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Saving Gas – Part 2 of 3

This is the second of our series on dealing with the high price of gas.  Yesterday, we discussed what the true price of gas was but that still acknowledged that the rapid increase has left people and companies feeling the pinch in the budgets.

Don’t buy the fuel enhancing gadgets that are advertised.  Even if you see them advertised on this site, these things are a waste of money and time.  MSN Money reports:

Over the years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tested myriad gas-saving devices that burst onto the consumer scene: devices that bleed air into the carburetor or bubble air through a container of water and antifreeze mixture, fuel-line gadgets that heat the gas before it enters the carburetor, magnets that clamp to the inside or outside of the fuel line to change the gasoline’s molecular structure and metallic fuel-line additives with dissimilar metals that claim to ionize the fuel.

Diesel-powered Loremo promises to hit 150 miles per gallon

Engadget – February 21, 2008

I realize that there has been a lot of discussion on automobiles lately but I also know that a good number of my regular readers are concerned with the automotive industry and its impact on the environment.

Some people believe that switching to diesel for our liquid fuel would be a more appropriate and cleaner alternative to using gasoline.  I am not sure that the chemistry really works out but I hope that the industry continues to evolve.

I originally found this article on Engadget but the original story comes from MSN and that is where the following excerpts come from.

Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010

The New York Times – January 14, 2008

Toyota is not going to be out-done by GM.  Yesterday, I discussed that GM is spending a lot of effort and money to develop alternative fuels and alternative propulsion options. This article shows that Toyota is not going to stand still in that important competitive battle.

Toyota will offer the first plug-in hybrid in 2010. Plug-in hybrids are important because it is far more efficient to produce electricity at an industrial power utility plant than it is to burn gasoline in your car in the form of a “traditional” hybrid vehicle.

Chevy Fuel Solutions: The View from Thailand

GMNext – December 18, 2007

Regardless of your stance on global warming, I am sure that we can all agree that using our resources appropriately is very important. GM Chevrolet has introduced a vehicle to the Thailand market that will use natural gas as a fuel and this seems to be exactly what is needed in today’s evolving marketplace.

Obviously, one of the problems that needs to be solved is a distribution model for the fuel. One of the benefits to our current fuel sources is that there are only 3-5 major fuels (several octane levels and diesel) and they are all handled in approximately the same way from a transportation and storage viewpoint. Adding another fuel that is shipped and stored with entirely different technology would complicate supply chain issues.

Ford hands over the plug-in Escape hybrid to SCE

AutoblogGreen – December 4, 2007

One of the big problems with hybrid vehicles is that they produce extremely expensive electricity and they do it while putting a great number of pollutants into the air.

Think about it.  You are burning gasoline (a fairly high energy fuel source) to spin a generator to charge a battery. The pollution controls must be small and light enough to fit on a moving vehicle and low cost enough to be affordable to a consumer. On top of that, the gasoline is very expensive source of energy (currently about $3 gallon). To put it into perspective, gasoline contains about 125,000 BTU per gallon while coal is only about 10,000 BTU per pound. The burning of coal at an efficient central power station captures far more of its energy capacity into electricity than the burning of gasoline as it moves down the road.

New Fuel Standards Are Poised to Advance

Wall Street Journal – December 1, 2007

An important step has been taken in a new bill to increase the required fuel mileage per gallon required for US cars.  Late Friday evening a deal was struck with the major players in the House which should lead to passage in the House.

The new CAFE standard (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) will increase 40% and must be attained by 2020. It should reduce the amount of CO2 produced by autos slightly as well as slightly reduce the dependence on foreign oil.

The estimated cost increase to the consumer should be about $1400 and save the consumer about $200 in gas costs.  Frankly, I never believe these estimates as they tend to be worse than global climate models in their accuracy.

What Will the Car of the Future Look Like?

Wall Street Journal – November 19, 2007

This is a very interesting article about the challenges of manufacturing cars that would be better for the environment by using less petroleum. The impetus for the article was Presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton’s push to double fuel economy by 2030.

The article starts out with a claim that Bill Clinton and Al Gore did nothing to increase federal fuel-efficiency standards and I am not confident that this claim is based on true fact. I cannot find evidence of my memory of the situation but I seem to remember that the Clinton administration did try to increase the standards.

GM to launch Volt by end-2010 despite skepticism

Reuters – November 21, 2007

Bob Lutz from GM has re-confirmed that GM is still planning on introducing the Chevy Volt in 2010 even though there are some concerns about that timeline.

Typically when this level of concern happens, there are some trade-offs that are put out and the product doesn’t live up to expectations. I hope that is not the “hidden” message that Lutz is actually trying to deliver in this interview.

Mr. Lutz does speak with some sense of urgency and perhaps doom so maybe this really will hit the consumer market on time and, hopefully, will be a raving success.

Longer Daylight Time May Save Energy — But Stats Are Stale

Wall Street Journal – November 2, 2007

In the effort to save some energy in the US, we just went through an exercise where we delayed the turning back of clocks for an additional week. We just went through the "fall back" of the "spring forward, fall back" effort this last weekend. The goal of this was to save energy as it allowed more evening light time for outside activities and kept our inside lights and TVs off.

This was probably a good thing and small steps like this are absolutely essential regardless of your beliefs on global warming. Using resources more efficiently is important as waste is almost always a bad thing. Even the most callous among us should at least live by the rule of:

Carmakers Defeated On Emissions Rules

Washington Post – September 13, 2007

Yes, I understand. It is the right of every US citizen and US corporation to go to court when they feel wronged. It is also their right to try and convince the elected officials to do something that would be in their interest. However, in this case, can’t the US automakers understand that we need to curb the use of gasoline? This will reduce the effect of the US reliance on Mideast oil.

But that isn’t what this suit is about. I would support the government of Vermont in their efforts to reduce our “addiction” to oil. But this suit is to stop the government from inflicting a supposedly to heavy burden on the automobile industry. The Vermont government apparently believes that cars are the only or the biggest source of greenhouse gases. This is likely misguided.  So, the automotive industry has no other course but to sue to protect their interests.