Thursday, July 13, 2006

Connecticut's Joe Lieberman on "How To Escape Oil"

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had an Op-Ed piece in today's New York Post titled "Hot To Escape Oil" and it was interesting.
I agree with much of what he says, hell it's common sense isn't it?

I mean Gas prices aren't ever going to drop down to what they were and as he puts it "We are just one well-orchestrated terrorist attack or political upheaval away from an overnight price spike to $100 a barrel that would send the global economy tumbling and the industrialized world scrambling to secure supplies." Well mayb Joe Lieberman has overstated it just a hair, but it's the type of quote that gets your attention. Right?
He's right though, most of the world's oil is controlled by people that hate US and our way of life. From that punk Chavez down in Venezuela to our "allies" in Saudi Arabia and their true allies in Iran, all love the petro dollars but most would love to see the demise of the US and our way of life.

I agree with Lieberman's assertion that we must do what we can to reduce our dependance on foreign oil as soon as possible. Worl wide oil demand is growing, especially in countries like China and India, and oil is a finite resource. But I was not familiar with the "Set America Free Act" that he has introduced with others. The requirement that half of all vehicles sold in the US must be Hybrid, Hybrid/Electric Plug In or Alternative Fuel Vehicles sounds tough until you realize that it includes cars designed to burn E-85.

The interesting thing about that requirement is that it requires half of the vehicles to be from this group, but it doesn't address the availability of the Bio Fuel. I love his enthusiasm when he says "We can do it. The pieces are there just waiting to be assembled. We dont need to pry exotic technologies off the drawing board." But he seems to be oversimplifying the situation. It's not enough to demand that half of vehicles sold in the US fit the bill, it's important to have the necessary infrastructure and incentives for people to buy these vehicles.

I'm not going to pick apart Lieberman's editorial piece by piece, read it for yourself. It's an important issue, but I'm not sure that Lieberman and his co-sponsors have the answer. Or maybe they do?

I know at least their heads seem to be doing more than just holding up their hats. Alternative fuel technology is going to be key to a cleaner, safer, more economically stable United States.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chrysler exec slams "Big Oil"

A marketing exec from Chrysler had a temper tantrum on their corporate blog, calling the oil companies greedy and acussing them of standing in the way of cleaner fuels. This as a result of tanking sales of large SUVs and cars with all of those Hemis no doubt. Interesting piece, and the irony was that if the sales of the gas guzzling SUVs weren't on the decline Chrysler would be silent. Of the Big 3, Chrysler's efforts on alternative fuel and Hybrids seems lacking.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is Big Oil stalling Bio Fuel initatives?

An interesting piece over at AutoBlog saying that yet another commitee will ask if the Big Oil companies are standing in the way of Alternative Fuels, specifically Bio Diesel and Ethanol. They can save their time and our money, the answer is yes and it shouldn't be a surprise. They're called "Big Oil" for a reason. Concerned only with profit, unless the government offers incentives and passes legislation pushing for Alternative Fuels, don't expect to see Exon/Mobil or any of the others to start distributing or producing Bio Fuels anytime soon. And since Big Oil controls most of the fuel pumps nationwide, that means that even if the auto manufacturers build the vehicles capable of burning these cleaner fuels, you'll be hard pressed to fill the tank.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

One step in the right direction, Bio Diesel news

The picture shows a home Bio Diesel production kit, and in a sense that's where our nation is in the production of Bio Diesel. But according to the article at AutoBlog, there is one firm that's stepping up production of Bio Diesel blended with petrolium Diesel. It's a step in the right direction and that's a great thing. But I have a couple of minor issues with this.

The Company is an Oil company, and is blending Bio Diesel with Petro Diesel, and while that may be necessary to get the ball rolling, the real key to Bio Diesel is it's ability to burn cleaner in exhisting Diesel engines with no modification, while producing slightly more power. The only benefit of blending Bio/Petro Diesel is a more reasonable gel temp, and since it's Spring that's less of an issue. But I'm picking here, so I'll compromise on this point.

Now here's another problem, the company is partially Saudi owned. Now one big plus of bio fuels to me, is the chance to reduce dependance on foreign fuel sources. Why can't American firms make the investment? So far it's a French firm making Ethanol in the Midwest, and Importing Ethanol from Brazil and now a Saudi oil company. Are we just replacing one foreign dependance for another? Maybe I'm making to much of it.

Each step towards cleaner burning sustainable fuels is a good one, and if it's foreign investment that gets the ball rolling, so be it.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Could this be the coolest Hybrid ever?

Now sure Willie Nelson has his Bio Diesel Hot Rod Willy's truck, but this Saab 9-3 convertible could be the coolest Hybrid to come out of anywhere. 200 hp Turbo engine sipping Ethanol blend fuel ( or even E100) combined with Electric Hybrid technology ensuring a certain level of "green-ness" and you can drop the top as well. So you can have your cake and eat it too. Now it doesn't hurt that the Saab is already a great looking ragtop, that can seat 4 adults and has great handling, but add the smugness you can feel about doing your part for the environment. All the Hollywood types would love to buy theirs with the graphics on the side.

Now I wonder if this technology will be shared with GM platformmates from Opel, Pontiac and Chevrolet? The Pontiac G6 convertible is a nice looking car, a 200 hp Hybrid version would be sweet. And read the article, because there are no issues with clouding or geling of the Ethanol.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New link on sidebar, Green Car Congress

I bumpted into this site the other day, and finally decided to add it to my links here. Green Car Congress is a site devoted to discussing sustainable energy solutions for transportation. I'm not much of a "tree hugger" myself, but find the site very interesting. I know that sounds contradictory, I'm not a "tree hugger" yet I blog about Alternative Fuels, but that's how wide the acceptance of and insistance for these technologies has become. It's no longer just an issue for the Siera Club, the situation has become such that Auto Enthusiasts such as myself are jumping on the bandwagon with Environmentalist, Health Concerns (such as the American Lung Association of the Mid West) and even Conservatives are all seeing the light.

And the Green Car Congress seems to be a great resource for information.

Could new government regulations on fuel economy drive domestics toward further development of Alternative technologies?

The BusinessWeek article anounces new tougher fuel economy standards that may include full size trucks and SUVs, requiring CAFE ratings of 24mpg, up slightly from 22.4 mpg. Now the domestic auto manufacturers have been lobbying against this and trying to stall the regs. There;s not much new there, they've traditionally resisted Government regulations ( like in the above cartoon) and later used the technologies as selling points.

Ford Motor Company's "Driving American Innovation" and GM's "Drive Yellow, Live Green" campains both push each company's "Green" ambitions. But these tougher regulations are achievable goals with some of the technologies that are so close on the horizon.

Ford has their Gen 1 (Escape/Mariner/Tribute) Hybrids on the market and Gen 2 (Fusion/Milan/Edge) & 3 (500/FreeStyle/Montego) are coming within 3 years. Ford has also been working on their Hydraulic Launch Assist system for full size trucks and SUVs as well as Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines and more fuel efficient Diesels. GM has been selling full size pickup Hybrids and now is releasing versions of their mini SUVs ( Vue/Equinox/Torrent) and their Saab divison is working on their Bio Fuel Saab 9-3. Chrysler has the potential with their Common Rail Diesels for the Liberty and possibly the new Caliber, and their parent company Mercedes new BlueTech Diesels which of course could trickle down into Chrysler vehciles in the US.

Toyota and Honda Hybrids are selling well, and Subaru is working on both a Hybrid and a Diesel programs. Mazda's Hydrogen project and Direct Fuel Injection are both promissing. VW's new Bluemotion including TwinChargers. It's an interesting time to be an auto enthusiasts. So hopefully any pressure on the industry will be the push they need to bring some of the technologies to market quicker.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

VW Bluemotion at AutoBlog

Here's an interesting piece over at AutoBlog on VW's new Bluemotion program. It's just for part of Europe for now, but could it come to the US eventually like Mercedes' BlueTech? It's a combination of technologies including VW's new TwinCharger system ( GreenCarCongress article here ) , CNG (compressed natural gas) and new emission controls for Diesels.

The end result will be engines that burn cleaner, get better fule economy and are as powerful as the ones they replace. See the GCC article for a comparison chart. It's a promissing mix of technologies and we can hope that some of it reaches the US market. A TwinCharger GTI would be nice, 200 hp and 40 mpg anyone?