Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Green Cars, Black Earth Part Deux

Part Two of Three, an expose on alternate energy vehicles. Today's topic: Plug-in Electric/Hybrid Vehicles.

Tesla Roadster, a good looking plug-in

Day Two: Plug-in Electric/Hybrid Vehicles

Plug-in electric/hybrid cars seem like a pretty good idea, like most alternate energy vehicles, until you start looking at the details and the implications in the long run. Don't get me wrong, I love helping the environment and the look of the new Tesla Roadster (in fact the supposed Future Ferrari Front-Engine V8 looks eerily similar) however again, when something smells too sweet there must be something hiding.

First, the obvious. When you plug in a car into an outlet and then drive it around there is ZERO emissions, which is wonderful! Problem is.. where did all that energy come from? That's right, most likely big ol' power plant. If you are in the US there's a pretty high chance that you will be taking your energy from a coal power plant which is putting a huge hole in the ozone and spewing out harmful things like mercury and sulfur oxides. So, basically when you buy a plug-in hybrid you end up shifting the pollution, and although you feel like you are saving the world all you've most likely done is put the pollution somewhere you can't see it directly. If you happen to live next to a wind-farm, solar array, or nuclear power-plant.. more power to you, buy a plug-in hybrid as soon as they are released in mid to late 2009!

Another issue with these hybrids or fully electric vehicles again is their batteries.. they are heavy. Very, very heavy. With fuel-combustion vehicles, the more gas you burn the less of your cars energy is going towards pushing the weight of the gasoline however in an electric vehicle it must constantly propel all the weight of the battery (minus a few lost electrons). Car companies are promising new, lighter batteries but I'm not holding my breath.

The next installment will be on hydrogen-powered cars.. stay tuned

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