Unsurprisingly, then, Ferrari has avoided electric and instead made a foray into biofuels. The new F430 Spider Biofuel model can run on either petrol or E85, a mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol.
The F430 Spider Biofuel. Designed to fit aboard a bandwagon.
Ethanol as it now stands - made from corn in fossil-burning conversion plants - isn't any greener than grid electricity. However, it does have powerful US political lobbies behind it, and it ought to be feasible to make ethanol out of greener feedstocks using greener energy to do so one day.
What's nice about ethanol is that you don't have to sacrifice performance and you don't really have to do very much to a normal car to make it run on E85. So one might doubt the seriousness of Ferrari's green commitment here.
Biofuel and electric cars are fairly old hat on the alternative motoring beat, but there are other ideas. Developers in France, for instance, are partnering with Indian motor colossus Tata to try and get cars powered by compressed air onto the road.
This approach has obvious disadvantages, not least the fact that air inevitably heats up as it is compressed - and thus a lot of energy gets wasted. Indeed, the (hot) Air Car has been around for a long time without <cough> gaining any traction, but designer MDI still reckons it could go at 100mph and cover 125 miles on a single charge.
Like electric or hydrogen vehicles, compressed-air cars would be no more than a way of storing energy from somewhere else. In France, MDI's cars could use compressors powered from the country's mostly nuclear grid, and be truly low-CO2, but in most other countries this would lead to more hydrocarbons being burnt overall. A lot more, actually, as the electric powerplants turn fuel into 'leccy inefficiently, then the grid moves it to the cars inefficiently and finally the cars mostly use it inefficiently. Compared to burning the hydrocarbons on board, anyway.
Orthodox greens don't like nuclear, anyway; nor do they much care for ethanol vehicles, saying biomass power should be used in other ways; nor do they think a big expansion in electricity use is OK.
(There's no pleasing those chaps on this front, really, except perhaps by getting rid of your car.)
Despite all the headlines out of Detroit just now, green motoring even in the sense of low-carbon would seem a long way off. Green motoring in the Greenpeace sense of green may not even exist. ®
Check out this article from the Chevy Volt blog website.
I bet GM and their battery suppliers A123 and LG Chem are going to aggressively try to get this new nanowire battery technology implemented in the new generation of cars.
This scientist from Stanford came up with a HUGE battery breakthrough that will probably change everything. Lithium ion batteries that last 10 times longer! This will make 100% electric cars a practical reality. Electric cars like the Chevy Volt with ultra efficient cellulosic ethanol internal combustion engines OR hydrogen fuel cells ... either one will have INCREDIBLE range. Zero oil products needed except to lubricate the transmission. Even that could be synthetic.
You won't be worried about fueling your car very much at all. You might soon be driving 400+ miles on electricity alone. Add a cellulosic ethanol or hydrogen fuel cell "range extender" to the car and could have unbelievable range. Maybe 800+ miles. Imagine only having to fill up your tank with cellulosic ethanol or hydrogen only once a month. It might happen.
You wouldn't NEED so many hydrogen pumps or ethanol pumps! Think of these "range extenders" as like those Honda generators you use when power lines go down. All they do is charge the battery. They could be made super efficient probably.
In 2010, I want a Chevy Volt with one of these new silicon based lithium-ion NANOWIRE BATTERIES in it! These cars will be great. Most everyone ought to be able to afford one.
If you have plenty of money you can get yourself one of these REALLY awesome cars ... the Tesla roadster. 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. It definitely ain't a golf cart. It will easily keep up with the Corvettes and Ferraris of the world. You can't even buy one this year because they've already pre-sold all of them. Imagine how good these cars will be in 5-10 years with the new battery technology advancements.
@S**** old cars
No, AC, it is not a simple car to work on, it's a Citroen.
My mate Pete...
...and I were discussing this the other week while driving from mid-Wales in the general direction of Londonton (at 61 mpg in my modest-sized diesel estate). I wondered why Toyota hadn't gone the whole hog and fitted the Pious with a diseasel engine instead of a petrol. Pete, who has recently forked out his hard-earned on a Pious, quoted chapter and verse of Toyota's spin, which boiled down to "it wouldn't work properly".
Cynic that I am, I remarked that the /real/ reason was that USAnians don't do diesel.