Why I Rebooted HECN

I was twiddling along the web one day, wondering whether or not to restart this blog.  It had been on my mind; especially after leaving my previous job.  I had things to do, but really loved the idea of getting back into HECN as a way to follow a passion as well as to use the tools of my profession.

Then I saw a story at FiveThirtyEight.com on how Americans will burn less oil in 25 years.  When HECN was first active, from 2007-2010, the hybrid and electric car market was still young.  Tesla just released the Roadster.  Honda had the hideously ugly Insight, and the Prius had recently taken on it ubiquitous shape.  Al Gore’s son had just been pulled over doing 100 mph in a Prius.  The scandal wasn’t about the ticket, it was about how fast the Prius was going.

Then oil prices shot up, and Detroit almost melted down. Obama had no control over the first, and he saved the other.  In the wake of all of this, the anti-meme (generally propagated by Fox News and their ilk) was how hybrid cars weren’t what they were supposed to be, they cost more energy to make than they saved, and yadda yadda.  But the anti-meme types didn’t have a solution to fill the void.  But they had blather–which they took full advantage of.  You could listen to their noise, drive the cars they wanted you to drive and still get 12 miles a gallon; or you could take advantage of “Cash for Clunkers” and turn in your old Detroit iron for something that was more efficient.  And safer, to boot.

Now, there’s a Brookings Institute paper on how “Cash for Clunkers” was a failure.  Hindsight IS 20/20, after all.  My feeling is that the new cars that got out into the public during “Cash”, helped pique and stabilize interest in buying new cars.  People needed something to entice them back into the showroom; as consumer faith in buying something from Detroit (or any other carmaker) was seriously rocked.   The automotive sector helped lead us out of that shit, and is still doing quite well.  At least the numbers seem to confirm that.

US Auto Sales to 2014. Image courtesy of Auto Alliance.

US Auto Sales to 2014. Image courtesy of Auto Alliance.

But I digress.

The story I saw at 538 is on an Energy Information Administration paper on how the US will burn 6% less fuel by 2040.  Sounds like a small number.  But it’s projected to be just over 2 million less barrels.  Multiply that by today’s $101.00/barrel June 2014 contract price, and you’ve got some big scratch.  I read that and was immediately reminded of the blather-spillers.  All of our efforts at trying to curb energy consumption is showing fruition.

After reading that, I decided to  restart the blog.  The landscape has changed for these vehicles.  Some of the things I spoke of earlier are beginning to ring true.  People are expecting hybrid, electric and diesel cars to perform just like their gasoline counterparts.  And they’re performing like it.  The Porsche 918 Spyder goes fast, super car fast.  Tesla will launch an electric SUV within the next 3 years, now that the sedan is a success.  Europe is awash in diesels, hybrids and electric cars.  It’s only a matter of time before the best of what is over there starts trickling over here.

Over here, we are faced with more cars, gasoline or not, that provide better mileage.  Ford has a new Ecoboost engine for pickups, that increase gas mileage to 15 mpg.  Which is a lot, considering.  And it will get better.

Time marches on…

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Sebastian James

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