Friday, January 11, 2008

China Plucky Plug In

Even as the President of Honda says he doesn't think that Plug-ins make sense, a new car company in China announces their plans to build one and Hyundai says it is considering developing a plug-in hybrid car .

China's Plucky Plug-In Hybrid
BYD's car hits the stage at the Detroit auto show—but will it really be ready to roll this summer? by David Welch

In recent years, China's upstart carmakers have flocked to major auto expos with low-priced offerings aimed at global markets. This year's Detroit auto show, which opens on Jan. 13, will be little different. But this time around, one company, BYD Auto, won't just show the usual compacts and subcompacts. BYD plans to exhibit a plug-in hybrid, the F6DM (for "dual mode"), that it says will hit the market in China this summer.

Although the car won't reach the U.S. for years, if ever, it would be the first plug-in to be commercially available—allowing BYD to steal a march on General Motors (GM), which is expecting to launch the Chevrolet Volt in 2010. (more)

Meanwhile, David Sandalow, former assistant secretary of state and member of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, says the next president can succeed where others have failed. The trifecta of mounting concern about petroleum's impact on national security, the environment and the economy provides an unprecedented opportunity to radically reshape national energy policy, says Sandalow, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. announces in his new book called Freedom from Oil:

How the Next President Can End Our Oil Addiction
By Chuck Squatriglia

WN: You place tremendous emphasis on converting our transportation fleet to electric plug-in hybrids. Why?

Sandalow: I believe electric plug-in hybrids are the most important part of the solution, but they're only one part of the solution. Oil provides 96 percent of the energy for our vehicles but only 3 percent of the energy for electric power generation. If we could connect our cars and trucks to this infrastructure, the potential for reducing oil dependence dramatically, and in a short period of time, would be incredible.

WN: What about the argument that cars fueled by electricity from a coal-fired power plant ultimately are as polluting as cars using fossil fuels?

Sandalow: If you plug a first-generation (PHEV) into a coal-fired plant, you would still be producing fewer heat-trapping gases than you would driving the average car powered by oil. But the real win is to plug these cars into renewable energy sources like wind and solar. (more)

Speaking of Washington, after 20 years of largely leaving fuel-economy standards alone, the U.S. in December enacted an energy bill that requires auto makers to boost the average efficiency of their new-vehicle fleets to 35 miles a gallon from 27.5 by 2020.

This all bodes well for plug ins.



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