Why Drive a Volt When You Can Soup Up Your Own Car

2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Wash...

2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This do it yourself video is for my Green Friends who love to drive the Volt and other Green Cars.

Porcelain Carburetor

Ten-Dollar Gasoline Forces America to Lose Weight

Evil-Oil does it again. They are jacking around with the price of oil because of the uncertainty in the Mid-East. Meanwhile POTUS is silently cheering on the crisis. His dream of forcing us into so-called “green” cars is closer to reality. For every dollar increase on a gallon of gas, he sells another Gov’m’nt green car.

Where was he when gas was eighteen cents a gallon and Gov’m’nt Motors was producing gas guzzling rust prone junk heaps? Not born yet, I can’t blame him for that one. POTUS does own the UAW, however, and they made the cars that we didn’t really want. They even called strikes against GM for the purpose of getting their piece of the pie. Now that the UAW owns Gov’m’nt Motors they want ten-dollar a gallon gas too.

Obama’s insistence on electric cars is way out of line with reality. He is legislating technological development. My bosses used to play that game all the time. Instead of redesigning a product to meet their quality requirements they placed the burden of finding a technological solution on the engineers. Often the solution was beyond our capabilities and didn’t happen until the science caught up to the problem years later. Obama believes that by forcing the gas prices to rise to ten dollars that we will rush out to buy Hybrid cars.

Does the math support that premise? Assume that a standard car gets 25 mpg, and a hybrid gets 40 mpg. Sounds great doesn’t it? Assume also, that each car is driven twelve thousand miles per year. With ten-dollar a gallon gas, the annual dollar savings between the two cars is $1800. Sounds good doesn’t it?  The difference in price between a standard car and its hybrid counter part is around four thousand dollars; the electric costing more. The payback for that extra expenditure would be 2.2 years, not bad.

How long do the hybrid batteries last? No one knows for sure at this point, or they are hiding it from us to keep from scaring buyers off. The cost of replacing the batteries is four thousand dollars.

How do hybrid cars get their advantage? Of course by using the batteries while creeping at low speeds like in stop and go traffic.  For long distances and speed they switch to gasoline power. How do they get good mileage with gasoline? One way is to downsize the motor. The Toyota Prius is a good example of that. The car uses a small four-cylinder motor. Most performance freaks like myself will reject the Prius because it is a gutless wonder. I’ve had my fill of under powered small cars from my VW days. I got great mileage, but I couldn’t take the need for a constant downshift to get the thing moving. Larger SUV Hybrids make more sense, but they come at a higher premium than the small cars. Batteries also weigh a ton, and the car uses energy to carry that heavy  battery.

What about a plug-in hybrid car?  You can charge it daily to keep the efficiency up. This will cost extra in electricity. At this time, the stats show that the current fleet is about 600,000 hybrids in the USA. If those cars needed to be charged, 450,000 of them would consume all the extra power capacity we have  today. The remaining 150,000 cars would require a new power plant be added to the grid.  Think about that one. If every one of the 143,000,000 cars in the US were all-electric and the entire fleet needed the grid for a charge,  how many extra power plants would we need to add?

What would we use to power all those new plants; solar, wind, nuclear, or coal?  The new plants won’t come cheap, and they won’t come fast. A bird wouldn’t be able to fly ten feet before he was chopped to shreds with a windmill blade if we added enough mills to power the fleet. Photovoltaic cells would cover every square mile of unused land and every roof in America, but we’ll get our food from China so that’s okay. Nuclear makes some sense, but the cost of the plants is exorbitant. The safety issues are horrendous, and the danger of releasing radiation into the atmosphere far outweighs any coal related pollution. Not to mention the potential of accidents from nuclear waste. Think about Chernobyl’s all around the country. I often think about my own situation in Chicago. We have one plant forty miles west of here and another one fifty miles to the east. A third one is just north of the city. If any one of them has a Chernobyl like accident, the entire city of Chicago would be an unusable ghost town for thousands of years, Lake Michigan would be permanently polluted, and a new interstate would be needed to skirt the radiation belt around the city. Six million people would have to find new homes immediately, and a million would die early from radiation poisoning.

The USA has been lucky, in that we have never had an accident like Chernobyl, but Harrisburg came close. We build our plants with stricter safety standards than the Russians did. That is why they cost as much as they do.  Disposing of nuclear waste is another hazard. Obama says we should  do like the French do. They deal with nuclear waste effectively. Really? What do they do with it? One thing they do is to reduce the amount of waste by recycling the spent fuel and extracting usable fuel.  Eventually, they kick the can down the road by burying the unusable material.

The government of France made a decision to go into the power business in the early nineteen seventies, and they have developed regulations and  facilities to deal with their reactors. I had to deal with the French power organization dubbed Electricite de France (EdF) during my engineering career. I can vouch for them as being fanatically rigid and steeped in bureaucracy with great resistance to change. During this same period, our country decided to pull back from nuclear power. The end result is we are way behind on development. Our plants were designed and built for a forty year life. Many of the early plants are already decommissioned. Plants built after nineteen seventy are at the end of life stage. What will we do when they must  go off line?

My points with all of this dialogue is that developing an energy policy is an absolute necessity for the USA. It won’t be easy, but a plan has to be developed and followed. We can no longer kick the can down the road. Secondly, converting the country to electric cars comes with a huge price tag and a huge change in lifestyle for all of us. It won’t be easy remembering to plug the car into an outlet every time you make a stop. By the way, where are the outlets?

In the meantime, if you don’t like the prospect of paying ten dollars for a gallon of gas, find a Chinaman who will trade his “Flying Squirrel” (bicycle) for your gas hog SUV. Now that’s an energy policy that will serve many objectives:

1.) We lose our dependence on foreign oil by giving up the car.

2.) We become physically fit by riding a bicycle.

3.) We lose weight and become healthier.

4.) Our air is purer, because we burn less fuel.

5.) We use less generated power because we watch less TV, surf the net less, BLOG less, and we go to bed earlier from the exertion of riding the bike.

We can’t lose with that kind of energy policy.

Insanity-Doing the Same Thing Over and Over and Expecting a Different Result

The creative side of my head keeps telling me to draw a cartoon depicting a hybrid semi-truck. Before I go to the trouble to make the drawing, I felt it wise to find out how much oil truck use as compared to cars. The current gov’m’n’t  push is to conserve oil by telling us buy expensive hybrids that will increase gas mileage from 29 mpg to 48 mpg.

Now, more than ever, I am convinced the USA can live without the Department of Energy. For the last week, I have been researching the Internet for data regarding the amount of fuel used by various modes of travel. This should be easy, I thought; just go to the DOE site and search. Wrong. I needed to visit many websites for each type of transportation to find one simple number. How much fuel do the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes in the USA consume within one year?

What I have learned is that every time Barack Obama or one of his denizens begins spewing rhetoric about man-made global warming and the oil shortage, it is best to change the channel. Another reason for channel flipping is any dialog about the urgency to sell your gas hog in favor of a hybrid.

There is one thing this research did for me. It made the USA Energy Policy stand out. The policy is to make everything run on oil.

Oil is the organic compound breathing life into the modern era.

The hybrid trade off for me is about 170 horsepower and a lot of comfort. Hybrids with high mileage are tiny puddle jumpers that run on four cylinders and weigh less than three thousand pounds.(A puddle jumper in my day weighed 1800 pounds, how did the  Prius get so fat? Batteries?) I spent twenty years driving puddle jumpers at a time when even the most Left person in the country had not awakened to the fact that maybe burning gasoline will pollute the air.

At my current age, I want enough horsepower to climb a hill without the need to downshift four times and have to crawl to the top. I also prefer a seat large enough to handle my wide body, air conditioning to minimize discomfort, a quiet cabin, and a trunk large enough to carry my luggage.

Here is the chart I made using the data gleaned from many sources. Even I have a hard time believing what I see.

Chart by Grumpa Joe May 18, 2011, Data from various Internet sources

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Why on earth are we picking on cars to save oil when trucks, ships, and trains consume more than cars?
  2. Why isn’t Obama pushing the truck industry to buy hybrids?
  3. Is there such a thing as a hybrid truck?
  4. Why do we buy oil from the other side of the world when the largest polluters are the ships hauling the oil?
  5. Why is Obama pushing high-speed passenger service when he should be pushing high-speed electric freight?
  6. Is Obama aware that the country’s average mileage for a car is 18 mpg? (Most likely tilted to the low end by illegals buying two hundred dollar cars that are low mpg.)
  7. If diesel-electric locomotives are so fuel efficient, why don’t we use the same principle on semi-trucks?
  8. If all electric trains are so much more efficient than diesel-electrics why aren’t we pushing for that?

The questions can go on and on, but no one is asking them.  Instead, we get a bunch of BS from our leader about the urgency to trade in the SUV.