SEARCH BLOG: AUTOMOBILES
As noted in The Detroit News editorial I posted yesterday, the new "energy bill" is essentially limited to:
- dictating mileage and emission standards [which may be allowed to conflict]
- dictating the increased production of ethanol [which will hinder the compliance with mileage and emission standards, if used]
- battery powered vehicles
- hydrogen fuel cell vehicles [Honda is readying a small, test fleet of these vehicles for leasing at $600 per month. What isn't being said is that the real cost is over $1 million per vehicle]. Of course, when you combine batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, you do get one concern:
Ford is still some way behind when it comes to fuel-cell vehicles. President and CEO Alan Mulally says the automaker is at least 10 years from offering a fuel-cell car, in part because Ford is concerned about the safety of the highly flammable lithium-ion batteries used in the vehicles. These batteries, also used in consumer electronics such as laptops, can ignite or explode when exposed to high temperatures.
“We’re not there yet,” Mulally said Wednesday at the Los Angeles show, adding that the prospect of a vehicle that emits nothing but water is “one compelling vision.” [source]
The U.S. government, which is setting mileage and emission standards, is involved in both battery and fuel cell research through its Argonne National Laboratory efforts. With regard to batteries, it uses the following verbs:
Fuel cell research is a little more vague.
- studyingOne other issue regarding fuel cells is that they require fuel... natural gas. As I pointed out in an earlier post, although there are large reserves of natural gas available to the U.S., the Nancy and Harry Show has prevented access to it. So, even if an infrastructure can be built for refueling vehicles with natural gas, guess what the next crisis will be when fuel cell vehicles become commonplace?
Meanwhile, I don't read anywhere on the Argonne site about producing. Well, it is a laboratory... but shouldn't something with immediate commercial application be coming out? How about ready for production?
What about gasoline/electric or diesel/electric hybrids? What about ethanol [E85] powered vehicles?After all, there are only 12 years to go before automotive fleets must be converted to new technologies... whatever they are.
They may make sense for today in that the technology is available. However, if I were running an automobile company that was forced to deal with both future Federal and California mileage and emission regulations, I would not be placing a lot of bets on anything requiring combustion for the long term. Especially with the newly-found ability of states to arbitrarily set new standards based on any perceived unrelated issue.What is certain is that over the next 12 years consumers will see some very different and much more expensive vehicles than are being sold now. We're talking about covering $100 billion plus in research and development costs that have to be paid by the consumers.
What is less certain is whether consumers will be better off as a result.Fire, ready, aim.
We had the same political process recently in Michigan resulting in the Michigan Service Tax. Ouch!..