Mark Brandon is the Managing Partner of First Sustainable (http://www.firstsustainable.com), a registered investment advisory catering to socially responsible investors. In addition to Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), he may opine on social venturing, microfinance, community investing, clean technology commercialization, sustainability public policy, green products, and, on occasion, University of Texas Longhorn sports.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Future of Hybrids

The pictures below were taken from an article hybridcars.com about future hybrid concepts. Automakers are starting to really clue in to how to up the fuel efficiency. It isn't with the engine. The key to upping fuel for hybrids, and all other cars for that matter, is to replace steel as the material of choice for the body. We have new materials now that are far lighter, but still just as strong.

Another intriguing technology to watch in hybrid cars is the evolution of the "plug-in" hybrid. Some automakers, and even some hobbyists, have rigged hybrids to run on batteries that can be plugged in at your home. You still have a gas tank, which eliminates the range problem, which has hampered the acceptance of other electric vehicles. However, especially if you mostly drive within urban areas, the electric charge is enough for 90 percent of your consumption.

Even if your electric utility is a coal-fired plant, the kilowatt-hours will be cleaner than most automobiles on a per-unit-of-energy-consumed basis. If you live in a city such as Austin with an option for getting your power from renewable sources, your footprint from driving can be drastically reduced with a plug-in hybrid.

These technologies are here today. If you combine light weight materials, plug-in hybrids, and green choice electricity, fossil fuel consumption can be reduced enough to eliminate dependence on foreign oil. Of course, we might be held hostage by foreign auto-makers... that's another story.

























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