A quick twenty five year glance back at the automobile industry reminds us of the most recent recent low gas mileage, SUV and light truck transport trends.
The smaller green transportation niche developed during that same time period also trended up and down, depending partially on oil prices.
Biodiesel in the Pacific Northwest
California Zero-emissions Vehicles
Prius Battery Information
Prius versus Volt
Recharging Electric Vehicles
Reliability of Biodiesel Fuel
Twenty five years of engineering and design thought invested in solar car technology introduced the world to vehicles in need of no fuel except sunlight and battery power, with the capacity to race down highways at speeds exceeding one hundred miles per hour.
The number of hybrid car manufacturers continues to increase, as more companies incorporate a hybrid model into their line up.
Transportation innovation extends beyond the automobile industry. Thanks in large part to the debates between the National Park noise enthusiasts and the peace and quiet enthusiasts, ten years worth of research have produced break though developments in the engines that drive snow enthusiasts throughout the season.
Battery powered electric engine range continues to expand, with newer models reaching twenty miles on a single charge.
Flexible fuel consumer snowmobiles already being tested at Yellowstone National Park, compliment the larger specialty vehicles, one of which completed its successful debut racing to the South Pole in the fastest recorded time to date.
Greener commercial snowmobiles also come with quieter engines. According to the International Snowmobiler Manufacturers Association, "Sound levels for snowmobiles have been reduced 94% since inception."
Snowmobile engine conversions or swaps continue to be a popular forum topic, suggesting the newest green technologies could easily be integrated into older snowmobile bodies.
Examples like these, along with others, reaffirm the dynamic nature of the modern transportation industry.
At the same time, they also remind us of the industry's almost snail's pace transition from the low gas mileage SUV and light truck era to a higher gas mileage, climate friendly transpiration era.
After twenty five years, solar cars still only run on race circuits rather than suburban roads. Hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid electric cars and electric cars account for perhaps five percent of the cars on the road. Industry experts expect little other than incremental gains for the technology over the next decade.
The costs and benefits of the industry's slow transition to green transportation remain the subject of debate for both industry specialists and environmentalists, using statistics of one form or another to support their respective points of view.
Two such sets of statistics enliven many green transportation discussions.
One set deals with the aggregate miles per gallons achieved by the automotive industry year to year with their entire line of vehicles.
Newer readers of the list of most efficient cars might be surprised to learn that the top six spots on the list, once held by hybrid cars, now are held by six electric cars on or about to reach local dealerships.
Familiar names such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Ford Focus EV and Nissan Leaf lead the list with efficiency ratings in the 100 mpg range.
The Chevrolet Volt and three Prius models round out the top ten most efficient cars list.
Another set of statistics addresses a vehicle's carbon footprint, measured as the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per mile driven. Electric and hybrid cars also lead that list.
High gas mileage accounts for the greater part of the low carbon footprint scores for hybrids. The fact that hybrids move to electric power at idle, which produces zero emissions, also helps with their low carbon footprint scores.
Progress in bringing green transportation fuels to the market also moved slowly over the past twenty five years, with ethanol production setting the standard for the US market.
Research and development of alternative fuels such as cellulosic ethanol and algal based biofuels move forward with small pilot projects.
The Biomass Energy Data Book contains roughly forty sets of biofuel statistics in categories such as biofuels, biopower, biorefineries and feedstocks, the book provides one stop shopping for accurate figures, that are easily accessible with a few clicks of the mouse.
© 2011-2012. Patricia A. Michaels