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Old 02-10-2010, 03:13 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Battery-only cars make no sense, but still find investors

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It's a bit like those old Looney Tunes cartoons, when the Road Runner races off a cliff and it takes a little while for gravity to establish its case for the inevitable swift vertical descent. How else can you explain the fact that investors still take battery cars seriously, after the invention of the plug-in hybrid, not to mention the extended range electric vehicle (EREV)?

Battery-only cars lose out on every front. The batteries are hugely expensive -- up to $15,000 a throw for the Nissan Leaf being launched later this year -- much bigger and pricier than the batteries required for hybrids and EREVs like the Chevrolet Volt, or plug-in hybrids like the next generation Toyota Prius.

Batteries instill range anxiety in the occupants and lack flexibility. Plans to cure range anxiety with stocks of new, charged up batteries and quick replenishing points look economically and technically dubious. Environmental claims for battery power crash and burn at the first hurdle, which shows coal power will be the main provider, while the electric grid is hopelessly inefficient, wasting huge amounts of power between furnace and battery. The fact that huge government subsidies, notably in France and the U.S., based on an increasingly flimsy argument that excessive CO2 is endangering the planet, also suggests that politics, not economics, is driving the battery agenda.

Range cut

The electric Mini, when it was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in 2009, was said to be able to make it around Lake St Clair, about 150 miles. Now the claim for most battery cars seems to have been cut to about 100 miles, but that will only be on a good day when the car is ambling along with one lightweight calorie watcher on board, with no hills, lovely spring weather not requiring air conditioning, and a relaxed driver ahead of schedule.

In June of this year, a race for electric cars has been arranged in Paris, with the idea of showing how exciting battery cars can be. There will be a number of Tesla sports cars, by all accounts. Please note that the race through the streets of Paris is only over 25 miles, and even that is likely to mean that the "winner" will probably be reduced to the speed of a golf cart as it approaches the tape. Or maybe, like Olympic indoor sprint cyclists, the contestants will prowl slowly until the checkered flag is in sight, before unleashing a final surge.

Extended range Volts or plug-in Priuses can be used with their internal combustion engine allowing a range of up to 400 miles, while still giving up to 40 miles of battery-only use if required in the Volt. You simply top them up at the gas station, or plug them into your house when you get home. They provide huge flexibility and range, albeit at a high cost. The Volt is likely to be priced at about $40,000 before government subsidies, but at least it is a big, roomy car, not a weeny city runabout. (Plug-in hybrids use a gasoline engine to power the vehicle, with the battery augmenting the engine, and allowing some electric-only travel. Volt-type vehicles use the electric motor to power the car all the time, initially just with the battery, but with a small gas, diesel gas turbine engine or fuel cell one day, to replenish the electricity when it runs out.)

Better Place

But projects like Better Place, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company run by Shai Agassi, formerly the president of SAP's Product and Technology Group, still impress investors enough to persuade them to part with huge sums of money. Last month British Bank HSBC said it was pumping $350 million into Better Place, which is developing charging facilities for electric vehicles, battery swap stations and general services to spur the use of battery cars. Better Place, at the Frankfurt Auto Show last September, agreed to buy around 100,000 electric cars from Renault of France for delivery up to 2016 for use in Israel and Denmark. Renault, and its Japanese affiliate Nissan, reckon that by 2020 10 percent of global car sales will be of battery-powered vehicles. Manufacturers like VW disagree, expecting sales of only 1.5 percent to 2 percent. Whoever is wrong is going to face down some angry shareholders. Last month when HSBC announced its investment, Better Place was said to be worth $1.25 billion.

Better Place founder Agassi said the deal with Renault marked the end of the oil age for cars, but he might just as well have said this was the start of coal power, because much of the electricity generated to power the batteries will come from the burning of fossil fuels.

Big flaws

And critics say the plan has big flaws. The economics of Better Place's idea of having huge stocks of spare engines hanging around waiting to be swapped, look poor. The technology of quick recharging is questionable. Some experts say if you overdo quick recharging, you quickly render the battery useless. Other experts question the environmental benefits assumed from battery power, pointing out that although electric motors are super efficient at using power, up to two thirds of electricity is lost between the generation of the electricity and getting it to the battery.

Oliver Hazimeh, head of management consultant PRTM's global e-Mobility Practice, thinks Renault-Nissan has overestimated the likely global demand for battery cars, although he's more optimistic than the likes of VW. Hazimeh, on the telephone from his Detroit office, said by 2020 battery cars will account for four percent of global demand and variations on the plug-in will add six percent.
He thinks plug-ins and EREVs will take an early lead in the electrification race, but batteries will start to rally by 2016 as costs come under control, and range issues become less of a negative.

$15,000 battery

Hazimeh said battery costs by 2010-11 will be $600 to $700 per kilowatt hour, but will be cut to $300 to $325 by 2020. Currently batteries cost about $1,000 for a kilowatt hour.
"We expect initial versions of the Nissan Leaf battery car to cost around $15,000," Hazimeh said.

He reckoned that vehicle manufacturers will concentrate on cutting the costs of batteries before turning to the range issue by 2020, which could be extended to perhaps 140 or 160 miles.

British Petroleum might not know much about cars, but it is an expert in the energy field, and obviously takes a big interest in how automobiles will consume energy. It has taken a look at the automotive industry's power choices, and although it has an obvious axe to grind, decided that hybrids plus gasoline beat batteries hands down.

In a speech in Brussels last month titled "Energy and Climate Policy after Copenhagen -- a pragmatic response," BP Refining and Marketing Chief Executive Iain Conn said hybrid/gasoline is a much better way than the battery to improve fuel efficiency and cut CO2 emissions.

"The most effective pathway to lower carbon transport is through making existing vehicle engines more efficient. In particular, there are major gains to be obtained from advanced gasoline engine technology. Combined with step-by-step hybridization -- starting with recovery of braking energy -- we can see the potential for nearly halving CO2 emissions per kilometer. And importantly this can be delivered at a much lower incremental cost than a full battery electric vehicle," Conn said.

(BP didn't reply to questions seeking more details about its battery conclusions).
Cellulosic ethanol

If you add in cellulosic ethanol that doesn't jeopardize food production or endanger biodiversity, you will really be motoring toward significant improvements in CO2 performance, Conn said.

In fact, the underlying driver of battery power is the promise of huge subsidies from governments seeking to stop cars emitting excess carbon dioxide, which was thought to be warming the planet and endangering the human race.

Recent controversies, which show that data used by governments to justify action to curb CO2 might not have much basis in fact, threaten to undermine the conventional wisdom that humans are damaging the climate. News that basic data used by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had been distorted to exaggerate the case for global warming was followed by the Himalayan glacier story. This purported to show that all the glaciers in the area would melt by 2035, but was based on hearsay, not science. The same was true for reports on Amazon jungle retreat and accelerating hurricane activity; all shown not to be linked to human CO2 activity. This was in addition to the "hockey stick" controversy, which was said to show a recent surge in warming after about 1,000 years of steadiness. In fact, researchers used an algorithm designed to ignore evidence of previous warming and exaggerate recent data.

Inferior in every way

Paying more for a battery car which is almost guaranteed to leave you stranded someday and which is inferior in every way to conventional automobiles might have been acceptable if it saved future generations from global warming. If that conclusion is in doubt, battery cars will go the way of the dodo. At least plug-in Priuses and extended range Volts can claim to improve economy without dying beside the road.

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100...#ixzz0f7PyEQ8O
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:21 AM   #2
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Price as tested £18,685


UK roads don't through up any significant flaws in the Golf Bluemotion's ride

What is it?

The eco-car at its simplest and best: this is VW’s new Golf Bluemotion, which we’ve just sampled in right-hand drive, and in the UK, for the first time.

While the last Golf Bluemotion used VW’s noisy 1.9-litre pumpe-duse turbodiesel lump, this new one runs a cleaner and quieter 1.6 that produces 104bhp – one horsepower more than the last car – and 184lb ft of torque.

It’s the same engine that runs in the entry-level Golf diesel, except for the Bluemotion it’s got a modified crankshaft, cylinder head and oil pump, an intelligent alternator that runs faster while you’re braking or decelerating for a mild form of regenerative braking, and a starter-generator for automatic stop-start.

Elsewhere, the Golf Bluemotion has low-resistance tyres, a taller gearset for its five-speed manual gearbox, some very subtle aerodynamic modifications, and sports suspension that lowers it on its wheels and thereby reduces drag.
All of which combines for carbon emissions of just 99g/km – making this Golf free to tax – and a combined fuel economy claim of 74.3mpg.

What’s it like?

First and foremost, it’s a sixth-generation VW Golf, so it’s roomy, very impressively designed and built, appointed with precision and care and, concurrently, also about as desirable as economy cars get.

The current Golf’s excellent packaging and adjustable seats allow for loads of headroom in this car, as much legroom as four adults really need, and a first-class driving position. Like its rangemates, this Golf steers and handles with assured and polished precision too. It’s a little more stiffer-legged than you might expect - thank those sports springs – and there are occasions when its ride quality feels a little choppy. Thankfully, they’re rare.

Refinement is the one attribute this car offers that you don’t expect. That tall gearset doesn’t make it a great performer, but it does mean that, at 70mph, the engine’s turning over at just 2000rpm, and doing so quietly enough that you can hardly hear it.

The act of getting this car to 70mph isn’t going to worry the muscles in your neck, but it’s easy enough. There are times, when overtaking on the motorway or climbing gradients across country, when the combination of that tall top gear and modest torque quota means you’ll need to reach for fourth gear. Likewise, making progress in town can call for frequent trips through the ‘box; at 35mph, the car’s gearshift indicator will advise you to be in fourth, but if you want to accelerate at anything other than retirement pace, you’ll need third.

All that gear-changing makes driving this car feel strangely old-fashioned – like diesels used to feel 25 years ago. And yet driving it remains a gratifying experience, because you don’t mind working with that solid-feeling gear linkage when you reward is such excellent fuel economy.

And what we mean by ‘excellent’ is a long way north of 60mpg on a decent out-of-town run. The car we drove had fewer than 2000 miles recorded and yet still it turned in 63.1mpg on a 100-mile trip down the M1, moving with mixed traffic between 50 and 75mph. Once its engine has loosened up properly, 70mpg might be possible, provided you’re not in a rush. And in this tester’s experience, a Toyota Prius or Honda Insight couldn’t get within 10mpg of that on the same run. They wouldn’t be much more frugal in town, either.

Should I buy one?

If what you want is a frugal and cheap-to-keep family car without too many bells and whistles, absolutely. This car’s more than £2000 cheaper than a Ford Focus Econetic, costs over £1000 less than the cheapest Toyota Prius, and is just as refined and usable as the latter.

The new Golf Bluemotion is a provider of effective low-cost motoring without the frills, but with a healthy portion of quality, class, practicality and VW brand cache. It proves that a small, clever diesel internal combustion engine still beats the most sophisticated petrol-electric hybrid powertrain out there in the real world. And it succeeds in making getting around cheaply feel really rather special.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:15 AM   #3
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that article reads like it was written by someone who hates batteries.

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Environmental claims for battery power crash and burn at the first hurdle, which shows coal power will be the main provider, while the electric grid is hopelessly inefficient, wasting huge amounts of power between furnace and battery.
while the electric grid is inefficient, it is still more efficient to charge a battery for use over the same distance that a gallon of gasoline would get you in the ICE.

Quote:
Some experts say if you overdo quick recharging, you quickly render the battery useless.
what do the other experts have to say?

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Better Place founder Agassi said the deal with Renault marked the end of the oil age for cars, but he might just as well have said this was the start of coal power, because much of the electricity generated to power the batteries will come from the burning of fossil fuels.
while this may indeed be true, they are finding ways to sequester the emissions from coal plants, but more importantly, we are moving the emissions from a tailpipe in the middle of a big city to far away from the city. in the microclimate of the city, this will improve air quality that we all breathe.

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If you add in cellulosic ethanol that doesn't jeopardize food production or endanger biodiversity, you will really be motoring toward significant improvements in CO2 performance, Conn said.
WTF? they'll cite very specific timelines for battery efficiency, but where the hell is this mythical cellulosic ethanol that doesn't jeopardize food or endanger biodiversity come from? how far away from that reality are we? what about how long it will take to get the infrastructure for that up and running?

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In fact, the underlying driver of battery power is the promise of huge subsidies from governments seeking to stop cars emitting excess carbon dioxide, which was thought to be warming the planet and endangering the human race.
here's the beginning of where you can just toss this entire article out on its heels, how many places in the article does the guy mention that going to batteries is just as bad because our power grid is mainly powered by coal which makes CO2 also? and here he is saying that CO2 MAY not be as bad as some experts say? congrats dude, you're invalidating a good portion of your own points you make in the article!

not to mention, he doesn't hit on one of the significant benefits of battery powered cars over gasoline (or even hybrid) which is simply to move the emissions from where we live to a place where we don't live. I'm not a fan of breathing car exhaust when I'm out and about in the city, and EVs will remove that car exhaust entirely from the city.

I'm not saying batteries are a holy grail, they are far from it, the environmental impacts from production, and disposal make me not think they are all they are environmentally cracked up to be, but this article is a waste.
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:17 AM   #4
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that article reads like it was written by someone who hates batteries.
I got the same impression by reading the TITLE...

I bet it was paid for by the chevy volt team. WTF is range anxiety? If you tell me that it gets 200 miles to a charge, then i will drive my 70 mile round trip to work and recharge every night.

On the other hand, the chevy volt gets at most 40 miles to a charge. So i get "GAS ANXIETY" with this car knowing i would be buying a battery powered car that i need to put gas into!!!

I grit my teeth everytime that chevy quotes a study that the average person drives less than 40 miles a day. So now you have pretty much said "anyone who drives more than 40 miles a day... you probably don't want to buy this car, its not worth the hassel to plug in AND fill up"
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:26 AM   #5
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I like what Fiskar is doing. You can choose to drive the vehicle in all electric, until the juice runs out, which I would certainly do around town. And then when you want the good ole fashion roar of the internal combustion engine you can drive it a two mode hybrid. Perfect for cruising through twisty roads. Very appealing to me. I'm not ready to give up my ICE, so if I can have one and get 40 MPG doing it I would be happy.

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I grit my teeth everytime that chevy quotes a study that the average person drives less than 40 miles a day. So now you have pretty much said "anyone who drives more than 40 miles a day... you probably don't want to buy this car, its not worth the hassel to plug in AND fill up"
I drive less than 40 miles a day. But even if I commuted 100 miles I would figure 40 miles gas free and the 60 miles of hybrid driving, presumably using only 1 gallon of gas. Even running on gasoline, the Volt should be more efficient than the 50 MPG Prius, given the 1.4L engine running at an optimal RPM and regenerative brakes sending power to Li-Ion battery packs.
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:32 AM   #6
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There are some angry/scared people out there hiring writers...
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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I had dinner with the world wide director of business development for Better Place about a month ago. They are under no illusion that petroleum powered cars are here to stay for at least 20+ years. They are targeting very specific markets where battery powered transportation makes sense.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #8
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Yeah, this was a crazily biased piece of writing. Battery-powered cars have great applications, albeit extremely niche ones at the moment.
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:00 PM   #9
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my money's still on hydrogen. every fuel is just a battery. there is stored energy in it. you release it in the engine. Hydrogen makes a great battery.
The good:
the combustion of it is completely pollution free.
It holds its energy regardless of air temperature.
its renewable
there is more hydrogen in the universe than all other regular matter combined
it can be reproduced in an eco-friendly process (electrolysis powered by solar/wind/hydro/geo/nuclear power)
The Bad
It has a very low energy density compared to what we're used to
Its extremely explosive

I dont even want to start laying into how bad electric batteries are for the environment, we all get it. I dont think electric cars are a bad thing, i just think hydrogen is better
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:02 PM   #10
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There are tons more things on the Bad list for you H2 thing to come.
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:25 PM   #11
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Like the fact that you need water to do electrolysis, for starters.
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:52 PM   #12
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^ouch, where we gonna find water......
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:59 PM   #13
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I heard China has some.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:05 PM   #14
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If you have Al Gore on your team you get over $500 Million from the taxpayers to fund an $80,000 hybrid car nobody wants
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dirty25RS View Post
my money's still on hydrogen. every fuel is just a battery. there is stored energy in it. you release it in the engine. Hydrogen makes a great battery.
The good:
the combustion of it is completely pollution free.
It holds its energy regardless of air temperature.
its renewable
there is more hydrogen in the universe than all other regular matter combined
it can be reproduced in an eco-friendly process (electrolysis powered by solar/wind/hydro/geo/nuclear power)
The Bad
It has a very low energy density compared to what we're used to
Its extremely explosive

I dont even want to start laying into how bad electric batteries are for the environment, we all get it. I dont think electric cars are a bad thing, i just think hydrogen is better
sure there is more hydrogen in the universe than anything else combined...but how much of that is in the form of H2....and how much of that H2 is on Earth? With the exception of the manufacturing of batteries and disposal of them how is electrolysis any more eco friendly than charging a battery which has much better energy density than hydrogen could ever hope to have.

And on the same token that batteries are harmful to the environment solar cells are just as bad to produce. Hydroelectric dams have a huge impact on the environment and wind and geo power is just too scarce to provide any amount that would make any real impact on your carbon foot print.

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Originally Posted by Dirty25RS View Post
^ouch, where we gonna find water......
GE invested nearly $1B in water last year because they predict it will become a scarce resource...so if you want to use hydrogen technology to the point where it will become competitive with fossil fuels it WILL have a huge impact on the availability of potable water world wide and it will compete with our food supplies

and its not the getting water part that's hard about this its the getting electricity part

Last edited by prometheum; 02-10-2010 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:21 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Masterauto View Post
If you have Al Gore on your team you get over $500 Million from the taxpayers to fund an $80,000 hybrid car nobody wants
umm....try this:



The money is going to Fisker, Spyker bought Saab. It's a completely different tiny supercar builder.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:39 PM   #17
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:54 PM   #18
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I want a Nissan Leaf. And if it doesn't suck I probably will get one in 2013-2014 or so, when I finish residency and presumably can buy a house with 240V 3-phase power (or 480V maybe!) for a quick charger. If it does suck I'll look at the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the successor to the Mini E, the Smart ED, or even a Chevy Volt if it's not too overpriced.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:16 PM   #19
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^ouch, where we gonna find water......
Fresh water is a major issue in today's world...
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:19 PM   #20
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I think EV's make great city cars. A lot more sense than Smart cars
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:23 PM   #21
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sure there is more hydrogen in the universe than anything else combined...but how much of that is in the form of H2....and how much of that H2 is on Earth? With the exception of the manufacturing of batteries and disposal of them how is electrolysis any more eco friendly than charging a battery which has much better energy density than hydrogen could ever hope to have. electrolysis can be eco friendly if you use eco friendly energy sources, my fav is actually nuclear, batteries are made of hazardous materials that need distributed to each vehicle, hydrogen does not

And on the same token that batteries are harmful to the environment solar cells are just as bad to produce. Hydroelectric dams have a huge impact on the environment and wind and geo power is just too scarce to provide any amount that would make any real impact on your carbon foot print.
nucular is my fav, burning of fossil fuels is a favor the permian mass extinction event gave us, after we use it all up we have to move on. what better source of fuel that what is most abundant, never run out of hydrogen long-term, and our environment can recycle it naturally w/o negative climate impact like CO, CO2, HC's and NOx, I'd be all about batteries if you could manufacture and dispose of them with an equal carbon footprint to electrolysis & hydrogen distribution


GE invested nearly $1B in water last year because they predict it will become a scarce resource...so if you want to use hydrogen technology to the point where it will become competitive with fossil fuels it WILL have a huge impact on the availability of potable water world wide and it will compete with our food supplies desalinization, master it, power it with nuclear power, kill too birds with one stone, clean water to drink, and to power our cars...take some money out of our congressional earmark budget to pay for it. declare water scarcity a national crisis

and its not the getting water part that's hard about this its the getting electricity part agreed. best thing we have now is nuclear. all the nuclear waste we've produced thus far in the history of man would fill a football field 3 ft deep....drop in the pond compared to fossil fuels. dealing with nuclear waste is something we'll have to get used to, a lot of very useful stuff is radioactive.

You bring up good points.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:28 AM   #22
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Feb 10, 2010; Byron Pope writing for WardsAuto.com reported that the Swedish government is not as keen on the future of electric vehicles as other European countries, a stance that has left Volvo Car Corp. largely on its own in the development of its C30 EV. “There’s a big push in many European governments for EVs, but the Swedish government is not really pushing that hard yet, so we’re pushing them a little bit to wake up,” Henrick Jarcebrat, product manager for the C30 EV, tells Ward’s at the auto show here.

Despite its indifference, the government has provided Volvo with about SK150 million ($20.4 million) for EV development, but most of those funds are directed toward testing the safety of the technology, Jarcebrat says.

Since Christmas, Volvo has churned out 11 C30 EV prototypes, two of which already have undergone crash testing.

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