Are Hybrid cars the wrong solution?
"Hybrids should only be used if there is no other, cheaper, way of making a petrol engine more efficient. Unfortunately for Toyota there is"
Given the strength of diesel in Europe, even the NZ Grande Punto range is nearly all diesel, it’s interesting that Fiats answer is petrol engines.
Fiat Powertrain Research Technology - www.fptpowertrain.com
The main objective of Powertrain Research & Technology is the development and application of innovative technologies for the improvement of the powertrain performance and for the reduction of engine and vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, anticipating the introduction of increasingly stringent emission legislation. As far as conventional powertrain systems area concerned, most of these technologies are based on the integration of mechanical and/or electro-hydraulic actuation systems, with advanced electronics with aim to control the combustion process, the exhaust gas after-treatment system and the power transmission systems. Regarding the new emerging powertrain technologies, the efforts are concentrated on the development of cost-effective hybrid propulsion systems using conventional fuels and tailored for urban transportation. Finally, and as far as the future powertrain technologies are concerned, the work is focused on the development of Hydrogen Fuel Cell propulsion systems aiming to identify the relevant problem areas and explore their industrial feasibility.
In the article he mentions that these efficient smaller capacity petrol engines could match the power/torque/economy of Diesel or Hybrid at less cost. The secret is computer control of combustion to the point where he says:
“When people think of an engine, they see cast iron but the car’s real engine is the computer”
The future may belong to fuel cells but Rinolfi predicts that may not be until 2030 at best.
If you going to have a car which would you think is better for the planet: Toyota Prius or Hummer H3? If you choose “Prius” read on. It seems life isn’t so simple:
An article in the Car Magazine December issue “Shock Study that puts the Prius in it’s place” (pg19) refers to a “Dust to Dust” life cycle analysis of US new cars.
CNW Marketing Research Inc. spent two years collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage. This includes such minutia as plant to dealer fuel costs, employee driving distances, electricity usage per pound of material used in each vehicle and literally hundreds of other variables. To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, it was translated into a “dollars per lifetime mile” figure. That is, the Energy Cost per mile driven.
In CNW Research's second annual Dust-to-Dust Energy Cost study, only the Toyota Prius among all hybrids provides better lifetime energy efficiency than the auto industry average of $2.94 per mile.
What's the price of being environmentally green?
For Prius, the cost has come down since the first study by nearly 12 percent to $2.87 per mile. Improved utilization of Toyota's hybrid technology, solid production volume and end-of-life advances in component disposal all contributed to the Prius improvement.
But it and other dual mode hybrids still cost society more in terms of energy consumption over their entire lifetime than many larger, more luxurious albeit lower fuel economy models.
The Hummer H3 SUV, for example, is $2.07 per mile over its lifetime.
So do Hybrids Make Cents or not? Does that mean keeping my old 1.0 litre Fiat, which still does 6.5 l/100km (44mpg), on the road is doing less harm than buying a newer low emission car?