Sustainable technology is the key to reviving the automotive industry
It is time to really utilize this technology
Jean Jerome Baudry, Think Green Alliance
I just don’t understand why we still hear “the technology is too new” when talking about hybrid vehicles. Toyota first introduced the Prius in 1997, and in the past twelve years several other competent hybrid cars have hit the market. To put things into perspective, in 1997, 55 million Americans used cell phones. Today that number has increased to 250 million, many of whom replace their mobile device every 18 months. Our society doesn’t distrust new technology. In fact, we are obsessed with it. I know you can’t really compare the purchase of a vehicle to a cell phone, but what I am trying to get at is it is time for society to really embrace hybrid-electric vehicles into our everyday way of life and say good-bye to traditional gasoline vehicles.
You may be surprised to know that a vehicle only needs about 20 horsepower to drive on level ground at a set speed. To get a car moving from 0 to 60 requires the increased amounts of horsepower that we find in gasoline vehicles. In most hybrid vehicles the electric motor can run on its own at low speeds and as the car speeds up the gasoline motor kicks in, which means the gasoline motors only needs to be about 20-30 horsepower. At low speeds the automobile’s gas engine will automatically shut off until it is needed, and at high speeds the two motors work simultaneously saving considerable amounts of gas and reducing carbon emissions.
Although the environmental and economic advantages are plenty, Canadian governments aren’t waiting for hybrids to sell themselves. Quebec, who was one of the lowest carbon emitters in Canada in 2003 is committed to lowering their emissions by 2012 to less than their 1990 emissions. In order to reach this goal, they hope to see an 8% increased use of public transport and are offering a $4000 tax incentive to encourage the use of low emitting vehicles.
Similarly, Ontario has committed to stimulate the struggling automotive industry through the creation of green automotive jobs. Ontario has partnered with a company called Better Place which is planning on creating a network across the country which connects the electric grid to parking lots, essentially making our roads accessible for electric vehicles. Better Places plans on placing their North American headquarters in Toronto where they will host an education and demonstration center. Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Places estimates that Electric vehicles are a 6-10 billion dollar industry and countries that plan for it can have their share of that market, as you can’t outsource man power and infrastructure.
Although Canada is a leading exporter of oil, we seem to be positioning ourselves for the future and recognizing that our economy will inevitably rely on sustainable technologies. Nobody knows what is going to evolve from the current state of our automotive industry, but it is clear that our economy and business as we know it cannot continue as it is. After all the bailouts and infusions of cash I hope to see a real push towards getting more hybrid and fully electric vehicles on the road.