The Alternative Era
We didn’t get out of the stoneage because we were out of stones. We don’t have to be out of oil to stop the dependence. It’s time to move on. This is the beginning of alternatives for oil. There will be more alternatives and in 10-20 years we will probably see hydrogen become mass produced. Right now, it is hybrids.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) do not need to be plugged in; they run on two energy sources. Currently, the most familiar is an internal combustion engine and battery. HEVs are touted as being two to three times as fuel efficient as an ordinary internal combustion engine. The engine generates electricity to charge the batteries. Regenerative braking is when the brakes are applied in a vehicle with this system; the heat generated is captured as energy and stored in batteries. Regenerative braking is why you don’t have to plug in. Hybrids seem to be the stop-gap between internal combustion engines and hydrogen. Most experts agree that hydrogen is at least ten years, if not more, away from production.
Below is the list of which hybrids are available now and what is to come. If you are looking for a vehicle that is the cleanest, look for a hybrid that is AT-PZEV. AT-PZEV stands for Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle. It is the most stringent requirement for clean air in the nation and required in California, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.
This mandate for cleaner emissions began in California, where almost one month out of the year is a spare the air day. There are about twenty PZEV vehicles. To meet the PZEV requirements, a vehicle must have near-zero evaporative emissions and the emissions equipment on the car must be warrantied for 15 years/150,000 miles. The Ford Focus is PZEV-rated, and it is an internal combustion engine. To be rated the highest pedestal honor, AT-PZEV, the vehicle must have the PZEV rating and use an alternative fuel, electric drive or some other advanced technology device. The Ford Focus cannot become AT-PZEV unless it changes technologies
All hybrids can be AT-PZEV, but some are not. According to Mike Whelan, Subaru Corporation, Subaru raised its price on the Outback and Legacy PZEV by $200. That figure corresponds with most Manufacturers, so if you have cash and want to help the environment look for the AT-PZEV label.
Subaru hasn’t made a hybrid yet but does have a concept car, codenamed B9SC. The hybrid system in the Subaru B9 SC works on a lithium ion battery and is ideally suited to cooperate with the brands existing Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive systems. They are looking for synergies with their partner, General Motors.
The world’s only manufacturer of rotary engines, Mazda is looking towards hydrogen for it’s renesis engine. It takes away some horsepower, leaving it with 120, but look for that to change.
Mike Michels, Corporate Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, explains, “The Toyota Prius was introduced in 1999. A full hybrid means that it is essentially an electric vehicle with gasoline assist as needed. A full hybrid differs significantly from other systems, such as the mild hybrid Honda Civic and Insight, which are mostly conventional petroleum vehicles with the occasional electric motor assist as needed.
The advantages of a full hybrid system are greater efficiency, lower emissions (by a factor of 10) and smoother operation. The electric motor drives the wheels directly, without the need for transmission shifts. The new Prius can operate on purely electric power for a significant portion of its total operating time, and of course, the gasoline powertrain shuts down entirely when coasting, braking at a stop.” The Prius is an AT-PZEV.
Toyota will bring to market next year the Highlander and the Lexus RX330.
Honda Motor Corporation, according to Juan Avila, has three hybrids; the Honda Insight, a two-seater with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that produces 66 horsepower and a combined 79 horsepower, a Honda Civic with a 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder that produces a combined 93 horsepower and the Honda Accord.
Also, 2004 Civic Hybrids sold in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and New York will meet the same stringent Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards as models sold in California, making the Civic Hybrid the first AT-PZEV vehicle sold outside of California. The flagship sedan, the Accord, may have too much performance to be certified as a PZEV, Honda doesn’t know yet, but it will still have high mpg at 30/38mpg with 255 horsepower.
There have been editorials in newspapers lately on how the American Manufacturers are lagging behind in hybrids and alternative fuels. Years ago the same claim was made of some of the brick and mortar groups that didn’t get on the internet right away. Their justification was they wanted to ensure it was going to last before they put their money into a system that could last as long as the 8-track. Large corporations are like big barges in the ocean. They take awhile to turn around, but once they do…
Chryslers Cole Quinnell, Manager Engineering for Chrysler Group, told of the 2005 model Dodge RAM HEV that is a diesel hybrid. Besides being diesel and a hybrid it has an electric generator on board, enough of a generator to power four homes. Quinnell points to the blackout in the Northeast last year as an example of its use.
Susan Krusel, Public Affairs Manager for trucks and SUVs, Ford Corporation is excited to have the Escape ready for market. “Unlike other hybrids on the road, the Ford Escape Hybrid is a no-compromise hybrid SUV, which will deliver between 29-31hwy and 35-40city mpg with all of the attributes of the base Escape. The Escape Hybrid is a full hybrid able to run on either its gasoline engine and/or it’s electric motor depending on which will deliver the most efficient fuel performance. The Escape will come in both FWD and 4WD configurations and will produce acceleration similar to a V6 engine with an active I4, as well as maintain the cargo capacity of the Escape. The Escape Hybrid will deliver AT-PZEV emissions performance all below $27,000.
California native, Al Kammerer, Executive Director, SUV, and Body-on-frame-vehicles, Ford Motor Corporation feels proud to be bringing the first SUV hybrid to California. “The Escape is the number one selling SUV in its segment. California is the most environmentally conscious. That Ford is making the Escape a hybrid says just how much Bill Ford believes in the environment.”
According to Kammerer there are many benefit’s to Hybrid Electric Vehicles;