Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hybrids only benefit from better gas engines.

I've seen several times that better gas engines can negate the need for hybrids. Even the Wall Street Journal has an article titled "Gas Engines Get Upgrade in Challenge to Hybrids"

All of these are wrong. And they are wrong for several reasons.

First, a more fuel efficient gas engine still needs gas, which only exists in a limited and diminishing quantity. Sooner or later it will run out, it may run out somewhat slower with engine improvements, but it will still run out.

Second, all improvements to a gas engine also improve hybrids. A hybrid basically adds a batter and an electric motor to a car. That addition will add an extra so many miles per gallon based on how good the battery is and how it can recharge. But when the battery runs out the car is still using a gas engine. Improvements to gas engines can be used to improve these gas engines too. Instead of having a small gas engine that gets 30 miles a gallon, if it can now get 40, then a hybrid could go from 50 MPG to 60 MPG.

I like the ingenuity that is being used to improve the fuel efficiency in engines of all kinds now. It's disappointing that for years cars have not had much in fuel efficiency improvements. Most of the new technologies that are being used aren't revolutionary. There's no reason that many of these could not have been used much sooner to provide vehicles that could go much further on less gas than what we have now.