Friday, January 16, 2009

Hybrids, Electrics and Greenhouse

No they won't. At least not substantially. And not alone.

Let's think about this a little. Where do electric cars get their electricity? From a power plant, most of which are fired by some sort of fossil fuel (and until nuclear becomes much bigger than it is, that ain't gonna change, as I have chronicled elsewhere in these pages). The Laws of Thermodynamics indicate that adding another part to the cycle increases inefficiencies. consequently, using electricity from a 35% efficient power plant through power lines with huge losses to a battery that is inherently inefficient doesn't reduce (alleged) GHG emissions.

Hybrids are ok, I suppose. I helped build one in college (I designed part of the drivetrain). But a diesel-powered VW Jetta gets 50 mpg. I don't think there are any hybrids currently getting that kind of mileage. And the Jetta performance is superior at a lower price. Why would I pay the premium for a hybrid?

In the end, AGW will be shown to be a hoax and the only reason to buy electric or hybrid will be economic. Right now, it isn't.


intermodal said...

I get a good 43 highway 34 city in my Jetta TDI with the 6-speed Tiptronic.

Four or five years from now when it turns six or seven years old, I won't have to shell out almost as much as the car is worth to replace the batteries. The guy at VW was pretty straight with me when I bought it: The engine is designed to last 600,000 miles or so, and should outlast the rest of the car. I've only had it 2 years/2500 miles, so I have yet to see it, but from what other TDI owners I've met say, that's a pretty accurate portrayal.

Deekaman said...

I know people with the TDI that get every bit of the 50+ on the highway and swear by it.

intermodal said...

I know some that get the full 50 too. I don't know if it's my driving habits, the fuel around here, or just something I haven't identified. I've gotten better than 43, but that's more of an average. Part of it is probably my somewhat higher than optimal cruising speeds.

Ordinary Jill said...

Are there a lot of hills in your area? That would cut into your mpg.

intermodal said...

Nope, DFW metroplex. Back in the bay area though, it would have been pretty reasonable to think of that as the cause. I've actually been trying to figure it out for quite a while. Best I can come up with is the possibility that it's geared differently from whatever people get 50 MPG out of, or that my cruising speed is higher than would be optimal. The latter is a pretty good bet, I inherited my mom's lead foot.