Plug-in hybrids, GM, and sunspots

2008-09-20

in Rants, Science, The environment

The good news: General Motors is releasing a plug-in hybrid called the Volt. Plug-ins have the potential to seriously reduce emissions associated with urban transport.

The bad news: GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz doesn’t believe carbon dioxide causes climate change. Apparently, is a fan of the utterly discredited “it’s caused by sunspots” theory of global warming.

Plug-in hybrids powered by renewable electricity are a green option, at least in comparison to conventional automobiles. It’s unfortunate that buying this one will help fund a company with a history of funding the bogus ‘debate’ about the causes of climate change.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. September 20, 2008 at 7:07 pm

The last few days have definitely revealed the fallibility of executives of big American firms.

Tristan September 21, 2008 at 1:59 am

What’s depressing about the Volt is that it isn’t really as advanced as the hybrid version of the EV1, a prototype of which was made in the 90s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1#EV1_series_hybrid

tristan September 21, 2008 at 2:02 am

(from wikipedia)

According to the March 13, 2007, issue of Newsweek, “GM R&D chief Larry Burns . . . now wishes GM hadn’t killed the plug-in hybrid EV1 prototype his engineers had on the road a decade ago: ‘If we could turn back the hands of time,’ says Burns, ‘we could have had the Chevy Volt 10 years earlier.'”

Milan September 21, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I still think the Volt has the potential to be important.

Anyone left in Detroit still wondering why they are all going broke while Toyota is doing fairly well will have a bit more evidence that greener cars can produce healthier balance sheets.

Chris Berry September 21, 2008 at 3:10 pm

The long-term environmental benefits of plug-in hybrids will be determined in large part on how we generate the electricity they require.

Milan September 21, 2008 at 3:20 pm

True. That being said, the calculations I have seen suggest that even burning coal to power electric vehicles is more greenhouse gas efficient than burning gasoline in engines. That is simply because the total energy generated in the coal to electricity to motion pathway is superior to that in the crude oil to gasoline to motion pathway.

Of course, powering electric vehicles using lower emission sources of power would be an improvement. Using more efficient forms of transport than personal vehicles may also be superior in many cases.

Arguably, the greatest value of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be changing the impacts that arise from people who are unwilling to change their behaviour.

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