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back to article French motorwonk savages hybrid cars

A French automotive-industry researcher has published an attack on hybrid cars, suggesting that they aren't a good sustainable way to save the planet and will prevent other technologies from developing. The author of Hybrid vehicles: a temporary step is Jean-Jacques Chanaron, Research Director at the French National Centre for …

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Coat

He's right

In the warped world of US motoring we already have the green SUV hybrids...WTF!

personally the sooner we have windmills on top of the damn things the better.

Efros

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Happy

Hmmmmmm......

I'm sure the fact that the current leaders in the US hybrid market are the Japanese manufacturers, not the Fwenchies, had nothing to do with this.

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Pirate

Buy me a pint Lewis and let me do the thinking

Very entertaining fluff. However, the article is about marketing not science and how the word Hybrid is such a popular selling point that it makes people feel good about buying a car even if it still has hideously mileage. It's nothing to do with whether it's a useful technology or a Prius is a good thing. Possibly the same principle could be applied to the use of nanny state-ism in internet magazines discussing climate science.

Just for interest, some conservative real life mileage figures here if anyone is interested (http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage).

Skull and crossbones for using a dead detectives words in vain.

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Happy

So Citreon and Peugot Don't Do Hybrids?

Even the French are entitled to their opinion. It would be nice to see some logic - and maybe some evidence - to support their assertions, but you can't have everything.

It won't stop the development of hydrogen fuel cells, as there is a misinformed craze for hydrogen vehicles especially in countries that don't do hybrids.

Of course it's a temporary step -but as all 'pure green' energy-saving vehicles have thus far been a joke, we need SOMETHING to lower carbon output until science catches up.

Back the lab guys, and stop whining!

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Flame

Does not surprise me in the slightest

People do not buy hybrids for their mileage or green credentials. They buy them to get around Red-Green Ken's congestion charge or for the green-cred they bring.

After all, the old Honda Civic Hybrid which probably had the best mileage out of all "green" vehicles sold least. Guess why - according to Honda itself it did not "Look Green" enough. It looked like a normal car and drove better than many normal cars so it did not have the appeal to all the people desperate to show how green they are while they continue wasting enormous amounts of resources.

By the way, once you put normal tires on the Prius so you can take UK corners and roundabouts at normal speed without killing yourself your mileage hits rock bottom straight away.

As far as the mileage table is concerned looking at it nearly every French Diesel vehicle can beat the best Hybrids so frankly the French definitely have a point here.

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Don't forget

The energy input required to make the batteries and dispose of them at end of life. Lots of people forget about those things and seem to think they just appear.

I haven't seen a study the looks at the making of a standard car and a hybrid over say a 15 - 20 year life cycle, and the energy and pollution requirements in those cases.

The claims of the hybrid makers could well be fluff as well.

Thumbs down, they should have tried harder

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Nev
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It's about time...

... people started pointing at the naked-emperor that is hybrid car technology.

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As a Prius driver ...

I have to agree with all the knocking copy about the car. Every driver of a French diesel car I have spoken to (OK, all half dozen of them) gets a better mpg than I get out of my Prius. Recently it had a recall (concern about a possible lack of integrity of the cells in the HT/traction battery). The recall should have been a one day job, but the agent I use for service does not have the necessary specialist staff, so it was sent away to one of their other branches, and became an overnight job. Then they discovered that the "engine computer" wasn't talking properly to the "battery computer" and kept it for another two weeks. Since I've had it back, the mpg has been going dramatically and steadily south on the graph I keep.

No they will not get a repeat sale to me. Even Mondeos do better on the mpg stakes than this thing does at present!

You might recall the Mini QED produced a short while ago by electric motor manufacturers PML FlightLink Ltd. In a recent exchange of emails they said that "We hope that either the Volvo recharge project or the Lightning cars

roadster will be the first car manufacturers to use our motors as demonstrated in the Mini." And they hope to be in production within the year.

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Boffin

There is one advantage

The dumb billions who own cars can get used to semi-electric cars more easily than switching 'cold-turkey' to all-electric. This leads to an increase in car-grade electric motors and possibly to better batteries. As more hybrids come out, more and more people will demand plug-in hybrids to increase their range without using petrol.

Hopefully, as there are more plug-in hybrids, parking garages, apartment complexes and work parking lots (and maybe park-and-ride lots?) will get plugs so you can charge your plug-in hybrid there, too.

Once that happens, we could switch to all-electrics...

(I have always doubted the validity of hybrids, though. I have a friend who drives a [petrol] Toyota Echo and it gets the same in-town milage as the Prius, and much better highway milage.)

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Anonymous Coward

A craze for what's available

"misinformed craze"? Do these idiots have any idea how distorted the car market is in the US?

I live in the Pacific NW, prime enviro-nutter country. When I was looking for a new car a couple of years ago I wanted a small engined hatch back: it's the same kind of car I have always owned as far as I can (albeit with some wobbles on engine size in the late 90s in the UK). At the time, my options for hatchbacks were:

- Golf: 1.8 engine, scarce as hen's teeth

- Audi S3: 2.0 engine, expensive (I had a 1.6 A3 in the UK... I miss it)

- Mazda 3: 2.3 engine

- Toyota Matrix: crap. Well, it feels like you are sitting on a shelf and the drive is about as involving as a wheelbarrow.

- Ford Focus ZX[35]: 2.0 engine, but had a ZX3 before and didn't like it

- tinpot US tiny cars. US makers make rubbish hatchbacks.

Things are a little better now (apparently I was just buying a car at a bad time), but the Japanese makers just don't sell the range of hatchbacks that are available in Japan and Europe here in the States. Now you can buy Smart cars here, but they are a $30k novelty item.

Anyway, my point is that hybrids may be a poor middle technology, but they are also the only thing that's actually available here in the States that makes any sense at all. The US makers are just so obsessed with trucks and saloons the size of a cricket wicket that the smaller cars simply are not sold here in any numbers.

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Paris Hilton

Windmills of my mind

"personally the sooner we have windmills on top of the damn things the better"

Or propellers - a windmill on the front, and a propeller on the back! Perhaps someone could revive those old Messerschmitt cars, with windmill/propeller drive. They're streamlined, small, easy to get out of in an emergency.

If only there was a way to harness the power of wind. I choose Paris Hilton as my avatar because she would benefit from having a windmill on top of her head.

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People you are not trying are you?

Hybrids -6

Hydrogen -5

Horse and cart +10

simple is it not?

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Bicycles are better? Maybe.

I've been without a car for over three years now, and it isn't all that inconvenient. Like Duncan, I live in the PNW, but I get around with public transport and bicycle. There isn't much that can't be done that really requires a car, and that can be rented fairly easily. That's really the only way to beat all of this "less carbon than thou" crappola. (plus it's cheap!) Of course that's not for everybody, but if you can do it, then go for it.

As for hybrid cars and alternate fuels, anybody notice the study published about how crop-based ethanol is not really a "green" solution? ("Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat," New York Times) We don't really have any solution to replace petrol fuel, other that muscle power. Current fuel cells require platinum, which is a rare metal. Batteries have to be made and then disposed properly. Currently nothing beats petroleum for fuel, and it is the best fuel source.

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US Bloatville

Despite what they say, hybrids are a step in the right direction as well as smaller cars.

Where I live, large SUV's, F250's, F350's and Dodge Ram pickups are the status symbol to have, despite the fact that they only carry one person and no cargo. Make it 4 wheel drive for extra status and reduced fuel mileage, despite the fact that if it ever got a speck of mud on it, the owner would have a heart attack, plus when it snows here, 4WD stuff predominantly is what ends up in the ditches. (Somehow 4 wheel drive gets you going faster than your already standard 4 wheel braking can get you stopped and doesn't actually give you better traction in turns.) Make it diesel so you can pretend you're a truck driver despite the fact that it's tremendously more expensive when you need repairs.

You'd think that at 3 dollars a gallon (gasoline), people would be buying something more economical, but all they do is complain about the price of gas. I guess they have such loads of retirement money coming in that they can afford to blow it all on burning dinosaurs.

The reality is that most people don't really have anywhere important to be going and just eliminating all the unnecessary traffic would do more to reduce the carbon footprint than hybrids, hydrogen and biofuel supposedly will ever help.

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Stop

Ivenough

"As far as the mileage table is concerned looking at it nearly every French Diesel vehicle can beat the best Hybrids so frankly the French definitely have a point here."

Not true as soon as you get off the motorway. Hybrids are an elegant short term solution. The next stage is to a) fit them with plug-in recharging options and b) fit them with Lithium Ion batteries which are both lighter and have greater energy density c) swap the petrol engine for a Diesel.

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Maybe I'm missing the point here but:

Does the engine drive the wheels? Yes. Then how is this a hybrid?

Does it get wonderful MPG? No. Then how is this a hybrid?

The report has one thing right -- using the word "hybrid" in this context is just marketing-speak.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Andrew

Citroen's are the only vehicles that I've ever known to become worth more for scrap metal after being driven off the showroom floor...

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Pirate

@gollux

For those that choose to buy and drive the behemoths for reasons other than regular hauling of people and/or goods the only status gained by driving them is the status that the driver is both selfish and delusional of the problems facing the world and at the same time flush with disposable income to pay for the fill-ups.

This is not a status that I would want.

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Flame

"Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage"

http://clubs.ccsu.edu/Recorder/editorial/print_item.asp?NewsID=188

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Dead Vulture

Air car has potential

From what I have seen the air car has potential as a city driving vehicle which is what most people use their car for anyway

I don't know anything about the corresponding production footprint so there may be an issue there.

The only concern I have is that while people still choose to drive around in war wagons then safety is still to much of an issue.

Dead vulture as compressed air would obviously be cold not hot

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Paris Hilton

@gollux

Maybe not in a lot of states; but I've witnessed a practice prevalent in Nevada whereby shoppers park up in the local Wallmart or precinct and leave the engine running whilst they go for a good old shop/hoof manicure. The only reason being - it keeps the aircon running for their return. Presumably it helps to keep their choc ices cold for the journey home.

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Boffin

Hydrogen fuel cells are the wrong way to go, people.

1) http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0203/0203hydrogen.htm

2) http://www.dalefield.com/slspartners/hydrogen_fm.html

There are more websites out there that explain all this, but just go read those two to start with. Hydrogen is an energy *carrier*, not an energy *source*. There are energy losses all along the way of getting hydrogen out of water and getting it into a vehicle; there are more losses in using that hydrogen in that vehicle.

It is much wiser to generate the electricity from wind and solar and use a pure electric vehicle to start with. Hybrids are just a good step towards that.

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Uh, Pieter?

If you do a search for (without the quotes) "prius hummer damage" you find lots of links - all pointing to various postings of that ONE article. ONE article that has ZERO factual links to back up its claims.

Nice try at continuing a myth.

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Anonymous Coward

Prediction:

We all know batteries cease taking a charge after a certain lifespan.

Batteries are very expensive, in both monetary cost as well as environmental.

When the batteries in the current crop of hybrids run out, it will likely cost more than the value of the car to replace them.

Ergo, destructive planned obsolescence. I'm not anti-green, I'm anti-stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Quiz Time

Q What does the word "Citeron" mean?

A "Ahhh Citeron, it is French for lemon".

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Stop

Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage - unproven!

I'm no Prius fanboy but that "Dust to dust" paper Pieter L links has been pretty well discredited, not least of the problems is that the lower cost/impact of the Hummer is based on it having a most unlikely life of 300,000 miles. Note that this was a Hummer H3, which is a tarted up little SUV built on GM's cheap/small pickup truck chassis, not the brawny real Hummer.

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@ Pieter L

Seriously? An article from a school newspaper written by someone who can't even get their facts right about the Sudbury nickel plants?

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Pirate

Italian

I reckon my Piaggio gets better milage - about 3l/100k at the moment.

And hydrogen fuel is a joke, greenhouse-wise. It just moves the combustion from a few metres from the wheels to a power station 100s of ks away, with transmission losses etc etc.

Nuclear Fusion is humanity's only hope. Without it, this current time will be the never-to-be-repeated golden age. In a couple of centuries, anything made of plastic will be a priceless antique.

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Pirate

Wimps can't peddle

We all know that the Prius is worse on the environment than a Hummer and fancy all-electrics are faster than gassers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qDZOBQs60w

Those kinds of topics are really not very relevant to any discussion about carbon usage. We should be discussing why people are so stubborn or lazy as to need a passenger car in the first place. Are these people all old, sick, or disabled? If not, then a passenger car is just a toy. How come the average car owner doesn't have the guts to peddle their own ass to work? That is the real question.

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Paris Hilton

I still like the idea of ethanol fuelled cars

I still like the idea of ethanol fuelled cars. You can convert most petrol engines to run on alcohol fairly simply and while they do generate CO2 it's the same CO2 that was absorbed when the source crop was grown, not stuff that has spent the last million years trapped under the ground

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@ gollux and others

How nice that I do not have to decide for myself what I need or want - so many are glad to do that for me. Now I can just lay down and sleep while gollux and the other BRANES will solve all my problems. [Capitalized to keep it separate from the Brane theory of the universe.]

This is the perfect solution for everything. See how well it worked in Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union and now in giving all that prosperity to the North Korean's and the Cuban's? Let the state bureaucrats solve all the problems.

Just for the record, what I need and what I want are my concern and you can just keep your damned hands off. The Cult of AGW is very similar to the National Socialist Democratic Workers Party and the thugs that ran that party. The King Ranch in Texas is roughly 200,00 acres (call it 80,000 hectares) and you don't get around it with a bicycle - you need a pickup. If someone needs a large pickup truck to haul a 40-foot cattle trailer, it will frequently also be the family car because the budget only allows one vehicle. Haul cattle one day and groceries the next. Or maybe we could tell the people on the Stations in Australia that they can keep their motorcycles and bicycles but the multi-trailer land trains won't be around anymore. In other words, solutions that properly serve the metropolitan areas are usually a disaster for the suburban and rural areas.

Show me the science behind the hockey-stick curve (the creation of a computer program) and show how all the real data from the Maunder Minimum, Malenkovich Cycles, Greenland ice core sample analysis, etc., etc., have been taken into account and maybe I will be convinced that IPCCC report is something more than a piece of fiction designed to enhance control of humanity by a few malicious individuals. Not likely but it could happen.

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Coat

@ Quiz Time

Oh dear, if you are going to make jokes then at least get them right...

Citron - means Lemon in French

Citeron - is not a word in any language

Citroen - is a brand name of a French car manufacturer, I'm not saying they're NOT lemons, but you might want to check your French grammar before poking fun!

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Alert

old(ish) but still relevant

http://cnwmr.com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy/

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Anonymous Coward

@Rebecca Putman

"There are energy losses all along the way.." This sounds like a restatement of one of the laws of thermodynamics, which will apply to putting wind power into a car as well.

BTW. the citations look less than authoritative...

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Prius and CO2 etc

First of all it's Citroën, not Citeron so not the French for Lemon.

Secondly it seems that the Prius does a lot better for people who adapt their style of driving to take advantage of it' strengths. Those who do that and drive more around town seem to do pretty well. On the other hand the latest diesel Mini does pretty well too, although it's a smaller car.

Thirdly, one person flies to Oz and that's my cars lifetime CO2 usage gone, let alone a satellite launch or Space Shuttle. It's also worth bearing in mind, that compared to the US we Europeans are paragons of virtue when it comes to CO2! If the UK turned off all cars and factories tomorrow it wouldn't really make much difference if the US continued at it's present rate. However, even that pales into the background compared to the deforestation in countries like Brazil and Indonesia.

Just thought we might need some perspective :-)

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@Ole Juul

Hmm. So anyone who lives in the country (and almost by definition >cycling distance from work, with no public transport) all have to be old, sick or disabled before they can have a car? Nice one.

My passenger car is NOT a toy, it's an absolute requirement for me to get to work. I drive it sensibly to maximise my MPG - I'm trying to get my work to allow me to work from home - not sure what else I can do.

I cannot move closer to work (in fact just had to move further away) because I cannot afford the housing. Have you got any suggestions that may help here???

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Pirate

Mine gets the best mileage

Ooops, maybe not but then it is a 4 litre V8 TVR - who gives a shit about the environment - it is fun to drive.

Skull and crossbones - cos I apparently am a planet killer. Luv it....

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Small petrol engine

Never seen a hybrid that beats my 11-year-old Rover Metro on MPG.

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Boffin

Lazy humans

I second what Ole says - too many of us westerners seem to think we have a right to be lazy and not use our built in power systems. Some of us live in places which are too cold and refuse to put on more clothes, or places which are too hot for our liking so we burn fuel to cool them down.

Maybe if we could use the resources around us better - like using daylight for work and play rather than electric light - we humans might stand a chance.

Sadly too many choices are made based on laziness and short sighted economics.

Never mind, hopefully the oil will run out or we will all choke to death and then we won't have any problems.

[That icon because I'm a speccy git too]

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Happy

Why is Hybrid petrol + diesel?

If modern diesel engines outperform hybrids in terms of MPG and CO2 emission, why are Hybrids using petrol? If a hybrid used a combination of electric and diesel, it would return fantastic economy.

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Boffin

@ Quiz Time

AC, there this thing about spelling: if you put different letters in a different order it's a different word!

Citeron - never heard of it.

citron - French for lemon

Citroën - French for good value car

Your "joke" makes as much sense as "Ford is American for Fraud" or "Prius is Japanese for Pricy"

I have had Ctroëns for over 20 years and have had one breakdown in that period. My wife drove the same AX for 15 years until the MOT cost more than the car was worth. It was ungaraged for all that time and had moss growing on it but it still went like the clappers and gave 48 mpg even when thrashed down the motorway at full speed (85mph)

The latest petrol C1 is exempt from the congestion charge- like the Prius - as it is so low emitting .

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Anonymous Coward

@AC with the TVR

MPG?

Personally I need to see the evidence of dead polar bears before I buy any car.

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Happy

Why?

because hybrids were primarily designed for the Japanese and US markets where they don't like Diesel. Fitting Prius with a good Diesel generator would certainly increase efficiency - possibly by >30%.

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Re:US Bloatville

***"You'd think that at 3 dollars a gallon (gasoline), people would be buying something more economical, but all they do is complain about the price of gas."***

Wait until your prices get to the same level us poor suckers in the UK are forced to pay. £1.04 per litre of unleaded, which equates to £4 per gallon(US) or, at current exchange rates, $7.80 a US gallon. So it'd cost you $125 fill up a Chrysler Voyager (16 gallon tank).

And our feckin' wonderful government is going to slap another 2p tax on each litre (equiv to 15 cents/gallon) in April.

Bastards!!!!

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@Jim Black

"The King Ranch in Texas is roughly 200,00 acres (call it 80,000 hectares) and you don't get around it with a bicycle - you need a pickup. If someone needs a large pickup truck to haul a 40-foot cattle trailer, it will frequently also be the family car because the budget only allows one vehicle."

Jim, we're not talking about people like you -- we're talking about the city dudes who buy a stupidly over-sized truck as a family car to play at being cowboys.

This is why we generally talk about dirt: a clean 4x4/pickup is driven by a poser who deserves a slapping whereas a dirty 4x4/pickup is driven by someone who needs a 4x4/pickup. The former is a waste of fuel, whereas the latter is a good use of fuel.

Nothing against you -- just against wasteful idiots.

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Stop

Yea - and

After enjoying a warm 18 degree February day on Saturday, even I agree hybrids are not the way.

I think we should all get big 4 litre 4x4's - this global warming is becoming a hoot, and we will soon be able to sale over the top of Canada - just like the Vikings did (they obviously had 4x4's and jumbo jets too as they successfully changed the climate).

One day will dig up a great big pit full of viking fridges - the ozone busting ones they dumped to cause the cooling.

Is'nt mankind clever!

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Sam

Cough

from 13 Feb 06;

"PSA will produce the first diesel-electric hybrids

PSA Peugeot Citroen has become the first manufacturer to announce the production of a diesel-electric hybrid. Peugeot 307 and Citroen C4 Hybride HDi models will be on sale in the UK by 2010 and 4Car has already driven the prototypes at a test track near Paris."

Source http://www.channel4.com/4car/feature/feature.jsp?id=1202

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Coat

The French are missing an important source of energy anyway

Considering the regional dish in the southwest of the country is cassoulet - basically a bean hotpot made with preserved duck or pork (absolutely delicious, and I say this as a vegetarian who's trying to lose weight) - maybe a small alteration to the design of the driver's seat could make use of this major natural resource for powering the car?

In the UK, the less gastronomic curry'n'lager mix could provide the same service. In the Americas, lovers of refried beans everywhere would cease being antisocial overnight. Indeed, it would be a patriotic duty in many countries to eat dishes containing dried pulses and/or onions, and down a regular pint (although we'd need a regulatory body here and I suggest CamRA).

IGMC

Taxi!

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Unhappy

Obvious

It's hardly surprising that the Pious isn't all that - like all these hybrids, it gets all its energy from burning petrol - the fact that some of it is stored in some enormously heavy batteries temporarily doesn't change that fact. Allowing for the losses in coverting the kinetic enregy of the engine to electrical, and then back again, they're bound to be less efficient.

The only efficiency advantage with a hybrid is the regenerative braking, which recovers the kinetic energy of the car instead of converting it to heat and throwing it overboard.

As I understand it, the only reason hybrids are popular at all is because of the Californian-style zero emissions legislation which will disallow petrol cars in city centres. The hybrid avoids this by inefficiently generating electrical power with its petrol engine before going into the city. It has nothing to do with reduing the energy usage.

Catalytic converters were developed for the same reason - to get rid of the smog in Los Angeles. They make a petrol engine *less* efficient and generate *more* CO2 - will we be seeing them banned any time soon?

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