Thursday, February 26, 2004

Why Green Cars Face Red Lights

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Why Green Cars Face Red Lights

Though the latest Prius has been attracting more private buyers than the previous model, governments have been accounting for about 50 per cent of its sales.

Ford Australia president Geoff Polites says there are still some issues with hybrids, including the life and recyclability of batteries.

Hydrogen fuel-cell technology - on which Ford's engineering is focused - could be employed in a production car now, says Polites, the slight catch being that a such a vehicle would cost about $600,000.

He says hybrid cars are an interim measure and that Ford prefers to focus on the ultimate solution, distant though it is.

For those consumers with a conscience about clean air and going easy on finite oil resources, Ford has a range of LPG Falcons, says Polities. They offer a 10 per cent saving in greenhouse gases.

Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised to see so few car makers gambling on a technology with marginal appeal to the majority of the public.

While Toyota and Honda have been prepared to educate and lead the market, some car makers clearly want customers queuing outside showrooms before they will produce hybrids commercially.

As one industry figure declared: "The public doesn't want to drive electric cars; they are boring to drive. They are smooth and efficient, but they are not fun cars; they don't make a nice noise, and they are not exciting. But when there is no alternative, they will buy electric cars."

My take on this is as follows: What if Toyota and Honda prove to be right? Will the big three be outright screwed for not really knowing how to make the most out of the hybrids and not really knowing the needs of the hybrid market? Hydrogen fuel cell cars are (at least) ten years away, perhaps more. Refer back to this.


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