Friday, September 07, 2007

Volvo plug in Hybrid??

I've always been a fence sitter on Hybrids, convinced they're really only useful for Urban residents. And as for Plug-In Hybrids, I'm not a fan. But Environmentalists and Hybrid fans have been clamoring for them. And Volvo wants to make them happy with their latest concept the ReCharge. Linked in the title is the story over at Jalopnik.

Here you have it, Combustion Engine (this one a Flex Fuel version) Electric Motors and Batteries. And for those unhappy Prius/Escape owners who want a plug, there's one of those as well. The idea being that for the first 100 kilometers you don't need to rely on anything but Electric. A neat idea if you're not Al Gore's kid or living outside any city, but how practical would it be in the real world?

The ReCharge has the advantage of being based on the C30 (Mazda3/Ford Focus) chassis, so development costs could be lower than something built from scrap. And since the Ford Escape Hybrid has technology that's already being developed for Fusion/Milan/Mazda6 chassis, I'm sure some things could translate easily enough. Transmission, Batteries and charging system I would guess, as well as computer controls.
While I'm happy to see any inovation from FoMoCo and their partners, I'm sceptical about Plug-In Hybrids. I just see it as placating the lunatic fringe. It's great PR and that can't hurt. But will it play in Peoria? I doubt it.
Hybrids are great for city folks, but Diesels are the answer for the rest of us.


Byron said...

>Hybrids are great for city folks, but Diesels are the answer for the rest of us.

Why is your post so bitter? In case you haven't noticed, millions of people live in cities.

Last time I checked crude was trading at $75 or so. Plug-ins will look a lot more attractive when crude is at $100, $200, and higher. What's your plan for sky-high oil prices?

Big Ford Fan said...

Well Byron, thanks for stopping in and commenting. As for "bitter" well I didn't think I was, but ok here goes.

Hybrids are great for people who live in or close to major urban centers and do mostly urban loop driving.

Most Hybrid systems kick into Inernal Combustion Engine mode at speeds over 25-30 mph. And of course to recharge the batteries.

But if you live in a suburban or rural area there is no real benefit from a Hybrid, because most of your driving is done above 30 mph.

If you look at the MPG of most Hybrids you'll notice that their "City MPG" rating is equal or higher than their "Highway MPG"
because they're running on Electric power about 40-50% of the time.

Now I'll give an example; My brother inlaw drives about 75 miles each way to work, and 60 miles of that is Highway at speeds of 55-65 mph.

In my opinion Diesels offer much better "economy" than Hybrids for this type of driver.

And as for my pan for "sky-high oil prices" I've stated that before. Bio Fuel! Any Diesel powertrain can burn Bio Diesel with no modifications! And Bio Diesel burns cleaner and more efficently than Petrolium Diesel.

I know it's not a short term solution, because the infrastructure needs to be there, but Diesels get 15% better economy than Gasoline vehicles and if they burn Bio Diesel they burn much cleaner. There are issues for cold climate, such as geling and clouding of the fuel, but these are situations that exist to some degree for Petrolium Diesel also and can be worked on. There are addatives and fuel/engine heaters.

I bear no ill will for those that can use a Hybrid or even a Plug In Hybrid, I just think they're a short term solution that takes focus away from a much cleaner and practical solution.

Hope this gives you some food for thought. Thanks for stoppping by,

yohann said...

I also love diesels and I have one BUT so much of my driving is in the 50 mile radius. If I could drive on electric power alone for most of those miles that's a great advantage. I have solar power so electricity is no problem and the grid (if I have to)has excess power at night. When I take long trips the diesel or turbine or fuel cell kicks in and I can go unlimited miles and then tank up on bio-fuel. I don't see the problem. I have the best of both worlds. I like the system that the volvo/sabb collaboration is doing with their C-30 prototype. No transmission, No drive train... electric motors within the wheels (4 wheel drive)... sounds real civilized. Also as new technology comes along I can replace the charger and/or energy storage(battery) without replacing the whole vehicle. Maybe Ford is working on this with the Focus... I only hope so. People here in Marin County Calif. would buy thousands of them if they were available today.