Is it Possible to Imagine the Green(er) Cars of the Future?
Cars have a big negative impact on the environment. That's why we said countless times that if you can, you should choose green alternatives such as walking, biking, taking public transit, telecommuting, moving closer to work, etc. But cars also have many benefits (if they didn't, there wouldn't be that many around) and they're going to be around for the foreseeable future. How can we significantly reduce their negative impact?Steps in the Right Direction
The general idea that comes to mind is a car made of mostly recycled & recyclable materials, bio-plastics, etc. It would be made in a factory powered by clean energy, in a very efficient building (LED lights, green roof, gray water system, sustainable materials, excellent insulation, etc) with a zero-landfill policy. The cars themselves would be powered by renewable energy sources, possible algae biodiesel or electricity that comes from clean sources (mostly charged at night and off peak when there is a surplus).
Would such a car still have a negative impact? Yes. But it would be a small fraction of the impact of current cars, and once we're there, we can look for ways to improve further.
Right now, no cars really fit these criteria, but some are taking steps in that direction (mostly by replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric powertrain, or a series plug-in hybrid system). Let's have a look!
23 Electric Cars Driving the Revolution
Pictured above is the Subaru R1e electric car, one of the 23 electric cars featured in the slideshow linked below (and above, you can click on the picture). We expect many of these vehicles to fail, especially now because of the financial crisis, but those that survive will help drive this sea change. Batteries are getting better all the time. Slower than we would like, but even a few % of improvement in capacity and a few % of decrease in cost each year will add up to something game-changing.
GM's Chevy Volt Electric Car: A Closer Look
A lot has been written about the Chevy Volt electric car. It is GM's main hope for the future. The series plug-in powertrain, which they now call the 'Voltec', will debut in the Volt (and Ampera in europe), but there are plans to also use it in many other models (if GM survives the recession).
A Closer Look at the Mercedes BlueZERO Trio
The Mercedes BlueZERO concept car is actually a platform designed to be modular so that three different drivetrains can be used. The E-CELL version is battery-electric, the E-CELL PLUS is similar but has a small internal combustion engine to act as a range-extender, and the F-CELL is a hydrogen fuel cell model. This approach is interesting because the car is more future-proof, and because it could be adapted to different markets. For example, some region or country could build a hydrogen infrastructure and F-CELL versions could be available there, while electric or plug-in hybrid versions could be available elsewhere.