Maybe not so much, now that gas is $1.64 a gallon

I snapped this photo while driving southbound on California’s Interstate 5 recently. We all know that Prius owners tend to be a bit smug, but this vanity plate takes the cake.

prius-plate1

Click for a larger image

Now before anyone gets all bent out of shape, I’ll point out that I own and drive an electric car myself. But I don’t go rubbing other peoples noses in my wattage.

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177 Responses to Maybe not so much, now that gas is $1.64 a gallon

  1. crosspatch says:

    What bothered me was the decision by California to allow Prius owners to use the carpool lanes. During a commute of any significant duration, a Jetta diesel is going to get better mileage than the Prius. But if the Prius is left in the congested regular lanes, it gets significantly better fuel mileage than a conventional car. By allowing them into the carpool lane, the State of California eliminated the hybrid’s advantage over conventional vehicles and caused a REDUCTION in energy savings.

  2. crosspatch says:

    Oh, and I believe that “Suckers” comment is a message to people stuck in the slower lanes. If you look at the right corner of the rear bumper, you will notice the sticker that allows that car to use HOV lanes with only one person in the car.

  3. Tim L says:

    They only help in city driving!!!!!
    my Lincoln gets 32+ on the hyw lol

  4. Geoff Brown says:

    Although I know that AGW is a scam, I drive a Hyundai i30. In the Australian “Panasonic World Solar Challenge” which is mainly for experimental vehicles, the i30 CRDi consumed just 3.2 L per 100km and emitted just 97g of CO2 per kilometer over the 3,000km journey from Darwin to Adelaide whereas the “Suckers” in the Prius consumed 5.6L per 100km and emitted 146g of CO2 per kilometre

    http://www.hyundai.com.au/Hyundai-i30-CRDi-tops-Greenfleet-class-of-Panasonic-World-Solar-Challenge/default.aspx

  5. P Folkens says:

    Reminiscent of South Park’s Prius smug alert and Gore’s dire warnings of the man-bear-pig (half man, half bear, half pig).

  6. Michael says:

    Electric/hybrid owners often don’t take into account the embodied energy in manufacture and transport of new vehicles for sale (or any goods for this matter), and what type of technology generated the electricity to run them. For many a Prius is carbon neutral but this is of course an illusion.

    People with an attitude such as displayed by that plate show the world their true character and it is lacking. What sort of person takes pleasure in others being more financially burdened than they are?

  7. andromeda says:

    Suckers? Wankers more like, lost in their own personal cloud of smug.

    South Park nailed these people and their Pious cars years ago. Around the time they were asking someone to come out of the closet, if I recall correctly.

  8. ScousePete says:

    I leased a Prius for about the last year over here in the UK. It just went back though as too pricey! Compared to a really efficient 1.4 TDI Diesel (which I now have, remember this is the UK not your 3.0 stuff in the states!) . I was getting around 55MPG in the Prius, but had to leave the A/C off or it dropped to around 48MPG. (Not that I needed it in the UK Summer this year anyway!)

    The new Diesel I have does 68MPG. The problem with the Prius is it’s 10 years> old design. They still ain’t gone Lithium to increase the electric range, and they talk of a plug-in and they are in testing on Europe, but still a few years off.

    One thing, though, next year’s 2009 model will have Solar Panels fitted to its roof, to power the A/C in the Summer! Doubt I would find it useful over here though! May be 0ver there it prove another enhancement to the Prius’s status symbol!

  9. Retired Engineer says:

    With a couple of square meters (max) of solar panels, you might generate 300 watts of electricity unless you drive on two wheels with the car tipped toward the sun. That won’t power much of an A/C unit. Publicity stunt.

    At 3 below here in southern Colorado, at 4:45 AM, solar doesn’t help much. Give me something with a real heater. I drive less than 7000 miles per year. Insurance costs more than gas.

    Common sense isn’t that common.

    OT: AP has this story: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2008/12/14/time-running-obama-curb-global-warming/

    It’s true. If Congress and the new president don’t do something soon, the world may cool off all by itself. Then they can’t take credit for it.

  10. Roger says:

    Thanks for the ‘wattage’ pun.

  11. Brian Johnson says:

    CO2 is Not a poison! What a waste of money chasing after Al Gore’s smoke and mirror Carbon Offset Trading. Worse than Pyramid Scam projects. Prius is a marketing con using Greenie propaganda.

    Great to have good economy but cutting CO2 emissions is Don Quixote stuff.

    And as for windmills!!!!! How many were generating power during the US East Coast ice storm?

  12. stan says:

    Usually, vanity plates refer to the owners of the car. This is obviously the case here (whether intended or not). I paid $1.45 for gas this weekend. The owners of this car are lamenting that they were suckers for buying the car. At least that’s how I see it.

  13. Pierre Gosselin says:

    Ask yourself where you would prefer to see your kids in a collision with another car. I’ll stick to my SUV, thank you. Nothing like putting passengers at risk because of a made up crisis.
    And I’m not sure I’d want the authorities seeing that photo…taking photos while driving? They could bust you for wreckless and negligent driving!

  14. Eric says:

    The guy is right, and doing everybody a favor by pointing it out. All the guys stuck in the slow lane are suckers. And the more resentment his plate builds, the better.

  15. JimB says:

    “The problem with the Prius is it’s 10 years> old design. ”
    In 1979, (the height of my hippy years) I was an avid reader of a publication known as Mother Earth News. I purchased plans for a D.I.Y. project to convert an Opel GT car to what would now be called a hybrid. You removed the Opel’s motor, replaced it with an electric jet engine starting motor, and installed a battery bank with a small generator powered by a Briggs and Stratton 5hp engine, in the trunk. The car got 75mpg.

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/1979-07-01/An-Amazing-75-MPG-Hybrid-Electic-Car.aspx

    So I’d say the technology is more like 30yrs old?

    JimB

  16. stephen richards says:

    The Top Gear program on the dreaded BBC did a test run in the Prius and found it did less to the gallon ($6) than the average 1.6 diesel. Interestingly the Honda station wagon diesel does nearly 60 mile to the gallon (mpg) on the hwy and 55 urban. A lot more than the prius. he he

  17. Bill Marsh says:

    The Chevy Volt (should GM actually survive) is a far better technology than current Hybrids. The Li ion Battery in the Volt will give me 40 miles all electric (and I RARELY, as in maybe 1- 2 times/year drive more than 40 miles during the week) and then the on board generator (currently gas, but could be fit with fuel cell or natural gas generator) keeps the batteries charged to 30% capacity until you can plug the beast in. Virtually unlimited range. The biggest difference in the Volt/Prius is that the gas generator NEVER drives the vehicle, it merely charges the batteries.

    I’m waiting to see if the Ultracapacitor technology can be made viable for vehicular use. Ultracapacitors give 300-350 mile range, 5 minute recharge (with the right equipment – or 3-5 hours on US house current), 0 pollution, lifetime in excess of the car chassis. Currently EESTOR is ‘claiming’ to have a 300lb Ultracapacitor that delivers 52Kw, they were supposed to show it for test in December but have delayed that, claiming ‘funding’ issues. I’m hoping this isn’t another ‘cold fusion’ technology. If it isn’t it revolutionizes the transport industry. Also, supposedly, they claim to be offering a 100 mi range Ultracapacitor bike in 2009. We’ll see.

    That and if those wild Canadians at General Fusion produce something that actually works, we could end up with workable fusion plants in 10 years.

    Yeah, I’m an eternal optimist, glass half full, kinda guy.

  18. Ric Werme says:

    No good thread for this, except that Montrealers may be reveling in smug today.

    Montreal: 37F heading for 45F (3C to 7C)
    Austin TX: 37F, heading for 39F

    No real significance, except to reflect the “highly amplified” jet stream of recent weeks.

  19. Brendan says:

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081214/D952LKP00.html

    From the above…

    “We’re out of time,” Stanford University biologist Terry Root said. “Things are going extinct.”

    The only thing that I think will go extinct are the AGW crowd’s beliefs in about 10 years…

    Panic!!!!!

  20. JP says:

    There are economic reasons for driving a hybrid. When gas was $4.50 a gallon, they were looking pretty good. But the ROI was still 8 years at that fuel price. Gas will probably return to $4.50 to $5.00 a gallon once the economy improves. Also, there is a good chance Congress and Obama will slap a very hefty surtax on gasoline.

    In the mean time I purchased a large gas guzzler SUV for rock bottom prices last summer. Just three years ago these monsters used sold for $20,000 to $24000. I got mine for under $6000, and the dealer was more than happy to get it off his lot. I may regret my purchase later, but right now in the winds and snows of the Great Lakes I am very happy for a large powerful 4 wheel drive.

  21. Novoburgo says:

    Anthony,
    I would love to have an economical electric car for commuting back and forth to town (11 miles) or to the golf course (14 miles)(I could probably drive it right onto the fairway). The main concern I have is safety. Here in central Maine there are very few days in the year when you don’t need air conditioning or more importantly – heat.
    I think I would have difficulty controlling the leaded beast while shivering my a$$ off and peering through a two inch frost free peephole. Do you know of any electric car variations that address these creature comfort problems? I’m willing to make some sacrifices but I really don’t want my skin welded to the leather seats on a hot summer day.

    REPLY: Check your email – Anthony

  22. Freezing Finn says:

    P Folkens (00:01:10) :

    “…the man-bear-pig (half man, half bear, half pig).”

    Well, this is old “news” ;) but just in case someone hasn’t seen it yet:

    “Scientists successfully create human-bear-pig chimera (manbearpig)”
    http://www.thinkgene.com/scientists-successfully-create-human-bear-pig-chimera/

    “Al Gore could not be reached for comment.” ;)

  23. Pamela Gray says:

    Electricity is like windpower and oil. It is a limited resource and will soon become as expensive as any other power source. Once current dams are at capacity, it will be nearly impossible to build more. The only other option would be coal-fired steam generators. Good luck getting that going. The sucker is the person who doesn’t understand where or how electricity is generated and just exactly what it would take to generate more of it. It don’t grow on trees.

  24. Nathan Stone says:

    Being a mech engineer and knowing a thing or two about turning potential energy into mechanical energy, every time I see someone in a hybrid I think to myself, “what a sucker”. Hybrids only work in the right situation. Hybrids cost twice as much and do no better and sometimes worse.

  25. Patrick Henry says:

    Who needs a car? I took my morning bike ride at -13F, and it was lovely because when the snow gets that cold, it is not slippery.

    Denver broke their old record low by 13 degrees this morning.
    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validProds.php?prod=RER&node=KBOU

    ON DECEMBER 15TH…THE TEMPERATURE BOTTOMED OUT AT -19 DEGREES
    AT 231 AM. THIS IS A NEW RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE FOR DECEMBER 15TH
    BREAKING THE OLD RECORD OF -6 SET IN 1951.

  26. AEGeneral says:

    Let’s not jump to conclusions. He might be a Tootsie Pops salesman.

  27. Steven Hill says:

    I don’t think the trade off for Hybrid even comes close unless gas goes back up. It could go back up, Russia is trying to join Opec even today and them and Iran want oil at $100 a barrell.

    Oil is going to be a the ruling substance until we have food shortages, which could start occuring in 2009.

    My thoughts are that AGW will the last thing mentioned later on in the year. The economy is going to get worse before it gets better.

  28. Michael J. Bentley says:

    Anthony,

    One of my concerns (and you know I have many) is the rapid deployment of new or modified technologies to “correct” a problem that doesn’t exist. True, the electric vehicle has been with us for more than a century and windmills for a millenium or better, but the technologies to bring them up to date have not.

    The lifetime cost of an electric (or hybrid) car is as high or higher than an internal combustion car for the simple reason disposal must deal with some pretty nasty stuff. The Prius is a good example. While the little guy gets pretty good mileage it still relies on an engine driving a battery charger to keep the battery up and the wheels at the same time. That battery is lead and acid.

    As a cost of energy it still takes so many horses to get so many pounds down the road. More steps from raw energy source to wheels means more power lost in conversion. That battery adds weight to the vehicle taking power that could be applied to the wheels.

    With your electric car, you have the (let’s be really bad here) Coal fired energy plant to the transmission line to the substation to the house to the plug to your charger and finally to the battery. With the hybrid you have the gasoline to the engine to the charger to the battery.

    My point is each of these results in the environmental emissions decried by the AGW believers. To use one of these (and I’m lumping windmills in here too) and talk about using less energy or that the energy used is somehow “cleaner” is wrong headed. It speaks to those who believe the electricity coming from the convience outlet is “clean” energy but the source is “dirty”. They don’t seem to realize the two are connected.

    Electric or hybrids do help clean the local area up a bit, and for that they are fine. The benefit of what’s going on today is the research into more efficient ways of getting from point A to B both with traditional energy and modified technologies.

    Enough ranting – I’m speaking to the choir anyway…the folks here have a pretty good handle on the complexity of this world and its systems.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  29. Patrick says:

    Anecdotal weather story of the day – Denver had a record low of -19 this morning, the old record was -6. Set a record yesterday too, of -15, old record -14.

  30. The Diatribe Guy says:

    I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life, and like to think I’m pretty good at toughing out the cold. But then I read about a guy taking a bike ride at -13F and I feel like a wuss.

    I don’t think it got that cold here this morning, though it was -5F when I came to work this morning. But we had pretty strong winds shoving the wind chill to -30F, so it was quite biting.

  31. David Y says:

    I admit it–I drive a Prius for two reasons: 1) HOV lane access gives me more time with my family; and 2) At the time (2004) it was my ‘toy’ technology that also had pragmatic room/internal layout.

    I would happily vote down the whole HOV lane concept, as it simply makes air pollution and congestion worse. It’s a typical feel-good concept that simply does not work.

    The Prius’ technology is becoming dated. Where’s my plug-in, clean diesel Lith/ion hybrid?

    It’s also interesting how the public and pundits only look at the technology of a hybrid propulsion system through a purely economic lens. Why not look at leather seats, a nice audio system, and cup holders this way? I viewed the technology as a neat feature that would give my inner techno-geek some joy; why should I have to justify the expense? Do I demand that everyone else justify their added expense on every other little feature? How much do those chrome wheels save you?

    And while we bemoan the stateside fates of the big 3, why aren’t we seeing the slick 45+ mpg clean diesels of Ford/GM Europe on our roads today?

    Lastly, it’s interesting how people immediately assume you’re an environmental whacko in a Prius, when many of us are meat-eating, gun owning, libertarian conservationist hunters.

  32. J. Peden says:

    The sucker is the person who doesn’t understand where or how electricity is generated and just exactly what it would take to generate more of it./Pamela Gray

    I don’t know everything about it, but I’ve wondered about the same thing, which I don’t think the “sucker-people” are doing. And where do the sucker-people think their previous vehicle ended up? “Helping the poor”?

    Once I asked one of their Cult where they thought electricity came from and was pointedly ignored, you know, as if I hadn’t said anything at all.

  33. SteveSadlov says:

    RE: JP (05:59:04) :

    $150 / BBL was a pure speculative bubble, driven 100% by US monetary policy. Believe me, you are not going to see a repeat of that particular monetary policy any time soon. Unless truly deluded, the Fed will be moving into the arena of a strong dollar. The most recent oil bubble was similar to the previous one, where a slight reduction in imported supply opened the door to emotion driven speculation. And like the subsequent early 80s crash in price, this crash will result in low prices for decades.

    So, to all buyers of overpriced hybrids, I say “suckers!”

    ROI will not be.

  34. Jack Simmons says:

    Pamela Gray (06:06:50) :

    Electricity is like windpower and oil. It is a limited resource and will soon become as expensive as any other power source. Once current dams are at capacity, it will be nearly impossible to build more. The only other option would be coal-fired steam generators. Good luck getting that going. The sucker is the person who doesn’t understand where or how electricity is generated and just exactly what it would take to generate more of it. It don’t grow on trees.

    Pamela,

    Electricity is a means of conveying energy, not generating it. Hydrogen falls into the same category.

    Electricity is not even a very good way of conveying energy. A windmill farm in the Dakotas generating 100MW of power and sending the electricity generated to California will lose all but 7MW in transmission inefficiencies, basically heating up the atmosphere in between the states.

    The most efficient means of generating electricity? Nuclear.

    Not only is this been proven in the laboratory, it has run in the real world, safely and reliably. Where? France, where 75% of their electricity has been generated for the last 25 years. They have no waste disposal issues as they recycle their fuel rods. The remaining, recyclable waste is stored in a single room the size of a large basketball court.

    The United States, under Jimmy Carter, banned the recycling of nuclear fuel rods. This was based on the unfounded fears of the plutonium in the fuel rods being used in nuclear weapons.

    There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons. The mere presence of these other isotopes poisons the fission process in a nuclear bomb, making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.

    This is why France could call on CO2 reductions for the rest of the world. They also sell electricity to the Germans and others, who wish to keep quiet their addiction to nuclear energy.

    Get the book Terrestrial Energy, by William Tucker, a must read for anyone with the slightest interest in energy production in a modern world. William Tucker does assume AGW, so the book should be safe reading for environmentalist. If you disagree with his position on AGW, just ignore it, because his other arguments against the alternative energy sources demonstrate they are unworkable.

    See http://www.terrestrialenergy.org/.

  35. Novoburgo says:

    Patrick Henry (07:25:00):

    Sent to the Boulder/Denver NWS office yesterday:

    “Your bulletin SXUS75 KBOU 150120, reported a new record low temperature for “Denver” of -15F breaking the previous low of -14F set in 1901. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the International Airport located about 25 miles from the temperature recorded in 1901. Is this the new scientific standard used by NOAA and the NWS? To be scientifically correct shouldn’t you describe this “record” as applying to Denver International Airport only and to the approximate 15 year record that exists for that location? What was the temperature in midtown Denver at the time (minus UHI)? Does anyone know? Does it matter? I don’t believe a record low was set. I do believe you’re engaged in some sort of exaggerated hype for reasons I can’t begin to understand. An explanation would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Signed”

    In the summer of 2007 they were almost bragging about tying the all-time record high, again for the new airport. These “records are false.” there is no practicable way to compare Denver records of 100 years ago with today’s yet they go into that great climatic data base and become part of the daily tally of “new” records.

  36. Ed Scott says:

    stan (04:29:01) :
    I believe you may be correct, that the license plate is an expression of “buyer’s remorse.”

  37. superDBA says:

    I was on the Interstate the other day next to a Smart Car that was doing 75mph. I was impressed! However, it looked like a telephone booth scooting down the road. If some other car had made any bad move around it, the driver would have ended up a in a bloody pile of fiberglass.

    In my humble opinion, the hybrid isn’t the answer. Pushing the dead weight of one engine and fuel source around with another just doesn’t make sense.

  38. Jeff Alberts says:

    My stepmother has had a Prius since 2004, and just bought a second one (not a replacement, she now has two. Don’t ask me).

    She drives about 30 miles to work, some city, mostly highway, and says her mileage is around 50mpg. With the Prius, it’s how you drive. Any time you stomp on the gas the gas motor takes over. When you’re cruising at highway speeds, the electric is mostly in play. So if someone has a Prius and it’s not getting good mileage, they need to change their driving habits.

  39. Rick Sharp says:

    Last June I was trying to save some money and the environment by riding my motorcycle to work. I was hit by a woman who suddenly turned left in front of me. She took off and nobody got her license plate number. By the time I got through paying all the deductibles for the motorcycle and hospital it was $6k. I have been driving my toxic spewing Hemi powered Ram pickup ever since.

  40. Chris D. says:

    An aside to Bill Marsh:

    This is an interesting forum site re: fusion stuff (primarily Polywell), in case you aren’t aware of it.

  41. Jeff Alberts says:

    The Diatribe Guy (08:00:00) :

    I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life, and like to think I’m pretty good at toughing out the cold. But then I read about a guy taking a bike ride at -13F and I feel like a wuss.

    I don’t think it got that cold here this morning, though it was -5F when I came to work this morning. But we had pretty strong winds shoving the wind chill to -30F, so it was quite biting.

    Heh. I visited my grandfather during Xmas of 1983. I was stationed at Ft Riley, KS, and drove to Manitowoc, WI for the visit. It was pretty cold along the way. I was in a Dodge Power Wagon, 4×4 pickup. While passing through Chicago my carburetor froze up with slush and ice. By the time I got to Manitowoc they had 3ft of snow on the ground and the wind chills were hitting -80f. Even AAA couldn’t get my truck started the day before I was to drive back. I had to buy a crankcase heater (dipstick-shaped heating element), and stick the front-end of the truck into the garage (it was an old garage, the truck was too big to fit all the way) and covered the engine with old blankets.

    I finally got back to Ft Riley where it was a balmy -10f.

    Yeah, let’s fight GW and go back to the “good old days”.

  42. bushy says:

    “Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — Ukraine and Russia plan to stockpile credits to release greenhouse gases jointly valued at $89 billion, saving them for use by their factories, power plants and home heaters under a new global-warming treaty taking effect in 2013.

    Both nations are building up surpluses of credits, or rights to release heat-trapping gases regulated by the Kyoto Protocol accord to stem climate change. Banking them for compliance with a new treaty after Kyoto limits expire in 2012 will ease future burdens on the most polluting industries, helping economic growth. ”
    Ho ho ho and merry christmas. This whole carbon credits thing is junior school charades and pathetic. Hey! where is my cut?

  43. crosspatch says:

    I would buy an electric if our power grid were powered with more clean nuclear power. As it stands an electric is for the most part a coal-fueled car. You aren’t decreasing emissions, you are simply moving the emission point from a vehicle tailpipe to a power plant smokestack.

    Actually, with a properly tuned vehicle with a properly operating catalytic converter, a conventional gasoline vehicle produces less emissions than an electric.

    Also, our power grid can not handle the transfer of a significant portion of our transportation energy consumption from the fuel distribution system to the electricity distribution system.

  44. D Werme says:

    It seems the US set back diesel cars with particulate emission requirements. Everytime I rent a car in Europe I end up with a very nice diesel something which delivers Pious err…I mean Prius type fuel efficiency in a cheaper more reliable package. Now that CO2 is the emission of fashion, the diesel cars would be great to have, but they are not en vogue. The consumer needs to understand that gas hybrids are not the only solution.

  45. RW says:

    So, you just happened to pass this car, and just happened to have a digital camera handy as you were driving, and managed to pick up the camera, turn it on, and get a photo sharp enough to reveal the license plate, all just as you were overtaking?

  46. Hasse@Norway says:

    The Prius in Top Gear :-D

    Prius road test

    Prius vs 400bhp BMW M3 in an eco challenge

  47. Andrew Upson says:

    The people driving Prius type hybrids thinking they’re benefitting the environment are the ones that failed thermodynamics.

    The amusing part for me is that my Dodge Ram 1500 Mega Cab (built on the heavier 2500 frame) with the gas hogging 5.7l Hemi (13.5 mpg with very careful driving) is still, overall, less polluting than a Prius. And now that gas has returned to sane prices it costs me less than $60 to fill up from empty.

  48. Brian BAKER says:

    Has anyone real figures regarding the current required from the 120V battery. Say you need 50bhp thats 37,400 Watts ie 311 Amps. Assuming that it is switch mode driven that mean the driver is sitting next a rather large switching magnetic field. And the greens worry about radiation from cellphones and MRI machines.

  49. Smokey says:

    RW

    So, you just happened to pass this car, and just happened to have a digital camera handy as you were driving, and managed to pick up the camera, turn it on, and get a photo sharp enough to reveal the license plate, all just as you were overtaking?

    Seems entirely reasonable to me. Why would you doubt it?

  50. Steve Moore says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :
    “There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons. The mere presence of these other isotopes poisons the fission process in a nuclear bomb, making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.”

    Ted Taylor believed that one of those isotopes (Pu-241) could be used by a talented designer as a kind of “inbuilt initiator”. Taylor was to weapons design what Kelly Johnson was to aircraft, or Gerald Bull to artillery, so I’ll assume he knew what he was talking about.

    One must be very careful with the word “impossible”.

  51. Aviator says:

    I drive a 22-year-old Mercedes three-liter diesel. I get 30 mpg (U.S.) or 36 mpg (Imperial) on the highway. I am surrounded by two tons of steel and feel nice and secure. The life-cycle costs of my car (being steel/leather/wood) are vastly less than a Prius as the disposal of its batteries is problematic. I did read that the Prius life-cycle cost was the same as a Hummer – sorry, I don’t have the reference. I just wonder how many of today’s Prius are going to be on the road in 22 years, so cost per annum enters into the equation. Incidentally, I recently read a caution to our firefighters about using ‘jaws of life’ on a Prius, as cutting into the main cable could fry the fireman; I’m not expert enough to validate that one but it does show that emergency services may be reluctant to help in a dire situation. I’ll keep driving the Mercedes until the kids take me to the old folks’ home in it…

  52. Gary Hladik says:

    If the driver of the car had been expressing buyer’s remorse, the plate would probably read the singular “SUCKER” or perhaps “IMASUKR”. I think the intent of the plate is pretty clear. Of course as Anthony points out, the plate is actually as unintentionally funny as the film “The Day After Tomorrow.” :-)

  53. FWIW, my 2.0 turbo diesel Volvo sports estate does 50+mpg (CO2 = 140g/km) without even trying, and I drive it pretty hard (“stick shift”, naturally!). Maybe you should just give HOV stickers to European cars :-)

    Mind you, diesel here is still just over £1/litre (about $7/gallon), even with the oil price drop. But I’m happy with that, actually – most of that is fuel duty, which pays for our healthcare etc. – taxing energy use seems like a good principle to me, assuming you have to tax something.

  54. crosspatch says:

    Smokey, it is a typical response. If you can’t argue the message, you try to discredit the deliverer. It is a common tactic used by people when they don’t have any reply to the argument presented itself. They distract attention away from the argument and attempt to place the focus on the person presenting it.

    The implication here being that Anthony somehow made the picture up and there is no Prius with such a plate in reality is an attempt to put Anthony on the defensive on an issue that is beside the point.

    I know several very smug Prius owners. And they bought the cars to use the car pool lanes in order to cut their commute time, not to be any friend of the environment.

  55. Adam Gallon says:

    An interesting car featured on last night’s “Top Gear”.
    A hydrogen-powered Honda.
    A practical, family saloon car, 250 or so miles between refills, 3 minutes to refill, can manage around 100mph and gets to 60mph is around 10 seconds.
    The car of the future?

  56. RW: If I know Anthony he probably got an IR temperature of its tailpipe as well. This man is Tooled Up.

  57. Wondering Aloud says:

    RW

    You’re right it’s all a conspiracy paid for by “big oil” I am amazed no one else caught it.

  58. MarkW says:

    I’m waiting to see if the Ultracapacitor technology can be made viable for vehicular use. Ultracapacitors give 300-350 mile range, 5 minute recharge

    ————-

    5 minute recharge????

    That’s at least 1000Amps. You’d need a charging cable something like 2 inches in diameter to handle that much current.

    Every light in a 3 mile radius would dim while you were charging up that puppy.

  59. MarkW says:

    Gas will probably return to $4.50 to $5.00 a gallon once the economy improves.

    ———–

    With all the new discoveries coming on line, I would be very surprised if gas makes it back to $4/gal in the next decade. (Of course a war in the middle and all bets are off). A good economy might drive gas as high as $3/gal.

    Of couirse Obama putting a significant tax on gas is always a possibility. All he needs is the backing of a couple of the RINO’s and he has a filibuster proof majority in the senate.

  60. Jeff Alberts says:

    Adam Gallon (10:35:04) :

    An interesting car featured on last night’s “Top Gear”.
    A hydrogen-powered Honda.
    A practical, family saloon car, 250 or so miles between refills, 3 minutes to refill, can manage around 100mph and gets to 60mph is around 10 seconds.
    The car of the future?

    Why are they called “saloon” cars?

  61. DR says:

    For those who think the Chevy Volt is a viable alternative, think again.

    Who is going to pay US $40,000 for a relatively impractical vehicle in the real world? We all will, through tax credits and subsidies. This is the new paradigm. If government thinks something is a good idea, no problem; just print more money and choose which industry should be rewarded.

    Witness Ethanol II

    Mark W,
    We will see higher gas taxes, guaranteed. Obama has promised it and his friends in Congress will be happy to oblige. In a Progressive’s world, low gas prices are bad for earth because it makes life better for the peasants, and that is definitely a bad thing for Gaia. Only through very high gas prices can environmentalists achieve their goals.

  62. PaulHClark says:

    I guess it is an unfortunate plate choice if you are a disciple of “How to win friends and influence people”!

    That said I think the Prius made a step forward.

    The bigger step forward is this:

    http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/

    BTW I am in no way connected with Honda but I do believe this makes sense from an engineering point of view.

    It would be helpful to know from any expert in this field how difficult it is to produce hydrogen for use in the vehicle as I understand the cost of fuelling the car is no different from fuel of the petrol/diesel kind.

    The engineering of the drive is so much more simple though that it certainly suggests this could take the automobile to a new level.

    I am a fan of great companies and recently I have said Toyota has shown the way to go on excellence but this from Honda will surely be a challenge.

    Audi produce the overall best range, IMHO, so this may challenge a few minds and I think it is a good thing.

    Apologies to my friends in the US but Ford, Chrysler and GM are well……, companies with great histories.

  63. superDBA says:

    “Every light in a 3 mile radius would dim while you were charging up that puppy.”

    Yeah Baby! America… you gotta love it!.

    “A hydrogen-powered Honda”
    Seems like one of the most viable alternatives. You need power and water and the distribution systems are already in place.

    Two problems:
    1. If you are worried about CO2 (I’m not, I emit some every few seconds). Then you have to green the power source. Also, the increase in power usage would probably overload the supply and delivery systems.
    2. There’s already a shortage of drinking water in many places. This would place an additional burden on supplies. Yes, I know water comes out the tailpipe, but I just don’t see where that equates to clouds raining it back down in my yard.

    In any case the government probably won’t allow us to produce our own hydrogen, because it would be too hard to tax. They would call it a “home safety issue” to make us swallow it.

  64. Bobby Lane says:

    Oh Drudge Report, how I love thee. Let me count the ways….no, wait…let me count the factual errors in this one news story on My Way News from AP writers Seth Borenstein and Dina Capiello.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081214/D952LKP00.html

  65. JimB says:

    Pamela:
    “The sucker is the person who doesn’t understand where or how electricity is generated and just exactly what it would take to generate more of it. It don’t grow on trees.”

    No..but it grows in the core’s of reactors.

    David Y:
    “And while we bemoan the stateside fates of the big 3, why aren’t we seeing the slick 45+ mpg clean diesels of Ford/GM Europe on our roads today? ”

    We have been. The environmental lobby has been MORE than successful at keeping them out of the country…they’re “dirty” cars because they burn diesel.

    Steve Moore:
    “Taylor was to weapons design what Kelly Johnson was to aircraft, or Gerald Bull to artillery, so I’ll assume he knew what he was talking about.”

    Would you make the same assumption about Hansen?

    DR:
    “Who is going to pay US $40,000 for a relatively impractical vehicle in the real world? We all will, through tax credits and subsidies.”

    You bet we will. It was part of the bailout package…$7500 tax cut for alternated energy vehicles. So that takes it down to $32500. And actually, no one (outside of GM) really knows pricing yet, do that? If you don’t drive more than 40miles round trip, paying $32,500 for a car “…that never needs gasoline” would be a bargain. Keep in mind…everything in life is marketing.
    People would be lined up for miles to buy one if gas were still at $4.25/gal.

    JimB

  66. Craig D. Lattig says:

    Jeff Alberts (11:22:04) :
    Why are they called “saloon” cars?

    Because they look better after a few drinks?
    cdl

  67. JimB says:

    Very interesting energy article on seekingalpha:

    “http://seekingalpha.com/article/110526-nuclear-and-coal-the-energy-dream-team-for-years-to-come”

    JimB

  68. crosspatch says:

    Seth Borenstein writes for the Boston Globe. The AP wire just picked up the story. If you have an intelligent rebuttal to his (and most other journalists’) article and think it lacks credibility, you can make your feelings known here.

  69. JimB says:

    PaulH:
    “It would be helpful to know from any expert in this field how difficult it is to produce hydrogen for use in the vehicle as I understand the cost of fuelling the car is no different from fuel of the petrol/diesel kind”

    cost of fueling is no different?

    Do you mean no different than $5/gal gasoline?, or no different from $1/gal gasoline?

    And as for fueling in general…what is the cost of building 17,000 Hyrdrogen filling station facilities, or retrofitting existing gas stations to handle hydrogen, assuming that can even be done?

    JimB

  70. Frank Ravizza says:

    re: crosspatch,

    Well said.

    I call the carpool lane, “the Prius lane”. My Ford Focus would get nearly as good economy in the car pool lane as the Prius, yet I’m stuck in traffic.

  71. crosspatch says:

    Practically all hydrogen gas manufactured in the US is made from fossil fuel.

  72. Jeff L says:

    SteveSadlov (08:15:10) : ” And like the subsequent early 80s crash in price, this crash will result in low prices for decades.”

    … I would take that bet. Being in Oil & Gas exploration, I can tell you that there was a real tightness in supply & demand – unlike past price spikes which were driven by artifically taking supply off the market ala the 70′s / early 80′s. Now of course you are right in that speculators articifically inflated the prices, but they are also artifically deflating prices at this point (I guess you can thank them for that). Many oil resources being pursued by industry are uneconomic at current prices & those projects are being shelved. It is a case of pay me now or pay me later. When the economy comes back, the supplies will be nearly instantly tight, prices will shoot up to at least $100 and the problem is being compounded by the current low prices which is discouraging any investment in new supplies and further compounded by the anticipated huge layoffs which will be occuring in the industry next year (the auto industry has nothing on us – but you wont see us begging for a handout). Historically, when people get laid off in the oil & gas industry, they leave the industry forsomething else. When things do come back, there will be a far more limited number of people to bring the supply to the market.

  73. Richard Sharpe says:

    Jeff L said:

    Being in Oil & Gas exploration, I can tell you that there was a real tightness in supply & demand – unlike past price spikes which were driven by artificially taking supply off the market ala the 70’s / early 80’s. (Spelling corrected!)

    How much of that is caused by legislation artificially restricting where we can drill and making promising field unavailable?

  74. PaulHClark says:

    Jim B (13:06:16)

    My understanding is that the vehicle is only available in California at the moment and that ~mpg/cost is broadly similar to petrol/diesel. It seems to have an equivalent perfomance to a “normal” family car.

    You make excellent points – I am quite sure that changing the nation’s fuelling stations will be a significant cost. As a previous poster mentioned it appeared on the BBC last night on “Top Gear” and as I recall the comment was that it was broadly the same cost to put hydrogen into the vehilce as fuel is now (I assumed relative mpg/cost?).

    What really intrigued me was that the engine is so simple it could make a step change in maintenance.

    Summary was it has potential – and outside the debate on climate change it seems like a step forward – especially if we can find a cheap way of making hydrogen that fills the vehicle readily available.

    Please understand – I am not an advocate – but merely someone who has become interested in the concept. I am equally aware this concept has been in the running for some time and Anthony and others living in Cali may be well ahead of me.

  75. Steven Hill says:

    Best quote ever on this site….

    In a Progressive’s world, low gas prices are bad for earth because it makes life better for the peasants, and that is definitely a bad thing for Gaia

    my opinion
    The Democrats love the poor and they want to keep them that way

  76. Smokey says:

    From bushy’s post above:

    Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — Ukraine and Russia plan to stockpile credits to release greenhouse gases jointly valued at $89 billion, saving them for use by their factories, power plants and home heaters under a new global-warming treaty…

    A few questions come to mind:

    Who grants these ‘credits’? If Russia and Ukraine have an extra $89 billion they can stash away out of their current supply, what is the total world giveaway of carbon credits? Do China, India, Brazil, and a hundred other UN countries get free credits too? Who pays for these credits? Is there full transparency of the brokering/clearing process? Are the “carbon” savings audited by an outside accounting firm, or do we just take their word for it? Does the U.S. get any credit for cleaning up the environment to the point that we have the most pollution free industry, per capita, on the planet? Or do the dirtiest countries get to use free [to them] credits to keep on polluting?

    Just wondering.

  77. In Miami, this past weekend they opened the new 7-mile HOV/congestion price lanes that can go as high as $6.20.

    Hybrids ride for free.

    I am seriously considering buying the 8-cylinder Lexus hybrid.

  78. Tim says:

    Wow – nothing like a Prius to get people foaming at the mouth.

    As a driver of one – and a doubter of AGW, at least in its most hysteric incarnations – it amazes me why anyone really cares what cars others drive. I don’t consider myself smug as much as practical but somehow because I drive a Prius I am a smug environmental wacko. And despite the silly “doesn’t pay back” arguments, you don’t hear those same arguments about chrome wheels and leather seats, as David Y. comments above. In fact, a hybrid is one of the few “options” you could get on car that in fact could pay back. On top of the better mpg, throw in a federal tax credit, lighter engine servicing requirements, longer lasting brakes, and use of carpool lanes and I’m saving money and time.

    And of course, if you want to think about the true cost of gas, just go to http://www.setamericafree.com to see some interesting discussion. If we all reduced our consumption of oil, I think our national security situation would be much improved as would our trade imbalances. It doesn’t take a smug, environmental wacko to appreciate that.

  79. crosspatch says:

    I am not anti-Prius, I am against the way the State of California managed to completely eliminate the efficiency of the Prius by putting them in the carpool lane where their mileage improvement over a conventional vehicle is minimized.

    Basically, California wasted the benefit of the technology and instead of selling them to people who live in the city and drive in heavy traffic, they ended up selling them to people who make long freeway commutes and want to use the wide open HOV lanes. So many people bought them for the “wrong” reason and the state encouraged it.

    The only “stop and go” driving my Prius owning neighbors do is between the house and the freeway and the freeway to the office. 90% of our commute time is at 65MPH or better.

  80. Driving a different type of vehicle and shifting the energy source from oil to coal or nuclear or solar isn’t going to solve our energy problems in the long run. The real problem, no matter what form of individual transport that we use, is that it is, literally, ‘individual transport’. Mass transit is the only real, longterm solution. Less precious energy to transport more mass.

    We (me included) aren’t going to give up our cars until forced to, when the price of driving gets too high. The current price of gas ($1.77/gal here in CA, currently) is a pretty good demonstration of what a little energy conservation can achieve. Conserve, drop demand, and voila, down goes the cost. If we focused our efforts on energy conservation and let the free market take care of the rest, many of today’s energy-related problems (AGW, that is) will go away by themselves.

  81. Mike from Canmore says:

    Tim:
    It’s the federal tax credits that piss me off personally. (Don’t believe they are available here in Canada – could be wrong). I don’t give 2 hoots what you choose to drive. All the power to you. Just don’t do it on my dime. (Note: I recognize I don’t pay taxes down there). I tried to go to your link but it wouldn’t let me. That being said, if you are worried about foreign oil dependency, that quantity of risk, as interpreted by the market is built into the price of oil. Econ 101 – All future expecations are built into a product’s price; especially with commodities.

  82. Richard deSousa says:

    Here’s an interesting microturbine electric hybrid car. The concept is borrowed from the commercial aircraft industry. A small turbine provides the electricity to charge the batteries and an electric motor takes power from the battery/ies for propulsion.

    http://www.velozzi.org/newsletter/future.htm

    Whether they can deliver is the question.

  83. Jeff Alberts says:

    FWIW Tim, I don’t have a problem with anyone driving any vehicle. It’s when someone drives a specific vehicle and then derides others for not being as foresighted or “green” as they are. This happens with other vehicles besides Priuses (Prii?), like the silly Smart Car.

  84. Jay says:

    “Wow – nothing like a Prius to get people foaming at the mouth.”

    Sorry, Tim. Guilty as charged. Seeing a Prius on the road is like having Algore, Hansen, and the entire California state government encapsulized next to you. You probably didn’t desire any of that baggage by buying the car, but it kind of goes with the territory. I ignore them most of the time, but a smug license plate or a bumper sticker saying “I’ll pass while you’re getting gas” is a bit much.

    I can relate a little bit. One of my cars is a Porsche. A friend has an older Porsche that isn’t worth even $10k at this point. We both get looks and comments like, oh you must be some smug, rich, heartless snob. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I’ll deal with the stereotype to enjoy the car. About the only time I rev it up and try to look cool is when passing a Prius. :)

    (What most people don’t know is that the Porsche engines are pretty efficient these days. Of our three cars, the Boxster S gets the best mileage.)

  85. Mister Jones says:

    Honda have an intersting Hydrogen Fuel cell car on limited test lease in Southern California at present. At $600 a month before Insurance, hydrogen etc it’s a bit pricey, and the other drawback is the limited range (260 miles) and dearth of Hydrogen filling stations.

    Still, it’s a public trial of a working technology, and that’s what counts. Link here http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/

  86. Smokey says:

    Wow – nothing like a Prius to get people foaming at the mouth.

    Everyone should be free to buy any car they want. That’s what makes a market. Last week Mrs. Smokey bought her first new car in 11 years, a new Camry with a V-6, which is pretty hard to find as most have a 4. Interestingly, the V-6 gets just one mpg less mileage than the four cylinder, and it has about 100 more horsepower.

    Gasoline prices will probably continue to decline for several reasons: no storage availability [tanker ships are being leased to store excess capacity off shore, that's why futures prices are in contango]; countries like Venezuela, Russia and Iran absolutely must keep up their income stream, which means they will be competing to sell more oil, not less; and OPEC members cheat on each other.

    The bad news is that Obama has promised way more money than is available, and there simply are not enough people making over $250K a year to balance the shortfall. All of Bill Gates’ money isn’t enough to run the federal gov’t for one week… and then Mr. Gates wouldn’t have any more money to tax. So guess who Obama will tax? You and me — with a gasoline tax [among others].

    I can hear them now: “Remember when gas was $4.39 a gallon? Now it’s only $X.XX a gallon. So you can easily afford to pay us another dollar a gallon tax.”

    A gas tax is extremely regressive, and it whacks the less affluent the hardest. But you can bet a big hike in the gas tax is on Obama’s agenda.

  87. Gary Hladik says:

    OT: Wouldn’t this be a great time to go gangbusters on filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?

  88. Steve Moore says:

    JimB:
    “Would you make the same assumption about Hansen?”

    I would not put Hansen in the same company as Taylor (the Super Oralloy Bomb, Wasp, Hornet), Johnson (P80, F104, SR-71), and Bull (Project HARP, the “Kalahari Ferrari”, the Supergun). Those men used sound engineering and built wonderful devices.

    So, the answer is “No”.

  89. Steven Hill says:

    What’s going on with AMSRE, looks like the ice is going away, how is this possible?

  90. mcates says:

    Mike

    “Note: I recognize I don’t pay taxes down there”

    You may not, but many other Canadians do. Last time I was in Canada they were talking about going across the border to the US to buy gas and some other items. Canadian oil is cheaper in the US than it is in Canada.

    We appreciate the help with taxes and your cheap oil. ; – )

  91. Pamela Gray says:

    Now if you’re a rancher, the vehicle has to be big and bad enough to carry a 1/2 cord of wood, or a load of sheep/pigs/chickens, hat bales, old fencing, new fencing, a concrete culvert or two, several dogs, two deer or one elk, or several bags of feed or seed, and get through the snow bank or mud hole.

    Jeep Commanders rule.

  92. Pamela Gray says:

    and HAY bales as well as hat bales.

  93. Robert Wood says:

    After three years, when you need to replace those batteries, I laugh at you, who buys into technological scams.

    As an engineer, I understand mass, length, time and cost. Do you?

  94. Bill Marsh says:

    Stephen Hill,

    It appears Al Gore was right, the arctic is melting at a prodigious rate. :)

  95. JimB says:

    “Steve Moore (16:30:44) :

    JimB:
    “Would you make the same assumption about Hansen?”

    I would not put Hansen in the same company as Taylor (the Super Oralloy Bomb, Wasp, Hornet), Johnson (P80, F104, SR-71), and Bull (Project HARP, the “Kalahari Ferrari”, the Supergun). Those men used sound engineering and built wonderful devices.

    So, the answer is “No”.

    And based on that, I would agree.

    Especially the SR-71…

    JimB

  96. Wally says:

    “Smokey (16:03:07) :
    Wow – nothing like a Prius to get people foaming at the mouth.

    Everyone should be free to buy any car they want. That’s what makes a market. Last week Mrs. Smokey bought her first new car in 11 years, a new Camry with a V-6, which is pretty hard to find as most have a 4. Interestingly, the V-6 gets just one mpg less mileage than the four cylinder, and it has about 100 more horsepower.”

    It may be rated for 1 less MPG but it will not get even close in real world driving. It is just too tempting to put the petal to the floor, and that eats the gas : ) We have a small V6 car (not a Camry) my daughter with a lead foot got 14 to 15 MPG, my son, against stereotypes, drives very smoothly and got 17 to 18 mpg. City driving short distances mostly.

  97. Don Shaw says:

    crosspatch (13:14:13) :

    Practically all hydrogen gas manufactured in the US is made from fossil fuel.

    Crosspatch is absolutely correct except he could have said in the entire world.
    Virtually all the hydrogen in the world is made from natural gas or liquid hydrocarbons often Naphta.
    As an engineer that has worked on many hydrogen plants, the logic of using hydrogen as a motor fuel totally escapes me as well as every other engineer I have talked to. The process of manufacturing hydrogen is wasteful of energy because you convert all the carbon of fossil fuel into CO2 and dump the CO2 into the atmosphere. Sure the hydrogen powered car does not emmit CO2 but the manufacturing process spews CO2 wastefully somewhere else. It is hard to believe any claims that the cost is competive with gasoline.

    Of course hydrogen can be manufactured by separating water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity however the energy required is at least as much as you will ever get out of the hydrogen when you convert it back to water. Does it make sense to convert electricity energy to make hydrogen when we could use the electricity directly to power the car?

    Also Hydrogen is always a gas at atmospheric temperature so it must be compressed to approximately 8000 psi in order to store a reasonable amount of energy in a tank. I would not sleep well with a 8000 psi tank in my garage. Finally others have already pointed out the problems and cost of providing fuel distribution systems for hydrogen. Only a high government subsidy will support the near term use of hydrogen as a major motor fuel. Or possibly a state that is going bankrupt with crazy ideas.

  98. Smokey says:

    You’re right, Wally. Mrs. Smokey has a lead foot and she likes to drive fast. She’s doing her part to add beneficial carbon dioxide to a planet starved of CO2/plant food. So mpg takes a back seat to horsepower.

    And you know what’s even better? Her car can’t use ethanol. It’s all good!

  99. Ron de Haan says:

    PaulHClark (12:24:12) :
    “Apologies to my friends in the US but Ford, Chrysler and GM are well……, companies with great histories”.

    Paul,

    Both Ford and GM produce state of the art efficient cars in Europe that compete with VW, Audi, Mercedes and all the Japanese and Korean toys.

    The big cars (trucks) that symbolize the “American Dream” use a lot of fuel but that is the price you pay for driving a heavy car.

    In many countries in Europe where fuels comes at much higher prices, the big US trucks are coverted to run on Liquid Petrol Gas which reduces the price of a refill by 50%.
    CO2 emissions are reduced by approx. 15-20%, engine life is stretched due to the clean burning of the fuel and the engine runs more silent and smooth without loss of performance (Vialle Liquid Injection).

    I understand that in the USA, EPA provides tax benefit for a whole range of LPG conversions.
    So forget about the hybrids and keep on driving the icons.
    The big cars come cheap now and the American LPG society will figt for furher benefits as they underline the clean non toxic properties of LPG.
    So is it possible to maintain the American Dream in times of crises?
    Yes we can.

  100. Mike C says:

    Anthony, You could tell it wasn’t Al Gore Jr driving the Prius… if it were it would be flying at 105 mph and trailing the smell of burning silly weed.

  101. crosspatch says:

    There is one way hydrogen can work. If we had a larger program of nuclear energy, reactor output not required for the grid at night can be used to convert water to hydrogen and oxygen. Most newer natural gas distributions systems put in over the past 10 years or so a “hydrogen tight” systems.

    The idea not to replace natural gas but to hydrogen “enrich” the natural gas and use it to power fuel cells. The impact of the hydrogen would be negligible on conventional usage such as residential heating, standby power generation, engine fuel, etc. But it would make home fuel cells more efficient.

    So you couple a program of nuclear hydrogen generation with a utility home fuel cell program. Excess power at night can then be stored and used later. It isn’t extremely efficient but it is better than wasting power. You would use the water output of the home fuel cell for tasks such as toilet flushing. While it wouldn’t produce a great deal of water, but it would reduce demand somewhat.

    The oxygen generated could be the real benefit because it could be provided to emergency response units, the military, hospitals, medical supply outlets, welding supply uses, etc.

    That is about the only half-way efficient use of hydrogen I can think of.

  102. D Caldwell says:

    Assuming the needed advances in battery technology happen in the near future, the all electric car is where we are headed. Hybrids are just an intermediate step. I don’t care how we power the electric grid. Coal is the current backbone, but if you care about CO2, nuclear is fine too. Sorry, Greenies, but renewables will never play more than just a minor part.

    The future electric car will have a powerful, silent motor on each wheel (the ultimate AWD) and, with lighter composite construction, will be very, very quick. With less space taken up by engine and transmission, there will be more passenger room as well. I don’t believe we’ll miss the old gas hogs a bit.

    The batteries will evolve into a few starndard sizes and when on a long trip, we will just stop and exchange the exhausted battery pack for a freshly charged one – and for less money than we pay now for a tank of gas.

    I can’t wait!

  103. DR says:

    JimB,
    That $40k is also no profit for GM.

    For those arguing hybrids pay for themselves, they don’t. We who don’t buy them pay for them. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

    Also, for people like me who buy a car and drive it until the wheels fall off, paying for new batteries is much less lucrative than replacing the wheels.

    Compare a Toyota Prius to a Yaris. Where’s the ROI if I purchase a Prius over the Yaris? Better still, a Honda Fit.

    And no, I don’t care what anyone drives. I drive a Dodge Durango, my wife a Dakota.

  104. Michael J. Bentley says:

    Steve

    Man, you forgot Kelly’s ugly duckling – the C-130! Typical Johnson engineering

    Mike

  105. Michael J. Bentley says:

    Steve (2)

    And the P-38!

    (just yankin’ your chain…)

  106. DR says:

    D Caldwell,
    I don’t share your optimism for all-electric vehicles for the vast majority of drivers, although there is a niche market for them.

    Battery technology is not there, and having worked in the mfg. business for the last 25 years, 15 in automotive, nobody in my information chain has hinted on any new magical battery technology waiting in the wings. Then there is the question of lifespan and practicality issues in the northern cold states.

    I doubt an electric hybrid is anywhere in my future, but should Scuderi prove out their engine and put into production, it may be.
    http://www.scuderigroup.com/index.html

  107. J.Hansford. says:

    I kid you not…. But on Top Gear… a British irreverent TV car program… They drove a Prius and a BMW around a circut for ten laps. The Prius set the pace whilst the BMW followed right behind….. They then measured the fuel and found that the Prius used more fuel…. So the moral. Drive a BMW at Prius speeds and you produce less CO2….. Cool ‘eh!

  108. E.M.Smith says:

    Michael J. Bentley (07:41:10) :
    More steps from raw energy source to wheels means more power lost in conversion.
    [...]

    With your electric car, you have the (let’s be really bad here) Coal fired energy plant to the transmission line to the substation to the house to the plug to your charger and finally to the battery. With the hybrid you have the gasoline to the engine to the charger to the battery.

    Um, you left out “from the battery back to electricity”. You lose a few more percent at that chemical conversion step too…

    IMHO this is why all the electric and hydrogen cars will have a deficit to the Diesel that can only be made up by some kind of government fiat…

  109. mr.artday says:

    The hydrogen car produces water instead of CO2. Where does the water go? If it goes onto the pavement, what will the roads be like in winter? Here in western WA, daytime highs are forecast to be below 32F for next ten days and maybe till 2009, a massive Artic Outbreak is upon us. Night time lows in the 20s and teens. If the water is retained in the car, there goes the power to weight ratio. And is the water pure H2O? If there is ppm of anything in the water, the toxin hysterics will be telling the media that we are being poisoned and we know what the media will do with that. Plug in electrics? How expensive will it be to convert oil refineries to produce electricity?

  110. D Caldwell says:

    DR, you and I are in complete agreement that a successful electric will depend on battery performance that does not currently exist. My entire post was dependent upon that one big IF.

    When the needed breakthrough in battery technology does occur, it will likely not be from within the current automotive establishment. Your automotive information chain may not be where you’ll hear about battery technology advances.

  111. E.M.Smith says:

    David Y (08:08:33) :

    The Prius’ technology is becoming dated. Where’s my plug-in, clean diesel Lith/ion hybrid?

    http://www.soultek.com/clean_energy/hybrid_cars/hymotion_plug_in_conversion_kit_announced_today.htm

    Can help you with everything but the Diesel part… so when your battery pack is fading, just DIY upgrade to a plug in … There are Prius clubs for folks who like to hack the car and convert it…

    And while we bemoan the stateside fates of the big 3, why aren’t we seeing the slick 45+ mpg clean diesels of Ford/GM Europe on our roads today?

    Don’t you know? Diesels are dirty earth destroying cancer causing monsters and need to be banned! /sarcasm> (Proud owner of 2 Mercedes diesels ;-)

    Really? I think GM killed the diesel market in America in the ’80s with their abominable dieselized gasoline engine… Only us diehards hung on.

    Lastly, it’s interesting how people immediately assume you’re an environmental whacko in a Prius, when many of us are meat-eating, gun owning, libertarian conservationist hunters.

    I’ve never hunted a libertarian conservationist before… ;-) Seriously, folks just jump to an end point. Both ways. If you are in the middle you just get rocks from both sides…

  112. firedward says:

    Sorry but most Prius users remind me of Mac users. They generally believe they are best.

  113. D Caldwell says:

    E.M. Smith
    I am under the impression that the internal combustion engine, due to heat loss and mechanical friction, only delivers about 30% of the original energy in the fuel to the drive wheels of the vehicle. There is a good bit of energy consumed in the distribution of transportation fuels as well. Not to mention that petroleum is a finite resource and when the global economy spins back up, we’ll see just how finite it is. I’m thinking that we will need alternatives at some point in the future.

    I have no idea what the equivalent energy efficiency of an electric might be overall, but the electric power grid already exists whereas an enormous new infrastructure must be created to accomodate the widespread distribution of hydrogen. The missing element for the electric is, of course, battery performance. The discussion of the electric car as a viable alternative is relatively moot until advances in battery technology are made.

  114. Jeff Alberts says:

    mcates (16:49:53) :
    You may not, but many other Canadians do. Last time I was in Canada they were talking about going across the border to the US to buy gas and some other items. Canadian oil is cheaper in the US than it is in Canada.

    We appreciate the help with taxes and your cheap oil. ; – )

    Now if they’d just pay their traffic fines…

  115. Michael J. Bentley says:

    E. M. Smith,

    Thanks, yes I did. A problem with writing quickly…but I think the point that there is no free lunch, emissions happen someplace in the process came out. At least I hope it did.

    Once again, preaching to the choir, however badly…

    TNX

    Mike

  116. E.M.Smith says:

    SteveSadlov (08:15:10) :
    $150 / BBL was a pure speculative bubble, driven 100% by US monetary policy. Believe me, you are not going to see a repeat of that particular monetary policy any time soon.

    Um, monetary policy had little to do with it. The Fed was not printing money… We had an economic boom with China buying anything that would burn, then speculators, hedge funds, and even private folks like me started buying oil for asset diversification. Didn’t involve the Feds monetary policy at all.

    Unless truly deluded, the Fed will be moving into the arena of a strong dollar.

    Not any time soon. The Fed and Treasury are pushing cash into the system as fast as possible and will continue to do so for some time. The total of stuff bought = quantity of money x velocity of money. Its that velocity term that folks forget about. Right now V has headed toward 0; and even near infinite money supply x 0 is nothing. THAT is why Paulson looked so scared when he called congress and said “Now Please, not next week!!!” Once V hits zero it’s darned near impossible to get it back…

    Until V starts ramping up, the dollar will be produced and provided in as much quantity as possible at as little cost as possible. Look for a Fed Funds rate of 1/2% or less (if things don’t suddenly improve). In about 6 months IFF V picks up, then the Fed needs to start sucking dollars back out of the system. They will approach this cautiously and accept some inflation in exchange for not nuking the economy with a repeated deflation/deltaV heart attack… (And this ignores all the Obama Fiscal plan with lots of spending…)

    And like the subsequent early 80s crash in price, this crash will result in low prices for decades.

    Don’t count on it. OPEC must have oil over $70/bbl or countries fall. (Venezuela’s budget is predicated on $90/bbl.) Russia needs oil at those prices to fund its empire rebuild. They have all the oil and all the motivation to cut back supply. And we have told them that we will do nothing to use our coal to stop them (we could do what South Africa did after the 70s oil shock – see SASOL South African Synthetic Oil Company ticker SSL). Obama announced his energy staff and they are NOT going to endorse coal. We are now toothless.

    So we’ve told OPEC and Russia that we will not use our coal, and we will embark on a decade or two long project of playing with electric cars. Ideal for them… Hubbert’s Peak assures that they can raise prices with only modest effort. Every year a couple of million bbl/day goes offline. The present overage of production is about 2 years worth of natural decline. If either a) the economy does not enter a depression or b) 2 years pass; then oil is back on the rocket ride upward. (See the Mexican oil fields and the North Sea fields as examples of what is going POOF! on the supply side…) This is even if OPEC can’t agree to cut back. But they will agree…

    In the long run, the price of oil will stabilize at the price of the next most cost effective alternative that can be made in size. That’s gas to liquids and coal to liquids. It would take 10 years to get there with a crash program (and we’re on the ‘never’ plan while the EU is on the 15 to 20 year program…) That equilibrium price is about $70 to $80 /bbl.

    So don’t expect $1.xx gas to last for long. China is growing 6%/Yr and both China and India will resume sucking on the oil pipe very soon. I give it to the end of the recession (global end, not US end) and place that about 9 months to 1 year out.

    We could always slide into a depression, then gas will stay $1.xx / gal., but nobody will have any money to buy it with… and planning for a depression is, er, futile.

    The dismal science…

  117. Jeff L says:

    Richard Sharpe (13:33:49) : “How much of that is caused by legislation artificially restricting where we can drill and making promising field unavailable?”

    There are really only a couple areas that matter that are off limits. Most important is offshore California, but when you add it up , the “off-limits” areas are a small part of the overall supply equation. It would be helpful, but it wouldn’t be the difference between consistently “cheap” fuel & “expensive fuel. On a maximum success case (not a P50 Most Likely), I estimate 1 million barrels a day could be brought online from off-limits sources, which is +/- 5% of the US demand , 1.1-1.2% of World daily demand. Not to say we shouldn’t do it – we should – but we need to be realistic about it’s impact. We also have to realize that we need all the energy we can get (economically) – regardless of source. The key statement there is “economically” – if it can compete, it should be in the mix. Period. No worrying about politics or smugness. Just cold, dispassionate, economic analysis.

    (PS I was typing fast @ lunch & had to run to a meeting – didn’t get to look over the spelling before posting – thks for the correction)

  118. anna v says:

    Can somebody enlighten me why we are not hearing more about this?

    http://solarhydrogenco.com/

    The Solar Hydro-gen (H2) Generator consists of a unique self-contained system that accepts solar radiation into the case, where an electrical reaction is created that splits water into its components; hydrogen and oxygen. No other fuels such as gasoline, diesel, oil, natural gas, or coal are used. The traditional utility electricity-to-electrolyzer is not used in this system. The hydrogen is processed and stored for use twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week energy supply. The unit is made in modules offering opportunity for large or small hydrogen generating facilities.

  119. AndyW says:

    Pierre Gosselin (04:30:27) said :-

    Ask yourself where you would prefer to see your kids in a collision with another car. I’ll stick to my SUV, thank you. Nothing like putting passengers at risk because of a made up crisis.

    I’d prefer people to think of other peoples kids and not just their own to be honest ;-)

    I thought SUV’s are more dangerous though ????

    Regards
    Andy

  120. E.M.Smith says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :
    Electricity is a means of conveying energy, not generating it. Hydrogen falls into the same category.

    So far, so good. I agree with a lot of your points, but on a couple of them I think you are repeating things that are often said in other sources, but not accurate…

    Electricity is not even a very good way of conveying energy. A windmill farm in the Dakotas generating 100MW of power and sending the electricity generated to California will lose all but 7MW in transmission inefficiencies, basically heating up the atmosphere in between the states.

    American Superconductor (AMSC) makes superconducting transmission systems. See: http://www.amsc.com/products/htswire/HTSCables.html They are installing one of them in New York.

    There is also the small matter of the Pacific DC Intertie:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie

    That connects the Pacific Northwest with the L.A. basin for 3100 Megawatts worth… Older technology, yes, but it’s always nice to have an existence proof of something to cite…

    There is not really a problem with moving lots of electricity around the country long distances with acceptable low losses. We literally do it every day.

    More good stuff about French nukes… then …

    There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons. The mere presence of these other isotopes poisons the fission process in a nuclear bomb, making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.

    This is often stated, but quite wrong. It is easy to be lead to believe this. McPhee in “The Curve of Binding Energy” quotes Taylor, one of our best bomb designers, on the subject. As a rough paraphrase his statement was “There is good Plutonium for making bombs and less good Plutonium, but there is no bad Plutonium for making bombs.”

    OK, that’s a theoretical from a long time ago. How about a real world?

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaMomentum.html

    the delay gave them time to prepare additional devices – two sub-kiloton experiments, and a boosted fission device using reactor-grade plutonium to enable India to draw upon its very large inventory of power reactor produced material if desired.

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaShakti.html *with PICTURES*
    talking about the Shakti III device:

    This device was an experimental fission device using “non-weapon grade” (reportedly reactor-grade) plutonium. It was probably a test of fusion boosted device without the boost gas to prove the ability to use lower grade plutonium from India’s large power reactor plutonium stockpile.

    Since just about anyone with an internet connection and a decent physics education can design a bomb and U can be gotten from the ocean with plastic mats I’m not real worried about this path to a nuke; but it has been done. They also made a U233 device, as was our MET device of Teapot:

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Teapot.html

    which proves the Thorium to U233 path works (even though you will find folks saying it won’t work due to U232 contamination being too hot).

    I don’t know if it’s deliberate misinformation or just that so much of this was classified, but the fact is that you can make bombs out of a lot of nuclear material that isn’t ordinarily thought of as ‘boom stuff’.

    Don’t ask why I know this… hanging out with kids who’s dads designed bombs it just kind of comes up in conversation…

    You bought that, right? ;-)

  121. E.M.Smith says:

    JimB (12:50:52) :
    Steve Moore:
    “Taylor was to weapons design what Kelly Johnson was to aircraft, or Gerald Bull to artillery, so I’ll assume he knew what he was talking about.”

    Would you make the same assumption about Hansen?

    Steve has it right. Taylor was our very best. He designed both the largest and the smallest fission bombs we ever made, and some of the most creative. McPhee’s book about him is a great read.

  122. E.M.Smith says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :
    Electricity is a means of conveying energy, not generating it. Hydrogen falls into the same category.

    So far, so good. I agree with a lot of your points, but on a couple of them I think you are repeating things that are often said in other sources, but not accurate…

    Electricity is not even a very good way of conveying energy. A windmill farm in the Dakotas generating 100MW of power and sending the electricity generated to California will lose all but 7MW in transmission inefficiencies, basically heating up the atmosphere in between the states.

    American Superconductor (AMSC) makes superconducting transmission systems. See: http://www.amsc.com/products/htswire/HTSCables.html They are installing one of them in New York.

    There is also the small matter of the Pacific DC Intertie:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie

    That connects the Pacific Northwest with the L.A. basin for 3100 Megawatts worth… Older technology, yes, but it’s always nice to have an existence proof of something to cite…

    There is not really a problem with moving lots of electricity around the country long distances with acceptable low losses. We literally do it every day.

    More good stuff about French nukes… then …

    There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons. The mere presence of these other isotopes poisons the fission process in a nuclear bomb, making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.

    This is often stated, but quite wrong. It is easy to be lead to believe this. McPhee in “The Curve of Binding Energy” quotes Taylor, one of our best bomb designers, on the subject. As a rough paraphrase his statement was “There is good Plutonium for making bombs and less good Plutonium, but there is no bad Plutonium for making bombs.”

    OK, that’s a theoretical from a long time ago. How about a real world?

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaMomentum.html

    the delay gave them time to prepare additional devices – two sub-kiloton experiments, and a boosted fission device using reactor-grade plutonium to enable India to draw upon its very large inventory of power reactor produced material if desired.

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaShakti.html *with PICTURES*
    talking about the Shakti III device:

    This device was an experimental fission device using “non-weapon grade” (reportedly reactor-grade) plutonium. It was probably a test of fusion boosted device without the boost gas to prove the ability to use lower grade plutonium from India’s large power reactor plutonium stockpile.

    Since just about anyone with an internet connection and a decent physics education can design a bomb and U can be gotten from the ocean with plastic mats I’m not real worried about this path to a nuke; but it has been done. They also made a U233 device, as was our MET device of Teapot:

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Teapot.html

    which proves the Thorium to U233 path works (even though you will find folks saying it won’t work due to U232 contamination being too hot).

    I don’t know if it’s deliberate misinformation or just that so much of this was classified, but the fact is that you can make bombs out of a lot of nuclear material that isn’t ordinarily thought of as ‘boom stuff’.

    Don’t ask why I know this… hanging out with kids who’s dads designed bombs it just kind of comes up in conversation… You bought that, right? ;-)

  123. E.M.Smith says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :
    Electricity is a means of conveying energy, not generating it. Hydrogen falls into the same category.

    So far, so good. I agree with a lot of your points, but on a couple of them I think you are repeating things that are often said in other sources, but not accurate…

    Electricity is not even a very good way of conveying energy. A windmill farm in the Dakotas generating 100MW of power and sending the electricity generated to California will lose all but 7MW in transmission inefficiencies, basically heating up the atmosphere in between the states.

    American Superconductor (AMSC) makes superconducting transmission systems. See: http://www.amsc.com/products/htswire/HTSCables.html They are installing one of them in New York.

    There is also the small matter of the Pacific DC Intertie:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie

    That connects the Pacific Northwest with the L.A. basin for 3100 Megawatts worth… Older technology, yes, but it’s always nice to have an existence proof of something to cite…

    There is not really a problem with moving lots of electricity around the country long distances with acceptable low losses. We literally do it every day.

  124. E.M.Smith says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :

    (Please forgive me if this is a duplicate. It seems to have vanished when posted…)

    More good stuff about French nukes… then …

    There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons. The mere presence of these other isotopes poisons the fission process in a nuclear bomb, making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.

    This is often stated, but quite wrong. It is easy to be lead to believe this. McPhee in “The Curve of Binding Energy” quotes Taylor, one of our best bomb designers, on the subject. As a rough paraphrase his statement was “There is good Plutonium for making bombs and less good Plutonium, but there is no bad Plutonium for making bombs.”

    OK, that’s a theoretical from a long time ago. How about a real world?

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaMomentum.html

    the delay gave them time to prepare additional devices – two sub-kiloton experiments, and a boosted fission device using reactor-grade plutonium to enable India to draw upon its very large inventory of power reactor produced material if desired.

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaShakti.html *with PICTURES*
    talking about the Shakti III device:

    This device was an experimental fission device using “non-weapon grade” (reportedly reactor-grade) plutonium. It was probably a test of fusion boosted device without the boost gas to prove the ability to use lower grade plutonium from India’s large power reactor plutonium stockpile.

    Since just about anyone with an internet connection and a decent physics education can design a bomb and U can be gotten from the ocean with plastic mats I’m not real worried about this path to a nuke; but it has been done. They also made a U233 device, as was our MET device of Teapot:

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Teapot.html

    which proves the Thorium to U233 path works (even though you will find folks saying it won’t work due to U232 contamination being too hot).

    I don’t know if it’s deliberate misinformation or just that so much of this was classified, but the fact is that you can make bombs out of a lot of nuclear material that isn’t ordinarily thought of as ‘boom stuff’.

    Don’t ask why I know this… hanging out with kids who’s dads designed bombs it just kind of comes up in conversation…

    You bought that, right? ;-)

  125. E.M.Smith says:

    Jack Simmons (08:17:09) :

    More good stuff about French nukes… then …

    There are four isotopes of plutonium in the fuel rods. Only one, PU239 is useful for weapons.[...] making the use of this plutonium in weapons IMPOSSIBLE.

    This is often stated, but quite wrong. It is easy to be lead to believe this. McPhee in “The Curve of Binding Energy” quotes Taylor, one of our best bomb designers, on the subject. As a rough paraphrase his statement was “There is good Plutonium for making devices and less good Plutonium, but there is no bad Plutonium for making devices.”

    OK, that’s a theoretical from a long time ago. How about a real world?

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/India/IndiaShakti.html with PICTURES
    talking about the Shakti III device:

    This device was an experimental fission device using “non-weapon grade” (reportedly reactor-grade) plutonium. It was probably a test of fusion boosted device without the boost gas to prove the ability to use lower grade plutonium from India’s large power reactor plutonium stockpile.

    Since just about anyone with an internet connection and a decent physics education can design a bomb and U can be gotten from the ocean with plastic mats I’m not real worried about this path to a nuke; but it has been done.

  126. crosspatch says:

    “we will not use our coal, and we will embark on a decade or two long project of playing with electric cars.”

    We can not increase grid consumption by 50% on current generation capacity. If they won’t use coal or nuclear, we can have all the electric cars we want … and we will be charging them at night with gasoline generators!

  127. E.M.Smith says:

    D Caldwell (21:40:05) :
    E.M. Smith
    I am under the impression that the internal combustion engine, due to heat loss and mechanical friction, only delivers about 30% of the original energy in the fuel to the drive wheels of the vehicle.

    If varies with the vehicle (Diesels are much better) but between 30% and 45% Max is probably about right.

    I’m thinking that we will need alternatives at some point in the future.

    We need alternatives NOW. We are at the top of Hubberts peak and it’s all down hill from here on oil supply. What we don’t need is a bunch of lawyer politicians picking winners in DC. Let the market sort out the winners. There are many alternatives that all work fine. Let folks choose what they want.

    With that said, there are some technologies that clearly beat others. Hydrogen is not among them. Why? Making & storing the fuel…

    I have no idea what the equivalent energy efficiency of an electric might be overall, but the electric power grid already exists whereas an enormous new infrastructure must be created to accomodate the widespread distribution of hydrogen.

    I agree. There are some modular hydrogen production cells that just take a water connection and an electrical wire. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that there are no hydrogen wells. The hydrogen has to be made from something else and that something else is almost universally better used directly in the car, or via a single step conversion to car fuel.

    For electrics, the best power grid generators run a bit over 50%. But then you must add in transmission losses, battery charge / discharge losses, controller losses, motor losses. Or for hydrogen, electrolysis losses and fuel cell losses.

    In the end, the added conversions kill your efficiency. A great battery will have an 80% charge / discharge efficiency. So 50% (generation) to 45% (line losses) to 36% (battery) to 32% after motor losses… Gee, about the same as an ICE… and I’ve ignored the charger itself and controller losses…

    Fuel is made and transported to the generator too, so I don’t think the fuel distribution ‘losses’ are much of an issue.

    What’s most effective? Turn that coal or natural gas into gasoline or diesel and dump it in the existing fuel distribution system. No new infrastructure. Works in the present vehicle fleet. Right behind it? Algae based liquid fuels and cellulosic fuels. Most efficient? Just put the natural gas directly into a CNG or LNG vehicle.

    Why go through: Gas turbine, grid, charger, battery charge/discharge, controller, electric motor

    when you could just do: Gas, car.

    Add a hybrid battery system (really just a regenerative breaking system) if you like and your done.

  128. E.M.Smith says:

    anna v (22:48:57) :
    Can somebody enlighten me why we are not hearing more about this?

    My guess would be cost. There are many things we can do, but not very many that can compete with gasoline at $2 or even $4 a gallon.

    If they can get it cheap enough, hey, great…

  129. Leon Brozyna says:

    Interesting photo capture — so that’s what’s meant by a classless society!

  130. Denis Hopkins says:

    ah but if they give off water vapour,,,, how long before they are banned because it is a greenhouse gas?

  131. Moptop says:

    areas are a small part of the overall supply equation. It would be helpful, but it wouldn’t be the difference between consistently “cheap” fuel & “expensive fuel.

    Perhaps, but it likely would be the difference in supply so constricted that the price could rise as high as fast as it did this past summer.

  132. Richard Hegarty says:

    The biggest advantage of electric cars especially in Europe is that unlike liquid fuels it is tax free. In fact in many European countries you get tax breaks on electric and hybrid cars. This is fine when they are a small number but if electric cars become more popular in the coming years then rest assured a way will be found to tax them, how else would roads be paid for?
    This is what our friends in china are going to build.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7779261.stm

  133. Stan W says:

    Slightly off topic, but still in the ball park.

    Some of us at the office were discussing one possible unintended consequence of hydrogen powered vehicles. The issue being the water vapor exhausts. This is not a problem when such vehicles are rare and the temperatures are warm. But, imagine an 8 lane freeway jammed up during the morning rush hour at some city like Boston when the road surface temperature is say 20 deg. F and every one of the cars is pumping out water vapor. There would appear to be the potential of turning the road into a very long ice skating rink. Even if the heat in the vapor is enough to keep it from freezing on the road, you would at least have a very large linear fog generating machine. Traffic reports would not be about road congestion but would rather be about visibility in the 10 to 15 feet range.

  134. JimB says:

    Ok…non-scientist here…so go easy.

    If we power a car with hydrogen, as the vehicle consumes the hydrogen, water is a by-product. Why can’t it simply be captured? It can’t weigh as much as the hydrogen that’s being consumed…so it’s not like we’re ADDING weight to the car.
    So it gets stored in a water reservoir, and disposed of properly when it’s appropriate?

    JimB

  135. John McDonald says:

    David Y had some great comments earlier.

    I own a Prius and it is NOT a technological scam. Hybrids work. If Diesels are better, then a Diesel Hybrid is the best. BTW, I went out to dinner once with the Robert Bosch CEO and told him to get working on it. I’ve read many comparisons of the Prius to ultra-small compact cars. The Prius is not a ultra small car and when driven correctly I can get 52MPG city and highway combined. Normally driven I get around 44 to 48 MPG. I’ve thought about putting a gun rack in mind so people don’t confuse me with a Greenpeace supporter.

    Just because many of us are skeptical of the global warming claims of Al Gore, we should not be anti-technology or technology skeptics. We should encourage and support technological invention. I believe Detroit is asking for a bailout today in part because they have refused to advance technology and instead sought political cover. We should also support less dependence on oil from countries that hate us.

    Detroit is not only screwing us on gas mileage they are screwing us on a whole host of safety, traffic control, communications, etc. These technologies are cheap, ready to go, and being rolled out in Europe. It is so annoying to go to Europe and ride in my sales reps cars and see innovations that are not available in the US for 5 years. I learned about back up cameras, GPS nav, yaw rate sensors, etc. this way.

    Solar power (the other nuclear power) is efficient, it takes 1.5 years for a solar wafer to payoff the energy necessary to create it.
    Nuclear power should be made small local and go everywhere – and people should stop freaking out about radiation.

    Often the cost associated with these technologies has a lot to do with regulation, permits, etc. This is the same reason why we can’t build airports, factories, semiconductor fabs, chemical plants, refineries, etc. in the country anymore. The actual cost of these technologies is not that extreme. We’ve let the Greens; put up massive job barriers, hurt our economy, encourage business to outsource their new facilities and with it the great high paying supporting engineers, …. as warming skeptics let’s not hate technology. Energy efficiency = More money, a better economy

  136. Stan W says:

    JimB

    “If we power a car with hydrogen, as the vehicle consumes the hydrogen, water is a by-product. Why can’t it simply be captured? It can’t weigh as much as the hydrogen that’s being consumed…so it’s not like we’re ADDING weight to the car.”

    Actually you would. The water is composed of the hydrogen you’ve just burned plus the oxygen you’ve taken out of the air. Not to mention the weight and complexity of carrying around a condenser to turn the vapor into liquid.

  137. Steven Hill says:

    The automaker won’t open its first Prius plant in the United States in 2010 as planned. Toyota Motor apparently doesn’t expect demand for cars to rebound until well past 2010–the automaker has pushed back plans to produce some models from that date

  138. LarryOldtimer says:

    The question I would have regarding electric cars with a lithium battery is . . . just how much lithium is there available for making large numbers of lithium battery cars in the first place? I would estimate that there isn’t enough, nor is there going to be enough to make even several hundred thousand lithium battery cars per year. And I would also estimate that the price of lithium batteries would increase substantially with any “significant” production of lithium battery operated cars.

    There is a good reason as to why cars still have a lead-acid battery for the sole electrical storage device . . . virtually all of them. It is because lead is readily available and relatively cheap, and lead-acid is one of the very best working ways of storing electrical power at a price which can be afforded.

    Electric powered cars aren’t about to make a whit of difference as to solving our energy supply situation. Just madness . . . from people who aren’t very, if any good at all, at making arithmetical calculations from the start.

  139. Phil. says:

    Stan W (06:14:48) :
    Slightly off topic, but still in the ball park.

    Some of us at the office were discussing one possible unintended consequence of hydrogen powered vehicles. The issue being the water vapor exhausts. This is not a problem when such vehicles are rare and the temperatures are warm. But, imagine an 8 lane freeway jammed up during the morning rush hour at some city like Boston when the road surface temperature is say 20 deg. F and every one of the cars is pumping out water vapor. There would appear to be the potential of turning the road into a very long ice skating rink. Even if the heat in the vapor is enough to keep it from freezing on the road, you would at least have a very large linear fog generating machine.

    That’s what happens now: 162 gms water/114gms octane consumed!

  140. LarryOldtimer says:

    Detroit is in a world of hurt for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that Congress has mandated that the auto-makers manufacture, with CAFE standards, cars which almost no one wants to buy, and which no one is willing to pay a price for which would give the manufacturer any sort of reasonable profit. They have to make and somehow foist off some 5 or 6 cars at little or no profit at all to be able to sell one car which people would want to buy and be willing to pay a sufficient price for which would result in a good profit for both the manufacturer and dealer.

    I am a retired highway/transportation engineer, and have seen many an accident report in my career. Tin cans on skateboard wheels crunch up all too easily, absorbing far to little energy in the process, and the people in them who do get in accidents suffer far more pain and injury than people who get into accidents who are driving substantially heavier cars. F=MA still works, and it is the rate of deceleration of the car versus the rate of deceleration of the passengers which causes the injuries. It isn’t the speed which maims and kills, it is the sudden high rate of deceleration, along with the factor of just how much energy can be absorbed by the body and framework of the car in an accident before it gets transmitted to the passengers in the car.

    I wouldn’t even ride for a single block in these tin cans on skateboard wheels which our “leaders” are insisting that we have to drive. I value my life and physical well being far too much for that. But then I am, after all, an engineer, and do understand Newton’s laws of motion.

  141. JimB says:

    John:
    “Detroit is not only screwing us on gas mileage they are screwing us on a whole host of safety, traffic control, communications, etc. These technologies are cheap, ready to go, and being rolled out in Europe. ”

    Sorry…it’s not detroit. Amazing how these beliefs get propogated. The technologies you’re talking about being rolled out in Europe?…Are in part being rolled out by GM/FORD/Chrysler. Those vehicles aren’t “legal” in our country…I’ll leave it to you to figure out why, but it’s not because the Big 3 don’t want to sell them here.

    JimB

  142. LarryOldTimer: It is possible to make a light, safe, car; here in Europe we drive them all the time: Google for EuroNCAP.

    f=ma also applies to the probabilty of stopping before you hit something with infinite inertia! Of course, if you get a head-on between a light car and a heavy one, the heavy one has the advantage, but then you’re into game theory…

  143. Mike from Canmore says:

    mcates:
    You have no idea how much I enjoy when work takes me down to Seattle and Portland and I fill up down there. I soooo hate the BC carbon tax. I GLADLY pay your taxes as I realize I’m not putting money into the BC Gov’t’s hands for their pet projects. (Yes, I ‘m putting money in the WA/OR State’s hands for their pet projects.) If Oregon ever got rid of the silly, “somebody has to fill your car” law, you could get even CHEAPER gas down there. It is our pleasure to supply the USA with oil.

  144. beng says:

    Novoburgo says way above:
    ******
    Here in central Maine there are very few days in the year when you don’t need air conditioning or more importantly – heat.
    *****

    I’ve thought about this a fair bit, and can’t think of any pure-battery solution (supplying “heat” from a battery will discharge it pronto). You almost have to have a small IC engine or propane burner to supply reasonable heat for the vehicle occupants in a cold climate. A/C could reasonably be run by a 5HP IC engine also.

    Obviously, this is easily achievable by available tech.

  145. Adam Gallon says:

    Not having a crash is always a good idea.
    I think you Colonials call saloon cars “Sedans”.
    The main reason you need such huge cars is to get your huge posteriors into them!
    ;-)
    Looking at pictures of all those Pick-ups, with their enourmous V8 engines, cost a fortune to run and that handle like a wet lettuce is probably the reason that the US motor industry is in dire straights.
    Lighter car = better performance and handling.

  146. Pamela Gray says:

    Bigger car = better performance and handling in Pendleton right now. Small cars are sliding down the hill. Even ones with all wheel drive. My Jeep Commander V8 is a rear wheel drive but has low 4 on demand with anti-skid technology. I also have studs (and chains if I need them). I am able to go up or down my steep hill with ease and it has been zambonied by local kids sledding down the hill all morning. Sorry but in rural temperate areas, a small car just can’t take the kind of environment we live in or the jobs we have. When I lived in the city, I did have a small car with a somewhat crunch resistant cage and good gas mileage. Once I moved back out into the country, my little Corolla started falling apart with all the pot holes, washboard roads, dust, winter weather, and rough treatment. The bumpy roads and up and down terrain wore my breaks out within the first two years of owning the thing and the shocks in one year. Not to mention that the stapled and glued interior was falling apart. If the government wants to force me to use a car that can’t even haul a month’s worth of grocery’s, it will have to hogtie me first. Hell, those little cars can’t even haul a hogtied female to jail.

  147. Ron de Haan says:

    The big fight that is going on at the moment is about “control” over energy distribution.

    It’s a fight between big oil, local power companies and individual, decentralized private initiatives.
    Implementing the new energies into existing distribution structures is key for Big Oil.
    The local energy company looks with big greedy eyes at the shift from gasoline to electric vehicles.

    If the hydrogen and/or the electric car becomes fact, big oil will build the hydrogen infra structure and an exchange system for battery packs.

    For many individuals, depending on circumstances, the new technologies provide an opportunity to get away from the local power company and Big Oil’s Service Stations for fueling the car.

    Honda for example delivers a hydrogen generator as a domestic application.
    The system, the size of a fridge, converts Propane into heat to warm your home and provides hydrogen to fuel up your car. The fuel cel in the car has sufficient power to provide electric energy to three family houses.

    If you go electric, you can add the necessary square meters of solar panels to your home and charge your car batteries at home, independent of the power company.

    Anyhow, the business interests are tremendous as are the opportunities.

    I personally think the internal combustion engine will survive much longer.
    Engines will get better and efficiency will rise.

    The carbon fuels will also get better.

    Shell already markets a “clean diesel” made from natural gas (plant in Quatar).

    I do not believe we already have reached peak-oil.
    I have a few arguments for that.

    Recently, huge oil fiellds were found in China, The Huzdar Region of Balochistan, Pakistan (Bolochistan borders with Afghanistan and the current fight for independance from Pakistan has everything to do with the oil and gas that has been found), Colombia and off coast of Brazil. Forget about the Arctic.
    Natural Gas, read diesel oil and jet fuel, can be found everywhere.

    If we only take the US resources into account that could secure domestic oil consumption for the next 118 years all those peak oil stories can be archived under the same hoax department as AGW.

    Just remember that all the arguments that AGW believers put on the table to curb the use of carbon fuels, peak oil is one of them.

    So my idea is to continue to drive our cars conventionally and wait until the current downsizing of nuclear plant reaches a level where you put a battery size nuclear core into your car so you can drive it for seven years without a refuel.

    This way we can forget all about crummy in efficient and expensive windmills, the nitwit expensive hybrids, the low range inefficient electric cars that are unable to take a hilly road and return to the order of the day.

    By the way, the mini nuclear power plant comes at container size and delivers power for 20.000 households and you can order it right now.
    http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/index.php?s=nuclear+power+plant

    You simply put it in a hole in the ground for seven years and dig it up for a refill.
    A Japanese scientist has found a way to extract plutonium from seawater so this energy source could last for ever.

    The only thing we have to do is to convince the IPCC, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Friends of the Earth, Green peace, MoveOn, EPA, and all others at the list including the Nobel Prize winner who will be the new Secretary of Energy.

    But hey, it’s worth a try and if you don’t do it for yourself…think about your children.

    At his moment in time

  148. Ron de Haan says:

    Steven Hill (09:01:39) :

    “The automaker won’t open its first Prius plant in the United States in 2010 as planned. Toyota Motor apparently doesn’t expect demand for cars to rebound until well past 2010–the automaker has pushed back plans to produce some models from that date”.

    Yes and Nissan is planning a new US plant to produce… Category 5 trucks with gasoline and diesel engines, just as the Big Three have been doing for years.
    What about them apples?

    Do not stop driving them.
    A big heavy and safe car uses a lot more fuel but what the heck at $ 1.67 per Gallon!
    Driving an eco box is so…un American.

  149. Ed Scott says:

    LarryOldtimer (09:19:45) :
    Think of the benefits of Lithium contamination after an accident. There would be auto-treatment for manic/depressive (bipolar) and depressive disorders, all without the need for a doctor’s prescription. A real cost savings.

  150. Ed Scott says:

    Stan W (08:54:32) :

    JimB

    “If we power a car with hydrogen, as the vehicle consumes the hydrogen, water is a by-product. Why can’t it simply be captured? It can’t weigh as much as the hydrogen that’s being consumed…so it’s not like we’re ADDING weight to the car.”

    “Actually you would. The water is composed of the hydrogen you’ve just burned plus the oxygen you’ve taken out of the air. Not to mention the weight and complexity of carrying around a condenser to turn the vapor into liquid.”

    The man-made water would contribute to increased cloud cover and thereby cause AGW in addition to an increase in sea level. Man-made water would be declared a pollutant and taxed in the manner of man-made CO2.

  151. David Y says:

    John McDonald (08:01:14):

    Excellent points & description–and I’ve thought about the gun rack as well!

    Somewhat OT: Both sides of the AGW have sub-groups whose arguments are purely emotional–the Alarmists trumpet the new ‘original sin’ of carbon consumption, and some of the ‘absolute deniers’ espouse burning as much fossil fuel as possible simply out of spite (Note: I would NOT describe the readers of this blog that way!!!)

    Both sides have too many adherents who forget that markets reward efficiency–and the benefits of being the early mover.

    It may be that a bankruptcy (or even dissolving) of the current Big 3 would be a the kind of destabilizing event that creates opportunities for smaller, more nimble private enterprises to deliver better products and services to the market–and develop, much as the Internet has, localized infrastructure (recharging facilities for plug-ins, diesel distribution, air compression for pneumatics, and hydro-compression for hydraulic hybrids) that is compatible with nationwide technical standards (think of how web servers of a wide variety link to LANs and WANs–and the Web). The market, like nature, abhors a vacuum (and I abhor Al Gore’s bad science on the AGW issue!)

    In a time of a sputtering economy, shouldn’t we be lightening the overheads on business/job creation (taxes, regulations) and going full-bore toward abundant, inexpensive energy, even if that means using current sources (maybe some more refineries, nuke plants, etc.)?

    Government doesn’t ‘create’ jobs (no offense to those taking home a gov’t paycheck); it simply grows the tax load through a flawed assumption that the machinery of the national commerce/economy will always be there, and always run strong.

    A sick horse doesn’t want a heavier rider and won’t benefit from the increased burden.

    If the AGW alarmists were really serious and not emotional, why don’t they start with what has a known, quantifiable effect on today’s citizens’ health and temperature–the UHI? Or better yet, how about clean water and plumbing for the poor? (No, I don’t want regulation, but if you’re going to hold a gun to my head to make me change my ways at least do it for something that has proven science–and benefits–behind it.)

    Sorry for the rant.

  152. David Y says:

    Clarification: My personal belief is that we ‘skeptics’ are, by and large, very open minded about climate science–hence our love of WUWT–and that the ‘other side’ is almost completely closed to any debate. We are willing to be altered by what we hear, but will also put any data through rigorous testing before giving any hypothesis our blessing.

  153. E.M.Smith says:

    LarryOldtimer (09:19:45) :
    The question I would have regarding electric cars with a lithium battery is . . . just how much lithium is there available for making large numbers of lithium battery cars in the first place? I would estimate that there isn’t enough, nor is there going to be enough to make even several hundred thousand lithium battery cars per year.

    See the stock tickers SQM and FMC. Between them they mine (most? lots?) of the lithium used. It comes from old dry lakebeds in a very rare climate. (Chile and Nevada…) If prices got high enough we would likely find some other source, but then that ‘high enough’ price was kind of your point…

    See: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=SQM

    You can hunt up their production figures if you like. Their chart shows a bottom in and in incipient buy signal (coming soon?). 3% dividend. FMC corp up 6% today. I’d guess that the Ecuador & Argentine behaviours have moved folks more toward the non-latin stock… In either case, a sudden demand for 10x global lithium production would be hard to meet.

    Also: My apology for the multiple posts on nukes above. For some reason when I hit ‘submit’ they just vanished… and I just HAD to diagnose it by repeated posting with different bits cut out to see if it was a filter of some kind… Didn’t expect the vanished ones to come back later. Sigh. Too many years hacking Unix for my own good…

  154. E.M.Smith says:

    LarryOldtimer (09:34:00) :
    F=MA still works, and it is the rate of deceleration of the car versus the rate of deceleration of the passengers which causes the injuries.

    I agree. And remember that while MV is conserved, the M is not evenly distributed, so if I take my share of MV with double the M, they take their share with double the V, and energy goes as V squared…. So I get 1/2 the delta V (thus 1/4 the energy) and they get a nice trip to the hospital…

    Trying to absorb less energy with more mass is easier than absorbing more energy with less mass. You can do more with less, but it’s a lot harder.

    A long technical way of saying the little car bounces off of the big car…

    (First explained to me by my H.S. physics teacher. Mr. McGuire, who drove a Mercdes Benz Diesel and cursed the Nazi’s he’d fought as an Air Force Lt. Col. in WWII “But they make a damn fine car.” Most likely why I drive a M.B. Diesel… A fine man, deeply missed. I think he’s buried in Chico. Where’s that scotch bottle, I need to toast someone …)

  155. E.M.Smith says:

    woodfortrees (Paul Clark) (10:02:41) :
    LarryOldTimer: It is possible to make a light, safe, car;

    Agreed. But harder. And the physics don’t change, so for any level of technology the heavier car can devote more mass to the solution.

    f=ma also applies to the probabilty of stopping before you hit something with infinite inertia!

    That’s what the really big brakes and tires are for!! 2 x M so 2 x brake force. Easy. Dealing with a squared energy function is, er, harder.

    Of course, if you get a head-on between a light car and a heavy one, the heavy one has the advantage, but then you’re into game theory…

    Since the size of trucks and busses is not subject to the size of any game theory choices made by the cars, I’ll go with the larger car and get my fuel efficiency via other means… (My nearly 2 ton car gets low 30′s MPG on Diesel using 1980′s technology. And it’s a full size “saloon” (scotch in trunk ;-) A modern version (if one were ever made) with something other than German Cube aerodynamics would get even better. But CARB has decided that’s not to be…

  156. E.M.Smith says:

    Adam Gallon (10:21:11) :
    Lighter car = better performance and handling.

    You mean like a Yugo, Fiat, or Ford Fiesta vs. a Mercdes 500SL or even a Mercedes 300SEL or any BMW 7 series ? /sarcoff>

    It’s not the weight of the steel, it’s the size of the brain that designed it. But more weight lets that brain do more interesting things… and more money helps the brain work a lot better two ;-)

  157. E.M.Smith says:

    Pamela Gray (11:15:07) :
    [...] it will have to hogtie me first. Hell, those little cars can’t even haul a hogtied female to jail.

    You’re flirting again aren’t you? ;-)

    You might be a redneck if… your laptop is powered from your manure gas powered generator… You have to stop typing to fill your beer glass and feed the livestock in the back yard (GUILTY!) … Your truck is considered part of your living room AND your farm equipment … You have more than one generator, 2 inverters, a satellite dish AND a wood pile (guilty again!) … Your car is bigger than your bathroom and closer to the living room …

    I could go on, but it wouldn’t be pretty ;-)

  158. Håkan B says:

    Swedish bus and truck maker Scania has an interesting hybrid project for city buses:

  159. Håkan B says:

    Swedish bus and truck maker Scania has an interesting hybrid project for city bus:

    and the link

  160. E.M.Smith says:

    Ron de Haan (11:58:30) :
    The big fight that is going on at the moment is about “control” over energy distribution.

    Yup. But quantity has a quality all it’s own… Distributed sources will always suffer a disadvantage relative to the ‘big boys’ simply due to financing costs if nothing else. Wal Mart is monster sized because it is monster sized and monster sized means it can purchase cheaper. The electric utility will always be able to buy solar cells or wind turbines cheaper than you can.

    For many individuals, depending on circumstances, the new technologies provide an opportunity to get away from the local power company and Big Oil’s Service Stations for fueling the car.

    And I can make my own biodiesel (and have) and my own ethanol (and have) and my own gasogen for producer gas and my own methane digester (and have) and… but at the end of the day it’s cheaper to fill up at the local gas station due to economies of scale. This will not change. (It’s that dismal science thing again. Sigh.)

    Honda for example delivers a hydrogen generator as a domestic application. The system, the size of a fridge, converts Propane into heat to warm your home and provides hydrogen to fuel up your car.

    This, IMHO, is the only way hydrogen can work. As a byproduct of cogeneration in some way.

    Shell already markets a “clean diesel” made from natural gas (plant in Quatar).

    This is the GTL / CTL technology. Lots of folks are doing it. BP, Chevron CVX, Conoco Philips COP, even MRO (Marathon Oil) who have a very interesting bromine based tech. It’s substantially the same product that SASOL has made for 30+ years in South Africa (SSL) from coal.

    I do not believe we already have reached peak-oil.

    We have.

    Recently, huge oil fiellds were found in China, The Huzdar Region of Balochistan, Pakistan (Bolochistan borders with Afghanistan and the current fight for independance from Pakistan has everything to do with the oil and gas that has been found), Colombia and off coast of Brazil. Forget about the Arctic.

    Peak oil does NOT mean no more will be found, it just means that the rate of finding drops below the rate of depletion. It has. Yes, big finds. No, not bigger than depletion.

    Natural Gas, read diesel oil and jet fuel, can be found everywhere.

    Not a peak oil issue. Peak Oil is not Peak Fossil Fuels… I’d count Nat. Gas as part of the ‘alternatives’ to get gasoline and Diesel. Ditto coal.

    If we only take the US resources into account that could secure domestic oil consumption for the next 118 years all those peak oil stories can be archived under the same hoax department as AGW.

    Yes and no. Peak Oil as described by Hubbert is exactly right. It took us 100 years to reach the peak and we’ll be pumping oil (at every lower rates) for the next 100 years. A more or less symmetrical curve.

    We will gradually turn more natural gas and coal into gasoline and Diesel (Modulo Obama…) so the Peak Oil Gloom & Doom HYPE is the same as the AGW HYPE. Coal derived gasoline and Diesel are good for another couple of hundred years. Then there is algae derived oil (millions of years) and nuclear powered synthesis of motor fuels (millions of years). There is no energy shortage and there never will be.

    ANY shortage of motor fuels in the next few hundred years are entirely due to political decisions not to use natural gas and coal. Peak oil or no.

    By the way, the mini nuclear power plant comes at container size

    A city in Alaska tried to get one of these from Toshiba? but was shut down. They would have avoided some tens of thousands of gallons of Diesel fuel burn each year… There is still some hope they will succeed.

    http://www.primidi.com/2005/02/06.html

    A Japanese scientist has found a way to extract plutonium from seawater so this energy source could last for ever.

    Um, that ought to be Uranium. Plutonium is mostly man made… But yes. The quantity that erodes into the ocean each year is less that what is required to power everything on the planet. We can take it out “forever”.

  161. Ron de Haan says:

    E.M.Smith (15:24:16) :

    You are correct it’s uranium.

    Thanks for your other comments, they all cut wood.

    If you look at the whole show from a distance, people worry to much.
    But they should be bit more careful about the crooked politicians they choose to represent them.

  162. Ric Werme says:

    E.M.Smith (14:39:30) :

    Pamela Gray (11:15:07) :
    [...] it will have to hogtie me first. Hell, those little cars can’t even haul a hogtied female to jail.

    You’re flirting again aren’t you? ;-)

    I’d hate to be the gov’t agent assigned to hogtie and haul Pamela to jail.
    He might be left with an interesting story behind the scars. :-)

    Little Saturn SL2 vs. brand new GMC Sonoma pickup? The Saturn was totaled,
    of course, but the pickup driver regretted not seeing us before the
    left turn he made. See http://wermenh.com/saturn.html – complete with
    physics. The replacement Saturn has 227 Kmi so far.

  163. Tim says:

    Mike said:

    “It’s the federal tax credits that piss me off personally. (Don’t believe they are available here in Canada – could be wrong). I don’t give 2 hoots what you choose to drive. All the power to you. Just don’t do it on my dime. (Note: I recognize I don’t pay taxes down there). I tried to go to your link but it wouldn’t let me. That being said, if you are worried about foreign oil dependency, that quantity of risk, as interpreted by the market is built into the price of oil. Econ 101 – All future expecations are built into a product’s price; especially with commodities.”

    Well gee Mike, I don’t much like subsidizing the cost of oil (via U.S. military deployments and expenditures in the middle east that secure the world’s oil supply). So I guess that really pisses me off. So think about that next time you are driving on the U.S. taxpayer’s dime. And last time I checked, “the market” wasn’t footing the bill for the U.S. military, it is me, the U.S. taxpayer. So how about sending us some cash from Canada?

  164. Tim says:

    “Jeff Alberts (15:30:09) :

    FWIW Tim, I don’t have a problem with anyone driving any vehicle. It’s when someone drives a specific vehicle and then derides others for not being as foresighted or “green” as they are. This happens with other vehicles besides Priuses (Prii?), like the silly Smart Car.”

    I’m not deriding anyone’s car, Prius drivers or Hummer drivers. I just want people to pay the full cost of oil, inclusive of subsidies such as the military one.

  165. Tim says:

    “Jay (15:40:27) :

    “Wow – nothing like a Prius to get people foaming at the mouth.”

    Sorry, Tim. Guilty as charged. Seeing a Prius on the road is like having Algore, Hansen, and the entire California state government encapsulized next to you….
    I can relate a little bit. One of my cars is a Porsche….”

    LOL Jay. I understand. Just know not every Prius driver is a left wing wacko.

  166. RW says:

    I am curious. My questions remained unanswered. It seems highly implausible to me that you’d just happen to have a camera handy to take a photo of a car you just happen to be passing, and that you would actually have the inclination to concentrate on photographing instead of driving. The EXIF data says the photo was taken on 2008/05/02, so why the statement that it was taken ‘recently’?

    REPLY: I can understand the skepticism. I carry a camera on all trips I make. As you may know, I operate the http://www.surfacestations.org project and this happened to be a trip to survey stations. To me recent meant in the last few months. With LCD Displays on the rear of cameras now, and large megapixel resolution, getting this shot was quite easy. Aim in general direction as seen on LCD, snap, then crop out what you want from the large megapixel image.

    Here is the original image before cropping. Notice the spots on the windshield in foreground. Bugs I think:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/100_1501.jpg

    I find it curious though that you question me and demand such details when you don’t even have the integrity yourself to put in a valid email address in your post x@yyy.zzz is not a real email address. – Anthony

  167. RW says:

    Thanks for the further info. I notice that in the uncropped version, the car on the right, that looks to be a little over twice as far away as the Prius, has an almost totally illegible number plate, while the next car up the road, probably three times as far away, has a completely illegible plate. Whereas, if I crop out the ‘suckers’ plate and reduce it in size even by a factor of four, it’s still easy to read.

    But if you say it’s entirely real, I’ll take your word for it. Plenty of things in photographs may look anomalous at first sight, and as I say, I was just curious. I wasn’t ‘demanding’ any details, and I don’t see how putting in a false e-mail address should imply any lack of integrity. Should I hand out my e-mail address to anyone who asks for it?

    REPLY: Well if you simply put your valid email address in the post, I could have emailed you directly. Email addresses allow me to contact people that comment with questions or responses. It seems a reasonable courtesy to expect. – Anthony

  168. Jeff Alberts says:

    Tim (21:27:22) :

    I’m not deriding anyone’s car, Prius drivers or Hummer drivers. I just want people to pay the full cost of oil, inclusive of subsidies such as the military one.

    Oh I know, Tim. I wasn’t trying to imply that you were, but that some greenies do. No offense intended.

  169. Ric Werme says:

    RW (09:54:06) :

    Thanks for the further info. I notice that in the uncropped version, the car on the right, that looks to be a little over twice as far away as the Prius, has an almost totally illegible number plate, while the next car up the road, probably three times as far away, has a completely illegible plate. Whereas, if I crop out the ’suckers’ plate and reduce it in size even by a factor of four, it’s still easy to read.

    That looks to me as though the camera focused on the Prius, a sensible thing to do. I considered that the optics might be lame, as in less sharp on the edge of the field, but if that were the case I’d expect to see some distortion too, and I don’t. Looking at the center line and road grooves, I think there’s some camera and car motion effects that do some odd things, and I think the camera is actually focused _before_ the Prius which would exacerbate focus for more distant cars.

    I think Anthony’s car is just before an unseen while lane marker, that would put the Prius 2.5 markers away. The Yukon is 7 markers away, the next car 9 or 10.

    I don’t see anything other than some odd effects with grooves that would warrant any suspicion, and the grooves ought to be explainable with a bit of camera motion, car motion, and the scan speed of the image sensor.

  170. DJ Toman says:

    Your “electric” car gets all its energy from gasoline. It just uses the energy efficiently, by better managing the relationship between potential and kinetic energy and actively trading one for the other with less dissipation and loss. Most of the added efficiency comes from regenerative braking. A bit comes from the efficiency of an electric motor in acceleration relative to a heat engine doing the same. nevertheless…all the energy comes from gasoline.

  171. E.M.Smith says:

    Ric Werme (19:40:16) :
    RW (09:54:06) :

    Thanks for the further info. I notice that in the uncropped version, the car on the right, that looks to be a little over twice as far away as the Prius, has an almost totally illegible number plate, while the next car up the road, probably three times as far away, has a completely illegible plate. Whereas, if I crop out the ’suckers’ plate and reduce it in size even by a factor of four, it’s still easy to read.

    RW, please notice that the other plates are about 1/10 the area of the prius plate. In digital photography that can cause characters to dissolve into pixellated blur. Reducing the size of an image isn’t as important as reducing the pixel count. If the original had the small plates at a pixel limit, they are blurred, no matter the physical size. Also, center of a lens is always more sharp then edge, often by quite a bit, especially in recent non-pro non-35mm cameras. Like 1/4 to 1/8 as sharp. Add to that the effect that rotation of a one handed hold with an edge place shutter release imparts and the plates near the edge being more blurred is expected. There is no difference in sharpness of other insignia on the vehicles vs. the plates on each vehicle at least as far as I can see in the image.

    That looks to me as though the camera focused on the Prius
    Yup.
    Looking at the center line and road grooves, I think there’s some camera and car motion effects that do some odd things
    [...]
    I don’t see anything other than some odd effects with grooves that would warrant any suspicion, and the grooves ought to be explainable with a bit of camera motion, car motion, and the scan speed of the image sensor.

    The groove cutting machine in California has a random motion built into it (so that motorcycle tires don’t get ‘stuck in a rut’ – SHUDDER – bad memory of early parallel grooves of constant depth and a motorcycle tire with straight ribs…) so the degree of depth, ‘wobble’, and everything else about the grooves tends to ‘come and go’ unpredictably. (And I’m glad for it, even if my present M.C. tires have no parallel ribs… I still get the willies on grooved pavement even though the state responded to MC rider protests and went to the randomizer). The look of the groves don’t tell you much.

    The shadows place the sun medium low on the horizon. 5pm?. Most recent digital cameras hang out at about f4 to f5.6 unless pushed elsewhere (the small sensor size makes this ideal, with wider apertures suffering soft focus, if they are available at all, and smaller apertures being diffraction limited). The depth of field at f4 to f5.6 would soft focus the more distant cars, and the limited light of an afternoon to setting sun with high speed shutter to reduce motion blur pretty much says f4 (ish) to f5.6 exposure (never trust the meta data in forensics…) though again, a bit of lab time would give a better answer than eyeballing it.

    I see nothing in this picture that is suspicious. [Nikon D50, a couple of 35mm Nikons, Canon FTQL (ancient) F1 (ancient), several Minolta 7000x series and 5000x series (damn it), and several misc. minor cameras plus darkroom equipment (now obsolete, damn it again) and many 10s of thousands of pictures taken, mostly badly, and I have taught forensics class at Sacramento State) though I have to say that with modern software a digital image can be made to show anything and without access to the original bits it's hard to prove.]

    My take on it is that if this were a fake it would have taken far too much time to make than it would be worth to make this quality. I also think I’ve seen the same car, though I can’t place exactly where… (Sacramento? Stockton? Kettleman City? ) or when. (Vague memory of a chuckle while near highway hypnosis.)

    The light, shading and direction on the plate are all ‘correct’ (though I can’t explain the shadow the car is in. Truck on the shoulder? Billboard?) as are the relative sharpness of the car and plate. There are no errors of color temperature nor of lighting source. The shadows and highlights are all correct. There are no unexplained reflections. The resolution seems consistent between the plate and car. I see no aliasing that is out of place. The plate image is of the same plane and orientation as the surface it is on. There are no proportion artifacts and no cropping artifacts. Looks good to me.

    RW, as someone who’s professionally paranoid (they WERE always out to get me and and the log files showed it…) I’d suggest that you need to moderate your caution. At least get a valid, though unused day to day, email address. It’s not very hard to pick up a gmail, or whatever, account that you just don’t read very often. And cut Anthony some slack. The work it would take to fake the picture just isn’t worth it to someone who has as much on his plate as he has…

    I’ve spent far more time on this than it deserves and I’m ready to move on.

    REPLY: FYI I boosted the sharpness and brightness a tad in the cropped photo, to make a better presentation for the web page. No other enhancements were made. The original photo is as posted. If I recall correctly the shadow is an overpass we just went under. The photo was taken south of Fresno on I-5. – Anthony

  172. theworldaccordingtomorpheus says:

    Electric cars would be great if the electricty just fell out of the wall. But it has to be GENERATED and THAT can use more resources than good old gas! Plus, I hope the bonnet of your car is nice and smooth, ’cause unless you have one of those devices that makes an “engine noise”, you are WAY more likely to have surprised PEDESTRIANS sliding over it as they crash thru your WINDSCREEN!

  173. arrisa bliss says:

    Son, employees are like mules. Some you stand in front of and coax them along with a carrot. Some you stand behind and kick them in the ass. The key to managemeant is knowing which mules are which

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