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The problem with Hybrid vehicles

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posted on Sep, 1 2005 @ 10:48 AM
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Did not want to hijack the "why hybrids are moot" thread. And I'm frankly not sure this post belongs here, as it blends petro-politics and technology.

The problem with hybrids as built today is that they do not provide the degree of benefit they could. And they do not provide the degree of benefit they could because they are designed wrong. And they are designed wrong because they are designed by entities who are not interested (yet, at least) in providing the maximum degree of benefit possible from hybrid vehicles.

Hybrids as built now still tightly couple moving the vehicle to an internal combustion engine. Although the Prius comes close to doing it right, it still misses the boat by a bit.

A hybrid vehicle 'should' move soley on the power of the electric motor. Any gas engine on the vehicle should exist soley for the purpose of charging batteries.

And the vehicle should be designed to take advantage of every bit of energy that comes its way to help charge the batteries.

So a properly designed hybrid car (in my opinion, anyway) will have larger battery capacity and a very small gas engine that does nothing but run at a constant speed and does nothing but run a generator or alternator to charge batteries. This results in an engine that is probably less than a litre in displacement. It runs at its most efficient speed at all times that it is running at all. So gets hours of operation per gallon of gasoline. Think of how long your average gas-powered generator runs on a gallon.

Are there technical problems with scenario? You bet. Current battery technology for one. But they are solveable.

The biggest problem is, as usual, politics and profit. I believe vehicle manufacturers are tightly wedded enough with oil production entities that they (vehicle mfgrs) do not see it in their best interests yet to build really truly efficient vehicles. Too much $$$ to be milked first.

So the current crop of hybrids came to be. Are they an improvement? Yes. Are they the best that could be done? No.

Regarding the obvious battery technology challenge, look at what happened with notebook computer batteries a few years ago. That technology has exploded, and continues to evolve, because the economic incentives are there. So notebook batteries are getting lighter, smaller, more powerful and longer lasting. And expensive. But the technological problems are solveable.

Sadly, the political and profit-based problems are more intractable. I'm afraid those won't be solved before we as a world go through quite a bit more bloodshed on the matter.




posted on Sep, 1 2005 @ 12:10 PM
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I actually investigated buying a hybrid vehicle before I purchased my most recent one a few months ago. I took a little test on the Internet to see how much fuel I would save, given my current driving habits. Granted, I don't drive much, but it would have saved me a whopping $120 a year! Now, that was a few months ago before the current surge in gas prices. It's probably up to $250 a year now.

A few years ago, in Tucson Arizona I saw a parking station for electric cars, including, I believe a battery charger. I thought for sure that in 5 years' time, we'd be seeing those all over the place, but alas, we've not progressed far at all along those lines.

I certainly hope some one or some company does take the initiative to design a real hybrid that would not just cut down on gasoline use but virtually omit our dependence on it. I mean, I've seen cars that run on vegetable oil, surely with that, batteries and solar, something can be done?



 
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