You bring up a good point, Dave. Public transportation is a viable alternative to owning a car. I, too, grew up in Chicago and took the "el" to college. I didn't buy my first new car until age 33 (although I did own a few old beaters before then). Urban infrastructure often makes it easy to function without a car, and sometimes even makes it difficult to keep one.
Government interference, as in beware the. Gasoline from crude can be produced within the US, but the government restrictions prevent it from being profitable in many cases. As to the 100 miles per gallon equivelent for EVs there are many arguements against that. Solar and wind power provide about 2% of the power requirements now, and better than 10% is unlikely. I don't have a problem with other means of energy production, even Nuke, but if you think when they start building new power plants to supply EV demand that the price won't go up I would say you have been misinformed. I have nothing againt EVs either, other than the fact that I must commute beyond the range of the typical one. I would also like to see an EV stand alone on price without subsidies. As was mentioned before by someone my motorcycle gets 50 mpg on a bad day, and requires far fewer resources to build, where is my $7K subsidy?
I have an NGV (I bought it used quite cheap) and it used to be my commute car until I got an EV. It got me around 220 miles on a tank. The issue with NGVs is an infrastructure issue. The high-pressure tanks can usually fill one vehicle at a time even at the commercial places where trucks use them. If you go during business hours, you might end up waiting 1/2hr to get your turn to fill. The fill itself takes only a few minutes. Imagine hundreds of NGV cars trying to do the same. It just doesn't scale. Nobody is willing to pay for the massive infrastructure upgrade- it is a precursor to the hydrogen fuel issues which need 10,000 psi filling stations. One can got home filling stations like Phill which can do the same, but you need to pay $2,000 or more to get it installed (assuming you have natural gas and you own your home).
Bill, a couple of points regarding rising energy costs - electricity can be generated by many means - coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hyrdo etc. Gasoline is imported from the Middle east or Canada and a few other countries. No other way out. So I don't see a strong relationship between gasoline prices and electricity prices. I don't think our electricity rates doubled or tripled like the gas prices did in the last 10 years. The other great thing about electricity is distributed generation vis-a-vis solar energy and grid infrastructure improvements can be managed. Nuclear power is the final way out (the environment WILL come second when we are starving for power!) for electricity generation and it will not be affected by the vagaries of the political situation in the Middle east. The road use issue is a separate topic of discussion. Again, it can be managed by reasonable compromise. Distance travelled with some accomodation for fuel efficiency. If you are an SUV driver with 10mpg fuel economy you will pay more. If you are an EV with 100-200mpg "fuel efficiency" you will pay appropriately.
Well first, the 2007 Escape Hybrid did save quite a bit of money and its fun to drive. When I saw the prices going up past $4/gal the first time, I bought a Chevy Silverado Hybrid pretty cheap in 2008 because the market was soft for trucks. It took a year to convince ICOM in New Hudson, MI to convert just one truck to LPG (http://www.icomnorthamerica.com/jtg-ii-bi-fuel-3), but now that it's done I'm ready for high gas prices. The inflection price point is about $3.75 per gallon of gasoline, cheaper than that then I run gasoline, at $4/gal of gas it's a no brainer and LPG is cheaper to run. Hopefully the price of LPG will go down a bit as is the price of natural gas.
A word about the natural gas buzz; it is just not economical or practical for most personnel transportation vehicles. It is the fuel to weight ratio that is a problem. Even if you get a Honda NGV, it only has about 8 GGE and has less than a 200 mile range, and then you pay an $8000 premium. They have them at your local Honda dealer, lots of them are available. Wonder why... When you study Nat gas, you find that it is really only feasible for commercial trucks and busses. It's the energy to weight ratio that doesn't work. Most talking heads nowadays seem to think physics and chemistry is magic. Anyway, it's the LNG that is truly the commercial vehicle fuel of our times, but the infrastructure is very expensive and not yet built out.
On the other hand, LPG has a decent energy capacity and a fuel to weight ratio that is doable for light trucks. Add to that the near universal availability of LPG you have a good start. But still, there are more considerations. Look at the engine dyno tests from GM, for example, and you find that autogas (LPG auto fuel's real name) has a power curve very nearly identical to a gasoline fuel. If you do choose to convert to a gaseous fuel, you will need to consider a trade-off for the space that the tank will take in your vehicle.
Your are correct. The funny thing is that few diesel vehicle reveiws include a comparison of fuel costs. To say that a VW Golf diesel' fuel mileage is about the same as that of a Prius is deceptive, since the Prius uses fuel that can cost 20-30 cents less per gallon. There have been times when I've seen a disparity of more than 50 cents per gallon. That can be significant.
By the way, I have heard that hybrids may be subject to smog inspections (California) in the near future. They are currently exempt.
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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