Monday, August 15, 2005

250 MPG on a Plug-in Hybrid

250 miles per gallon? They're doing it
Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."

What's fascinating here is that this is just the re-emergence of the electric car. The electric car was once a silly pie in the sky idea -- completely unrealistic. But now that we have the hybrid models, we have a way to easily migrate from gas to electric. People don't worry about having to plug-in in the middle of a trip -- they can just switch to hybrid mode. Eventually we get higher capacity batteries. Then we get more efficient and less destructive ways to generate electricity. (electricity is already relatively cheap (and clean) compared to gas) Eventually what happens? Hybrid cars turn into electric cars? Gas stations go away? It's not clear.

However, it is clear that maybe dumping all research money into a "hydrogen economy" is short-sighted.

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