Incorrect. The global temperature only appears to be flattening due to the huge spike we had in 1998. The reality is that in the last 5 years the Arctic ice cap has started totally disappearing, with an open summer Northwest Passage for the first time in tens of thousands of years.
Anyone who does not think global warming is still not a serious problem, must not live near the coasts or tornado zones.
And the main point of going green has nothing to do with global warming, but with the realistic concern that future shortages in this finite resource will cause global starvation. How many deaths do you want on your hands?
Hybrids have never made sense as a goal for cars, since they have the worst of both worlds, trying to carry and maintain 2 complete propulsion systems instead of just one.
They only make senes as a transitional step for cars, before all electric models will have sufficient range.
But the resale problem could easily be taken care of. It is the high cost and risk factor from the battery packs. And the solution is to not make buyers own the batteries, but for the company to spread out the risk, by leasing the batteries and making them easily exchanged on a regular basis.
As more recharing stations become available, hybrids will become more and more attractive, and their electrical capacity and range will increase, allowing the gasoline components to shrink. (although I never understood why hybrids use gasoline instead of diesel?)
But obviously hybrids are successful and necessary for larger applications. Trains have been hybrids successfully for over half a century. In WWII there was even a successful 75 ton hybrid tank designed by Porsche, the Ferdinand.
I agree with this assessment. I believe that consumers are far more savvy on average about "Green" than they used to be. Part of the original impetus for developing hybrids and EVs was that carbon emissions were causing harm to the environment. Now this proposition is recognized by most rational people as lacking in evidence (the global temperature has been flat for the last 15 years even as atmospheric CO2 has risen). Also, the amount of warming predicted is insignificant compared to daily and seasonal temperature swings in most places. Those who continue to insist on the truth of global warming are seen to be pushing a political rather than scientific agenda. Nonetheless, some people will buy anything claimed to be "green." However, many potential buyers, and especially those who have already owned one, now realize that the total lifetime cost of hybrids and EVs is way higher than the benefit obtained, and that the environmental issues are not nearly as urgent as they seemed 10 or 15 years ago.
Good points, Kevin. I think one of the hidden stories of the last few years is the advance in efficiency with conventional automotive engines, All of the attention has been on the hybrids and EVs. Meanwhile, conventional engines are taking big steps forward in efficiency. So you can choose to cut your carbon output without having to turn to a hybrid or EV.
I have been looking at hybirds since the first Honda Insight showed up in KC in 2002. I did what most engineers do - what is the cost benefit - and found then it was way out of line. I bought a Toyota Echo instead. A third of the cost and ten years later with 250K miles, I have done nothing to the drive train or suspension. It is worth $3K on a trade in from a local dealer. What would the Insight have done? Not even close based on history of the car. I have even looked at a used Prius but the risk is too high without a new battery or a a warranty that costs a small fortune compared to "normal" vehicles. Bottom line for America is "You want me to pay $10K more on a much smaller vehicle that is worth <$3K at trade in and the battery may need replacing at 110K plus miles for $10K?" A Yaris is looking pretty good right now if I want high mileage.
Another reason why people are not repeating the purchase of a hybrid involves resale value. Have you checked what a used hybrid gets these days? Practically nothing compared to a conventional vehicle. That also hurts owners trading in their first hybrid on a new one. Most hybrids being produced now are significantly better than ones from just a few years ago, and that kills the resale market. When you also factor in a possible battery replacement cost, the value of a used hybrid goes way down. So I suspect that people looking to replace their hybrid are shocked at the low trade-in value and don't want to get stuck again.
I think the "average" car buyer is mainly focused on economics. The new efficient (conventional) cars now have created a viable "almost as good for much less purchase price" choice for buyers.
The cost savings vs. higher MPG is a diminishing-returns game: assuming $4/gal & 15K mi/yr, someone saves about $1500/yr by buying a new 40MPG car vs. the old 20 MPG one. However, buying a 50 MPG Prius saves only an additional $300/yr. If the hybrid costs $6K more, the break-even payback time is 20 years!
That being said, I think the new Prius C could be interesting. It still has stellar efficiency (~50MPG) yet costs only a small increment over conventional cars of similar size.
One other observation (the article does not give enough detail to know if this is a factor) - there are many hybrid cars (other than the Prius) that are pretty lame...and definitely not worth it. Hybrid SUV's, the "mild" hybrids from GM, the Honda CRZ, even the Prius V (only 40MPG) have a difficult value proposition for the incremental hybrid costs.
To date, the only hybrid that really set the efficiency bar high enough is the Prius...but that is changing - there are new cars coming from various sources that will get ~50+ MPG. Ford's upcoming Fusion Hybrid is a fairly large car and will get ~47MPG!
Those that are ttruely interested in buying 'green' have begun looking at the cradle to grave 'green' and not just operation. I recall that Toyota acknowledged that their 'greenest' cradle to grave vehicle was not a hybrid.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.