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.

July 2, 2008

Fill It Up..With Water!

Talk about simple - what if you could just put water in your car instead of gas? This video a friend sent me on YouTube showcases a brand new car that runs simply on water. Unveiled in Japan, the car could be yet another answer to our oil issues. While it's just a test vehicle, they hope to go into mass production soon. Take a look at it - it's very cool!

July 1, 2008

Car Sales - How Low Can You Go?

Here it is - the results are in for the month of June! Front page - CNN - reports car sales being significantly down for the month of June. How far down? GM reported an 18% year-over-year drop, with Toyota sinking 21% (I'll go into that more), and Ford down a whopping 28%. Surprise, surprise. The article cites overall economic concerns, along with a shortage of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Which brings me to the real point of this post....there aren't enough fuel efficient/hybrid vehicles in dealers. The Toyota Prius saw its sales fall by a third!!?? You may ask how can that be considering you can't even find one at a dealer - there are actually wait lists for the car. It's really quite simple - they don't have enough to sell. Pretty ridiculous if you think about it. Toyota did not make enough of the Prius and now it's hurting them. Somebody is going to lose a job over that....

What do you think - is July going to be worse or will the recent rebate stimulus checks sent out by the IRS radically change car spending? Also, please comment if you HAVE found a new Prius!

June 30, 2008

Save on Gas

I just read an interesting article written by a CNN Money editor about how she is saving money on gas with several good methods of driving. They seem like pretty good ideas - especially if you're driving an SUV or a pickup truck. Here they are:
  • Drive a smaller car if you have access to one: If you have a boy/girlfriend, wife/husband, or a roommate that has a smaller car that gets better gas mileage - use it!
  • Logging and Planning your driving: Take a piece of paper and write down everywhere you go throughout the week and how many miles you go. After that week is done, plan to either eliminate some driving or consolidate errands.
  • Use public transportation: This one can be tricky depending on where you have to go, but try and use the public transportation in your town or city. Buses, subway systems, and trains could all end up saving you money depending on how far you're driving.
  • Better driving techniques: Consistently check your tire pressure, and also more importantly, easy up on the gas pedal! Don't accelerate too fast and always try to drive at or below the speed limit. On the highway, set the cruise control for 60 or 65.
Seems like some good ideas to me! Anyone else have any good suggestions?