Rescuing Suburbia

Rescuing Suburbia


Posted by jeffvail on October 31, 2010 – 10:52am in The Oil Drum: Campfire

My presentation is about “Rescuing Suburbia.” I thought about putting a question mark after that title, but decided instead to take the position of a cautious advocate for the prospects of suburbia. I’m not even sure that suburbia needs “rescuing.” Instead, I’ll take the radical viewpoint that suburbia’s inherent flaws may turn out to be our civilization’s salvation, though in a rather unexpected way. [NOTE: I love this picture–it’s about as extreme an illustration of the failings of suburbia that I can imagine. In fairness, THIS is the kind of suburbia that I do expect to fail and be abandoned, the following comments notwithstanding……………

Full story and video at


U.S. Military Plan: get off oil By 2040

U.S. Military Plan: Get Off Oil By 2040

By Bill Moore

In September, the Center for New American Security (CNAS) issued a 36-page study entitled Fueling the Future Force: Preparing the Department of Defense for a Post-Petroleum Era. Now if the title weren’t suggestive enough, the target date of 2040 — 30 years from now — should set off klaxons from Maine to Guam.

Prepared in close consultation with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as the major branches of U.S. Armed Forces and other government agencies, the key authors — Christine Pathemore and John Nagl — conclude that the military has three decades to dramatically reduce its dependence on petroleum, the fuel that powers 77 percent of the America’s fighting machinery.

Why the urgency and why get off of oil? The map at the end of the commentary shows why. It has to do with who has the oil and how fast they are extracting it. The lighter the shades of blue, the shorter the time span until the process of extraction becomes economically unfeasible. Soberingly, CNAS analysts project the United States has just 11 years of reserve-to-production (R/P) capacity. Neighboring Canada, our largest external supplier, 28 years. Meanwhile, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia all have 100 years of R/P capacity………………

full story at

China’s car-straddling bus — and its technical creativity

China’s car-straddling bus — and its creativity in clean tech

By Deborah Gage | Aug 6, 2010

This picture from China News shows China’s latest scheme for handling both its traffic jams and its air pollution — a combination bus/train that would straddle the road so cars could drive underneath it.

The project was exhibited in May at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd., according to the news service China Hush.

It runs on electricity or solar energy. Passengers would sit on the top level (the bus can accommodate 1200 to 1400 people) while cars drive beneath them.

Its creators claim the straddling bus could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent, partly by getting people out of their cars and partly because the bus would move along with the cars underneath it rather than being one more vehicle on the road.

See full story and video at

Going Green With Ford – Announcement Video


Going Green With Ford – Announcement Video

Today we’ve announced the infusion of Microsoft Hohm’s technology into Ford’s aggressive global electrification strategy. So if you missed the live announcement  from the New York Auto Show grab a seat and click play.

Renault and the Resource Intensity of Mobility


Renault, Peugeot: Refreshingly Honest About the Future


By Bill Moore

I am stunned! Absolutely stunned.

I happened across this recent Renault corporate video this morning while tracing down information about Peugeot’s new SR1 Hybrid, pictured below along with their plan to revamp their company. While it would be all too easy to view this as just another effort at corporate ‘green wash,’ it would strongly suggest that Renault, part of the global alliance with Nissan, is truly serious about remaking itself into a company whose products more closely match the realities of the world as they are, not as we insular and all-too-often-parochial Americans pretend them to be.

This video is a refreshing and much-needed change from the still deeply ingrained messaging of the Go-Go Era of cheap gas and tail fins that continues to prevade the auto advertising world. My congratulations to the management and employees at Renault for its candid, and hopefully honest and sincere new corporate perspective.

Peugeot Announces New, Greener Marque Plan

Peugeot launched a comprehensive new Marque plan, with the objectives of moving up three places in the world car market by 2015 (it is currently in 10th place); establishing Peugeot as a benchmark for style; and becoming the leader in mobility services.

To achieve its goals, Peugeot is relying on a new products strategy that includes electric propulsion (the i0n i-MiEV-derived electric car) and E-Vivacity scooter from 2010; diesel hybrid in the 3008 from 2011 (earlier post); e-HDi (microhybrid) from 2011 on the entire diesel range; and a plug-in diesel hybrid in 2012. Peugeot said that it is also designing a vehicle which will embody all of the spirit of the BB1 concept car: 2.5m, 4 seats and 100% electric. (Earlier post.)

full story and video link at

Two Billion Cars – the Resource Intensity of Mobility

The post below highlights our failure to comprehend that it is is the Resource Intensity of Mobility RIoM that is the critical issue, not the ‘resource intensity of automobiles’


Two Billion Cars: Coming Soon to Our Planet.

Dave R.  Founder and CEO of ClimatePath

Over the break I’ve been reading Daniel Sperling’s book Two Billion Cars, an exploration of how the planet can handle the two billion vehicles that will be in service by 2025.

Is this number inevitable? Sperling says yes: There are over a Billion vehicles today, and 2.4 Billion emerging consumers in China and Indian interested in ‘personal motorization’. He also points out that most automakers are focusing their efforts on building and conquering these new markets. His projections actually show roughly 1.2 Billion cars, another 500 Million trucks/buses, and 500 Million motorcycles and scooters, but the forecasted growth in each segment is still staggering and a little scary.

We clearly live in what Sperling and his co-author call a “gas-guzzler monoculture”. Only 2% of passenger travel in the U.S. is via public transportation, and even in Europe where fuel is expensive and trains plentiful, 80% of travel is via automobile. He calls this car-centric western lifestyle “an extravagant consumer of resources and producer of greenhouse gasses.” ………………..

……………..Unfortunately, he also sees a lot of this higher cost and regulatory action focused primairly on driving automobile and fuel innovation…hybrids, biofuels, lighter cars, and more. Clearly these are needed: the book compares a 1976 Honda accord (2000 pounds, 46 MPG) with a 2008 model (3600 pounds, 29 MPG)  to demonstrate the stagnation in innovation related to the resource intensity of automobiles. But two Billion vehicles? Isn’t there a better way for us to plan communities and get around?……………….

full article at

Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’ time has come

Email from CalCars

Here’s CalCars’ comment: “We applaud Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’
time has come. The technology is good enough to get started and the
solution offers a good business case. We hope as this hybrid pioneer
watches large and small competitors start selling PHEVs a year
earlier, it will accelerate its timetable and raise production levels.”

(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
viewable at — there you can
add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

THE PRIUS’S TIMELINES TO TODAY: It’s taken a long time. Toyota
introduced the Prius as the first-mass-production hybrid in Japan in
1997. It went global in 2001; the second-generation vehicle arrived
in 2004, the third in 2009, and over two million have been sold.
Meanwhile CalCars did the first Prius conversion in 2004, sparking
the growth of an aftermarket industry. Since 2006, a thousand plug-in
Prius conversions showing what was possible helped build awareness
and support for PHEVs, and the company’s public comments evolved from
dismissive to open-minded (see ).

Toyota showed its first PHEV prototype in 2007. Until this week, the
company had announced plans only for fleet leases of 600
demonstration/test units in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, with
consumer sales only a possibility. Now it will start selling them in
2011, with tens of thousands in showrooms in 2012 at a “affordable”
price tag. Reporters say Toyota has concluded that PHEVs “will become
the market mainstream.”

NFORMATION SOURCES: Toyota has a new website with basic explanations
and specifications at . And see the
illuminating 20-slide presentation by Toyota Chief Engineer Yoshikazu
. At
read Green Car Congress’s summary and postings. Following are our
comments based on announced specifications.

BUSINESS DETAILS: Tanaka’s presentation projects “full-scale
commercialization in two years, on the order of several ten
thousands, with widely affordable pricing.” Toyota EVP Uchiyamada
indicates (below) that the vehicle could sell for under $33,770. With
U.S. Recovery Act tax credits of up to $7,500 for the first 200,000
plug-in vehicle from each manufacturer based on battery capacity; the
PHV’s 5.2 kWh battery pack, from its joint venture Panasonic EV
Energy, makes it eligible for about $2,500.

If prices hold, we’ve been on the right track in saying Toyota might
sell a plug-in Prius for little more than $3,000 over a non-PHEV
model. A 3.4 useful-kWh pack at $1,000/useful-kWh would cost $3,400.
The $1,000 saved by eliminating the NiMH battery could offset a
similar cost for a charger and a beefed-up DC:DC converter. As those
battery prices decline with the credits, PHEVs could approach the
cost of standard hybrids.

Operating costs for a 30km trip compared to gasoline vehicle, based
on Japanese petroleum and electric rates, are 58% better when
charging at peak times and 77% better off-peak.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Comparing the vehicle with the 2010 Prius on which
it’s based (specs at ),
its weight (3,284 pounds/1,490 kg) increases by 242 pounds/110 kg.
The engine and motor appear identical, and modified electronics will
allow more power from the electric motor.

The PHV uses over 60% of the its 5.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack’s
capacity to get 23.4 km/14.5 miles all-electric driving at speeds up
to 100 km/62 miles/hour. (For Japanese drivers traveling shorter
distances, the 20 km “sweet spot” covers 53.7% of daily driving and
51.2% of weekend driving.) Recharging is 180 minutes at 110-120
volts, 100 minutes at 220 — offering good opportunities to double
the vehicle’s effective range for those who can charge mid-day at work.

Petroleum and greenhouse gas reductions depend on multiple
assumptions — we can simply say that using the new JC08 driving
cycle yields over 100 MPG of gasoline. See
for a discussion of the PHV’s fuel efficiency under different
conditions; this discussion leaves out consideration of the
difference between CAFE and sticker numbers.

FEATURES: The vehicle’s new screens’ full integration with the
navigation system and information about the battery will give drivers
feedback about optimizing fuel economy. The car can be cooled in
advance while still plugged in for comfort and fuel efficiency.