“Green” cars? Maybe, with a good paint job.

I have always felt the Jaguar looked good in a dark green.  It’s a beautiful car – and by the total lack of mention of a specific model or year, you can accurately judge my knowledge of cars.

In the Joongang Ilbo, I learned about Korea’s first Electric bus.

The bus has an average speed of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) and can run 120 kilometers (75 miles) on a fully charged battery.

The 50-seat bus uses three 100-kilowatt driving motors that power a 402-horsepower internal combustion engine.

Hyundai said the bus satisfies all the requirements set by the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs for a transportation vehicle with “zero” emission.

“Zero emission.”  I guess that is true, while the bus is in use.  Does the Ministry of L, T and M Affairs think the batteries are charged by magic, though?  Although I can’t be bothered to check on the facts (I’m a blogger, what do facts matter?), I suspect that most of Korea’s electricity comes from hydro-electric and nuclear, with few fossil-fuel powered generators.  Alright, lets investigate for one minute:

Hmm, mostly hydro and nuclear, with about a quarter from Oil and Gas.  Takes a bit of the wind out of my sails.

Still, the power does come partly from fossil fuels, and those fuels are charging a battery; we can expect loses of between a third and a half in charging a battery.  I am unconvinced that the bus will use significantly less fuel than a fuel  powered bus.

I am convinced that few people will see the fuel and CO2 being emitted as it is happening at a distant power plant and not on the street in front of them.  Maybe, this is a good thing in it’s own right.  Now we aren’t spreading poison in high population areas.  That’s good, but it isn’t ‘zero emission’.

Scientific American has an article about the Leaf, an electrically powered car.  I read it before seeing the Hyundae article, so I can’t claim the points above are my own.

In the months after Nissan’s announcement last year that it would soon introduce the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, the company embarked on a 24-city “zero-emission tour” to show off the technology. The Leaf’s electric motor draws its energy from a battery pack that plugs into an outlet in your garage. It has no engine, no gas tank and no tailpipe. And during the time the car is on the road, it is truly a zero-emission machine. But at night, in your garage, that battery pack must refill the energy lost to the day’s driving with fresh electrons culled from a nearby power plant. And zero emission it ain’t.

You can see, for instance, that I used, “isn’t” instead of “ain’t”.  Still, if I link to the original, it can’t be plagiarism.


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2 Responses to ““Green” cars? Maybe, with a good paint job.”

  1. Cory Says:

    If the electricity is coming from a zero emissions source such as nuclear, hydro-electric, or solar power, then the car can be a truly zero emissions vehicle. What about if it were coming from coal or oil? It is true that it would no longer be a “zero” emissions vehicle since there is pollution somewhere as a result, but it will not be causing nearly as much pollution. Coal, oil or any other type of power plant are much more efficient power generators than internal combustion engines. This is why everyone does not just have their own generators to power their house. It’s not efficient.

    Electric cars dramatically reduce the net pollution as a result of its use.


  2. surprisesaplenty Says:

    I’m not sure if ‘Cory’ is a comment spammer. I guess it is the late date – my original post went up over a year ago and his comment is so recent. Still, I do have to admit his point seems a good one.

    I think he has not thought all the steps through, however. A large power plant very likely is more efficient than an internal combustion engine, but electric cars do not run on long electrical cables from the outlets. The three efficiency losses I see are: at the generating station, at the battery and in the engine itself. At present, I think the battery represents the largest efficiency loss.

    I do accept that electrical cars would reduce the local pollution, but this merely hides the problem. Large cities work to dispose of their garbage far outside of their borders, out of sight, out of mind. Reducing pollution in total is a very good idea; reducing it in cities but increasing it elsewhere is actually a fairly good idea but not as good as the former.

    Cory, if you are a real person, I apologise for doubting you.

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