More on Transportation (Electrics vs Hybrids)
In my last post I rambled on about transportation cost. What I failed to address was the increasing impact on this area via electric & hybrid vehicles. I think this area deserves examination.
At this time full electrics are relatively expensive and range limited. They are extremely effective for in city trips and short commutes. That said battery life is continually improving and so is the range. Over time the prices will become more reasonable. The major hurdle is the recharge time and that issue will always be significant for single car owners.
Hybrids are only slightly more expensive that their fuel only counterparts and they offer superior fuel economy. All most hybrids are actually battery assist with relatively small battery packs and small electric motors. The batteries are recharged while in fuel only mode and operate intermittently, usually for no more than a minute, with a couple of minutes to recharge. The most efficient hybrids will have larger electric systems, but smaller combustion engines which reduces performance. Hybrids offer the advantage of superior range. My 2015 Hyundai Sonata has a range of 650 + miles (of highway driving).
Plug in Hybrids are a relatively recent development. This approach combines the in-city economy of a full-on electric with the improved range of a hybrid. The trade off at this time is a higher initial cost, limited range and reduced performance. I expect to see improvements with all of these issues as more competition enters the market.
One additional electric powered alternative is the Hydrogen powered Fuel Cell. This vehicle is only available in a few markets. While there are several issues with this concept (not the least of which is the required infrastructure [hydrogen fuel stations]) it is potentially the “greenest” alternative. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in our local universe and the output of the reaction is water! Currently most of production is dominated by Honda, Toyota & Hyundai. I expect sufficient improvements in this technology that this alternative will become a significant factor within the next 15 – 20 years.