THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY & THE ENVIRONMENT: GREEN OR GREED

15. October 2007, 15:41 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Let me start by saying that I'm not an environmental zealot by any means, but I do care about environmental issues. I picked up my printed copy of Electronic Engineering Times magazine today to read with coffee at lunch. An article lead in spread across the cover just begged for a response.

The greentone cover featured a picture of a snazzy car and the dubious heading and tagline of:

“Road to green vehicles” - “The automotive industry knows it must go green to stay competitive. But which road to drive? Advanced combustion engines, diesel engines, fuel cells, hybrids — or all of the above?”

I wonder why pure electric doesn’t appear as an option in the above list?

The article titled “Automakers’ green initiatives outpace government progress” by Spencer Chin opens with the statement:

“Progress has been slow, and technology and cost obstacles remain, but the automotive industry is making strides in developing environmentally friendly vehicles. With the looming specter of more-stringent regulation of emissions and fuel economy, automakers appear determined to stay one step ahead of legislators through their own initiatives to develop greener vehicles. Moreover, they realize that going green can be a useful marketing tool.”

Does anyone ever wonder what happened to the electric cars that used to exist? The EV-1 from General Motors, the electrics from Honda, and Toyota? The initiative in California what would have seen Los Angeles County, if not the state, emissions free by now?

The article goes on to say that:

“All-electric vehicles, meanwhile, use no gasoline engine and thus produce zero emissions, but concerns over battery life persist. Thus far, all-electric solutions have been largely relegated to niche applications.”

and

“One fuel source drawing interest is hydrogen. The fuel can be produced by stripping molecules from hydrocarbons, according to the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, but it is expensive and is considered less efficient than storing energy in batteries or ultracapacitors.”

While the automakers and petroleum industry play, yes I said play, with their experiments and let the market limp on while mouthing all the right eco-friendly and politically correct words, they continue to milk the petroleum buying public of money and clean air in the interests of profits. While the sales of hybrids continue to climb, I wonder how many Ford Escape owners realize that once they pass about 40 kph (or 25 mph) the gasoline engine cuts in and they are no longer running solely on electrical. If that doesn’t sound so bad, think about how much of your daily driving is actually done at that speed or less.

For anyone with an open mind I recommend they buy, rent or borrow a copy of and watch a 2006 documentary by director Chris Paine called “Who Killed The Electric Car?” . Some information links on this documentary can be found below:

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Categories: ,
Keywords: environment,electric car,hybrid,hydrogen,automobile,industry

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