Even plug-in hybrid vehicles aren’t enough, but flex-fuel plug-in hybrids could change the world
So, many European automakers don’t think much of hybrid cars because they believe that diesel can compete with hybrids.
“We believe there will be a 10-15 percent [diesel] market penetration,” said Ralph Weyler, Audi board member for marketing and sales at the Detroit Auto Show. Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler board member for research and development, quoted a similar figure. (AutoWeek)
There are; however, a plethora of problems to making that goal happen. For example, diesel is significantly more expensive in places like California. So, it will take at least several years to make diesels cost-effective in many important auto markets, despite new and clean diesel technology.
Others, such as GM, believe that ethanol might be a better answer than hybrid vehicles or diesel. Thanks to new biotech breakthroughs, cellulosic ethanol could create a 30% reduction in gasoline consumption by 2030 according to some experts (Money).
Of course, by 2030, at current rates, we’ll easily need 30% more fuel to fuel America’s constantly growing demand. Yet, not everyone in Europe agrees that diesel or biodiesel alone can solve the problem.
PSA Puegeot Citroen recently announced that diesel hybrids were the next step for Europe. Diesel, it seems, simply isn’t enough, even for Europe (more).
In America that sentiment is also being felt. Recently Ford announced that it is converting its Ford Escape hybrid vehicle into a Flex-Fuel hybrid vehicle (more). This means that Ford’s Escape hybrid could run on gasoline, or any combination of gasoline and ethanol.
Additionally, Ford is developing the Reflex Diesel hybrid vehicle, which could also be converted into a Flex-fuel diesel hybrid vehicle. Still, that isn’t even far enough.
Currently, the hybrid technology available in the Honda Civic hybrid, the Ford Escape hybrid, or the Toyota Prius hybrid could reduce America’s fuel consumption by 30% with today’s technology.
Still, even that isn’t far enough. Converting these hybrids into plug-in hybrids could significantly increase hybrid vehicle fuel efficiency, further reduce pollution and lower fueling costs significantly. Yet, even that isn’t far enough.
On the other hand, flex-fuel plug-in diesel/gasoline hybrid vehicles can completely change America’s national energy paradigm – long before fuel cell vehicles become either cost-effective or technologically feasible.
Such vehicles could easily achieve well over 100 miles per gallon, utilizing gasoline, diesel, ethanol, biodiesel, or combinations, while completely ending foreign oil dependency.
Perhaps even more important, if American automakers master such technologies, they will have a greater amount of tools in their arsenal to meet the clean and green demands of the world’s future automarkets.
American auto corporations simply cannot compete with foreign countries in cheap auto manufacturing. American auto corporations; however, can compete in the auto markets of the world by delivering the safest, most fuel efficient, best performing and most technologically advanced automobiles.
Diesel and biodiesel simply do not go far enough. Even hybrids, or plug-in hybrids don’t go far enough.
The days of contentedness and complacency are over for American automakers. Only the best will do.