back to article Motor titans crowd aboard 'green' bandwagon

The struggle among motor-industry biggies regarding who can seem the greenest (while simultaneously not actually doing very much about carbon emissions) continues. Toyota and GM are vying for supremacy in the plug-in hybrid stakes, Ferrari has dipped a toe in biofuel, and out of left field come French and Indian contenders with …

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Anonymous Coward

Orthodox Greens ?

You really are trying to push this phrase aren't you Lewis ?

It's quite sweet ... other than single New Statesman and Haaretz article, the majority of usage seems to refer to leafy vegetables. (which you may want to use in a humourous way in future).

It really needs more effort if you want it to enter common parlance.

I suspect you mean 'fundamentalist' anyway ... is this a NewSpeak alternative ?

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IT Angle

WHy do we need hybrids?

I have just bought a new car, and emissions and fuel economy were the top factor in my choice. I ended up getting a VW Polo Bluemotion, for the simple reason that it has the lowest emissions and highest fuel economy I could find, at 99 g/km and up to 88mpg (well, yes, I know I'll never get that!). It is rated at VED band A, and is one of the very few cars that qualifies for the zero tax band.

The point is that the Bluemotion equals or possibly exceeds the emissions of a hybrid, but it is a relatively conventional diesel.

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Charging a car on Economy 7

Granted running an electric car is ultimately inefficent because of loss over the grid and charging the battery, Couldn't you charge your car overnight, using the "excess" capacity on the grid at that time. (Especially if we do go for another generation of nuclear in this country, which you can't just turn off at night as you would with gas turbines)?

If such an excess still exists, would this not effectively allow the car to be charged without creating additional CO2?

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Atomic car

Surely the push to eliminate waste must provide us with the atomic car. Or lorry. Best not crash.

Ethanol as car fuel is bullshit and the sooner we ditch this dead end the better. Although I feel little sorrow at the American high fructose corn syrup market collapsing, ending the unlimited supply of cheap Twinkies to our gargantuan cousins, it is foolishness in the extreme to make fuel from corn. The Brazillians pull it off through having plenty of sugarcane that would be rot-gut rum otherwise. Otherwise it's not feasible. get an oily seed or algae and make diesel, not E85.

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@ Paul

We DO need hybrids.

Although probably they don't stand the test with conventional ones yet, still the idea behind is brilliant.

Let me explain: an ordinary car turns chemical energy into motion when accelerating, and when braking all that motion energy is radiated as heat through brakes. One burn, one ride.

A hybrid car at least makes an attempt to collect the motion energy when braking. By running the electric engine backwards and recharging the batteries it enables some more accelerations for the fuel initially burned.

Worth trying, I guess.

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Flats

So how is someone in a third floor flat that doesn't have off-street parking supposed to use a plug-in car? These things are only useable for suburbanites and people who live in rural locations i.e. just the sort who (at present) don't have to worry about avoiding congestion charging.

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@ Paul Cooper

Paul,

I think you're comparing apples with oranges here - the Polo (fine car that it undoubtedly is) is a small hatchback while the smallest available hybrid (Toyota's Prius) is a (by UK/European standards) full-sized family car. I really wouldn't want to try to shoehorn my pair of lanky teenagers (probably along with one of their mates) and their inevitable accouterments (big rucksacks, guitars, suitcases for a family holiday) into the back of a Polo but a Prius would swallow them quite happily and *is* more efficient than most comparable vehicles.

Incidentally I drive neither, I've got an Audi A4 quattro. 30MPG isn't going to impress environ(funda)mentalists, but it's not at all bad for a full size, 4-door, 5-seat saloon with a huge boot that can hit 60MPH in about 7 seconds, carries on up to damn-near 150MPH, and (even with a relative numpty like me at the wheel) can lap Bedford Autodrome's GT circuit or the Brands hatch "Indy" circuit as fast as a lot of more overtly sporting machinery. When someone comes up with a more efficient vehicle (electric/hybrid/diesel/whatever) which can match that combination of utilty and performance and has a range comparable to the 400+ miles that the Audi can do after a 3 minute refueling/recharging stop for a realistic price I'll be at or near near the front of the queue, but until then it's Old Skool petrol and a whacking great turbocharger for me...

--

JG

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@ Chris Collins

Ethanol is perfectly viable as a sustainable energy source, just not the way it's done in the US. Many countries in the world are viable places to grow sugarcane and the by-product (bagasse) can be burnt to run powerstations. It's even viable to produce ethanol from sugarbeet in more nothern climes .

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Stop

Hybrid = greenwash

Right now, there are three problems with hybrids:

1. a diesel is more power and more efficient than the equivalent sized petrol powered hybrid

2. the batteries are an environmental hazard waiting to happen

3. they still use virgin fuel (petrol or ethanol)

#2 will be helped, but not completely eradicated by these new batteries. There are large hybrid vehicles that use diesel/flywheel or diesel/compressed air. Neither of these pose a future environmental risk in their energy storage devices.

Problems with ethanol:

1. it uses more energy than it contains, so it's worse than using the grid

2. it currently uses food crops, pushing up their price in third world countries

3. you still need 15% petrol or the engine blows up

#2 could be alleviated by using non-food crops, but that will still use farmland formerly used for food crops.

Problems with virgin biodiesel (SVO):

1. people seem to think that 80% dinodiesel is okay

2. people seem to think that 50% dinodiesel is okay

3. people seem to think that 15% dinodiesel is okay

4. it uses food crops, pushing up their prices in third world countries

Problems with recycled biodiesel (WVO):

Thanks for the ramble.

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Coat

S**** old cars

The best option is to design cars that can be easily maintaned and be retrofitted with new technology. My diesel Citroen ZX with 100K miles will go to the scrap heap in the sky in another 50K, still does 55mpg.

Changing the dash bulbs takes an hour, brake cables and clutch plates require lifting the car on a platform. Even changing the brake pads takes an age for the inexperienced. And this is a simple car to work on.

Why not design the whole thing with the idea of quick release parts, snap on body panels. Easy to change consumables, hatches for the electrics.

It would be very easy to do, and allow retrofitting, safer cars on the road and extend the life of many SOCs from being scrapped and wasting huge amounts of energy.

The future is buying your alternator from Tescos and fitting it in the car park, or swapping engines in the same format as a automatic car wash.

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@Jonathon Green

"but until then it's Old Skool petrol and a whacking great turbocharger for me..."

Well I guess you'll find yourself in the mile-long queues at the few remaining petrol stations which still have stocks left when the tankers stop arriving. You and a lot of other people don't seem to have learned the lessons that the recent truckers strikes should have taught you. Those were a taster of whats to come in the not too distant future.

Personally I make do with a pushbike to get to work, and a moderately sized motorbike to get further afield.

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Go

Trolley lorries

Slightly off topic I know, but why can't we electrify the motorways the same way that the railways are? Lorries (or buses, for that matter) could use a pantograph running on an overhead wire, and therefore use grid electricity whilst running on the motorway (which is most of the time for the average lorry). Presuming more nuclear/renewable/both electricity generation in the near future this could reduce CO2 emissions and oil consumption considerably.

For off-motorway running the vehicles would retain a (smaller) diesel engine and run in hybrid mode, and the battery would cover any short blips in the mains supply. There would be one overhead wire for each lane, and lane changes would be dealt with by the on-board electronics dropping the pantograph between wires. Some careful management would be needed (supplying power to a motorway full of lorries starting at the end of a traffic jam would be interesting) but I personally cannot see any huge reason why this couldn't work. Any comments?

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Anonymous Coward

why not use a hybrid of current technologies?

Last autumn Opel showed a car that uses small diesel engine as a generator and electric motor. 25 liters of bio-diesel were enough to cover 700 km.

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@Paul Cooper

I dunno about the MPG thing mate. In a recent experiment of my own, over the course of a week driving in and out of the city in my 1.0L Lupo, I actually hit the 65mpg VW reckon it's capable of. I've started driving everywhere like that and I'm getting on average 45-50mpg, again mainly on city runs.

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Drive slower

I recently moved to New Zealand. As shocking as it may be to people in the UK, the maximum speed limit anywhere here is 100Km/h and that includes the small runs of motorway around Auckland. I am currently driving a 2.3 automatic and on my last tank full I got 8.2 liters per 100Km driving around town and a bit on the motorway. For a large car that is amazing (works out about 33mpg) and shows the benefits of just going that bit slower. After a while, 100Km/h feels plenty quick enough and the UK could do a lot worse than lowering the motorway speed limit to 60Mp/h as an immediate fuel saving strategy.

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Stop

@ "Drive Slower"

Just one problem mate, my car gets its best fuel economy at 70mph.

For a previous car, it was around 85mph.

Try again.

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Boffin

My mate Pete...

...and I were discussing this the other week while driving from mid-Wales in the general direction of Londonton (at 61 mpg in my modest-sized diesel estate). I wondered why Toyota hadn't gone the whole hog and fitted the Pious with a diseasel engine instead of a petrol. Pete, who has recently forked out his hard-earned on a Pious, quoted chapter and verse of Toyota's spin, which boiled down to "it wouldn't work properly".

Cynic that I am, I remarked that the /real/ reason was that USAnians don't do diesel.

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Bronze badge

@S**** old cars

No, AC, it is not a simple car to work on, it's a Citroen.

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Anonymous Coward

Check out this article from the Chevy Volt blog website.

http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/12/21/gm-voltcom-interview-with-dr-cui-inventor-of-silicon-nanowire-lithium-ion-battery-breakthrough/

I bet GM and their battery suppliers A123 and LG Chem are going to aggressively try to get this new nanowire battery technology implemented in the new generation of cars.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/17/586070.aspx

http://www.itwire.com/content/view/16129/885/

This scientist from Stanford came up with a HUGE battery breakthrough that will probably change everything. Lithium ion batteries that last 10 times longer! This will make 100% electric cars a practical reality. Electric cars like the Chevy Volt with ultra efficient cellulosic ethanol internal combustion engines OR hydrogen fuel cells ... either one will have INCREDIBLE range. Zero oil products needed except to lubricate the transmission. Even that could be synthetic.

You won't be worried about fueling your car very much at all. You might soon be driving 400+ miles on electricity alone. Add a cellulosic ethanol or hydrogen fuel cell "range extender" to the car and could have unbelievable range. Maybe 800+ miles. Imagine only having to fill up your tank with cellulosic ethanol or hydrogen only once a month. It might happen.

You wouldn't NEED so many hydrogen pumps or ethanol pumps! Think of these "range extenders" as like those Honda generators you use when power lines go down. All they do is charge the battery. They could be made super efficient probably.

In 2010, I want a Chevy Volt with one of these new silicon based lithium-ion NANOWIRE BATTERIES in it! These cars will be great. Most everyone ought to be able to afford one.

If you have plenty of money you can get yourself one of these REALLY awesome cars ... the Tesla roadster. 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. It definitely ain't a golf cart. It will easily keep up with the Corvettes and Ferraris of the world. You can't even buy one this year because they've already pre-sold all of them. Imagine how good these cars will be in 5-10 years with the new battery technology advancements.

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://www.teslamotors.com/performance/acceleration_and_torque.php

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