I realise I'm very late into this conversation, is anybody still there?
I've been driving a Prius for five years and it frightens me how evangelical folks get about the hybrid issue - both for and against!!
If another male driver sees me get out of my car he'll usually stop to either bless me as an enlightened one who is 'saving the planet' or else mock me by telling me that he gets a million miles per gallon out of his John Deere and it doesn't have any nasty nickel or cadmium in it.
I don't care. I'm an electronic engineer and the technology in the Prius tickled me, so I bought it and what's more, I intend to buy another! However, I'm waiting for the 'plug-in' version as it'll get me to work and back without the ICE starting. The only snag with this is that no ICE means no heater (almost) and as I live in Ireland that means I'll have to 'wrap up warm' most of the year.
I notice that governments are keen to push fuel cell technology even though hydrogen is technically a secondary fuel and the efficiencies gained are compromised by the fuel production processes. I reckon that's because they can still tax the stuff when we buy it at the pumps. It would be really tricky to prove whether or not the electricity in our batteries is 'tax paid' and where I live, a wind turbine can be working hard most days.
5 years ago, the average new car sold in the UK had emissions of 170g CO2 per km which is equivalent to 33 miles per US gallon. The European Union was pushing for a cap of 120g/km on the average of the fleet and the manufacturers bitched like mad and pulled every trick they could to derail this. Yet now you can buy from those same manufacturers conventional ICE cars with emissions below 100g/km (about the same as the first Prius), and a very large part of the fleet now does below 120g/km.
This has been helped by higher oil prices, scrappage schemes, lower road tax and duties for lower emission cars etc.
Some of these new cars have regenerative braking I believe, others just intelligently turn off the engine at lights etc
How far we could have got if the car manufacturers had spent more effort reducing fuel consumption than they did increasing power is hard to guess, but it seems that 50 years worth of improvements have been bottled up until now.
100g/km is around 56 miles per US gallon. The official combined figure for a modern Prius is 60mpg(US).
But ultimately we need to use more public transport and less cars if 7 billion plus of us are going to get around without frying ourselves.
Is there a future for hybrids? Silly question! Of course there is a future for hybrids and that future is NOW! I've worked on diesel-powered, series-hybrid military vehicles for the past 10 years; they work well and outperform every purely, ICE-driven combat vehicle platform(s)tested against (acceleration, braking, traction, stealth & etc.).
The prop shafts and transmission are eliminated because the wheelmotors are mounted in the hubs. There are large battery packs, but Li+ cells are much lighter and power dense than NiMh, NiCd or Pb-Acid. When you eliminate the weight of the prop shafts, larger engine and transmission, the additional weight of the battery pack and e-drive systems clocks in as a wash (several cases were lighter).
Are you sure that the energy equations balance when you add in the extra weight of batteries that have to be carried in a hybrid? Seems counter-intuitive that you set out to make an energy-efficient vehicle by adding a great deal of extra weight.
Wake up people. Cars are obsolete. At this time I purchased 1991 Mercedes 420 Gas. Duel Airbags, nice shape, 1,500. No pmts, 17mpg. Cell phoners, texters, drunk drivers, and druggies will bounce off my car. Granted, I pay for prem gas, but no pmts, no full coverage.
Utiliize public transp, car just for pleasure.
When public transp improves, allows for bicycle storage, cars will vanish. P.S. Car 20 yrs old, insured as a classic. 120. yrly ins.