Green Motors The History of the Electric Car TIME | Electric Cars and Hybrid Vehicle - Green energy

Green Motors The History of the Electric Car TIME

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The History of the Electric Car

Green

By Bryan Walsh Thursday, 11, 2007

2007 Chevrolet Fuel Cell Car.

No one mistake Chris Paine for a Motors shill. In his 2006 Who Killed the Electric Car? . the laid out a damning case GM for unplugging the EV1, the electric it manufactured in the 1990s and then in 2003, preferring instead to high-margin but gas-guzzling trucks and They were a technological and they fumbled that away, Paine says.

Ask him the U.S. carmaker now, and Paine sounds almost Their new hybrids are making a and their plug-in technology is a advance, he says. GM is making really good moves

It’s been some since anyone accused GM of a good move. The company its title as the world’s top-selling to Toyota this year, in because GM underestimated drivers’ for leaner, greener cars a filled spectacularly by Toyota’s GM is still weighed down by costs and other legacy but the Detroit giant is finally serious about hybrids. dismissing them for years as a unworthy of attention, GM will an average of one new hybrid model three months for the next two beginning with the industry’s full-size hybrid SUVs this year.

GM has really stepped up to be the standard for the industry, says Philip director of automotive consulting for the group Global Insight. stole the limelight the first with nice technology and a marketing strategy, but I think GM take the ball back.

In a GM never really lost the it just forgot how to play. For all its struggles in the marketplace, GM has always a leader in pure research and spending $6.6 billion in the in 2006. They’ve dwarfed the of the industry in what they can put it, says Dan Sperling, director of the of Transportation Studies at the University of at Davis. In the late 1980s, GM concept cars like the a sleek solar vehicle can still inspire wistful in green geeks of a certain But too often the good stuff between the lab and the showroom.

There is a myth out there GM is a technological laggard, but that’s not says John DeCicco, fellow for automotive strategies at the group Environmental Defense. just chose not to emphasize kinds of products in their strategy. Nevertheless, GM’s approach stranded its brands in the while its competitors positioned as smarter and greener.

Nowhere was clearer than in GM’s on hybrids, which use combination engines to reduce fuel an average of 45%, according to the Renewable Energy Laboratory. are an interesting curiosity, said Lutz, GM’s vice of product development, in early But do they make sense at a gallon?

No, they do not. Lutz was then, and even with gas closer to $3, midsize hybrids are and may not save most drivers money. But to consumers, the equation was hybrids = environmentalism.

GM just get it. GM took a gamble that weren’t going to be important, Eric Noble, president of Car an auto consulting firm. turned out to be a very bad bet.

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while its image became by Paleolithic SUVs, GM was quietly green investments. The company producing hybrid buses in using the technology to boost economy on those big, vehicles where it would a big, immediate impact. By the logic, GM has put its first real engines not in a midsize sedan the Toyota Prius but in its jumbo the GMC Yukon and the Chevrolet Tahoe. The (2,300 kg) vehicles will run on a new hybrid system developed by GM Chrysler and BMW.

The power train will use two motors one to assist city one for highways giving it up to 40% better rates than conventional for city driving. It’s a of art, says Mickey GM’s director of engineering for vehicles. And with a towing of 6,000 lbs. (2,700 the fuel economy doesn’t at the expense of power.

GM hasn’t won all the skeptics. Sticking a hybrid in a jumbo SUV is putting lipstick on a says Ronald Hwang, policy director for the Natural Defense Council, who argues if GM is green serious, it should up SUVs and build more cars. But other activists the effort. I’m an equal-opportunity and I’ll take carbon where I can get them, says They agree, however, GM passed up a chance to cement its rep by failing to support efforts to the federal corporate average-fuel-economy

Green darling Toyota has opposed the proposed new rules, call for a 35 mpg. (6.7 km) standard by 2020.

The best way for GM to its critics is with a green forward and the company is working every available technology. GM the Chevrolet Volt a plug-in that can run on battery power, or gasoline as a 2007 concept The company will soon out Project Driveway, a consumer of more than 100 hydrogen-fuel-cell which convert hydrogen to and produce no harmful emissions.

No company has such a broad of green technology, says Tom GM’s vice president for power train. I intend to on this.

Chris Paine will be His next film is titled Who the Electric Car? . but there’s one We have to find out if someone is saving it, he says. It might be GM. What better hero a reformed villain?

Bryan

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