Alternative Energy Vehicles

By Kathleen Anderson on Jul 06, 2015 at 11:41 AM in For Labs and Modalities

There is so much debate about the viability of alternative energy vehicles lately, that it is almost unfathomable to imagine that a little over one hundred years ago, the Lohner-Porsche electric car was shown at the 1900 World Fair in Paris. Each wheel had it’s own electric motor. That same year, Ferdinand Porsche developed the first hybrid vehicle, using petrol and electricity.

Most manufacturers today, including but not limited to Honda, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, and Chevrolet, offer one or more hybrid selections. (Soon the new Prius “wagon” will be shown on the Toyota lot.) The word “hybrid” refers to any 2 forms of automation in one vehicle.

I had always thought that an environmental discussion about automobiles revolved only around hybrid and electric vehicles. Ben Schroeder, Sales Manager for Mercedes and Porsche SB, explains why the discussion includes a bigger picture, “European manufacturers know they’re working with finite resources so they build fuel efficient cars that last longer and are, according to Euro standards, at least 80% recyclable.” He says that even diesel is cleaner now. He reminds me of the book, “ Cradle to Cradle” about ecoeffectiveness in design innovation; rather than thinking in terms of ‘recycling,’ think ‘regenerating,’ so that used products are made into new products of equal value.

The Smart car is an ideal melding of freedom of choice and exquisite design. Sales Manager Mark Biddison tells how: When Swiss watch manufacturers were losing out to Japanese competition, Nicolas Hayek was hired. Hayek created a huge success with Swatch watches, a brand with artful faces and multiple band choices. In the mid 1990’s, he introduced an auto design to Mercedes and the Smart (which stands for Swatch Mercedes ART) Car was born. Smart Cars are 85% recyclable and are manufactured in an environmentally responsible plant in France which recycles factory water and other supplies.

Montecito author Patty DeDominic (“Get It,” July 2011) growing weary of waiting for an Aston Martin hybrid to reach the U.S. market , fell in love with the Smart Car. She says, “It is perfect for bopping around Santa Barbara, parking is easy, and I’m getting 40 miles to the gallon.”

Local moving company Move Green uses B20 in their trucks which burns cleaner with less toxins in the air. They plant 10 trees for every move. Rock Star Taxi and Limousine Service has one Prius and bio diesel vans.

Robert Perry, salesman at Perry Ford as well as a pilot and Plane Talk columnist, says that while aerodynamic technology has remained the same for a century, he expects fully electric single engine planes in the next 10 years. Perry says, “ For electric cars to catch on, they have to have a range of 350-400 miles — being able to make an L.A. to San Francisco drive is essential — and they need faster charging batteries.” He believes this will happen in the not too distant future.

Nissan Leaf is the much talked about 100% electric vehicle available now. Zero emissions, no tail pipes, no oil, no gas. Buyers receive a tax credit. Downside: 180 mile range, 7-8 hour charge time (could take as long as 18 hours), not many charge stations yet; possible high cost of electricity. Alfredo Flores, Leaf Representative for SB, says that with 40 of these vehicles sold in SB, the typical customer tends to have solar panels on their home, so that even charging the car is “off the grid.” The movie “Revenge of the Electric Car,” director Chris Paine’s follow up to his 2006 film, “Who Killed The Electric Car?” will be in theaters later this month. “Revenge” follows the riveting stories of electric automakers Tesla, Nissan and others.

Porsche, ever dedicated to efficiency and with more than a hundred years of bold innovation, continues to advance designs in electric and other alternative energy automobiles, designing and developing fully electric formula racing cars and even an $800,000 Super Car.

Environmental movers, contact Move Green: 805-845-6600.

Ecoeffectiveness in design innovation: “Cradle to Cradle” by William McDonnough and Michael Braungart. (2002)


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