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savafan
08-15-2005, 12:51 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/hybrid_tinkerers;_ylt=AknbrXb9JReUda6SNnoJnOEDW7oF ;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl



By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer Sun Aug 14, 4:22 AM ET

CORTE MADERA, Calif. - Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg.

They have support not only from environmentalists but also from conservative foreign policy hawks who insist Americans fuel terrorism through their gas guzzling.

And while the technology has existed for three decades, automakers are beginning to take notice, too.

So far, DaimlerChrysler AG is the only company that has committed to building its own plug-in hybrids, quietly pledging to make up to 40 vans for U.S. companies. But Toyota Motor Corp. officials who initially frowned on people altering their cars now say they may be able to learn from them.

"They're like the hot rodders of yesterday who did everything to soup up their cars. It was all about horsepower and bling-bling, lots of chrome and accessories," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman. "Maybe the hot rodders of tomorrow are the people who want to get in there and see what they can do about increasing fuel economy."

The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg.

"The value of plug-in hybrids is they can dramatically reduce gasoline usage for the first few miles every day," Gremban said. "The average for people's usage of a car is somewhere around 30 to 40 miles per day. During that kind of driving, the plug-in hybrid can make a dramatic difference."

Backers of plug-in hybrids acknowledge that the electricity to boost their cars generally comes from fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases, but they say that process still produces far less pollution than oil. They also note that electricity could be generated cleanly from solar power.

Gremban rigged his car to promote the nonprofit CalCars Initiative, a San Francisco Bay area-based volunteer effort that argues automakers could mass produce plug-in hybrids at a reasonable price.

But Toyota and other car companies say they are worried about the cost, convenience and safety of plug-in hybrids and note that consumers haven't embraced all-electric cars because of the inconvenience of recharging them like giant cell phones.

Automakers have spent millions of dollars telling motorists that hybrids don't need to be plugged in, and don't want to confuse the message.

Nonetheless, plug-in hybrids are starting to get the backing of prominent hawks like former
CIA director James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, President Reagan's undersecretary of defense. They have joined Set America Free, a group that wants the government to spend $12 billion over four years on plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and other measures to reduce foreign oil dependence.

Gaffney, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, said Americans would embrace plug-ins if they understood arguments from him and others who say gasoline contributes to oil-rich Middle Eastern governments that support terrorism.

"The more we are consuming oil that either comes from places that are bent on our destruction or helping those who are ... the more we are enabling those who are trying to kill us," Gaffney said.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said plug-in hybrids are ideal for companies with fleets of vehicles that can be recharged at a central location at night. He declined to name the companies buying the vehicles and said he did not know the vehicles' mileage or cost, or when they would be available.

Others are modifying hybrids, too.

Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.

University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban.

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."

KronoRed
08-15-2005, 02:58 PM
I'd heart one of those cars

Caveman Techie
08-15-2005, 03:03 PM
My next new car will be a hybrid, the only thing I'm waiting on is for them to get the fuel efficiency of the smaller hybrid's in a larger car (I'm a big guy). I know that Ford released the Escape in a hybrid model this year, and I think Honda is releasing the Accord in a hybrid also, so I may be looking at one of these two soon.

RosieRed
08-15-2005, 03:14 PM
Honda does have an Accord hybrid (http://automobiles.honda.com/models/model_overview.asp?ModelName=Accord+Hybrid). They ain't cheap though.

Is 37mpg-highway good for a hybrid? That's what the Accord is advertising getting. Looks like they have the regular Accord sedan at 34mpg-highway. :dunno:

I wonder how much electricity it takes to have a plug-in car. Would your electric bill increase dramatically? Or is it not that big of a deal?

Caveman Techie
08-15-2005, 03:24 PM
37MPG is a heck of alot better than what I'm getting now out of my old pickup. The research I've done into hybrid's tells me that while regular car's gas rating is done under optimum conditions i.e. perfect weather, no hills, easy driving. The hybrid ratings are done to more real world conditions. Why? Well the auto makers realize that people buying the hybrids are expecting alot more from them. A friend of mine bought a Honda Insight and he said on average (if he took it easy and mainly interstate driving) he was getting about 5 - 10% better fuel mileage out of it than what the car was rated for. I haven't talked to him in a while about it to see if the fuel efficiency goes down as the car get older, thats another thing I would be interested to see.

JaxRed
08-15-2005, 03:48 PM
I have a Honda Prius. We get 46 (not estimated. That's what the computer in car tells us.)

If you are even remotely considering a hybrid because of the above article, keep in mind that the Honda's can NOT be adapted in this manner. All the Toyotas and the Fords can.

KronoRed
08-15-2005, 03:56 PM
An article I read the other day said that hybrid owners spend about 1/3 of what regular car owners spend on gas

*drool*

Unassisted
08-15-2005, 04:53 PM
When I first read the thread title, I thought it said 250 mpH, rather than mpG.

Imagine how fast hybrids would be selling if that were the case. :laugh:

GIK
08-15-2005, 04:56 PM
I may be looking at the Escape Hybrid or the upcoming (2008) Ford Fusion Hybrid - if I decide to wait that long for a new vehicle.

TeamCasey
08-15-2005, 04:57 PM
Can they make an affordable hybrid though.

GIK
08-15-2005, 04:59 PM
Also, if you're looking to purchase a Hybrid vehicle you may want to wait until Jan 1, 2006 as the federal tax deductions (now full dollar tax credits) are increasing.

http://www.hybridcars.com/tax-deductions.html

Reds4Life
08-15-2005, 05:01 PM
Can they make an affordable hybrid though.

Plus, there are no reliabilitiy reports on any of these vehicles yet. There is no proof one way or another how long these vehicles will last. Many use complicated engine management systems that will be a fortune to repair should they fail.

GIK
08-15-2005, 05:02 PM
Can they make an affordable hybrid though.

The Prius, at ~$22K (if you can get it at MSRP) is fairly inexpensive.

KronoRed
08-15-2005, 05:02 PM
Can they make an affordable hybrid though.

They can..but will they?

(conspiracy theory mode on)

Car companies have always been big buddies with the oil companies, check out gas prices..do you think the oil people want people to buy less gas? ;)

(conspiracy theory mode off)

registerthis
08-15-2005, 05:33 PM
When I first read the thread title, I thought it said 250 mpH, rather than mpG.

Imagine how fast hybrids would be selling if that were the case. :laugh:
Imagine how nice it would be to not be a slave to the oil companies any longer.

I've maintained for years--the technology is there, we simply have to harvest it. It's asinine to think that we can put people on the moon, we can cure all sorts of awful diseases, we can construct computers that perform billions of calculations per second...and we can't mass produce a car that gets more than 40 mpg? Well, the truth is we CAN. We simply DON'T.

EDIT: I join Krono in the Conspiracy Dept. I view oil companies pushing less reliace on oil with the same skepticism I give to Phillip Morris when they push ani-smoking programs. Yeah, riiiight.

RosieRed
08-15-2005, 06:00 PM
I want in on that conspiracy too.

Unassisted
08-15-2005, 06:24 PM
Imagine how nice it would be to not be a slave to the oil companies any longer.You're barking up the wrong tree. I've long felt that gas prices should have been allowed to adhere to the rate of inflation, much like they have in Europe. Cheap fuel shouldn't be a birthright. Not enough people use mass transit in this country because the artificially low price of fuel makes it affordable not to do so.

The cheap fuel has also given us air quality alerts, urban sprawl and decaying central cities, because US citizens have no financial disincentive for a 30-45 minute drive to and from work in a high-mileage, high-pollution vehicle.

$6.00/gallon gas would actually free us from oil company hegemony. But it's painful and unfair to implement it in a society that is built around the premise that fuel costs about $1.25/gallon or less.

Chip R
08-15-2005, 06:32 PM
They can..but will they?

(conspiracy theory mode on)

Car companies have always been big buddies with the oil companies, check out gas prices..do you think the oil people want people to buy less gas? ;)

(conspiracy theory mode off)

I smell what you're cooking and your theory has merit. But if the demand for hybrid cars is out there, the Big 3 would be suckers not to build them. Just like when the gas crunch started in the 70s. Japan started building fuel efficient cars and people started buying them. Next thing you know the Big 3 started rolling out fuel efficient cars. If they were so set on wanting consumers to buy more gas, they'd still be building the same cars they did in the 60s. People aren't dependent on the Big 3 any more. If Detroit doesn't build a car someone wants, they can always look to Japan, Germany or other countries that make the car they want.

registerthis
08-15-2005, 07:00 PM
You're barking up the wrong tree. I've long felt that gas prices should have been allowed to adhere to the rate of inflation, much like they have in Europe. Cheap fuel shouldn't be a birthright. Not enough people use mass transit in this country because the artificially low price of fuel makes it affordable not to do so.

The cheap fuel has also given us air quality alerts, urban sprawl and decaying central cities, because US citizens have no financial disincentive for a 30-45 minute drive to and from work in a high-mileage, high-pollution vehicle.

$6.00/gallon gas would actually free us from oil company hegemony. But it's painful and unfair to implement it in a society that is built around the premise that fuel costs about $1.25/gallon or less.
If you'd do a search on this forum, you'd find me advocating a $5/gallon gas tax to force ourselves OFF of the dependancy on oil. I have absolutely no qualms about high fuel costs, mainly because I don't do much driving myself.

My comment, though, was in reference to the need to develop transportation modes that are less reliant on oil and, by default, oil-producing nations. Obviously, a hybrid car that gets hundreds of miles to the gallon is going to significantly decrease the consumption of oil in this country, so in that respect I believe my comments were correct.

registerthis
08-15-2005, 07:02 PM
I smell what you're cooking and your theory has merit. But if the demand for hybrid cars is out there, the Big 3 would be suckers not to build them. Just like when the gas crunch started in the 70s. Japan started building fuel efficient cars and people started buying them. Next thing you know the Big 3 started rolling out fuel efficient cars. If they were so set on wanting consumers to buy more gas, they'd still be building the same cars they did in the 60s. People aren't dependent on the Big 3 any more. If Detroit doesn't build a car someone wants, they can always look to Japan, Germany or other countries that make the car they want.
Yes, but "fuel efficient" still necessitated the purchase of fuel frequently, and in vast quantities. The Honda Accord doesn't consume gas like an Edsel, but it still consumes gas.

The type of shift we're discussing would put a significant dent into the pockets of the oil companies, who are lining the pockets of politicians and auto executives. If the argument can be made that for years the cost of gas was artificially low, then you could equally say that the demand has been artificially high.

KronoRed
08-15-2005, 07:15 PM
Also, the holy grail of cars is Hydrogen Fuel cells.

Absolutely no gas needed.

Oil Companies don't want that.

paintmered
08-15-2005, 07:21 PM
Also, the holy grail of cars is Hydrogen Fuel cells.

Absolutely no gas needed.

Oil Companies don't want that.

The very earliest we may see production fuel cell powered cars is at least 15 years down the road.

Hybrids are much more attainable in the near future.

Unassisted
08-15-2005, 07:28 PM
The type of shift we're discussing would put a significant dent into the pockets of the oil companies, who are lining the pockets of politicians and auto executives. If the argument can be made that for years the cost of gas was artificially low, then you could equally say that the demand has been artificially high.Good point. It's been too long since I took Economics or I might have thought of that. :)

I think the biggest obstacle to the automakers ramping up hybrid production is the lack of nimbleness in th auto industry. It takes most of a decade to bring new models or significant changes to market and to ramp up production on hybrids would require many suppliers of components for those vehicles to concurrently ramp up their production. None of that can happen with a snap of the fingers.

As Chip said, if a new type of vehicle that sells for a higher price will outsell what the automakers are offering currently, they'd be foolish not to produce it. The rapid increases in the price of fuel are a relatively recent phenomenon in the marketplace, and it will take a few years for the automotive marketplace to shift and react to that. Combine that with the uncertainty that high fuel prices are here to stay and it almost makes one feel sorry for the automakers and the tough choices they face.

KronoRed
08-15-2005, 07:33 PM
The very earliest we may see production fuel cell powered cars is at least 15 years down the road.

Hybrids are much more attainable in the near future.

(still in conspiracy mode)

Slow up the adoption of hybrids, and you can slow up when fuel cell cars arrive and their adoption.

TeamCasey
08-15-2005, 08:28 PM
If you'd do a search on this forum, you'd find me advocating a $5/gallon gas tax to force ourselves OFF of the dependancy on oil. I have absolutely no qualms about high fuel costs, mainly because I don't do much driving myself.

Wouldn't that be a disaster to the rest of the economy ..... domino effect to goods and services?

savafan
08-16-2005, 12:02 AM
Actually heard this one from a gas station guy today. He said the gas prices will keep going up closer to and maybe at $3.00/gallon until Labor Day. After Labor Day the prices should gradually come back down because it is easier for them to make the gas when it isn't so hot.

KronoRed
08-16-2005, 12:08 AM
I don't buy that but I have no info on if it's true or not.

To me, this is an oil industry pushing the prices higher and higher to see how much the public will accept.

But then I'm still on conspiracy mode ;)

REDREAD
08-16-2005, 11:02 AM
How much fossil fuel is burned though to charge up the batteries? How long do the batteries last? I hope this idea works, but without more information, it's hard to tell if it really saves fossil fuels, unless the local power plant is nuclear or some alternative generator.

RedsBaron
08-16-2005, 11:06 AM
How much fossil fuel is burned though to charge up the batteries? How long do the batteries last? I hope this idea works, but without more information, it's hard to tell if it really saves fossil fuels, unless the local power plant is nuclear or some alternative generator.
I read that there are some resolved issues about how long the batteries will last, the cost to replace any batteries that wear out and how to safely dispose of the batteries without environmental problems.

REDREAD
08-16-2005, 11:17 AM
I read that there are some resolved issues about how long the batteries will last, the cost to replace any batteries that wear out and how to safely dispose of the batteries without environmental problems.

That's my concern too. I'm not a battery expert, but a lot of batteries contain a lot of heavy metals. I'm not sure that longterm that it helps the environment to convert everyone to batteries. It should definitely be researched, but sometimes these articles spin the issue as if it's a no brainer to convert all cars to batteries. It's more complicated, IMO.

registerthis
08-16-2005, 12:11 PM
Wouldn't that be a disaster to the rest of the economy ..... domino effect to goods and services?
yes, it probably would, in the short term. But we're going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later on this. We had an opportunity to ensure a practically painless transition, as science for years has had the technology to replace oil as our standard energy source. But we were too consumed with our $1 per gallon gas and gas-guzzling cars to notice. Even at $3 a gallon, people may try to drive less, but really they're still just shrugging their shoulders and paying it. Gas at $6-$7 per gallon would certainly perk up some ears. Perhaps people would turn to public transportation, or car pooling, or working more from home. Perhaps people won't be so apt to buy their new house 30 miles away from where they will be working. And perhaps it will cause such an outcry that the government and auto manufacturers will be FORCED to provide alternative-fuel source transportation.

Is that scenario likely to happen? Not abruptly, no. But until people truly feel a pinch in their pocketbooks, it's goign to be difficult to rally widespread support for alternative sources of fuel, regardless of their benefits.

registerthis
08-16-2005, 12:13 PM
That's my concern too. I'm not a battery expert, but a lot of batteries contain a lot of heavy metals.
The world certainly doesn't need any more heavy metals.

http://www.coolfer.com/blog/blog/images/Stryper.jpg

Redsfaithful
08-16-2005, 12:47 PM
I'm coaching cross country this fall at a high school about 45 minutes (an hour if traffic is at all bad) away from where I live. So I've been especially thrilled to see prices skyrocketing.

I did the coaching and driving back and forth thing last year (its a great job to have while going to school, it's part time and still pays ok), and it was quite a bit more economical than. I think this fall will probably be my last, at least when it comes to coaching at this particular school. I might try to catch on somewhere in Columbus next year.

LoganBuck
08-18-2005, 01:31 AM
yes, it probably would, in the short term. But we're going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later on this. We had an opportunity to ensure a practically painless transition, as science for years has had the technology to replace oil as our standard energy source. But we were too consumed with our $1 per gallon gas and gas-guzzling cars to notice. Even at $3 a gallon, people may try to drive less, but really they're still just shrugging their shoulders and paying it. Gas at $6-$7 per gallon would certainly perk up some ears. Perhaps people would turn to public transportation, or car pooling, or working more from home. Perhaps people won't be so apt to buy their new house 30 miles away from where they will be working. And perhaps it will cause such an outcry that the government and auto manufacturers will be FORCED to provide alternative-fuel source transportation.

Is that scenario likely to happen? Not abruptly, no. But until people truly feel a pinch in their pocketbooks, it's goign to be difficult to rally widespread support for alternative sources of fuel, regardless of their benefits.

Reading this thread I don't see much thought beyond the common consumer. The 8-5 guy with an SUV and a home to far from work. What about the farmers growing the crops, that produce the food for the consumers? And the truck drivers who move the goods and materials that fuel the economy. Both of these occupations are highly reliant on fossil fuels. Their costs are increasing at rates well above the rates of their profits. Truckers especially are running dangerously thin.

Here is a question. I need to trade my S-10 pickup truck, in on a much larger truck probably a Chevy 2500 HD 4X4. It will get 12mpg. I only drive 5,200 miles per year. What should I do? As a farmer I need the capacity. Not for pulling a boat, rv, or other foolhardy pursuit of pleasure, that is only used for 5 months a year, and the rest of the time is spent drinking gas. I need power year round.

REDREAD
08-18-2005, 01:01 PM
Reading this thread I don't see much thought beyond the common consumer. The 8-5 guy with an SUV and a home to far from work. What about the farmers growing the crops, that produce the food for the consumers? .

Yes, there are definitely legitimate uses for trucks. That's one of the main reasons that I oppose too much government interference in the car manufacturing process (such as requiring a certain MPG, etc).