9/24/2004

Technology and Cars

The new Toyota Prius, or similar cars, may be the key for americans in the future! Why? These cars include an electric-gas hybrid engine. It uses an electric motor at low speeds and a small engine at high speeds allowing the car to get up to 60 miles per gallon. Theses are very fuel-efficient cars.

Since the release of this gas miser in North America in the year 2000 sales have been slow due to initial high prices. The savings on gas will still not cover the cost of the more expensive car, but in the near future it will. According to the article gas prices would have to increase to about $3.00 per gallon for people to start buying these types of cars right now.

Toyota is focusing so much on technology right now. It is the new technology that is keeping them in the game and helping them grow as much as they are right now. As prices begin to decrease little by little we will see a lot more of these hybrid engine cars on the roads .

7 comments:

Bruce Banner said...

I do not think that hybrids will be the key for future cars. Americans still love big, fast, and powerfull engines. The bigger the better. Yes, there will be people who will buy hybrids but right now I do not think it will replace gas engines unless auto manufactures can create a hybrid that can perform as a gas engine.

Rufio said...

I think that Toyota has a really great idea going right now with these hybrid engines. I also know that Volkswagen has a turbo-diesel engine that gets 50 miles per gallon. The Volkswagen engines as well as the Toyota engines seem to perform just as well as any other 4 cylinder on the road today, but they have excellent gas mileage.

These new fuel efficent vehicles are going to play a big role in the future. In order for other car companies to stay in the business they too will need to develop fuel efficent engines.

Lisa said...

Toyota may have this new engine that could save on money in the future but there are also ideas coming out with making diesel gas on your own. This way you buy a diesel car or truck and can make your own gas for a lot less than anywhere. If you buy a diesel vehicle anyway your vehicle will be more efficient anyway and will save you money in the long run.

Dr. Tufte said...

I think the Prius is more of a marketing gimic, and the reason that more people don't see this has to do with implicit versus explicit costs.

The energy to move any object depends on a bunch of factors - primarily distance and weight. Impovements can be made to cars to increase their efficiency, but they are secondary factors that would be swamped by drivers covering less distance in a lighter car.

So ... think about the Prius. The hybrid part is electical. Where does that electical power come from? From a big power plant in a remote location. It just isn't being generated by the car as it goes down the road.

Thus, the big benefit of a Prius is that the explicit costs of transportation (like tailpipe emissions) have been partially exchanged for implicit costs (smokestack emissions in some remote location). This is kind of like saying your body pollutes less because you use bathrooms that are further away than other people do - when you put it that way, it sounds like nonsense. A great deal of the advertising for the Prius is no deeper.

And ... don't forget ... the Prius is small and made out of lightweight materials. This is because the engineers understand the points I've made above.

Maudi said...

I think that this car is a great idea, and I think that someone should try to make an exact replica for a cheaper price and sell it cheaper. That would really give the company that started this car a run for its money. I also think that with gas prices going up at the rate that they are, a lot of people are going to start walking to their desired destinations, or finding other modes of transportation such as buses, trams, roller skates or bikes. There is always another way to get to where you want or need to go.

Jordan said...

Dr. Tufte said:

"Thus, the big benefit of a Prius is that the explicit costs of transportation (like tailpipe emissions) have been partially exchanged for implicit costs (smokestack emissions in some remote location)."

I never thought about hybrid cars this way. It makes sense, though, that the pollution will still have to occur. But I still think that hybrid cars are a step in the right direction. After all, it's not just about stopping pollution. It's also about finding alternative ways to power cars as oil prices continue to rise.

Dr. Tufte said...

A Prius doesn't actually do anything to change how the energy is produced though. Prices do that, with or without Priuses.