We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A case for plug-in hybrid cars, with the history of automobile power, by Andrew Frank at American Scientist. My question: If the plug-in power comes from gas- and oil-fueled power plants, what's the difference? Except that it might be easier to control emissions at the plants.
He begins thus:
The idea of a hybrid vehicle—one that propels itself using both a conventional engine and an electric motor—is not new. Indeed, some hybrid automobiles were produced more than a century ago, when the internal combustion engine was still in its infancy. These cars were designed to address the limited range of existing electric vehicles and the difficulty of starting the early engines, which had to be cranked by hand (a procedure that resulted in not a few broken arms). The early hybrid vehicles, and the purely electric cars that dominated the fledgling automobile industry early in the 20th century, eventually gave way to a proliferation of cars based on the now-ubiquitous internal combustion engine, a development made possible by the relatively low cost and widespread availability of gasoline.
You will get a greater fuel efficiency from grid power compared to the car engine. However in the end, increasing use of car/truck diesels using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel will really dent the hybrid market.
Diesels have a much flatter efficiency curve (less efficiency drop off at low load) and better thermodynamics. The cost is much less than hybrid mechanicals and much better lifetime than batteries. Watch the big pickup/SUV market grow with the new diesels in 2008 models.
At the end of the day the hybrid will be exiled to the role of city car.
Most electricity in America currently is produced from coal (maybe, 60%), and dirty coal at that. It is not cheap or easy to clean up existing coal plants. If demand for coal generated electricity increased because of hybrids, much more pollution would result. Doctor Bill Wattenberg goes on about this a lot. You can check out his web page at http://www.kgoam810.com/djadditionalinformation.asp?djid=3552
If the increase demand came from nuclear power, very little (if any) new pollution would be involved.