Sunday, January 07, 2007
Hybrid, Battery, Plug-in, Hdrogen = Oil price drop
Auto consumers are voting with their dollars for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, as auto makers are scrambling to provide alternatives, such as hybrids and fuel cell.
January 06, 2007: Gerry Malloy
We looked into the future ...
Although they still represent a relatively small proportion of the market, hybrids have been the most visible of these technologies. And their availability is growing.
Nissan and Mazda will soon have hybrids on the road [Altima and Tribute, respectively].
Saturn will be offering a gas-electric version of its Aura mid-size sedan, followed by a similar variant of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu.
Others are just over the horizon. One of the most significant will be the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Two-Mode Hybrid – the first fruit of a hybrid collaboration among BMW, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors.
Excellent example of pooling a technical standard for group economy of scale savings. = TG
It will be followed by a Dodge Durango hybrid, as well as more GM variants and others from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
While they will share core hybrid systems, the rest of the vehicles, including their internal combustion (IC) engines, will remain unique to each brand.
While these early applications will be rear-wheel drive, GM will offer a green package in front-wheel-drive form in the next-generation Saturn Vue.
The next major step in fast-moving hybrid technology may be plug-in hybrids. Ford, GM and Toyota are working on them, with production applications in mind.
With greater battery capacity and the potential to be recharged from the electrical grid, as well as by their IC engines, they offer many of the advantages of pure electrics, without many of the disadvantages. The ability to charge a larger battery pack yields an increased driving range on electric power only.
As with pure electrics – and we haven't seen the last of them – the issue remains of how electricity for the grid is generated. If not from renewable, non-nuclear sources, it may be a case of simply shifting the environmental burden from the automobile to somewhere else.
Nevertheless, plug-ins are going to happen, perhaps sooner than you think.
HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS
These remain the Holy Grail of powerplants for many.
GM will build 100 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles in 2007 – right here in Canada. They will be put into fleet service throughout the U.S.
Honda has announced that it will put 100 of its recently revealed FCX fuel-cell sedans into similar service, probably in 2008.
Of course, the same question applies to hydrogen as it does for electricity: where will it come from, and what energy source will be used to produce it?
Looking a little further out, the driveable version of GM's Sequel fuel-cell vehicle takes the technology a whole lot further. Built from the ground up as a fuel-cell vehicle, Sequel takes advantage of everything the technology has to offer, including a fully electric/electronic drivetrain, with drive-by-wire steering and brakes that spurn hydraulics. (Electric motors squeeze the brake pads against the calipers and release them.)
Such features are another step toward the demise of mechanical componentry – the bedrock of the auto for more than 100 years.
Iran*s intensity can be reduced through the coming drop in oil demand. Oil prices are now on the decline as the market looks forward, taking super efficient cars and alternate fuels into account. = TG