Monday, October 30, 2017

Green cars? Not so fast

Now the report here from Xinhua is not exactly scientifically written, but apparently a study done by the Australian Automobile Association indicates that hybrid cars are typically using about 59% more fuel than advertised.  You can also find it from ABC in Australia and other sources.  The environmental lobby of course denies the claims and blames lax sulfur standards in Australian petrol for the issue, but the ugly reality is that AAA has their data, and they're standing by it.

Now that doesn't indicate that your neighbor is not in fact getting 50mpg in his Prius, but it does suggest that the regulators--at least Aussie regulators--are not doing terribly well in correlating laboratory tests to real world conditions.  This is really the same thing that European and U.S. regulators learned about the VW TDI diesels.  By the time regulators figured out that the engine was (ironically) burning rich to pass NOx emissions standards, millions of vehicles had been sold worldwide.  When getting around environmental rules is worth billions, you will find carmakers hiring smart engineers to do exactly that.

One might figure that a smart approach might be to simply shift the tax burden from the income tax to consumption taxes and let people make their own decisions.   I'm guessing that upon receiving the bill, people just might do what it takes to make things cleaner on their own.  We might even find that GE would stop sending a chaser plane after Jeff Immelt's private jet.  (yeah, Jeff, we totally believe you when you say you believe in global warming with that one)

One other place I'd love to see some work; I would love to see what happens to CO production by hybrid cars.  The catalytic converter works best when hot, so it stands to reason that if you're turning the engine on and off, you're going to be having nice bursts of CO emissions as that vehicle--say a Prius taxicab in New York City, Houston, or LA--goes about its daily rounds.  You've also got the reality that engine tolerances, and hence hydrocarbon (lubricating oil) emissions, will also change/increase with this thermal cycling.

Yes, I'm saying that it's possible that the hybrid requirements in NYC are making the air dirtier there.  Wouldn't that be ironic?

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