This makes a lot of sense, as there are still limitations to pure EVs that just aren't practical for the average car driver. But hopefully as battery technology improves, the interest in EVs will be on the rise again. Plug-in hybrids are still a better and more energy efficient option than gasoline-powered cars, but they still depend on the electrical grid for their recharge, making them overall less energy efficient. Someday it would be great if pure EVs had the same or even greater range and feature sets as hybrids.
The advantages of start-stop operation and regenerative braking are big pluses, as well as avoiding the range issues. And if volume of the plug-in hybrids start to spike, you can see where it would gain significant momentum. Excellent post, Chuck.
I briefly mentioned this on other related posts concerning hybrids and MPG. But driving habits of the average commuter is far from optimum for MPG. In fact, I see most all hybrids blow past me on the freeway doing 75+ MPH. I ask you, how are they optimizing the technology when they have the accelerator pushed to the floor?
Even more amazing to me is the guy that insists on being first and I always seem to catch up to him driving a modest 60 MPH in my 45 year old car! He may get better MPG than I in regards to technology, but not by much. If the ICE is going to be around another 50 years and the MPG requirement conitues to rise, automakers have to take the driving away from the driver. I object to this vehmently, but I cannot see any way around the driving habits. I think people go and buy a hybrid, expecting 50 MPG, get disgusted that they are lucky to top 30 MPG, and then blame the automaker. No one takes responsibility for their own actions and only the force of government (in the form of CAFE) makes our cars small, wimpish, and plastic! We all be driving a Renault Robin (check out the top gear video, hilarious).
All cars get worse gas mileage when you drive in a less-than-economic fashion. To dispel the myth about hybrids, I took a 2000 mile trip in my Prius, Drove, well... let's say in excess of the speed limit (70) most of the way, and recorded 47 mpg average on the trip. My wife doesn't even know what it means to drive economically, and she still gets well over 40mpg when she drives the Prius around town. It is sure easy for people to guess what it's like to own a hybrid, to guess how much/little power, guess how much gas mileage they could get under those hypothetical conditions, but as a scientist, I like to rely on facts instead of what I 'want' to believe. Don't worry, the ICE will be around in 50 years... in MUSEUMS.
Battery energy, recharge and cost will definitely improve, Liz, but we're going to have to wait a while before we get to the point when pure EV range matches hybrid range. It looks like lithium-ion batteries won't get us there. Take a look at this blog post from Donald Sadoway, MIT battery expert, to learn what battery scientists are thinking.
I agree that downsizing and increasing efficiency will extend the life of the internal combustion engine, combined with hybrid technology to reach mandated mpg in the future. What I'm waiting to see is an IC engine that uses compressed natural gas or compressed air to eliminate petroleum fuels.
I'd be ecstatic for a renewable energy source that would eliminate my need to stop at a "station" every 300 miles or less.
There are plenty of fossil fuel alternatives that COULD be more efficient than standard gasoline although they all have some downside that makes them too costly to manufacture for the masses. (ie. Natural gas, propane, hydrogen)
And renewable resources are still a way's off (Biodiesel, Ethanol, solar, compressed air, hydrowater power, electricity, etc...), both from a cost AND efficiency stand-point.
Somehow, eventually, before I die of old age, I would welcome an alternative (or combination of alternatives) to the ICE. Just think: How many other technologies do we have that have gone virtually unchanged for over 100 years? (yeah, I know... quite a few)
And, yes Mr. Murray, Donald Sadoway hit the nail on the head.
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