I have a new article in Salon, “The car of the future is here,” about plug-in hybrids. The two central points of the article are:
- Plug-in hybrids (and electric cars) are an essential climate strategy, enabling renewable power (even intermittent sources like wind) to become a major low-cost transportation fuel.
- Practical, affordable plug-in hybrids will be here in a few years — even if we don’t get a technology breakthrough in batteries.
[I am even more confident of these conclusions given the amazing joint announcement today by Renault-Nissan, Project Better Place, and Israel -- see below.]
If you read the Salon article, you’ll know more than billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who recently said:
The subject deserves a far more serious discussion. Transportation is the toughest sector in which to achieve deep carbon emissions reductions. Of the three major alternative fuels that could plausibly provide a low-carbon substitute for a significant amount of petroleum:
- I am excited about the near-term reality (next five years) of plug in hybrids and electric cars
- I am hopeful that cellulosic biofuels could be a medium-term strategy, rather than a long-term one, especially for long-distance travel by air, sea, and land (which batteries probably can’t handle).
- I am increasingly convinced hydrogen fuel cell cars are a dead end especially from the perspective of avoiding catastrophic climate change (which requires deep emissions reductions by 2050). I’ll have a long article on hydrogen in the near future.
I was especially impressed by AFS Trinity’s plug-in hybrid design, which I test drove last year (see “The Extreme (plug in) Hybrid — no breakthrough needed!“).
I am even more heartened about the prospects for pure electric vehicles (EVs) in other countries after seeing the following truly ground-breaking announcement today.