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Reduce the size and increase frequency, and we have a winning strategy for public transportaion.
It is hard to take impaired drivers away from the driving wheel when there are no viable transportation options. Without viable public transportation (most of the US), how does an individual get to work, home, or the grocery store that is 3 miles away? Europe has an advantage in that respect.
Posters insist on arguing the grid mix issue diverting attention from the benefit of BEV or PHEV. The landscape is changing, and rapidly in the right direction. I find it pointless to argue against BEV's based on a current snapshot of coal use, when that is dropping at ~12% per year. We need to move forward on all fronts.
mahonj is correct. Tesla and others will learn from the inevitable mishaps. It is unfortunate to have a fatality, but I see fatalities on the news every night due to driver error. In my area, Denver, it is not unusual to have accidents around sunset when the sun is directly in your field of vision. That said, Davemart has a point that trying to roll out technology too quickly can interfere with consumer (and regulatory) acceptance.
@eci, I don't understand why you insist on picking winners and losers. I know of people who heat their homes with natural gas, some with electricity, and some with fuel oil, others with wood pellets. It is not either or. If all forms are available, people will make choices based on their needs/knowledge or the availability of resources. Bring them all on.
More likely, erratic oil prices will push the market to demand HPEVs and BEVs. Besides, if self-driving cars take over, the proportion of gassers sold will be less relevant.
Gas and Diesel will, not doubt be around for some time. However, change is coming fast. 70 times as much renewable came online in 1st quarter as natural gas. No coal, no nuclear.
They may want to own the whole distribution network rather than sharing with Toyota, etc. After all, they will need some revenue stream when auto sales drop by two-thirds.
@ mahonj: I read where Germany had negative electric rates for a short period last week due to high wind and sun. So charging at night seems logical, but smart grids may help consumers manage charging.
Let me try a constructive comment. Fuel Cells for buses and heavy trucks allow for development of the H2 distribution at centralized locations (Interstate fuel stops?). That could form the base for a more robust distribution system for privately owned vehicles.
Not to worry Henrik. As BEVs and HBEVs hit the road in numbers, fueling stations will start to disappear. Ten, maybe 15 years from now, Diesel pumps will be harder to find than Hydrogen.
EP: If you start building a nuclear power plant today, solar, wind and storage will have obviated it by the time it is ready to produce electricity.
Interesting no one noted Japan has some unique needs that most of North America does not. They have sources of petrol production, have mountainous areas with earthquakes that can isolate villages, and operate on two different electric grids with different cycles. Has anyone considered that the FC car offers emergency source of distributed power? You may not need it often, but it has some merit.
@Harvey, Congestion is a challenge, but 100 passenger vehicles or trains are not an answer. They need more stops, less frequency. Autonomous taxis in small radius to mass transit stops may help. I think PRT is more likely success with ADV's to get to periodic stops and serve the last mile needs.
Hydraulic and/or batteries are great for local driving, not so much for over the road. Unless we go to a Hyperloop, high speed train, or PRT system for intercity transport (products, not just people), we need other approaches. Fuel cells are one possibility. I am not good at predicting the future. I just can't rule anything out - particularly technologies that companies are spending millions of dollars on. Wait and see.
Arnold: Every technology has had man vs. machine at some point, back to John Henry. Actually back to the horse, but that may not be called technology. At first man wins, but over time, technology dominates. It will again.
What SJC said. PHEV's, once widespread, will use little fuel, whether gasoline or hydrogen. Most mileage for most people will be on battery. So the need for and distribution of filling stations will change dramatically in the next decade. Some, if not all, will dispense hydrogen.
Nordic. One problem is that all those few hours are the same ones. Electric cars, and self-driving cars will not solve the congestion problem. They can, however, solve the last mile problem for mass transit. Combine the two, and we could have a true transportation system, which would then, reduce the number of cars needed.
Lad is right. Safety and the cost of accidents will decline quickly as avoidance systems are implemented. We don't need new laws for that to happen, and we don't need perfection. Also, by not insisting on fully autonomous vehicles, the lawyers still have a responsible driver to go after in those few cases where there are accidents.
@ Lad: Cops don't stop drivers because they are drunk. They stop them because drive erratically while drunk. So if we eliminate the erratic driving, whether drivers are impared or not becomes a moot point. Everyone is safer. Works for me.
@ Alain I am not sure I understand your point about cheap labor, but emerging countries certainly have a shortage of dollars. Oil refineries and transport are very capital intensive (disregarding the cost of finding the stuff). Solar and Wind can be installed incrementally and locally with much lower capital cost, and the energy is available quickly. So, emerging countries will move more quickly to renewables than many developed countries.
The spike in oil prices may well come, due to lack of investment. But who is going to do that investing. International banks are already predicting huge stranded assets in fossil fuels. If I had a spare 10 trillion, I would put it in alternative energy, not oil. That means more volatility in oil, and faster adoption of low-mileage cars.
It is an immigration issue, not an economic issue.
@mohonj: You are correct, but they are certain to go back to China with the current US immigration laws. Anyone can come and pay tuition for advanced degrees, but then when they want to stay and build the economy, we send them away. Genius, for sure.