Considering that the main objectives of producing or owning a hybrid vehicle are to decrease dependency on fossil fuels and to decrease the amount of harmful emissions such fuels produce, having E85 compatibility is very important. E85 is composed of only 15% gasoline (the other 85% being an ethanol compound), so an E85-compatible hybrid would need far less gasoline than one that was not E85-compatible. E85 does have a lower energy content than gasoline, but since the content of gasoline in E85 fuel is so low, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Good question, kirk. I don’t think it is that important for hybrids to be E85 compatible because I view hybrids as temporary. It is great that hybrids are reducing our dependence on oil, but I only see them as a stepping stone to 100% electric vehicles. So in this sense, I think our focus should be on the development of electric vehicles, not on the development of hybrid vehicles. I am not against it, but I think we should set our sights and cut to the chase.
Realistically, however, it will take decades to sway the attitude of the entire nation towards electric vehicles, so I see that hybrids are going to be around for a while. For this reason, i think the E85 standard is important.
That is a good point, jeffb. Electric vehicles should be the long-term goal. However, at the moment, our electricity infrastructure is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels — meaning electric vehicles are still likewise dependent. They are also much less efficent than internal combustion vehicles. In a country with no renewable energy sources, electric vehicles would have no environmental advantage at all. Hybrid vehicles, for the moment, are more environmentally friendly than electric vehicles. As our electricity infrastructure becomes more sustainable, electric vehicles will become more advantageous.
I agree whitefish, there are some inherent problems even with my perspective. I know the electricity for these cars has to come from somewhere, and at the moment, it probably wouldn’t be coming from renewable sources. It would be great if wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources could provide enough energy for vehicles, but as it is they don’t even supply a majority of our household needs. I have not looked the feasibility of mass scale renewable energy, but like you said, only until our electricity infrastructure becomes more sustainable will electric vehicles be more advantageous. Just figured I would add a different perspective to the question, and I appreciate your following it up with some more info.
Actually from what I read on that Wikipedia page and seen elsewhere, it is electric cars that are a lot more fuel efficient. Of course that’s if the electricity doesn’t come from fossil fuels, as that extra conversion will make the overall efficiency about same if not lower than gas cars. From what I know, we could easily generate enough solar and wind and green hydro power to provide not only for the cars but for the entire electrical grid – we just need to build more of these plants instead of expanding drilling in Alaska, mountaintop mining in Appalachians, extracting tar sands and so on. And the current sources of ethanol are very questionably green. Corn and such are grown on land that would otherwise either be used to provide food (and we always need more food due to population growth) or land formerly covered by forests. For example, a lot of ethanol in Brazil, famous for widely using it, gets grown on land cleared from rainforests. Not only does that reduce how much carbon dioxide is taken up by plants, but add to that all the endangered species business. Ethanol should develop more in the algae or cellulose direction first, in my opinion, before ethanol cars can be considered green.
very good points cerberus. I think you have pointed out very nicely the fact that there are many levels to this question and that ethanol is probably not something we should be in favor of pushing. thanks for your input!
I don’t think E-85 or other ethanol mixtures are that great due to controversy regarding biofuels made from regular crops. However, if algal or cellulosic ethanol take off, I wouldn’t mind. In addition, it only makes sense when E-85 is offered at enough gas stations to make it a worthy investment.
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