Source: GM/You Tube
To mark the occaision of GM's first commercial for the Volt (on tonight's World Series opener), it seems appropriate to pull together some of the recent commentary on hybid and electric vehicles.
Lets start with the pictures: CNET's Green Tech blog provides a photo gallery of the leading hybrid and battery-electric vehicles we can look forward to buying in the months to come.
Jeremy Cato, writing in todays Globe & Mail, reported on a J.D. Power study that concludes that "it will be difficult to convince large numbers of consumers to switch from conventionally powered passenger vehicles to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) ...." (see Buyers Like Green Cars - Until They See the Price Tag).
Qouting a J.D. Power spokesman ...
“While considerable interest exists among governments, media and environmentalists in promoting HEVs and BEVs, consumers will ultimately decide whether these vehicles are commercially successful or not,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations at J.D. Power. “Based on our research of consumer attitudes toward these technologies - and barring significant changes to public policy, including tax incentives and higher fuel economy standards - we don’t anticipate a mass migration to green vehicles in the coming decade.”
[J.D. Power's report is Drive Green 2020: More Hope than Reality. You can find directions to it on the home page of the Company's website. I didn't pursue it because I found the amount of information required to be intrusive.]
The LA Times Greenspace blog also provides a review of the report (see Hybrid, Battery-Electric Cars: Will the Hype Lead to Sales, October 27th) but seems to strike a bit more balanced note, talking about the reasoning behind the conclusions in a bit more detail.
According to the Drive Green 2020 Report, the main reasons U.S. car buyers do not consider buying hybrids are cost, displeasing designs, performance deficiencies and maintenance concerns. Those who consider purchasing hybrids but ultimately buy internal-combustion vehicles do so because the cost of the hybrids is too high and the performance, i.e. acceleration or towing capacity, is inadequate, the report said.
Quoting J.D. Power again, .....
"There are a lot of unknowns in the market," Dunne said. "At the end of the day, consumers want to do the right thing, but they're going to consider how it impacts them financially first. The price to the consumer is paramount if you really want success. ..... While many people are interested in reducing fuel consumption and improving emissions, ..... there's no coordinated global policy in terms of how to achieve that."
Writing in the NYTimes, Christopher Jensen takes a more optimistic look at two electric vehicles in particular, reporting on test drives of the Chevy Volt and Nissan's Leaf (see Back-to-Back Drives in the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, October 26th).
The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt take different approaches to environmentally friendly motoring, and they look about as dissimilar as Laurel and Hardy. But how do they compare on the road? While Nissan and Chevrolet have recently allowed some journalists to drive their vehicles at separate events, I had the opportunity last week for a rare back-to-back turn at the wheel.
And the result was ......
But what the electric tour of Hell showed is that when it comes to ride and handling, these are real cars with different dynamic natures. The Volt is a pleasant cruiser and commuter, while the Leaf is more lively and may appeal more to a driving enthusiast, albeit a driving enthusiast on a leash.
Also in CNET's Green Tech blog, is the announcement that Tesla today opened the doors of its California manufacturing plant for the production of what are absolutely the hottest green cars out there, the company's Model S sports cars.
Writing at Yale's Environment 360 blog, David Levitan looks at the promise for using electric cars to support a grid that relies on wind and other intermittent renewables (see Rising Hope That Electric Cars Can Play a Role on the Grid, October 14th).
The electricity generation and transportation sectors may seem like two disparate pieces of a puzzle, but in fact they may end up being intimately related. The connection comes in the form of the vehicle-to-grid concept, in which a large electric vehicle (EV) fleet — essentially a group of rechargeable batteries that spend most of their time sitting in driveways and garages — might be used to store excess power when demand is low and feed it back to the grid when demand is high. Utilities and electricity wholesalers would pay the EV owners for providing that power.
Vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been floating around environmental and green tech circles for a decade at least. But it has always had the tough-to-shed image of a utopian technology. Now, though, V2G — as well as simpler schemes based on smart-timed charging of the vehicles — is slowly becoming reality, evolving in quiet synergy with the worldwide push for renewable energy.
And last but not least, to accompany the article by Mr. Cato, the Globe & Mail provided the following diagram that illustrates the type of electric cars expected to be sold in the coming decade and where.
The diagram is a bit fuzzy when copied so here's the link to the real thing.