Friday, September 12, 2008

A plug for plugs

Thanks to a post on a blog, I have been introduced to this:

Plug-in hybrid boosts electric motoring

Of course, I have been moved to write:

I have noted that there are some well-informed contributors here whose education and experience in technical matters I have come to trust more than almost any BBC 'analyst' I have to pay for, especially when overseen by editorial selection by agenda rather than objective fact.

This is an interesting and in many ways exciting story as we confront a future of ever-reducing fossil fuels.

Now I have to confess I fully accept that in an urban setting an internal combustion engine, especially running at idle (though a lot of ads I see - BMW - seems to suggest this can be addressed with ic too) is looking less and less ideal.

But then we need to consider urban and non-urban usage in totality. Being that most of these 'reports' are in the city, by the city and of the city (where one trusts, for the sake of one's charging reliability unless you post an armed guard at the parking bay, no local lads have a pair of tin snips), the whole thing seems to focus on this aspect, ignoring those who live and work in the country and have to pile up and down motorways. I am really hoping that the mindset in luvvie central is not a Prius or G-Wiz in the garage for the CC, and then one jumps in the Range Rover to get to Hay-on-Wye to discuss global warming. Frankly, in the city, why does anyone need a car at all? At least the caption on the wee orange jobbie raises the dilemma that presents. To meet my family/work needs/desires we have to plump for one Volvo estate, which we're looking at converting to LPG (which seems better for planet, and pocket if they don't monkey with the fuel taxes). Many (not all) of these things seem only suitable for singles or in combo with others.

I was thrilled to see that at least we no more have a moppet gurgling that electric is 'pollution free'.

But I'd still just like to know how 'environmentally-better' this option is beyond reduced localised pollution, and against all other options, including hydrogen. I am already wondering about the costs and wisdom of pursuing two such options at once, as the infrastructures are surely going to compete and hence dilute the possible eco-benefits of reduced Co2 emissions (which I gather is the main 'problem') NOW?

Ignoring for now the costs of getting the power of these new sources of energy to the wheels (isn't 'leccy soaring? No wonder our Vince at EDF is a fan, er, 'sous la lune' as we say not in the UK'. Seems also that nuke energy is coming in as a dun deel as I'm guessing the Kingsnorth half dozen have done for coal), I would love to know a bit more about the enviro claims, as that is how they come across here... just claims: if the wording of this, again from an EDF (does the BBC have shares?) rep is scrutinised more closely:

'Toyota's plug-in hybrid offers a 40% reduction in overall CO2 emissions compared with conventional petrol vehicles, according to Mr Hofman.'

I'm sorry, but this reads less and less like an objective report, and more and more like a PR for a bunch of various folk who have a fair bit of dosh to make from taking this direction.

No problem at all with that if it also serves my kids' futures well (by their own definitions of what is important to reduce, now), but not so great if this is just helping a bunch of folk use green, and the BBC's unthinking 'anything that claims to be green is good' to jump on a bandwagon.

Any proper tech/eco/economic insights appreciated. Grin:) (as all involved seemd to share their wisdom with them if you read the piece.

With luck I may get some feedback, and will share any that helps.

It also gives me another new acronym: PR As News - PAN Reporting.

Indy Letters - Been here before

I am old enough to remember both the fanfare that accompanied the launch of the Sinclair C5 – an electric vehicle boasting cutting-edge technology that, we were told, would do away with the need for cars – and its descent to popular object of ridicule ("Make way for the Segway", 8 September). If the Segway finishes its days as spectacular a commercial disaster as its British predecessor, it will be because it failed to take into account its cheaper, faster, greener and greatly more efficient rival – the bicycle.

Yannick Read
Environmental Transport Association

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