Detroit unsure over the future of green cars

Jan 11, 2012 by Veronique Dupont
Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid car is shown on display at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The US auto industry remains unsold over the future of "green cars" such as electrics and hybrids, as carmakers struggle with the first steps in a market most agree shows promise over the long term.

The US auto industry remains unsold over the future of "green cars" such as electrics and hybrids, as carmakers struggle with the first steps in a market most agree shows promise over the long term.

Automakers wheeled out a variety of new hybrids and plug-in electrics at the annual Detroit auto show this week, touting their great along with new, freshened designs.

But despite that apparent commitment, behind the scenes, the manufacturers remain split between doubts and optimism over their potential.

Ten years after the hybrid swept into the market, only about three percent of all cars sold in the United States are electric or gas-electric hybrids, said David Cole, director of the Center for .

"Initially there was probably some excessive exuberance about the green auto," he told AFP.

"But the economics are not attractive yet for the average consumer."

Nissan has sold only 9,700 of its all-electric Leaf in the US market, and has sold just 8,000 of its rechargeable hybrid the Volt since its at the end of 2010, below the targeted 10,000.

The Volt became the object of scrutiny in recent weeks after tests by US authorities saw batteries in three cars catch fire.

Detroit's investment in hybrids and electrics have picked up pace in recent years under prodding and support by the government, said Cole.

The government has set tight goals for companies to boost across their entire range of cars and trucks, and many are turning to hybrids and electrics to meet the goals.

Ford this week launched its new 2013 Fusion mid-size sedan, to be sold in , hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

But Mark Fields, Ford's president for the Americas, would not commit on how many would be made in each format, saying the market would set the pace.

But last year only a fraction of the nearly 250,000 Fusions sold last year were hybrids.

One challenge has been that hybrids, which have both traditional combustion engines and electric engines, are more costly because they require two powertrains, according to Michelle Krebs of auto specialists Edmunds.com.

Moreover, drivers still worry that they will run out of power without a network of recharging stations as widespread as gasoline pumps.

Sergio Marchionne, the head of Fiat and Chrysler, reiterated his doubts over the market, especially for electric cars, at the Detroit show, citing both the pricing problem and the availability of batteries.

Marchionne's counterpart at Renault Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, is more positive but recognizes big hurdles.

"I admit I am much more optimistic on electric cars than most people. We are very far from the potential of the market," he said in Detroit.

"The problem for the moment is the supply and the bottlenecks with the batteries," he said in Detroit.

"We are going to have to solve this problem by producing the Leaf and its battery in the United States," he said.

That would be an important bet for Nissan, which with Renault has invested around four billion euros ($5.1 billion) to develop electric vehicles.

Together they plan to introduce eight green vehicles by the beginning of 2017.

Ghosn said the infrastructure to support the new cars, the recharging stations, is coming.

General Motors sees the industry building helped by the steady rise in the price of oil.

"It's a long-term commitment. I still believe there has been a change of behavior towards more responsibility" to the environment, GM North America head Mark Reuss told journalists Tuesday.

But Marchionne foresees the industry turning instead toward compressed natural gas as an alternative fuel, as gas prices falling due to the huge investments being made in extracting it from shale.

Chrysler plans to introduce in March a compressed gas-fueled truck using technology developed with Fiat.

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User comments : 27

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Shootist
1.7 / 5 (17) Jan 11, 2012
Detroit unsure over the future of green cars


So is everyone else.

Massive oil deposit found in the Barents Sea.

http://www.ft.com...jCIMTxwU

Drill everywhere, drill now.
Deathclock
4.1 / 5 (13) Jan 11, 2012
"Detroit unsure over future of Detroit"
ryggesogn2
Jan 11, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Callippo
1 / 5 (12) Jan 11, 2012
Massive oil deposit found in the Barents Sea.
We will need the oil for plastic industry. We couldn't burn it all in cars - this is what the cold fusion is good for. Anyway, my attitude to electromobiles is similar like my opinion about fluorescent lights - they replace the cost of energy with pricey materials, but the TCO (total cost of ownership) remains nearly the same.
PinkElephant
4.5 / 5 (13) Jan 11, 2012
Massive oil deposit found in the Barents Sea.
Yeah. I remember just a couple of years ago we set an INCREDIBLE new RECORD of $100/barrel for oil. Today, it's still fluctuating around $100/barrel but we don't even bat an eye. It has become the new normal.

Oil typically becomes cheaper during North Hemisphere winter, and expensive in the summer. It's winter now, yet oil is as expensive as it was last summer.

The point: no matter how much you discover and drill, old and cheap resources continue to dwindle as fast as you can bring new and expensive resources online. At the same time, world-wide demand for oil continues to escalate exponentially.

Welcome to Peak Oil.

The economics of green cars already make sense today, at today's oil prices. They will only make ever more sense with every passing year, as average gasoline price passes $4/gallon, then $5/gallon, then $6/gallon, and so on and so forth.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (21) Jan 11, 2012
"Adjusted for inflation in April 2011 dollars the 1979 $38 peak oil price is the equivalent of paying $111.43 today."
http://inflationd...hart.asp

Deathclock
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2012
The economics of green cars already make sense today, at today's oil prices. They will only make ever more sense with every passing year, as average gasoline price passes $4/gallon, then $5/gallon, then $6/gallon, and so on and so forth.


Okay but... batteries are not an energy source. It doesn't really matter if you drive a car with a gasoline engine or a battery because ultimately the power for that battery came primarily from burning coal, which is horrible for the environment. (not to mention the chemicals in the batteries)
_nigmatic10
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2012
It's ok Detroit. Keep being unsure, and meanwhile Toyota and kind will continue to rake in sales on hybrids. It's ok. I'm sure this whole going green and away from gas guzzling cars is all a trend.... again.
PinkElephant
4.2 / 5 (9) Jan 12, 2012
Adjusted for inflation in April 2011 dollars the 1979 $38 peak oil price is the equivalent of paying $111.43 today
1979, sounds familiar. Let me see. Hmmmm.... Oh, the Second Oil Crisis (precipitated by the Iranian Revolution.) So THAT's why you chose that PARTICULAR year!

Very "clever" of you.

Though I'm afraid this attempt of yours at apples-to-oranges comparison is in a spot of trouble: those oranges are looking more like parsley.
batteries are not an energy source.
In a traditional hybrid drivetrain -- as opposed to plug-in hybrid or pure-electric -- they don't need to be. They store scavenged energy when you break or go downhill while your engine shuts off, allow your engine to automatically shutdown and restart when you're crawling in traffic or navigating street lights in a city, etc. They greatly increase the EFFICIENCY with which you extract useful energy from gasoline. That's how a Prius can get 50 MPG in combined, real-life city/highway driving.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (19) Jan 12, 2012
The U.S. automakers are no longer relevant.

The opinions of U.S. automakers are less than worthless.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (19) Jan 12, 2012
"So THAT's why you chose that PARTICULAR year! " - Pink Elephant

RyggTard is a Libertarian. You are discovering that all Libertairans are perpetual liars.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.1 / 5 (22) Jan 12, 2012
"Massive oil deposit found in the Barents Sea." - ShooTard

BATSFJORD, Norway, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The Norwegian oil company Statoil said it had found a new oil field in the Barents Sea that contains up to 300 million barrels of recoverable oil.

World oil consumption is about 80 million barrels of oil per day.

This massive find therefore represents around 4 days of global supply.

Have you been an idiot all your life ShooTard?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2012
Detroit unsure over the future of green cars

Auto industry unsure about the future of Detroit.

ultimately the power for that battery came primarily from burning coal, which is horrible for the environment.

Why? This may be true today. But if you don't use batteries (or some other medium like hydrogen) as an energy storage it will always remain true. If you use batteries as an energy storag then the primary energy CAN come from anywhere (oil, coal, nuclear, wind , hydro, biomass, solar, you-name-it).

Oil isn't gonig to last forever. A need to switch over is inevitable at some point. Why not do it now? It's already economically sound (and has been ecologically sound for some decades)

Xbw
1.3 / 5 (23) Jan 12, 2012
Then let Obama and his watermelon friends should start their own company, without taxpayer money.

Wow. I am not an Obama fan either but that was straight up racist.

Anyhow, if they want hybrids to be a hit, make them cheap. Americans don't buy cars with conscience. They buy them with money. If the car is expensive, we look for another.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2012
Anyhow, if they want hybrids to be a hit, make them cheap.

Development costs money. You only get 'cheap' if you use stock parts. That's why most new cars are simply recycled older models with a few optical touch ups.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (15) Jan 12, 2012
Then let Obama and his watermelon friends should start their own company, without taxpayer money.

Wow. I am not an Obama fan either but that was straight up racist.

Anyhow, if they want hybrids to be a hit, make them cheap. Americans don't buy cars with conscience. They buy them with money. If the car is expensive, we look for another.

Watermelon, green on the outside, red on the inside meaning they are environmental communists.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (10) Jan 12, 2012
300 million bbl oil > $30 billion. How much does it cost to extract? How long will this production last?
Why bother.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (12) Jan 12, 2012
RyggTard, spectacularly ignorant on the inside, spectacularly ignorant on the outside.

"Watermelon, green on the outside, red on the inside" - Ryggtard
Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 12, 2012
Peak oil was reached somewhere between 2005 and 2007.

"How long will this production last?" - Ryggtard
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (14) Jan 13, 2012
The consensus among geologists is the world has 2.5 trillion bbls of economically viable oil.

2.5 trillion bbl is an 85 year supply.

How many times has peak oil been proclaimed and fallen by the wayside?
PinkElephant
4.2 / 5 (10) Jan 13, 2012
2.5 trillion bbl is an 85 year supply.
Peak Oil is not about running out of oil. It is about peak *production*, coincident with escalating demand and escalating cost of production. Once we hit peak oil, the inflation-adjusted price of oil on global markets begins to rise inexorably, and ever more rapidly with each passing year.

Even an ignorant demagogue like you ought to be able to understand that the production curve for that estimated 2.5 trillion bbl is not a flat line over 85 years, terminating in an abrupt step-drop to 0. It will be a curve asymptotically approaching 0, and it will have a maximum-value peak somewhere in the early part of that 85 year span. We are pretty much at that peak, right now.

You also ought to understand, that the most easily extracted oil got harvested first. What tends to remain over time is ever harder to get to and refine, and thus ever more expensive per barrel just due to production costs alone (even ignoring the supply/demand aspect.)
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (9) Jan 13, 2012
Now, let's have a further look at your numbers. According to IEA, current world oil reserves stand at 1.47 trillion barrels, not 2.5:

http://www.eia.go...9-sm.jpg

And even that estimate relies on what are widely suspected to be aggressively inflated numbers from OPEC members.

According to IEA, world demand for 2011 averages 89 million bbl/day, which comes out to roughly 32.5 billion bbl/year. Divided into 1.47 trillion, this yields 45 years, not 85.

This is assuming no new discoveries, and ALSO that China, India, and the rest of the world won't continue on their rapid modernization track, and that the already-modernized countries won't continue escalating their oil consumption. Those assumptions are obviously incorrect, but the effects of new discoveries vs. higher rate of consumption probably balance out in terms of overall resource exhaustion deadline.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (9) Jan 13, 2012
Obviously, as price of oil escalates due to Peak Oil dynamics, demand will have to drop. The world is not going to keep consuming oil at the same or ever-faster pace, because that is unsustainable even over the short term. Economies and industries that are critically dependent on cheap oil (I believe it was W. who used the word "addicted"?) will be hit the hardest, and will have the steepest costs and learning curves for adaptation.

Some of us see that iceberg approaching rapidly dead ahead, and would rather steer around it. Others (such as you) seem to prefer to wait until our ship is wrapped around that iceberg, by which stage the time to act will have transformed into time to panic and die.
ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (13) Jan 13, 2012
A consensus of geologists said 2.5 trillion.
And we all know that Pinky and others here believe the consensus of scientists.
http://www.nytime...nted=all
Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 14, 2012
1.2 trillion barrels are known reserves at this point. Doubling that is pure speculation.

"2.5 trillion bbl is an 85 year supply." - RyggTard

Wrong. It is 80 years at current levels of consumption. But only 40 years with a yearly 3% growth rate in consumption.

So, even if you can magically double the planet's oil reserves
over the next 40 years, you will still be out of oil by 2052.

"How many times has peak oil been proclaimed and fallen by the wayside?" - RyggTard

Never.

Peak oil production occurred somewhere between 2005 to 2007.

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2012
"Others (such as you) seem to prefer to wait until our ship is wrapped around that iceberg, by which stage the time to act will have transformed into time to panic and die." - Pink Elephant

Yup, that pretty much sums up the practical results of Libertarian/Randite ideology.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2012
"Oil remains abundant, and the price will likely come down closer to the historical level of $30 a barrel as new supplies come forward in the deep waters off West Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and perhaps in the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota." - RyggTard's Reference

RyggTard's NYT Op Ed nonsense is dated Aug 2009.

Here is a plot of World Oil prices from 2006 to current.

https://www.esa.d...oil3.jpg

Hmmm. Oil prices haven't seemed to drop to $30 a barrel as RyggTard's Lying Libertarian brothers have claimed.

In fact they are 66 percent higher now - during an American recession - then they were when his Libertarian Brother announced that they would decline to $30 a barrel.

Brent Crude is trading today at $110 per barrel.

As always. We see that Libertarian Economics is a combination of Fantasy, ignorance, and outright lying.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2012
The following graphic illustrates how massively ignorant RyggTard's reference (Lynch) is.

Note how badly Lynch estimated global oil production.

http://s777.photo...asts.png

RyggTard's Libertarian brother estimated global oil production of 95 million barrels of oil in 2011.

Production however has stalled at 81 million barrels per day, while demand has continued to rise and is now close to 89 billion barrels per day.

Oil production fails to keep up with demand

The Economist online

http://www.econom...sumption

So much for Lying Libertarians.