Saturday, March 12, 2005

Hybrid Cars : The Future of Transport

In America today, there seems to be a major push for the use of alternative energy in cars and other motorized transport. A car that uses a combination of gasoline and fuel cell as power sources is termed as the “hybrid car”.

Three days ago, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that all purchaser of the hybrid car can avail of tax deductions that amounts approximately to within the $2000 figure. The tax relief can go as high as $4000 if the car purchased is powered solely by electric power.

This development may usher a completely new era in the way we transport ourselves through miles and miles of urban passageways and thoroughfares. Apparently, two facets of realities had called for the promotion of the use of the hybrid cars by the United States Government. One is the ever-rising prices of crude oil in the world market and the threatening climate phenomenon known as greenhouse effect.

On a transport that runs halfway by electric power, one can get more mileage per gallon of gasoline on a hybrid car and this means, less use of petroleum products that causes volume and volume of carbon dioxides to be spewed into the environment, thereby bringing more harm to the ozone layer and helping to invigorate global warming.

Are hybrid cars the future of modern transport? Most probably it is. Last year, sales of hybrid cars reached nearly 90,000 units and are predicted to rise to the figure of half-a-million units in eight years.

But despite of that, every aspect of the technology surrounding hybrid cars is not yet smoothened through the hilt and still has a long way to go. Consumer surveys are still collating information as to the reliability of these cars in terms of complaints received and problems encountered per 100 hybrid car sold. The usual snags include complaints on the limited stretch of miles it can reach per instance of use (interstate commute is unthinkable at this time) and the availability of parts and servicing centers.

Just this month, General Motors had caused the destruction of some 800 units of prototype models of EV1 electric cars that it had tried to test-market since the 1990’s. Slow sales and lukewarm response from the consumers had caused GM to decide the crushing of the said electric cars and the scrapping of the manufacturing unit that produced its parts and components. According to a GM spokesman, there is just not enough demand for a car that could merely run for 140 miles with each plugging into a home-installed electric recharger. This news shows that wide-acceptability of this mode of cars remains years away.

But GM’s EV1 is purely an electric car that has no gasoline component to it. The hybrid car on one hand combines the power generated by internal combustion in order to produce electricity that in turn, powers the transmission system of the car. Hybrid cars seems to be more promising with more mileage per gallon on it and without the often-annoying need to recharge it in some space-consuming plug-in contraption at home, unlike cars that runs purely on battery, like the EV1. And with the tax incentives, more and more buyers are wont to snatch it from car display centers across America and perhaps, in many countries all over the world.

The concept of the hybrid car is not entirely new to us. The MRT running through our avenues are powered in fact by electricity. Bullet trains that we see in Japan and Europe use electricity to course the magnetism that propels these amazing modern carriages to mind-numbing velocity. Submarines used by First World countries are now powered by a hybrid of diesel engine and nuclear power—just like aircraft carriers.

If OPEC remains adamant and continue to artificially propel oil prices just about every time, sending third world nations like the Philippines reeling into a spiral of crisis after crisis, then every soul should be praying that in the future, our cars should not need gasoline anymore, as well as our factories, power plants, aircrafts, ships and every mechanized thing there is to be found. OPEC should ought to note that. First World countries, with their huge and highly evolved economies, would most likely be immune from the effect of every oil crisis, or its effect on them would certainly be manageable. It is the poor countries that always get the bad rap brought about by the indiscretions of this group of international blackmailers known as OPEC.

OPEC ought to know that.


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