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The Energy Crisis in the Automotive Industry: Reinventing the Wheel for a New Age By: Nicholas Lombardi Overview: How do we approach the problem? The energy crisis, due to and within the automotive industry, will be one of the most significant issues faced globally Evidence in current actions

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The energy crisis in the automotive industry l.jpg

The Energy Crisis in the Automotive Industry:

Reinventing the Wheel for a New Age

By: Nicholas Lombardi


Overview how do we approach the problem l.jpg

Overview: How do we approach the problem?

  • The energy crisis, due to and within the automotive industry, will be one of the most significant issues faced globally

  • Evidence in current actions

  • What is the problem?

  • What can be done?

  • What challenges must be faced?


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What is the problem?

  • Hubbert’s Peak: Possible rate of extraction of oil will rise, peak, and fall.

  • Drop-off occurs when rate of discovery slows down.

  • Crisis occurs at Hubbert’s Peak

    • Rate of oil use is expanding as production slows


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What does this mean?

  • Time oil has been used in sizeable quantities: 200 years

  • Estimated amount left in earth: two trillion barrels (as of 2004) – just over half of original supply.

  • However, vast majority of oil used was extracted in last 50 years.

    • Oil production today 5x rate in 1960


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Energy & the auto industry

  • Theoretical peak will likely occur between 2009 and 2020.

  • Transportation accounts for over 50% of oil consumption

  • Average American drives 13 miles per day

    • 85% of transportation consists of personal cars and trucks

  • Transportation is single most important factor in energy crisis


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Changes & Reactions

  • Increased sales of hybrid vehicles

    • Honda Insight & Toyota Prius

  • Decreased sales of SUVs

    • Poor fuel mileage, too large

    • Supplanted by “crossovers”

  • United States lagging behind in new technologies, phasing-out of SUV


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What can be done?Current Changes

  • Most immediate solution: increase efficiency of existing vehicles & technologies

    • Variable displacement

  • Legislation forcing all automakers to achieve corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) 35 mpg

    • 40 mpg in Europe, 45 mpg in China


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New Technologies

  • Hybrid vehicles: Currently in production, technology advancing

    • Electric motor/gas engine

    • Insight & Prius have given way to hybrid versions of other vehicles

      • Ford Escape, Chevrolet Tahoe

    • Chevy Volt: 100 mpg, higher emphasis on electric

  • Electric -Tesla: full electric sports car, 200 mile range

    • Break stereotype of electrics as slow, boring

  • Problems: space needed to house batteries

    • Charge times of electrics can be long (but dropping)


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    New Technologies

    • Hydrogen/Fuel Cells: Becoming more viable, but still years away from mass use

    • Zero Emissions (only water vapor and heat)

      • Advantage two-fold: No petroleum used, no carbon dioxide

    • More efficient: 64% energy created converted into mechanical energy

      • Vs 20% for internal combustion engines


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    New Technologies

    • Fuel Cells: Makes electricity from hydrogen (vs electric car, which stores electricity)

    • Travel farther, refuel faster than electric car

    • Problems: 170,000 gas stations refueling 240 million vehicles

      • Transition to hydrogen infrastructure: $600 billion


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    New Technologies

    • Problems: Chicken-and-egg dilemma

      • People won’t buy fuel cell vehicles that can’t be refueled conveniently, but industry won’t build stations until vehicles are on the road

    • Production Issues: High carbon emissions and natural gas needed to make hydrogen

      • Negates positives

      • However, alternative methods being developed

    • Safety issues: Hydrogen must be stored at low temperatures and high pressure

      • Safe means of transport and refueling must be found


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    What challenges must be faced?

    • Automakers hesitant to embrace new technology

      • Stability of current technologies easier than risking $$$ on new, untested ones

      • U.S. companies face losses to meet legislation, must accelerate programs

    • Vs Toyota: took risk, built trust in hybrids, leads market


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    What challenges must be faced?

    • Two types of approaches to R&D taken

    • Proactive: automakers that take risks, put themselves at forefront of development

      • GM: Volt, “Fuel Cell Concept”

      • BMW: 1st functional/practical hydrogen car, continues to develop (Honda now has one)

    • While there is a profit to be made, potential losses indicate an ecological mindset


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    What challenges must be faced?

    • Other automakers adapt technology to keep up

      • Motivated to maintain position in industry, less about alleviating energy crisis

      • Ford hybrids: versions of conventional cars

    • If all automakers were proactive, technological development would accelerate


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    What challenges must be faced?

    • Automakers’ actions determined by consumer trends

      • In U.S., SUV has lingered despite demands for higher fuel efficiency cars

      • Size and practicality difficult to move away from (ex – SMART car)

    • People must BUY vehicles made


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    To recap…

    • The energy crisis, due to and within the automotive industry, will be one of the most significant issues faced globally

    • Fossil fuels approaching Hubbert’s Peak,

      • By 2020 at latest

      • Future depends on auto industry

    • New technologies exist, must be developed & committed to

    • Challenges will arise, companies and consumers must take risk


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    Works Cited

    • Broder, Josh M. "Lawmakers Set Deal on Raising Fuel Efficiency ." The New York Times [New York] 1 December, 2007: . http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/01/washington/01energy.html.

    • Busby, Rebecca L. Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. Tulsa, Oklahoma. PenWell Corporation. 2005.

    • Deffeyes, Kenneth S. Hubbert’s Peak. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 2001.

    • Goodstein, David. Out of Gas. New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004.

    • Maxton, Graeme P. and John Wormwald. Time For a Model Change. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. 2004.

    • Nice, Karim and Jonathan Strickland (2005). How Fuel Cells Work. 11 Nov 2008. Online. World Wide Web. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-cell3.htm.

    • Nivola, Pietro S. and Robert W. Crandall. The Extra Mile. Washington, D.C. The Brookings Institution. 1995.


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