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March 24, 2008



Audi's A4 TDI quattro does 0-60 in 6.1 secs and gets 43.5 mpg(US) highway and 34.0 mpg(US) combined. Link. BMW's diesels are even better.

Andre Angelantoni

GM might still exist in some form in 2020, but I doubt it.

See my summary of the latest Hirsch report (which is behind a paywall)
Mitigation of Maximum World Oil Production:Shortage Scenarios, Hirsch, 2008.

It's difficult to see any car company, with their current lineup of vehicles, being able to sell into a rapidly declining economy. Perhaps Aptera and Vectrix if they can build up some cash reserves and keep their production going.

-André Angelantoni


Yes, but a Series-PHEV, also called an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV), will ultimately beat any ICE design. Any gains in either gasoline or diesel ICE performance can be used in the extended-range generator of an E-REV. Additionally, one of the main problems with ICEs in vehicles is optimizing them over varying RPMs. Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) can only be fully optimized for one speed. A trade-off in performance is involved for variable speeds. This can be done for an ICE generator used (on/off) to recharge batteries in an E-REV. This cannot be done for an ICE vehicle or for a parallel/series HEV.

Add the advantage of the fuel independence E-REVs and BEVs buy you because you are using mostly electricity. (Obviously, all electricity for BEV.)

E-REVs and BEVs will take the lead and flourish in the near future.

david foster

Does anyone know how plug-in hybrids are measured under the fuel economy standards? Is the electrical component of their energy use considered "free", or is it assessed a fuel charge based on an assumed energy content?


mds: I agree, E-REV is the way to go. I was just pointing out that GM could meet the 35 mpg target easily using today's diesel technology. And the $2 -$3k premium for a diesel engine would be half the additional cost of a hybrid.

Kit P

The basic problem with window sticker fuel economy is that it ignores the human factor. If car makers market based on window sticker fuel economy to the wrong drivers, then there will be no reduction in oil demand.

I am finding no evidence that the theory of HEV translates to better fuel economy than the good old driving practices that Shell has been promoting all my life. PHEV is just a dumb idea promoted by those who have no understanding of the US electricity grid.

For those who drive lots of highway miles the lowest environmental impact would be biodiesel. For those who do not drive a lot, just enjoy life because you have already found the solution.

For those who spend hours a day stuck on polluted urban freeways, that is the life style you have chosen. No engineer is going to make your life better.

Bob Wallace

"For those who spend hours a day stuck on polluted urban freeways, that is the life style you have chosen. No engineer is going to make your life better."

The average daily commute in the US is about 20 miles. That is well within the 'electric-only' range of a PHEV such as the Chevy Volt. By plugging in while at work, "doubling" the range, would make the commute for vast majority an all electric venture.

Moving the energy generation to centralized power plants both removes pollution from the transportation corridor as well as reduces the overall pollution level.

Advances in materials and design will allow for lighter, safer vehicles which will extend the range and further reduce pollution.

Add to that the work being done with robotic vehicles (DARPA) and crash avoidance radar (Lexus) and we can easily envision a future commuter lane where the piloting of the vehicle is turned over to the vehicle thus freeing the driver to do some work, surf the web, take a nap, do their makeup, ....

We're probably less than 20 years from a vehicle that is capable of driving itself from one location to another with no input from the "driver".


I don't think GM has even the faintest idea how popular the Volt is going to be providing they introduce it writing off the R&D and market it at the original $25,000-$30,000 price. The actual manufacturing cost will fall rapidly with quantity. I predict by 2012 the Volt will be their most profitable model. Electric motors are much more reliable than ICE and both battery and motor and controller costs will drop significantly with quantity. At less than $30,000 the volt becomes a truly economical vehicle. The only reason the US economy is slowing is because of the rising cost of energy. The Volt can offset that cost with better energy efficiency and a clear path to low operating costs.


$30,000 would be nice but reality may be closer to $40,000.
Lutz: ... You'd like to have it at about $30,000 for the customer, but what I'm hearing from the team is we're not going to get there. They say we might get there on the second generation...I'd rather come out in 2010, and if it costs closer to 40 than 30, well, that's too bad.

Cyril R.

PHEV is just a dumb idea promoted by those who have no understanding of the US electricity grid.

How come you're not promoting it then, Kit?

Kit P, does that have anything to do with Kitt Peak, AZ?

Cyril R.

The US economy isn't just slowing because of the rising cost of energy alone.

It's the entire financial system that's flawed in various ways. Our policy is still trying to work within the system, but what's really needed is a serious reform.

Re-coupling the currency-gold link would help, but the status quo will almost certainly not permit that to be established.

Ah well. At least we'll build more sky scrapers when things go really bad.


Only 80%... by 2020... and only hybrid...?

Hardly seems very ambitious. Too little too late as far as I'm concerned.

Bob Wallace

It takes several years to turn over the inventory of cars on the road.

Unless gas reaches some extraordinary level many people (especially those who don't drive a lot) won't find it economical to trash their 'somewhat decent mileage' vehicle to get a new hybrid. The payments on a new $25 - 30k hybrid would be greater than the potential gas cost savings.

Kit P

“How come you're not promoting it then, Kit?”

Cyril, I think it is unethical to promote things like PHEV and solar PV on consumers' roofs that have a worse environmental impact than alternatives even if it would be profitable for my company. If you would like to explain to me the cleaner source of energy to charge inefficient, unreliable batteries to drive inefficient, unreliable motors. I would eagerly participate in research to prove me wrong. I have lots of data on ICE, but there is a distinct lack of data on FCEV, HEV, and PHEV that would make me thing it is a good environmental choice. All the data that I have seen so far indicate is just another way to pick consumers pockets.

Bob provided the second reason. It is not a choice consumers are going to make. PHEV are DOA. Sure consumers will complain about the price of energy, while drinking expensive tap water from a HDPE bottle with a picture of a mountain stream on it.

Cyril R.

But Kit, don't you feel uncomfortable with the large sums of money flowing out of the US economy towards some very unfriendly countries?

You like biofuels, so do I. But biofuels as a replacement to a majority of all liquid fuel use, do you think that is even remotely possible without some serious optimism on future biofuel technology developments?

If we all just drove less, and carpooled etc like you said before, that would be nice. I don't think it's realistic at all.

Maybe a recession wouldn't be that bad at all. Maybe then, we'll collectively realise the guzzling paradigm doesn't work anymore. Puts things in perspective.

Bob Wallace

"It is not a choice consumers are going to make. PHEV are DOA."

My crystal ball says that this is totally incorrect.

The price difference between hybrid and non-hybrid cars make them poor economic choices for some at the moment. (Good choices for others.)

I think it a fair assumption that petroleum fuel prices will not decease significantly and most likely increase.

Additionally the price difference between hybrid and non-hybrids will most likely drop over time. ICE technology is very mature and the low cost production has been an issue for car manufactures for decades. Hybrids/PHEVs are new puppies and there's lots to be learned about making them more efficiently and more inexpensively.

I'm seeing better, and less expensive, batteries coming in the near future.

Additionally the push on the part of governmental agencies for manufacturers to raise their fleet mileage will mean that most new products are hybrid (or some more efficient/less costly option yet to be invented).

As the manufacturing line converts from ICE to PHEV there is going to be a tendency to drop ICE vehicles, just as manual transmissions and manual windows are disappearing.

As wind and solar electricity prices continue to decrease there is going to be more demand for vehicles that can run on that vastly less expensive fuel.

People will start to see the sense in paying a small premium for a PHEV when their current ICE reaches the end of its life.


Hey thanks for the great blog, I love this stuff. I don’t usually do much for Earth Day but with everyone going green these days, I thought I’d try to do my part.

I am trying to find easy, simple things I can do to help stop global warming (I don’t plan on buying a hybrid). Has anyone seen that www.EarthLab.com is promoting their Earth Day (month) challenge, with the goal to get 1 million people to take their carbon footprint test in April?... I took the test, it was easy and only took me about 2 minutes and I am planning on lowering my score with some of their tips.

I am looking for more easy fun stuff to do. If you know of any other sites worth my time let me know.


Well duh! This is kinda why they passed the laws, to light a fire under you guys. They had the PNGV program in the 90s and led you guys to the solution and they you thought Junior would bring you cheap gas. Boy, did you miscalculate that one!

Kit P

Cyril wrote,

“If we all just drove less, and carpooled etc like you said before, that would be nice. I don't think it's realistic at all.”

These thing are very realistic. If fact that is how we used to live. It does not take an engineer to explain non-aggressive driving techniques or string a cloths line,


some great posts and comments! i actually learned something! i've worked for gm in the past & i know many people there that have confirmed this!

Rick L.

Yeah I learned a lot also. Thanks a bunch, Rick Lanese

run your car on water

i think it should be quicker than 2020

Bucket Trucks

It is great that people are thinking about the environment and working to make the world a safer place. Not only the materials that you are using on your home are safe for the environment but dump trucks have come a long way since the earlier models. We are learning and expanding and coming up with a wide range of safer more effective vehicles for the work force. I think it is great that many auto manufacturers are turning to hybrid vehicles to protect the environment and now they are even using hybrid dump trucks.




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I am apart of Embry Riddle's Eco Eagles club. We are Embry Riddle's branch of the EcoCar challenge. We work to design, build and integrate solutions into an existing production vehicle. Solutions such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell drive train technologies will be explored. For further information visit www.ecoeagles.org

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Hey GM...use some of that stimulus money to buy a clue!


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bucket trucks

I am glad that they set a date or year that they intend to have this hybrid movement almost finished

Bucket Truck

Maybe sooner than 2020? http://www.equipmentnation.com

bucket trucks

I hope the technology they implement improves as well. If they have a line of mostly hybrid vehicles but they use the same hybrid technology they use today, it's going to be kind of pointless. There are lots of vehicles that aren't hybrid but get better gas mileage than hybrids in the same segment.

Nelson Litchford

This is an interesting move for GM. The company has a history of manufacturing vehicles with big engines and huge horsepower. This step will shift the company's focus from performance to fuel efficiency. It will also have an effect on the company's image. Most people remember GM as the creator of numerous iconic sports cars. Anyway, it will be notable to see whether GM achieves this target or not.


some great ideas here im already useing a GM DUAL fual van so im hopefully doing my little bit

used car classified

Great article! Keep bringing us informative information.

Car Lease Los Angeles

Didn't GM go out of business?? I hope this isn't why.

Dentist West Hollywood

How is this coming along? I'm so happy that there are so many hybrid vehicles in use now, but wish more people would convert to them.

Air Purifier

We only have 8 more years until this deadline, I hope MOST vehicles in general are hybrids by then!

Therapist New York

Is it possible to take cars that are already made and convert them into hybrids? I think I've heard of it being done but not sure how hard or cost effective it is.

Rug Cleaning Los Angeles

Does GM have 8 hybrids out? It's been 3 years and I thought they had some in production, but I don't remember that many...

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I've always been a Toyota fan myself.

Discount Furniture Santa Monica

This is exciting to hear. I hope that they go through with this. Other companies have said similar things in the past and didn't deliver.


what exactly will "mild" cheaper hybrids mean? At least though industry i making more progress towards cleaner products.

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