i want a…

hybrid automobile.

and those of you out there who have heard me expound on the subject before are probably surprised.

the kicker is that i want a hybrid car that doesn’t exist, and may never exist, due to the peculiar nature of the automobile market.

the U.S. is the world’s biggest market for hybrid cars; Europe is firmly (and wisely) wedded to diesel technology, while South America is likely to follow Brazil’s lead and emphasize ethanol. countries in the Far East, namely China and Russia, are also working to wean off of petroleum and onto alcohol fuels.

the reason the U.S. so likes hybrids is because it’s scared of diesels; ever since the horrendous crap GM produced in the 1970s and 1980s, “diesel” has been a dirty word for anything but trucks. couple this with the way U.S. fuel standards lagged behind the rest of the world in things like sulfur content, and it’s amazing there are many diesel cars in the U.S. at all.

but what i want is a diesel-electric hybrid. diesel engines have some telling efficiencies over gasoline, and diesel fuel contains more energy by volume than gasoline. so let me explain the details, and you all can tell me how crazy i am.

1. i want four-wheel drive. not for performance, but safety. make this thing a plug-in series-hybrid, where the diesel engine turns a generator to charge the batteries. put a motor at each wheel, and cycle them on or off as needed. don’t forget the regenerative braking.

2. i want a 60-mile electric-only range. don’t tell me it’s not possible. make the body and chassis out of reclaimed plastics and composites; make it light and safe. tiny garage companies have been doing it (and meeting safety regulations) since the 1990s… one of the big boys should be able to do the same.

and this one’s the kicker:

3. i want the car to function as a generator at home. in a power outage the charging station should disconnect the house from mains power, start the car, and then run the house grid from the generator output.

a boy can dream, can’t he?

quote of the day:

“If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed and if we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau


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