Last night, Oregon Dad and I watched the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?”. I highly suggest watching it.
The big question:
Why aren’t we moving faster toward alternative automotive options?
The technology is already present for electric cars, so why did it get squashed?
Hubby and I drive a Prius, he also carpools to work a couple times a week. We feel the need to reduce our consumption of gasoline. With gas prices estimated to top $4 a gallon this summer, can we afford not to look at other options? (Isn’t a lot of GREEN-ness prompted by saving money?)
There is an estimated 100 Trillion dollars left to be made in foreign oil… I am sure the oil tycoons aren’t happy with any alternative vehicles, unless they can cash in on the fuel (like hydrogen). They don’t want to lose their hold on the market, or lose out on any of the money yet to be made. There is a big fat reason the electric vehicles haven’t gained more ground and it’s color is green. CASH.
Recently there has been a lot of hype regarding hydrogen vehicles. Everyone (being the politicians and car makers) appear to be focusing all their alternative efforts on the hydrogen vehicle. In reality, the hydrogen vehicle isn’t going to be readily available for many more years. There is also the question… are hydrogen vehicles more efficient than an electric vehicle. Today that answer is a resounding NO.
Hydrogen has to be created to power these vehicles. Hydrogen is a carrier of energy, not a source. Therefore, conventional power plants will be needed to create the energy hydrogen carries. To produce hydrogen, you need two resources… WATER and ELECTRICITY (through a process called electrolysis). If renewable energy is used in this process, then there would be no net carbon dioxide emission. The reality is, other energy sources will be utilized to create the hydrogen fuel. This could include natural gas or coal. Still sapping our non-renewable reserves. Coal must be burned to create energy… and that pollutes our air. In regards to automobiles, hydrogen has been considered the most expensive and LEAST EFFICIENT replacement for gasoline.
Huh… then why is our government dumping money into fuel cell vehicles?
“With a new national commitment …the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”
President Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003
I find this astounding. Is the concept of hydrogen fueled vehicles a good one? Yes. Is it viable in our society? Maybe in 10 years. Is it the best choice for our environment? No. Why you ask? For one, these United States already have a well established electricity grid in place. We can use that to power electric vehicles (EVs). Renewable energy sources are available (solar, wind, damn) which further reduces the impact EVs have on the environment. Creating hydrogen fueling stations will be expensive and must be readily accessible before the masses can own a hydrogen fuel vehicle. If I am driving a car that I know has to be fueled in 100 miles. Would I rather have one that I can simply plug in to any available power source… or one that I have to plan my trips around hydrogen fueling stations?
This is yet another example where consumers are being misled, or GREENWASHED. Check out the Government’s Hydrogen Site, there are photos of Shell gas stations with hydrogen fuel pumps and partnerships with GM (General Motors) to create hydrogen vehicles to use in the postal service. There’s some big money mixing with politics and initiatives here.
Maybe, just maybe, the promise of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will keep us satisfied for another 10 years. 10 more years of relying on foreign oil… of oil companies make TRILLIONS of dollars off our dependency. Are our politicians in the pockets of the large oil corporations and car makers? Without a doubt. Will this have a negative impact on our environment? That’s likely.
So, where does that leave us? Our government may not be making the initiatives it needs to in order to increase fuel efficiency (and yes, I believe they should make laws regarding fuel efficiency as they have in the past). We as consumers still can do our part. We can stay informed, get educated, don’t buy into the hogwash (yes, an electric vehicle is several times more efficient than a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle). Get a hybrid. The Prius is a great car. It’s roomy and can comfortably hold a family of five with plenty of storage. In the country we get 42-45 mpg and in town we average 55-60 mpg. That just makes sense. Toyota is working on a plug in hybrid Prius. How awesome would it be to plug in my car at night (and not worry if I forgot to plug it in), then I could get 150 mpg or more for the first 50-60 miles that day (which is what the average person drives in a day anyway)… when the bonus from my overnight charge wears off, then I am back to my standard hybrid engine system. Yes, I’d be using more electricity but less petroleum. I can offset that by purchasing green power options (such as windpower) through the electric company. Hopefully we will see the new Plug In Prius by 2009… just in time for us to upgrade. We have 77k on our 2005 model and it will be ready for TeenGirl to drive to college by then.
What are you going to do about the rising gasoline prices? Deal with it. Drive less. Get a more efficient car. Telecommute. Carpool. Bike. Write your legislature. Vote with an energy plan in mind. Be accountable.