Full EVs at 2011 Detroit Auto Show not so green after all
Rather, consider near-green technology that uses natural gas.
True, cars like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus EV, the BYD Electric from China, and the Tesla S to be made in America make little to no noise running. Even the Chevy Volt is a full EV for the first 40-50 miles.
You might also point out that each has no tailpipe except the Volt, as there’s no engine exhaust in a full EV to pipe out .
Yeah, that makes them fully green, you say. Well, not so fast.
Here’s what folks who go wild with their money over full EVs don’t realize: America does not generate the majority of her electricity from wind and rainbow generators.
Fact is, America mostly burns coal to generate electricity. We even run nuclear plants to generate electricity. These two sources are responsible for nearly 70% of the electricity produced in the United States. The rest comes from hydro-power like the TVA and Niagara, and the rest from natural gas.
That means, full EVs like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus EV and the Tesla mostly burn coal every time they’re plugged into the power grid.
What was that? Did you just hear a pin drop? Surely other analysts realize this.
Right now, natural gas is responsible for about 24% of our electrical generation capacity; and that‘s going to rise. Yet, as the U.S. government wants the nation to go green, natural gas is the best commodity in our soil to carry the country through the transition.
Problem is, the automakers have bought into their own marketing rhetoric that hydrogen is just around the corner. Well, how much around the corner? 5 years? 10 years, 20 years?
Until that is determined, natural gas is still one of the most green plays right in America right now. And, unfortunately, only Honda has a viable option in play for the average driver with its GX model. How ironic!
At the very least, our fleets of trucks should be converted immediately to nat-gas, which will guarantee the infrastructure along every interstate as a start. Go T. Boone Pickens.
It doesn’t matter which engine technology is used either, a standard ICE or a split cycle. Nat gas is cheap; it’s clean; and we have abundant supplies of the stuff. It’s practically un-American to evade it and not to burn the heck out of it. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen over the next several decades, according to many investing analysts.
Investors realize that each situation of low prices and high supply sows the seeds of higher and higher consumption. Thus they believe, if you get in now with the proper investments, you’ll set yourself for big benefits in the coming years.
It seems strange, too, that the major oil companies like Exxon are also investing heavily in natural gas and the transport of it with a new fleet of LNG tankers. What do they know that the U.S. auto industry does not know?
Will all the power plants be converted to natural gas? That will take some time for sure. And EVs have along way to go to make a dent in the vehicle population.
In the meantime, with sluggish economics in place, the general public will not be able to afford expensive dual-propulsion systems like hybrids either. So, the auto industry is still not as advanced in their forward thinking, despite all the marketing hype at 2011 Detroit Auto Show.
About the Author: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now writes articles, books and ebooks via authorfrank.com, but may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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