similar power/weight/performance, certain cars achieve far better fuel economy than others. Some manufacturers pay attention to efficiency more than others. PAY MORE ATTENTION! 5 or 6 speed automatics will gain the average driver another 5-10% improvement in economy. 4) IDLE-STOP: Have AC driven by electric motor powered by oversized conventional battery.
mfaulkner, You may believe that "global warming" is a fact, as do many others, but that does not make it so. Yes, the earth is getting warmer, but it has done this in the past. We have about 100-150 years of RELIABLE temperature data, but the earth is 4.5 billion years old according to scientists. So we have temperature data for 0.000003% of the earth's life and we expect to be able to predict what will happen based on that??? The same folks screaming about "global warming" now are some of the same people who were screaming about "global cooling" in the 70s. So, 30 years ago, human activity lowered temperatures, but now it is raising temperatures. Wow! What it boils down to is the temperature models are flawed and have never been able to accurately predict future weather patterns. Translation: no one knows what the weather will do in 2050. I concur that the earth is currently getting warmer, I just don't think that it has ALL been caused by humans. I'm not even sure we have had any discernible effect. There is NOT a consensus of scientific opinion on this matter. Trust me, Al Gore just needs attention.