Since President Obama decided to act as Car Salesman in Chief, perhaps he’d like to recommend a model for the man who can’t afford to buy gas? Actually, that’s a trick question. As it turns out, no one makes a hybrid van for sale in the US (via Instapundit):
“Putting the political aspects — a foreign-owned wind farm employing 800 people at the same site which used to employ 8,000 with US Steel, the merits of having more than a single designer baby in one’s comfortable middle age, the idea that the President thinks there are a lot of 8mpg vehicles out there — it does make one wonder: Why doesn’t anybody make a hybrid van? Is there any reason that Toyota sells two entirely different Hybrid Synergy Drive systems in their Camry-based SUVs but doesn’t offer one in the Camry-based Sienna? What about Nissan? Hyundai? Could the Escape’s powertrain move a Flex?
“And those are all so-called “mini” vans. Surely the Tahoe Hybrid’s two-mode system could also shove a Chevrolet Express Van down the road to church. Mercedes has been showing a diesel hybrid Sprinter for some time. Why not put hybrid drivetrains in the vehicles where they could do some of the most “good”? In the meantime, families approaching the five-passenger Prius limit may want to consider purchasing the most effective birth control method known to man: a “World Of Warcraft” subscription.”
And it’s worth pointing out that hybrids still have to have gas tanks that get filled. Toyota actually makes a hybrid minivan (which wouldn’t help a family with 10 children) for sale in Japan, which gets 40 MPG, or somewhere around what my old Datsun 210 manual transmission sedan got back in 1981. No one makes a hybrid van of any kind for sale in the US, and no one makes a large-scale “hybrid van” for common consumption in the world at all. (There are hybrid SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander, but they only carry seven people, not 12.) Obama’s “hybrid van” is sheer fantasy, which reflects his energy policy as well.
Hmm… a Bush-eraDOE biofuel initiative is showing some promise, it seems :
Pate’s presentation, “The Promise and Challenges for Algae Biofuels: Overview of Approaches and Issues for Sustainable Production Scale-up,” will cover many of the current issues surrounding algae research and development. Algae is emerging as an attractive resource because it reproduces quickly, uses large quantities of carbon dioxide and can thrive in non-freshwater, including brackish and marine water, thus avoiding competition with traditional agriculture’s freshwater needs. In addition, algae can produce biomass and oils, and is attractive as feedstock for renewable fuels, with potentially greater productivity and significantly less land use requirements than with other commodity crop feedstocks such as corn, soy and canola.
In recent assessments that build on earlier work done under the DOE-funded Aquatic Species Program during the late-1970s through the early 1990s, Pate and others have been taking a new look at the nation’s potential for algae biofuels production capacity development and resource requirements. The U.S. has ample sunlight, lower value land and non-freshwater resources in the lower latitude coastal and inland states, including the Southwest region of New Mexico, Arizona and California, to potentially produce large volumes of biofuel feedstock, if high productivies can be reliably achieved.
With algal oil productivities that could potentially reach annual average levels in the range of 3,000 to 5,000 gallons per acre, the land footprint required for large volumes of renewable fuel production would be minimal when compared with other conventional oil crops, such as soy and canola, that produce between 50 and 120 gallons per acre per year.
“With algae, we’re talking about annual average productivities that could reach several thousand gallons per acre per year — with practical values that analysis has shown might be able to reach more than 6500 gallons per acre — so if you do the math, you can see the reasoning behind this research,” Pate said.
Neat, assuming this isn’t just PR.