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Renewable, low polution fuel is also an option October 29, 2004 1:30 AM

When we think about hybrids we think about low polluting vehicles usually which is great but we haven't solved the problem of where the energy comes from. I founded BayAreaBiofuel to create energy from non polluting sources. There is also that is working on converting existing vehicles to ethanol so that you don't have to go buy a new vehicle (consume more stuff) in order to be concientios about how you power your vehicle. Kenneth Kron Founder  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hey there October 29, 2004 3:17 PM

looking at turbodiesel jetta any thoughts?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 October 30, 2004 7:22 PM

I have heard that the amount of energy needed to grow the corn and process it into ethanol outweighs the benefit of replacing gasoline. That is, unless you can grow it without pollution and all energy sources are renewable, but at the moment that is unlikely.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Jay October 31, 2004 2:45 PM

This discussion has gone two different ways. You are speaking of ethanol (alcohol) but the previous post was about biodiesel. At this time, all liquid fuels require more energy input than you get output. This may not remain true for ethanol. The best, in terms of actual gain (more out than you put in) is methane. And methane can, with enough additional input, be converted to alcohol. Whether this will be practical is something we don't know yet. With biodiesel, we know. It works fine for the few who have a source of cooking oil but all the french fries and catfish in the nation won't supply a tenth of one percent of our fuel needs. So a practical solution it ain't. Biodiesel from crops or waste has no future, except for those who are receiving government money to study it. When those grants are gone, biodiesel will be gone because it is not thermodynamically sustainable. That is, you have to start out with more fuel than you end up with. And there's no profit in that!! I have opposed nuclear energy for many years, since well before Three Mile Island. But I find that my view is changing. The potential damage to health and life from a nuclear accident is still present, but as oil supplies decrease and the oil wars increase, nuclear looks better. We need energy that has a minimum impact on the environment (greenhouse effect and all that) and minimum impact on world peace. Nuclear has those advantages. If some people are going to risk death for energy, it is proper that the people using the energy are the ones who take the risk. There is no reason that peoples living in the sand on the other side of the earth should be dying so we can have oil. It is too bad that nobody running for public office can say things like that.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 October 31, 2004 4:16 PM

"At this time, all liquid fuels require more energy input than you get output." Are you talking about manufacturing/preparation? Does this include fossil fuels? With bio fuels, you may need more energy, but this energy come from plants and ultimately the sun, and is not required in the form of electricity. Or is it?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Free November 01, 2004 9:47 PM

"At this time, all liquid fuels require more energy input than you get output." >Does this include fossil fuels?< No, you caught me there. I was speaking of "bio" fuels that might potentially be a fossil replacement someday. >With bio fuels, you may need more energy, but this energy come from plants and ultimately the sun, and is not required in the form of electricity. Or is it?< Not necessarily electricity, few large scale processes run on electricity because it is so inefficient. Most large scale processes burn fuel directly for heat or to power pumps, compressors, et cetera. Lets take one of the easiest biofuels, methane from pig manure. Someone has to collect the manure but probably this is already being done -- we can ignore the fuel needed for that task. Then it must be transported to the processing plant. This might take trucks which burn diesel or someday in the future it might involve pipelines which require a lot of pumping power, again this might be diesel powered. Then the plant has to operate. In the case of methane it mostly means mixing the manure with the right amount of water and keeping it at the right temperature. Not too much energy needed there, but some. Then the methane gas must be pressurized (a lot of energy needed) and transported to the end user. Again, maybe trucks, maybe rail cars, maybe pipeline. More energy needed. Also, the waste must be disposed of. More trucks or something. So, could all those energy needs be met by the output of the factory -- and still have some methane left to sell? The answer is yes, everything from hauling the manure in to hauling the methane out could be methane powered and there would still be some left. Of course there is not nearly as much methane left to sell as the gross methane production, because the various steps consume a lot of it. But there would be some, and if energy prices got high enough it could be financially profitable. (Please note that methane is a gas, not a liquid.) That was methane. Alcohol is more difficult and it's hard to see how there could be any left at the end of the day. Some folks think yes, I tend to lean the other way. Bottom line is we don't know. Now to biodiesel. I'm speaking here about input from crops or animal waste, not old cooking grease. The process is so energy intensive that there is no way you could produce enough biodiesel to power all the steps outlined above. You would start the process with, say, 1000 gallons of petro-diesel and end the process with maybe 300 gallons of bio-diesel. And most importantly, the process would have burned those 1000 gallons of petro and caused 1000 gallons worth of petro-pollution. And 1000 gallons worth of international petro-stress, and so on. So each time a customer burned one gallon of clean biodiesel they would be responsible for three gallons of petro pollution. That is not the path to success.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hydroelectric dams November 01, 2004 10:00 PM

I think I've heard the same argument applied to hydroelectric dams. Setting the cement consumes a lot of energy and causes a lot of pollution. When you take that into account and spread it over the life of the dam, it might be more polluting than fossil fuels. It is even worse in the tropics because you also get a lot of bio-rich sediment that rots anaerobically and releases more greenhouse gases. Of course this could just be spin from someone who hates dams so I'd like to see it from a 'trusted' source.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
1000 gallons petro for every 300 gallons of bio November 02, 2004 12:01 AM

just don't see it. We have had this discussion on a previous post, I know it does use allot of water. they could process it with solar thermal processing plants based in desert. I know where you can get 1million gallons of it a day, but the source stinks... Pig Manure yummy!! North carolina has 1 million hogs, each hog produces 5 pounds of pooh a day, 1/4 of pig manure is can be used for biodiesel, the rest is supposedly water. GAS MAKIN BACON!!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 1:27 AM

with the pig manure, it would probably produce those gases anyway, so there is no environmental cost with using what is already produced solar thermal would have to be the most benign energy source, can you think of any better options?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Benign? November 02, 2004 8:11 AM

Are you serious? Solar thermal,is THE powersource.If we could put a huge solar thermal powersource in the deserts of Nevada, and southeastern California, we could get the most potential energy from the sun, making enough power to have a huge impact on pollution. We need to replace coal burning powerplants.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Enviro November 02, 2004 1:33 PM

>1000 gallons petro for every 300 gallons of bio...just don't see it.< I understand that you can't see it, but that doesn't change the facts. Diesel is a rather heavy molecular structure and you don't seem to appreciate the processes needed to process simple molecules into diesel. Indeed, do you have any understanding of what goes on in a refinery, turning a portion of the crude oil into diesel? >I know it does use allot of water. they could process it with solar thermal processing plants based in desert....North carolina has 1 million hogs....< But North Carolina isn't in the desert. Trucking pig manure from NC to AZ would use a lot of diesel, no? Moving the pigs to AZ would just shift the trucking from hauling manure to hauling feed (and pork)(and water). It is certainly true that you can set up processes in the desert and use a lot of solar energy. That is great. But the thing you use it for still has to be viable. And biodiesel just isn't. Using the solar to generate electricity, which transports easier than manure, makes sense. Then use the electricity to recharge electric cars, for example. No pollution at either end. I certainly agree that we need to cut down on coal. Combustion of all fossil fuels needs to be curtailed.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hydroelectric November 02, 2004 1:45 PM

I don't remember any figures of the energy-in to energy-out, but I'm sure the hydro plant is a big net producer. The dam lasts maybe 30 - 60 years. The construction would use a lot of energy but that would be recouped in a period of time (months?) and then it is very cheap power. Of course there are environmental problems (fish and such) and in some places the other problems you mentioned. Nothing is without some drawbacks, the secret is to understand ALL the factors and then make the best decision possible. That brings us to capitalism, which makes decisions based of SOME factors while remaining totally divorced from others. But capitalism is probably a discussion for another thread! Personally, I'm for distributed energy processes wherever possible. Distributed wind, or solar, or methane, makes a lot of sense measured in BTUs or environmental conservation or similar terms. But it doesn't always make sense if success is measured in dollars. (And that takes us back to capitalism again!)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 2:18 PM

Enviro I think you have misunderstood me again. We are saying the same thing. Here is a definition of benign for you (yes I am serious): Definition: [adj] pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence; "a benign smile"; "the benign sky"; "the benign influence of pure air" [adj] of disposition or manner; "the benign ruler of millions"; "benign intentions" [adj] (pathology) not dangerous to health; not recurrent or progressive (especially of a tumor)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
We are saying the same thing Freediver November 02, 2004 3:09 PM

As for transporting pigmanure to the desert, A Deisel train could take it there,first load runs on diesel, second load runs on diesel third load, runs on biodiesel from the processed first load. Before you know it the train is running on biodiesel. All the sudden progress happens lessDiesel burned, ball is rolling on 1 million gallons of biodiesel being processed, water from mature superheated and turned to steam to produce electricity instead ofusingcoal power. It is a WIN WIN situation. Thats what I call a pretty picture.Tax incentives to all who join from the pig farmers who supply it,to the freight company using it,to People who ran their vehicles on it.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Daryl I feel your hybrid bias has you closeminded on the biodiesel issue November 02, 2004 3:16 PM

IT is good to have these discussions with you in them,when I speak of biodiesels I am not knocking hybrids at all.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 3:17 PM

Enviro why do you keep getting into the politics of an issue without first understanding it?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Understand politics? How about you understand US politics November 02, 2004 3:43 PM

Why would you say something like that, are you that disgruntled about getting called on your lack of material dealing with taxation in the US that you have to resort to bickering on another forum? one thing I don't do is suffer fools like yourself. Your childish tactics while amusing, show your contempt for conversation and your general lack of intelligence.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 3:50 PM

All I have seen you promote is tax breaks for the energy industry and it looks like you are a propagandist for them. Here you are promoting tax breaks for a solution when you don't even know that it is better in terms of polution. Yet you blindly assert that it is and that it should get tax breaks. You blindly assert that tax breaks will reduce pollution yet refuse to discuss the possible downside. You insist that you base your position on political reality - the reality that the public is ignorant and doesn't understand the real issues. Yet you yourself refuse to discuss those issues and you promote that ignorance.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Refuse to discuss? Blindly? You obviously argue with fish rather than people November 02, 2004 4:20 PM

I have explained my position for days with you, you ignoring variables pertaining to issues, not wanting to even deal with the politics of taxation. And I wake this morning to find you ran out of gas? Now you make petty kneejerk statements? Do us a favor, have a point and not just a response...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 4:35 PM

You have discussed only the politics of taxation and not the actual merits of the taxation options. You have consistently misunderstood what I am saying yet refuse to take a step back and figure out what it is I am talking about. You insist that you know the best option because you think you understand the political scene but you understand less than most people. You have refused to resolve the question of whether you understand me. That is why this discussion is dragging on, because you are trying to avoid something.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
one more thing November 02, 2004 4:43 PM

All it would take from you to resolve this is one or two sentences indicating that you do understand what I am saying. It is a very simple argument. Only as hidden agenda would prevent you from doing so.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
As you know that has already happened, which you didn't like so you November 02, 2004 5:32 PM

asked me to restate your position,I explained to you if I AGAIN have to explain your position, we don't even have a discussion. To that because I won't play in traffic with you you dare tell me that I have a hidden agenda? Any agenda I have certainly isn't hidden, as you know. Lets make this simple,we don't agree, I don't think you know very much about the subject at hand and what you do know,you don't look at the reality of politics and how it affects the environmental movement. You refuse to acknowledge politcs is even a variable.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 5:40 PM

Politics is a variable. There I said it. You have discussed this issue for a few days now. During that time you have sprouted a lot of propaganda but not once acknowledged what I am saying. That is not the behaviour of someone who wants to share ideas, it is the behaviour of someone who wants to capitalise on ignorance.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 5:41 PM

Oh yeah - you may think you have restated what I said, but you got it way wrong. If I am saying that you haven't understood me how can you go on believing that you have?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Right hmmm yeah I see November 02, 2004 6:30 PM

So I am quoting propoganda, GEE Great response, now I feel enlightened. Thanks for all that great insight I feel uplifted.Thanks again  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 6:46 PM

who said anything about quoting?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Gee can I now get your definition of sprouting November 02, 2004 8:30 PM

Well come on we are waiting,tell me...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 8:37 PM

sprouting = you wrote it quoting = you copied it from somewhere Now that you have yet again shown your tendency to misunderstand me can we get back to the tax reform issue (not the political aspects) as you have also misunderstood that and I think it is important to clear it up.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Enviro November 02, 2004 8:40 PM

I believe you don't understand the difference between opinion and fact. I may say the black car is prettier, and you may say the white one is. That is opinion, a matter of taste or preference, and nobody is right or wrong unless one of us insists that he is right and the other is wrong. On the other hand, I can say that a black car gets hotter in the sun, and you can say the white one does. That is not a matter of opinion, it is something that can be factually determined. Put identical thermometers in each car, park them in the same sun for the same time, and read the temperatures. That is fact, not opinion, and if you say that it is a matter of opinion which car gets the hotter I can only believe that you are not open to scientific facts. In your train example, the first two trains run on petro and the third runs on bio. I agree. But then #4 and #5 have to run on petro again because the #3 train burned all the bio there was. #6 can again run on bio. But notice that there hasn't been a drop of fuel produced to put in anyone's car, just 4 transcontinental train trips burning smokey diesel plus two trips burning beautiful bio - and nothing left to show for it. Why is it so hard to understand that a machine that produces dollar bills, but you have to feed three dollars in for every one you get out, is a losing proposition? Cranking it faster only means you lose more, there is no way to get ahead. This has nothing to do with a "hybrid" bias, I'd far rather have a pure electric. Or a series hybrid that only started the engine for recharging on long trips while all the short trips could be battery only. But that technology just isn't here yet. We're working on it. See  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Ok, the trains would initially run on diesel yes, an I am sure biodiesel would November 02, 2004 9:06 PM

run out,but we would be bringing in more supply than the train is burning. Logistically it could be possible. Don't have numbers to crunch, Also I say bring it to the desert because it has the most heat and solar thermal works better there. This Sterling Motor, I have seen a little about it, but not about the hinge that hooks to the crankshaft. Is there a working model in a vehicle? How many revolutiond is it capable of?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 9:08 PM

He probably just thinks it is a good idea because it is more politically palatable. If the people and politiancs will buy it he doesn't care whether it will actually work.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Wow did you hear that, the fish must have gas November 02, 2004 11:00 PM

Looks like it had some solids to it...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 02, 2004 11:04 PM

I don't see why you are getting so immature about this. I was asking for something very simple. If you have realised you were wrong just admit it.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Finally you admit what you want... TO BE RIGHT!!! November 03, 2004 12:02 AM

Maybe someday...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 12:26 AM

Again you misunderstand me. I just thought that is probably why you are carrying on like this. What I would like is to achieve at least a basic level of understanding with you. In order to achieve this I need you to give an indication of your understanding of the issue we have been discussing (not the political BS I think we both understand that).  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Freediver ,I don't come to these forums to give pats on the back November 03, 2004 6:44 AM

I come here to exchange thoughts and ideas. Everything has been brought out on the table and yet you still want to go around in circle. We are in a different forum talking about biodiesel, I ask Daryl questions aboutthis Sterling engine andI have you clogging up the forum with a stab at me. As I have said in the other forum, I have explained how I feel, given you my reasons,now if you can't handle that that is too bad. As I said in the other post, you no longer have a active audience.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 2:28 PM

As far as I can tell you have just been criticising an idea that you don't understand and you refuse to discuss the merits of the idea. You started doing something similar here too.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
As far as I have seen with you haven't discussed anything about low pollution November 03, 2004 3:08 PM

fuel with me. You should pay attention to the forum you are posting in. Here is a suggestion, start a forum on the taxing of energy, discuss this topic with them. Who knows maybe you will find someone to pat you on your back and say "he is a good boy."  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 3:40 PM

All I'm trying to do is stop you rubbishing a good idea and pretending it is unworkable just because you don't understand it.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Oh wow thats your plan of action November 03, 2004 3:47 PM

Wow now I see you don't have anything to contribute to the forum other than to oppose me. Very sad...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 3:53 PM

I could say exactly the same about you. You do realise there is a very simple way to resolve this don't you?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Sure there is November 03, 2004 4:23 PM

You could address the proper forum, and realize that now your ignorant accusations are amusing.But be aware, I am not laughing with you rather I am laughing at you.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 4:36 PM

OK then, what did you mean by this: "Benign? Are you serious? "  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
I believe I addressed that in the next post November 03, 2004 4:57 PM

Keep doing your research though. But please for everybody elses sake contribute SOMETHING to the forum...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 5:08 PM

I did. I used the word benign. I was just wondering why you thought I may not be serious. At first I thought you misunderstood the word benign, but you insist that you understand me. I thought maybe you were carrying something over from the other discussion, but you have indicated that that is inappropriate. Which leaves me wondering why you thought I wasn't serious. Is it because the republicans don't like the word benign?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Oh so it was me posing as you carrying over from the other post November 03, 2004 5:16 PM

And now I am Republican? Ok fisherman, hook is set,where do you get that I am a Republican? Or is this just because I don't like your ideas on taxation? If so realize I am way ahead of you on that so don't bother.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 03, 2004 5:17 PM

I never said you were a republican. Why did you think I may not be serious? Simple question really.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Because all you are trying to do is argue November 03, 2004 5:49 PM

Look at your posts, they are all just reactions,subject at hand we talk about biodiesel,I talk about pig manure going to the desert, Daryl says why he feels it won't work, he explains why, I tell him why I think it would, take a playful jab at hybrids, he shows me a working diagram about the Sterling motor. All is good, I now know the basics of what makes the motor work. Then you come on and bicker about politics and that conversation with Daryl is over. The other forum is the same thing. Noone else in conversation.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Energy inputs and $ costs to produce methyl esthers (biodiesel) November 04, 2004 12:33 AM

In order to convert vegetable oil into biodiesel on any commercial scale you do need to raise the temperature of the vegetable oil about 70 degrees. But since on gallon of vegetable oil contains 130,000 that means even if you throw away all of the energy used to heat the vegetable oil, which you would only do at very small scales, then it would cost you about 1 gallon out of 1000, that gallon could be petroleum or vegetable oil or biodiesel or two gallons of petro burned 1000 miles away in order to supply you with a couple of KW in order to electrically heat your source oil. Also I don't know where your estimate of the volume of waste vegetable oil we produce comes from but most studies I've seen show that we could replace at least 10% of the diesel we use in this country with biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil. It doesn't make sense to burden biodiesel production with the energy burden of making the vegetable oil, when we get it the vegetable oil has already been made and used for the purpose it was made for. We are just changing it ever so slightly so that the energy content is available for use in existing diesel engines. There are many applications where sustainable harvesting can produce biomass for energy applications (like our farm subsidy program that pays farmers not to grow food) or green roof tops and many other sustainable harvesting programs that could employ people in the production of cleaner water, negawatts, and biomass. For example the Toronto Green Rooftops project: "If six per cent of Toronto’s rooftops were greened, equivalent to one per cent of Toronto’s total land area, the outside temperature would drop by 1 C or 2 C, the report concludes. Smog days in Toronto would be reduced by five to 10 per cent and air pollutants would be reduced by 30 tonnes annually. There would be about $1 million a year in savings in energy costs. For cities located on waterways, there is the benefit of reducing water pollution because pollution often occurs after heavy rainfalls result in excessive flows through storm water systems. Greened roofs absorb more than 50 per cent of rainfall." So what does a green roof cost? "It costs about twice as much for a green roof as for a conventional roof and a green roof lasts twice as long as a conventional roof" while producing the side benefits of biomass, saving energy, reducing smog and providing cleaner water, the cleaner water resulting in small capital expenditure for waste water treatment facilities. So as I see it in both the short term, while cities like S.F. produce 600,000 gallons annually of waste vegetable oil; and in the long term when we learn to better utilize our arable space and get better at converting cellulose to biodiesel, which is also a viable economical process, biofuels make all around great sense. Kenneth  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Efficiency and economic analysis of liquid fuels November 04, 2004 12:54 AM

See A 1998 joint study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) traced many of the various costs involved in the production of biodiesel and found that overall, it yields 3.2 units of fuel product energy for every unit of fossil fuel energy consumed. In the comparison petroleum diesel fuel is found to have a 0.843 energy yield, along with 0.805 for petroleum gasoline, and 1.34 for bioethanol. The 1998 study used soybean oil primarily as the base oil to calculate the energy yields. It is concievable that higher oil yielding crops could increase the energy yield of biodiesel. Some nations and regions that have pondered transitioning fully to biofuels have found that doing so would require immense tracts of land if traditional crops are used. Considering only traditional plants and analyzing the amount of biodiesel that can be produced per acre of cultivated land, some have concluded that it is likely that the United States, which uses more energy per capita than any other country, does not have enough arable land to fuel all of the nation's vehicles. Other developed and developing nations may be in better situations, although many regions cannot afford to divert land away from food production. For third world countries, biodiesel sources that use marginal land could make more sense, e.g. honge nuts [4] ( grown along roads.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
He is awake November 04, 2004 2:33 AM

Whats up Kenneth? tell me your thoughts on the pig manure to biodiesel, being converted in the desert, and shipped on diesel trains. 1 million gallons a day, how does that compare to national usage.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Biodiesel from manure November 04, 2004 9:50 AM

I'm not positive what your question is but what I'd say about 1 million gallons of biodiesel/day is that it sounds like a lot of energy and you are right that instead of making productive use of animal wastes, we are currently creating environmental problems by releasing it poorly or not treated at all back into the environment so we need to look at the burdened costs of the current method vs other methods. I'm a small scale/permaculture kind of guy so I think we should be producing energy & composting manure in a distributed manner (like at the farm/feed lot) thereby avoiding the direct cost of transportation and the indirect costs of the whole "centralized economy". Take for example the cow manure methane digester project being run by Straus Family Creamery They produce energy and high quality composte on site. That's a good thing.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Turbo diesel jetta - Great car! November 04, 2004 9:53 AM

We need more of them! (In response to second post on this thread :^) )  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
punitive taxes November 07, 2004 12:06 AM  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hybrid 2.0- next generation has hype and horsepower November 21, 2004 10:04 PM

Hybrid 2.0: The next generation of these cars have hype and horsepower on their side Nov. 22 issue - Avnish Bhatnagar has always lusted after fast cars like racy BMWs. But when the California computer programmer and his wife had their first baby this year, they needed something more practical. A minivan was out of the question. So Bhatnagar, 35, searched online and found an SUV with neck-snapping speed and enough room for the baby stroller. What is this souped-up SUV? A Lexus RX 400h gas-electric hybrid. That's right. A hybrid. Those quirky cars that run on batteries as well as gasoline. But this hybrid is no golf cart. It packs 270 horsepower, making it one of the fastest cars in the Lexus lineup. Oh, and it goes 500 miles on a tank of gas and doesn't foul the air. He'll have to be patient, because the 400h doesn't go on sale for five months. For now, Bhatnagar will just have to dream of that electric power surge as he leaves other drivers in the dust. "If the 400h had less horsepower," he says, "I'd be far less interested in it." Start your engines: the age of the hot-rod hybrid has arrived. No longer a funky little science experiment, hybrid cars are growing up and going mainstream. The megawatt success this year of the 60mpg Toyota Prius finally made hybrid cars legit in the land of the SUV. But now comes the auto industry's real killer app: hybrid cars that boost horsepower while pinching pennies at the pump. Forget about sacrifice; the coming wave of new hybrids is all about getting more—more power, more mileage, more credit for saving the planet. Of course, you also pay more—currently about $3,500 extra. And at that rate, getting a payoff at the pump takes years. But analysts predict prices will come down as sales go up. And carmakers are banking on their compelling new pitch—drives great, less filling—to take hybrids to the masses. No longer will they be bizarre larva-shaped cars for tree huggers and techno-geeks. The coming wave of hybrids will be versions of the cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups we already drive. The first of these have-your-cake-and-eat-it models arrives next month, when Honda rolls out a 255-horsepower Accord hybrid that races from 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and still gets 37mpg on the highway. The only way to tell this stealth hybrid from a regular Accord: a subtle spoiler on the trunk. Next summer Toyota will debut a high-powered Highlander hybrid SUV. "It will be like enjoying a hot-fudge sundae," promises Toyota sales exec Don Esmond, "without the calories or the guilt." Eventually, car buyers will have the option to choose hybrid power on virtually any model in the same way they now can opt for a V-6 or V-8 engine. Over the next three years, just about every major automaker will introduce hybrid versions of cars that are already household names. By 2008, auto researcher J.D. Power predicts that car buyers will have a choice of 35 different hybrids—everything from a Nissan Altima to a Honda Odyssey minivan to a big Chevy Tahoe SUV. By 2012 the menu will grow to 51 models. Porsche and BMW are working on putting the technology into their SUVs. Mercedes promises to have a version on the market in five years. Lexus is even considering a $100,000 hybrid sports car. Estimates of how big the hybrid market will get have risen faster than gas prices. Oak Ridge Labs puts it at 1.2 million cars by 2008, a sixteenfold increase from this year. The biggest roadblock remains the $3,500 premium. But as more models compete for buyers, auto execs expect that to shrink to about $2,500 in two years and eventually to drop as low as $1,000. "For $1,000," says auto consultant Wes Brown, "who in their right mind would not to go for a hybrid?"  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 December 04, 2004 12:51 PM

Gasoline-Electric Hybrid Vehicles & Who’s Making Them? Hybrids, which combine a smaller gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor, can get double the mileage of conventional cars. Hybrids burn little fuel when they are slowing or idling, and some capture and then use later energy created during braking that would otherwise just produce heat. And because the gasoline engine is much smaller and operates at a steadier pace, it produces far less global warming pollution than conventional combustion engines. To clear up a common misconception, hybrids don't have to be plugged in. They use the same gasoline that other cars do -- just less of it -- and they recharge their batteries while you drive. Who's making them? The Toyota Prius has been available in the United States since 2000. The 2004 model is rated by the EPA at 60 miles per gallon in city driving, 51 on the highway. (The Prius gets better mileage off the highway, because in city driving it relies more on the battery.) In 2002, Honda introduced a hybrid version of the Civic. The EPA rates the 2004 manual transmission version at 51 mpg on the highway and 46 in the city, with the continuously variable transmission model rated at 48 highway and 47 city. Ford became the first U.S. manufacturer to offer a hybrid when it rolled out the Escape SUV in August 2004. The front-wheel drive version is rated 36 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Automakers are planning to introduce additional hybrids in the U.S. market, with Japanese manufacturers remaining in the lead. Toyota and Honda plan to release hybrid Lexus and Highlander SUVs in 2005, and Honda, Nissan and Toyota have all announced plans to produce hybrid versions of their mid-size sedans, the Accord, Altima and Camry. Hyundai plans to sell hybrid vehicles to government fleets in late 2004, and GM has announced plans to produce "mild" hybrids in 2005 and 2006 and full hybrid SUVs in 2007. ("Mild" hybrids rely less on their battery packs than full hybrids do.) So what's the problem? Toyota's and Honda's hybrid sales are booming, and the Ford Escape has generated tremendous interest and rave reviews. Although American automakers are beginning to respond to increasing consumer interest in fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, hybrids still account for less than 1 percent of the new car market. American automakers have to put hybrids into mass production, too, and we need to spark demand for them. Consumers who buy hybrids are eligible for a tax deduction, $2,000 in 2004. That's a good incentive, but it is scheduled to phase out during the next two years. Lawmakers can do better and should provide performance-based tax credits instead of deductions, which will mean higher savings for consumers who buy the most efficient hybrids.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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