In a climate of economic austerity in which European car sales have declined over the past few years, the renewable and other emerging technologies on display during the recent 2012 Paris Motor Show offered a glimmer of hope.
The two-week event that ended on October 14 featured the latest in electric vehicle and hybrid technology. Automakers, like BMW, that have been slow to enter the hybrid and EV markets, showed off concept vehicles while others demonstrated the latest technologies for squeezing more miles and kilometers out of each gallon or liter of gas.
Click on the image below to see some of the cars on display at the show.
The BMW i8 Concept can run on electric power alone. The energy supplied by the application-designed battery (installed between the front and rear axles) to the electric motor at the front axle gives the BMW i8 Concept an all-electric driving range of about 20 miles. The battery can be fully recharged in two hours in a standard power socket.
ChriSharek, it seems like the strong EVs and hybrids are effectively luxury vehicles. I think we'll really hit the tipping point when the medium-priced hybrids can earn their price differential by gas savings. And, when EVs can take long trips.
Yes, hydrogen fuel cells are a clean and workable solution, except for one basic problem. Economics. It requires a great deal of electric energy to extract hydrogen from water, and the only method at present that can efficiently meet the demand is nuclear power. It is an irrefutable law of thermodynamics that the higher the temperature at which you produce power the more efficient is the process. I have paraphrased of course. Just compare the physical plant size of a typical 1200 megawatt nuclear plant against the size of any other 1200 megawatt facility as an illustration. Let's not even take it to the sublime, a 1200 megawatt wind farm.
And, it is an irrefutable law of economics that if it isn't cheaper to produce than current methods of production, especially those with an existing infrastructure then you will never be able to raise the capital required, unless you can convince a politician that it will put money in his pocket.
Check your facts. A pile of coal emits more radiation than does a nuclear power plant, and that doesn't include the stuff coming out of the stack. Taking it back one step further what has been the ongoing often tragic results of mining the coal. We on the left coast are now being threatened by coal as the coal industry is trying to establish coal transport stations on our pristine coast line. Washington states primary electrical energy production is by hydroelectric, arguably the cleanest method of production. Oh, yes the reason for the stations is to export coal to China.
New nuclear reactor designs reduce the amount of spent fuel and actually will use the spent fuel after reprocessing. The nuclear power industry is suffering from political cowardism.
Unfortunately we have bought the fear and hype of our media fear mongers.
What about birth defects, cancer and a myriad of other health problems that result from contaminated rivers. The federal government is involved in nuclear power generation, so the statistics you see don't show the real problems. I live near a nuclear power plant (TMI) and I've moved around quite a bit before settling down. I've seen approximately 20 times more instances of birth defects and cancer around and south of where I live now than in areas where power is produced by coal, oil and natural gas. Nuclear power is very dirty.
We've had incidents at TMI where core water was leaked or the core was exposed and we heard a quick blurb about it on the national news 2 days after it happened even though an emergency alert system is in place. Each time, they claim there was no danger to the public and only workers at the plant were affected. Right. These incidents happen more often than you think. Most don't make the news.
I disagree with the notion that nuclear power is "dirty". If one compares the statistics for nuclear and fosile fueled power, nuclear comes out way ahead. Thousands of people die each year due to air polution from fosil fuels, while in its entire history, nuclear has caused relatively few deaths. Sure, when a nuke fails, the failures are spectacular, but the big picture tells the true story.
Unfortunately, nuclear power is one of the dirtiest power generation methods we have. Yes it generates power on a big scale, but the waste storage and the contamination of rivers are real problems. The cost of proper disposal of contaminated cooling water is so high that the EPA regulations that limit how much high-level waste is "leaked" into rivers have become a goal instead of a safety limit. We don't want to build more nuclear power plants.
Solar and wind power (not to mention current EV's) require the use of storage batteries. In most cases those batteries are not produced domestically. Why? Because of pollution. Even China is starting to crack down on pollution from battery production. Hydrogen fuel cells with solar-powered refueling is the best solution we have. The technology is here, but where are the products? Consumer interest in hydrogen isn't high enough. Until consumers have a warm and fuzzy feeling for hydrogen we're stuck with pollution one way or another.
GeorgeG, last comment, I promise. By reducing our oil consumption and even using our "dirty energy" we at least are producing the energy domesticallly. This could lead to thousands of additional jobs in power production and distribution - instead of sending $37 BILLION per MONTH to countries that hate our guts for their oil.
Thx AKWAMAN. It's only a matter of time that more and more coal plants are taken off line or become cleaner through tightening regulations, more and more solar, wind, and renewable energies feed into the grid. I'm just wondering when Americans will wake up and embrace the technology that's already here.
Sure, I've used some gas in my Volt - 89 gallons, but the ODO reads 21,000 miles . . . gotta love that.
Thanks for keeping it real, ChriSharek. It is the position of the oil-based economy and the confused to try and over state the shortcomings of electrics. I live in Florida also, but there are states that get a large amount of their power from coal, which is among the worst of the fuels we use in this country. Of course an array of solar panels will charge your EV car just fine, yes it will cost a little on the front end, but in the long run, after it is paid off, your "fuel" is really cheap, and how much do you think gasonline will cost in 10 years? Solar panels with current technology last 20 years or more.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
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