From Hybrid to Heavy
During the campaign he sang the praises of hybrids and rallied against SUVs, and switched his ride to a mix of the two.
But now it looks like the next President will be rolling in a much dirtier limousine. The Founding Fathers could have never imagined it: as the New York Times reported last week, rumored Obama-mobile is a brand new souped-up limo that looks like the typical (and soon-to-be retired) Cadillac DTS but is actually based on GM's line of heavy-duty 2500 trucks.
For obvious security reasons, we may never know much about this car, including how much mileage it gets, or if it has any awesome feedback monitors. But a non-souped up 2500 series truck gets an MPG in the single digits, and emits a whopping 16 tons of CO2 per year, earning it the worst possible climate change rating from the EPA. And this truck-limo hybrid will be so much heavier -- with 5-in.-thick glass, cell-phone-jamming equipment, and blast-proof ceramics -- that, as TruckTrend notes, "it probably guzzles more gas in a week than most people use in a month."
It may not rescue GM. And maybe it won't speed up the transition from oil. It may sound silly in the context of the collective. But can the Obamamobile be a hybrid? I say yes, it can.How To Make the Limo-Truck More Efficient
Clearly the limo -- which is currently probably diesel-powered -- has to be super strong, bullet-proof, and fast. But why can't it also include a new drivetrain, electronics and some batteries? Ford made a conventional hybrid limo with the Mercury Mariner. If he needs something more militarized, can't Obama car get something along the lines of those hybrid Hummer upgrades he earmarked as a senator? He did after all once call for every government car to be a plug-in hybrid.
And after all, wouldn't a hybrid drivetrain help with accelerating such a behemoth? One commenter at CleanMPG speculates that the car might already be a hybrid for that reason.
Biofuels are off the table, and the limo wouldn't generate much electricity from Prius-style regenerative braking -- the President's limo is one of few cars that doesn't abide by traffic lights.
So the thing would optimally be a plug-in hybrid. And just in time. While Chinese battery maker-turned-automaker BYD may beat GM's Volt and everyone else when it debuts the first passenger plug-in vehicle this month, the recent US economic bailout package contains a juicy bonus credit for buyers of plug-in electric vehicles, up to $15,000 for vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The Office of Management and Budget would surely like the sound of that.
Obama's other car of course is a Boeing VC-25. It's not the most fuel efficient thing, but when it's on the tarmac, it likely won't be losing much mileage due to underinflated tires. The plane's landing gear rubber is inflated with nitrogen, which leaks through rubber 40 percent more slowly than regular air. And the Secret Service is looking into upgrading the plane to a more fuel-efficient Airbus A380, but that probably won't happen until 2020. By that time, perhaps even the plane will be run on fuel cells.
More photos of the limo at Auto123. And the old Cadillac DTS Bush-era limousine at Serious Wheels. Video of one of GMC's 2500 trucks at YouTube.
Also on TreeHugger:
GM releases 2011 Chevy Volt Photos and Specifications
Obama on Climate
Obama: It's Not About the "F---ing" Light Bulbs!
Canada, Germany Want to Work With Obama on Climate Change
Obama Says Climate Change Is Real, Will Hire Gore
Barack Obama Faces Environmental Clean Up After Two Centuries of Bingeing: Bill McKibben