July 13, 2008

Planet Green

How has "Going Green" affected the media? Just check out the new channel on TV - Plant Green! Planet Green is a 24-hour TV network devoted to the eco-lifestyle. It's actually launched by Discovery, just adding to their TV lineup. While the shows are somewhat limited as it begins to reach more households, the concept is very promising. Be sure to check out and comment on what you like/dislike about the channel.

July 9, 2008

Nissan Goes Electric

Yet another car companies announces plan for a fully-electric vehicle. Nissan just announced, along with Renault (a French car company), that they plan on releasing a fully electric vehicle by the year 2011 in Portugal. This announcement comes after making an arrangement with the government in Portugal to create a national network of recharging stations (making electric vehicles an extremely practical solution).
"We are feeling more strongly than ever that we must speed up our development of electric vehicles," said Nissan Senior Vice President Minoru Shinohara.

This is rather exciting news actually. While some other car companies are spreading their research development over several different technologies - Hydrogen fuel cell and more Hybrid vehicles - Nissan is choosing to focus on the electric vehicle. In my mind, the electric vehicle really represents the future of the auto industry. Battery technology has been advancing enough to make it practical. Not only that, the way we power our electric grids is starting to convert to clean energy (wind and solar energy are both really starting to emerge). We'll definitely have to keep a close eye on Nissan's announcements over the next several years!

July 7, 2008

GM Cartoon - Hilarious!!

How's this for funny?

July 5, 2008

Mercedes Believes in a Gas-Free Future

Apparently, one of the luxury companies gets it - Mercedes believes motorists will have switched away from gas-powered vehicles by the year 2015 (specifically referring to urban areas). As a result, they plan on focusing on alternative energy solutions including biofuels, fuel cell, and fully electric vehicles. Quoting The Sun (a UK newspaper), "The company has already spent £2million on their new long-term Sustainable Mobility plan and are set to invest a further £7billion before 2014."

This seems like a really exciting development to me. Unlike gigantic car manufacturers like Ford and GM, Mercedes has a smaller production number and could theoretically be able to achieve a gas-free model line by the year 2015. I hope that they stick with the planned investments and it will be interesting to see which route they take (electric vs. fuel cell). I for one can't wait to stop paying $4.30/gallon!

What do you think? Can Mercedes pull it off or is this an unreasonable goal?

July 3, 2008

The Hype about Hydrogen

One alternative energy that seems to be making a lot of headlines is Hydrogen Power - specifically its use in automobiles. Hydrogen as an energy source is no new concept; in fact, it's been around for quite some time. However, with the development of fuel cells that are able to be installed in car, Hydrogen has once again become the source of much attention. Many of the large auto manufacturers have begun small-scale deployment of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to gauge public interest.

Until recently for me, Hydrogen did seem like a viable source of energy for the car industry. However, I read through a book called "The Hype about Hydrogen" and my outlook on hydrogen as a car fuel is very bleak. It's a really interesting read and I recommend that you look through it. Some of its main points against Hydrogen are below:

  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in current models cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce (if not > $1 million).
  • The US would need to replace the entire gasoline fueling station infrastructure (and similar to the vehicles themselves, fueling stations would each be a large investment).
  • Current methods to produce hydrogen make it an expensive fuel and there are currently issues with the storage and distribution of the fuel.
So there you have it! All these arguments aside, Hydrogen is a very interesting energy source (there is unlimited availability), but it does seem like it will not be the answer - at least anywhere in the near future.