Worst idea ever. You guys with your plug-in hybrid stickers, proudly bragging about your shit-pile? Douche-bag commercials from organizations like pluginamerica.org? Considering converting your Prius, or buying a Chevy Volt? This is for you! Problems with plug-in hybrids: 1) Charging the batteries WASTES electricity! You didn’t think all the energy used really went in to the battery and was then used to move your car, did you? Suckers. It actually consumes more electricity to charge your batteries than you will ever be able to get out of them. “Since no chemical or physical process can ever be 100% efficient, more energy is always used to charge the battery than can be recovered from it.” -http://evbatterymonitoring.com/WebHelp/Section_3.htm 2) The majority of the self-proclaimed “environmentally-conscious” who make it a point to purchase plug-in hybrids effectively oppose the generation of electricity. Against nuclear power? Against coal power? Good luck, that’s where over 65% of electricity in the united states comes from. Of course a lot of people also oppose dams because they harm fish, and wind farms because they harm birds. There goes 7% and 3% respectively. Also, I’m sure you wouldn’t be jumping to buy a car that ran on natural gas, but that is where 23% of US electricity comes from. -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_generationThe numbers I used are from 2009, but they are the most accurate I could find. Don’t worry, not much has changed. Current numbers peg renewable energy of all types at about 14.3%. So, good job guys, maybe next you can waste less electricity on charging, produce fewer hazardous pollutant-filled batteries, and just make a car with it’s own nuclear reactor, or maybe a steam-engine powered by a coal-fire. 3) The batteries. Full of hazardous chemicals, unless they explode or set the car on fire in a traffic accident, that tends to get the chemicals out of them. Better hope those all get recycled properly! 4) Horrible fuel efficiency when running on gasoline, compared to economy cars. That is because true economy cars aren’t dragging around a huge battery and a giant electric motor. But no, really, good job you guys, keep patting yourselves on the back and waving your plug-in hybrids around like a badge of honor. If I owned a plug-in hybrid, I’d peel all the stickers off and not tell anyone, just so as few people as possible knew how hard I was working to pollute the planet.

I agree but support the initiative anyway since it is a step toward developing sustainable technology one day. Sure, the current stuff is far from where it needs to be, but you have to start somewhere. I do hate righteous greenies though (good god NorCal has a lot of them). My favorite are the people driving some enormous “hybrid” SUV with two Obama bumper stickers on the back – whaaaaaat!!!

I agree about plugins. As I understand how Hybrids work they should make sense because they harness what would otherwise be energy wasted as heat.

The idea though that we would take and use technology that is less efficant and acutally wastes more energy than the alternative so we can all feel better about the direction we are going in seems odd.

If you really want to use an alternative energy source technology for your car we should be using natural gas. We have lots of it and the technology to use it in cars is well known. A bay area talk show host named Bill Wattenburg suggested that if the govt would require all new cars they purchase run on natural gas then that would force auto makers to retool and allow for cost effective consumer produced cars.

Well, the current generation of plug in/electric vehicles is not perfect (just like any technology in its infancy). However, we eventually need to develop cars that don’t run on gasoline or diesel. Oil will run out or become extremely expensive in the future. This means that electric vehicles are necessary. Many of the concerns you expressed (particular inefficiency) will go away once battery technology improves. Sources of grid power can always change. Maybe 50 years from now, North Africa will be covered in solar panels. The point of electric vehicles is that energy source diversification (like this, or in some other way) is possible - not like if we were to keep using gas vehicles forever.

Summary: Don’t judge a technology based on its infant stage performance. We will need electric cars in the future. Hybrids are necessary for the transition between gas cars and electric cars.

Couple of problems with electric cars:

  1. Battery technology is not there yet. The smartest chemists in the world have been trying to make a battery better than the lithium for YEARS now with nothing even close. This is also a problem obviously with tablets, smartphones, etc.

  2. If every vehicle in the US ran on electricity the price of electricity is going to go through the roof and oil is going to plummet. It’s nothing but a shell game. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

If the majority of coal produced in the US came from CA, NY, or FL do you think the Dems would be pushing for this “clean energy” crap. I don’t. It’s pretty easy to sh*t on WV when they have zero influence in govt.

I saw a Volt last Summer. It looked like a POS. A Ford Focus gets 40 mpg and costs 18k. It’s not a bad car either, I’ve had a bunch as rentals.

How can you justify spending another 20k over the Focus to get that POS? You’ll never recover the costs.

sure but why are we not converting to natural gas cars right now. That is a technology that gets us a long way to being off oil and allows for development of other technology. Instead the govt tries to push it’s electric car green plan. Your point is right about hybrids being a transition but the next leap does not have to be electric cars. Besides i highly doubt that we have the electric production capacity to handle a significant increase in electric cars. It probably takes 2-5 years not including all the regulatory red tape to build a new powerplant. Add in the NIMBY suits and the suits from the enviornmentalists and your talking a decade all in; and thats if we start now.


Switching to natural gas would require extensive infrastructure upgrades. We would need to build compressed natural gas pumps everywhere. This would only be worthwhile if natural gas was a good long term solution, which it is not. Natural gas is relatively cheap right now, but if half the US started using natural gas cars, you can bet that the price will multiply. Plus, natural gas shares the weaknesses of gasoline - both are finite resources and both do not allow energy source diversification. Thus, both are not sustainable over the long run.

switching to natual gas would not require extensive upgrades. 10 year ago CA alone already had over 200 drive up fuling stations with over 100 in so cal. that number has gone up someting like 50% since then. Traditional gas stations could convert several pumps to fuel NG cars (as I said they already have in many areas in CA) Also they actually make home fuling stations that have been used for years. There are over 200K NG vehicles on the road already.

Th US alone has an estimated 100 years supply of NG and that is only known stock. So, NG does not hae to be the short term soution you suggest. It could easily give us 40-50 years to develop newer technolgy

Generally agree with OP, but would like to point out that not everyone’s electricity is the same. The %'s indicated are national numbers. The sources of electricity vary greatly by region. Depending on where you live, your “clean” plug-in could actually be dirtier than a conventional gas powered car or much cleaner.

We do eventually need to develop transport networks that are based on renewable energies. I’m in the camp that says that these things are stepping stones with plenty of flaws, and even if I don’t think that everyone should go out and buy one, I do think that the effort to move to non-fossil fuels is something to encourage.

It doesn’t have to be electricity, just something that is not based on exhaustible resources. We’re closer to electric cars than hydrogen ones, but hydrogen created from solar hydrolysis is a possibility too. Ethanol is renewable, but I think it’s probably a bad idea to have food crops competing with fuel crops while there are other options for fuel. Also, the energetics of raising ethanol versus the energy retrieved from it don’t always work out net positive.

The big botleneck in electric vehicles as I see it are the batteries. We just don’t seem to have an effective, clean storage system for electricity that can deliver the power needed for a road vehicle, and it seems that we’ve been “on the verge” for a long time. I keep hoping to see some progress on that front, but we can’t always just will technologies into existence.

The other thing about plug-in electrics as opposed to hybrid vehicles is that the electricity has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is often a coal or oil fired power plant. Perhaps the plant can burn the stuff at a better efficiency or cleaner than the internal combustion engine, but if not, an electric car can be worse than a gasoline powered one, and even if it can, the improvements are only marginal.

To say plugin are inefficient because “It actually consumes more electricity to charge your batteries than you will ever be able to get out of them" is not only misleading but downright stupid. Of course the process isn’t completely efficient, but compared to individual mini motors in millions of cars it’s far superior. Do you realize how much energy is wasted in propelling a car with a internal combustion engine?

The majority of the energy produced an IC engine is used to produce heat; it’s really just a slight upgrade from a crude steam engine. Plus you need systems to cool it, warm it, quit it, change gears at every 5-10 mph, change it’s performance every 2-3 mph change. Imagine an engine that didn’t need to fluctuate it’s rpm so wildly? Ever hear of the difference between highway and city miles (hint: city are far superior because the car is at a steady state)? Imagine a car where the engine’s sole purpose was to produce a charge, not fluctuate with needs of the variable acceleration needs for a daily drive. Imagine if rather than pissing away energy and putting unnecessary stress on several parts of a car by simply breaking, the stress was captured and recycled back into energy.

For commuter cars plugins aren’t competitive yet, but at the luxury levels they’re far superior. But hey it’s been what 3 years since there was actually a full embrace in this technology by the major auto companies and the advances they made are substantial.

What bothers me is people who don’t know squat about engines and for pure political reasons hate this new technology. Granted, the car companies messed up a bit by trying to play to the greenies. They should tell the truth that while these cars do happen to be better for the environment (all the nonsense about coal burning plants and what not has all been proved wrong over and over again), they’re simply better, less engine stress at the acceleration level (the most damaging area to cars), quicker acceleration, cheaper to maintain (no muffler, simpler transmission, simpler cooling, etc) don’t have to fill up in a gas station every few days, don’t have to wait for your car to warm up on cold days, don’t have to change your oil every other month, and the best part is that the cost of batteries is dropping like a stone making cars more affordable.

I do have to agree with Bchad on the idea of stepping stones and LBriscoe on the one point about engine efficiency. When I read point #1 on CFAvsMBA’s post I immediately discounted the rest of what I was reading because it was clear that whoever had written it did not understand internal combustion engines. Between their heavy drive trains and friction losses, the average automobile is losing roughly 15% of hp from the flywheel to the rear wheels. When you read consumer car specs, manufacturer hp is measured at the flywheel (before drivetrain) and later after doing work and also in many serious comparison reviews, they use RWHP as measured by a dyno. Typical rule of thumb is 15% adjustment for drivetrain loss.

I agree, electricity comes from messy means that is in no way a solution, batteries are extremely environmentally unfriendly and the technology has a long way to go. But it’s a stepping stone of sorts.

Sure Briscoe. Call up a Toyota dealer and ask the service desk what it costs to replace the batteries in a Prius. It can run up to 7k. Of course they’ll never tell you that when you buy one. Just like your laptop battery eventually wears out and needs to be replaced so is the case with these toys.