Chinese Government: No Half-Assed Hybrids Here
Chinaview reports that China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has issued regulations for manufacturers of alt. fuel vehicles. From now on, any company in China wishing to sell hybrid cars, battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles, hydrogen-fueled vehicles or vehicles powered by an alt. fuel to be named later must have "adequate research, production and after-sale service to ensure the reliability of the autos." The director of the Center for International Energy Security at Renmin University of China in Beijing, warned-off pretenders to the throne of environmentally responsible transportation. "Enterprises wanting to manufacture new-energy cars should pay attention that their development of new type of energies should be truly 'energy-efficient' rather than only 'new in name,''' Professor Zha Daojiong said. "It is also crucial to avoid creating new sources of pollution in the process of the production of vehicles fueled by new energies." One might also see the regs as a way to control pesky start-ups and unwanted foreign automakers from swooping-in on the Chinese automotive market. And I'm not quite sure how Chinaview figured that the NRDC announcement's timing was part of an effort to quell public unrest at recent gas price hikes…
Overall, a Hummer pollutes less in its whole lifetime than a Prius does before it even leaves the showroom. Hence: "It is also crucial to avoid creating new sources of pollution in the process of the production of vehicles fueled by new energies." Such as batteries containing lots and lots of nickel. Think Sudbury.
Let's face it, human transportation is inherently harmful to the environment. Exhibit 1) Horse (or other domesticated animal) & buggy: The animal eats all sorts of greenery which could otherwise be converting CO2 back into O2. The buggy/cart is made up of some sort of tree material that had to be cut down, transported, shaped, transported, preserved, transported, etc. All those steps strip our natural forests and cause pollution and waste. Do I need to go on to Exhibit 2)? Seriously, even walking (with the human nature to follow the same path as yesterday) causes trails to be formed, and those trails cause extra erosion. I say we just get 6 billion names on a suicide pact, have everyone drink the Kool-Aide on 1/1/08, and save the planet for our great grandchildren.
Well, when you have posts that say things such as "a Hummer pollutes less in its whole lifetime than a Prius does before it leaves the showroom" one has to wonder about the factual base of the arguments. (And that one is, of course, nonsense.) The facts of the matter are that hybrid vehicles make the most sense in urban environments - think Mexico City, Los Angeles or Bejing - because that's where the concern over emissions and noise are greatest. Additionally, the operators of the vehicles will see the greatest benefit in terms of saving gasoline (or diesel), since the electric motor will more often - maybe almost all of the time - be the sole propulsion. The movement towards hybrid trucks is going to make a more important impact, most probably, than hybrid automobiles. Several manufacturers, such as PACCAR, Mack, Freightliner and International, have Class 6 and higher hybrid trucks in the prototype stage; they want to sell. The economies of scale have yet to kick in, however, to make them viable in the United States. There's some interesting information on hybrid trucks at www.htuf.org or read an article by yours truly on the 7th annual Hybrid Truck Users Forum, currenly posted on the first screen at www.partsandpeople.com. All those aforementioned truck makers - and others - will most likely use China as their test bed. Gates - best known to the people who read this site who actually work on their own vehicles for radiator hoses and brake hoses - even has a hybrid Hummer that should be debuting this month, at a hybrid truck forum. Now that's a Hummer that indeed might pollute less than a Prius. Full disclosure: I am NOT a flack for HTUF, just a journo.