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America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] Science and Technology > [A] Environmental Debate
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Bill55AZ
In the paper this morning, the Electric cars are being hauled away and nearly all will be crushed. GM is saying that the many billions of dollars invested in this program was economically a failure, especially due to the expected breakthrough in battery technology not happening during the program's short life span.
There are some offering up to $24,000 to buy them, but GM says that there are safety concerns and that hardly anyone will be able to maintain them. Many of the sophisticated parts are just not available anymore. Of course, they are concerned with liability issues down the road, no pun intended.
So, given that this is a failure, and that Hydrogen fuel is not in our foreseeable future,
1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers,
2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?
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AuthorMusician
1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers,

The hybrids, where braking energy gets stored in a battery, looks successful for Toyota and Honda. Ford was touring around the country with a hydrogen internal combustion model, with supercharger (necessary).

I think more hybrids will be coming out. It's technology that makes sense, and I've seen reports that at least Toyota is fully into it -- SUV hybrid is next.

If we can figure out how to get hydrogen from water using a cheap electricity source for the cracking, then hydrogen fuel cells or internal combustion will work.

2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

I'm lucky in that my team has been encouraged to telecommute. We support remote computing servers, so our jobs simply need VPN and a telephone. We don't need central offices, nor do we need commuting except for meetings. So far, only one or two commutes a week are required.

I try to combine errands in town with the physical commutes, so efficiencies can be realized through telecommuting and thinking ahead. Wish we had a light rail system and rentable little town cars, sort of like Europe. Not holding my breath on that, so telecommuting is the most likely gasoline saver for the immediate future.

Heh, and that keeps me in business! Suck up that bandwidth, people biggrin.gif
Amlord
The EV1 (one of the only fully electric cars) has been a doomed project for almost a decade (the length of time they have been available in 1996).

Only about 1,000 of these cars were ever made. Think about that: 1,000 cars in almost a decade. They were only ever made because California put in place a Zero emissions vehicle mandate and even hybrid cars have some emissions. When California dropped their ZEV mandate (partially due to the ruling by a federal court that mandating a certain type of solution interfered with the US government's ability to regulate auto emissions) the demand for these cars went from miniscule to zero.

1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers

Hybrid cars are doable. As mentioned, several manufacturers make hybrid cars, so the concept is not dead.

2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

Hybrid cars, drive less, the usual conservation stuff.

Just because the EV1 isn't a viable commercial product does not necessarily mean that alternatives to standard internal combustion cars are also non-viable.
Oyaji
[quote=AuthorMusician,Mar 16 2005, 02:07 PM]
1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers,

The automobile manufacturers simply make cars that people will buy. It's not up to the supply, but rather the demand that consumers generate. They can, and do, a great deal already. I have a car (Honda Fit) that gets 65 mpg and close to zero emissions thanks to a special engine design that incorporates two spark plugs per cylinder and high compression which helps to eliminate a lot of the emissions that normally occurs in standard engine designs.

The problem is that cars like mine are not sold in the states because Americans don't want economical cars. Well, they want them, but not personally. That's why Honda Fits (or Jazz as they are known in the UK) aren't even sold in the states.

2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

There are lots of things that can be done. However, since Americans don't personally want to do them, and only value them in the abstract, then nothing will be done.

My attitude might sound defeatist, but it is born out of realistic goals. There must be consumers who want to purchase low emission/high gas mileage automobiles. What you've got instead are wannabe hot rodders who value performance over the environment.
2nd Wife
The Union of Concerned Scientists, Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions, have been trying to get the government to address the issue of producing more hybrid cars. Check out their site. mrsparkle.gif
Jaime
QUOTE(2nd Wife @ Mar 22 2005, 06:44 PM)
The Union of Concerned Scientists, Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions, have been trying to get the government to address the issue of producing more hybrid cars.  Check out their site. mrsparkle.gif
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Welcome 2nd Wife. Since you're new you likely didn't realize one-liners are against the Rules because they are not considered constructive. Please remember to bring substance to the debates, including sources to support your opinions. smile.gif

TOPICS:
1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers?
2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Oyaji @ Mar 21 2005, 04:53 AM)
1.what IS doable by auto manufacturers,

The automobile manufacturers simply make cars that people will buy. It's not up to the supply, but rather the demand that consumers generate. They can, and do, a great deal already. I have a car (Honda Fit) that gets 65 mpg and close to zero emissions thanks to a special engine design that incorporates two spark plugs per cylinder and high compression which helps to eliminate a lot of the emissions that normally occurs in standard engine designs.

The problem is that cars like mine are not sold in the states because Americans don't want economical cars. Well, they want them, but not personally. That's why Honda Fits (or Jazz as they are known in the UK) aren't even sold in the states.

2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

There are lots of things that can be done. However, since Americans don't personally want to do them, and only value them in the abstract, then nothing will be done.

My attitude might sound defeatist, but it is born out of realistic goals. There must be consumers who want to purchase low emission/high gas mileage automobiles. What you've got instead are wannabe hot rodders who value performance over the environment.
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Oyaji, I do not think that your statement was defeatist. From my experience and discussions with people, you are exactly right. Americans do not want to buy a 65mpg scooter. They want big, fast vehicles. The automobile industry is doing what they have to to be competitive. With the rise in gas prices, fuel economy is slowly becoming a real factor though. Ford has a hybrid Escape out now.

what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

There is no immediate solution that I can see. All solutions will take time to have an effect. Many ideas to solving this question are posted under the Gasoline Tax Topic. Most of the ideas require government involvement. City zoning plays a huge role in urban sprawl, so encouraging mixed zoning areas so people do have to drive 15 minutes to get the supermarket is something that we as citizens should encourage our local officials to pursue. Increasing fuel standards or holding SUV's to the same standards as trucks. Increase public transportation. Increase the gasoline tax to encourage the American people to alter their generally poor driving behaviors. More bicycle lanes/paths, HOV lanes, perhaps create motorcycle lanes. Until the people stand up and request these things, government is not going to make using less gasoline a priority until economic disaster strikes.
deerjerkydave
2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

Let's save ourselves the cost of government intervention and allow the free market to sort this out for free. As oil becomes a more scarce commodity it's value will naturally go up. The higher prices at the gas pump will motivate people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. It's that simple.

Naturally caused higher gas prices will motivate people better than any "master plan" dreamed up by politicians. For example, let's examine carpool lanes. They were designed to encourage carpooling and thus less congestion on the road and consequently fewer emissions. The "master plan" has failed, surprise. Studies which tell the whole truth show that people do not carpool anymore than they did before. In fact, as a percentage of total automobiles on the road, carpoolers have gone down. Have you ever noticed an empty carpool lane during rush hour? They're completely underutilized making them ineffective. The result is fewer lanes for solo drivers. Fewer lanes means increased congestion. Increased congestion means increased emissions.

To compound the problem, government legislation stays on the books forever, regardless of whether the legislation worked or not.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(deerjerkydave @ Apr 13 2005, 07:12 PM)
2.and what can we do in the meantime to minimize the usage of gasoline and reduce the resulting pollution?

Let's save ourselves the cost of government intervention and allow the free market to sort this out for free.  As oil becomes a more scarce commodity it's value will naturally go up.  The higher prices at the gas pump will motivate people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles.  It's that simple.
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tongue.gif Lets Not! The null hypothesis here is anything but a "free" solution.

So much CO2 is currently produced that even if all of the land not used for roads was forrest, we still wouldn't clean it all out of the air. Air pollution causes asthma, cancer. Treating these diseases are not free.

60% of US oil currently comes from foreign countries. This gives them the ability to ruin the US economy or to force us overseas to get it. Wars aren't cheap. Certainly not free. Gasoline is an inelastic commodity. If supply runs short, the price cannot go high enough to force demand down to a suitable level. Without oil we can't make or transport food, we can't make the plastics that keep milk fresh and make goods. Guess what happens when oil runs scarce? That's right, the government gets involved to prioritize America's needs. We'll have to keep gas on hand for the tanks.

This is all discussed in the Gasoline Tax Topic, so I'll leave the rest there if you want to discuss.
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