Ending Oil?s Stranglehold on Transportation and the Economy

A major study by AllianceBernstein embraces hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles as a game changer: "The world is on the cusp of a major transition to hybridpower vehicles, which use highly efficient electric motors to boost the fuel efficiency of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. This is a game-changing technology that promises to increase energy efficiency substantially, make a broad range of fuels available for powering vehicles, and meaningfully reduce demand for oil from the transportation sector. "Over the last 30 years, many industries have either dramatically improved their energy efficiency or shifted to alternative fuel sources; transportation has been an exception. As a result, the composition of oil consumption has shifted dramatically toward transportation, from 33% of total oil demand in 1971 to about 50% today [...] "The shift to transportation systems largely powered by electricity will be the next phase in the broad transition away from relatively inefficient mechanical systems [...] "Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are likely to arrive as an extension of the hybrids available today. Like the latter, plug-ins are powered by both liquid fuel (gasoline or diesel) and batteries. But in addition to being charged by the gasoline engine and regenerative braking, plugin hybrids may be recharged by plugging into standard electric outlets [...] "If most consumers recharge the batteries in their plug-in vehicles from the electrical grid, the fuel ultimately powering their vehicle is likely to be coal, natural gas or uranium, rather than oil. Such fl exibility would be truly gamechanging. Economic growth, which is inextricably linked to transportation, could be almost entirely decoupled from oil. This could reshape the foreign policies of such oil-importing countries and regions as the US, Japan, Western Europe, China and India. The economic and political implications for the few oil-rich exporting nations, by contrast, are likely to be grim. Indeed, the transition to hybrid power could change the world!" Read the whole thing. According to recent news reports GM appears to have seen the light: "General Motors Corp., losing sales to fuel-efficient cars from Toyota Motor Corp., is developing a hybrid-electric vehicle with a battery that recharges at any outlet, said GM officials familiar with the plan. "The so-called plug-in hybrid would travel more than 60 miles on a gallon of gasoline, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the research is secret. GM, which had the first modern electric car in 1996, lags behind Toyota in hybrids, which combine electric motors and gasoline engines."

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