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Ideas Project from Jumpstart Ford launches with CalCars profile

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  • Felix Kramer
    Jumpstart Ford -- a partnership between Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network, and Ruckus Society -- has launched a new Ideas Project, soliciting from
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2006
      Jumpstart Ford -- a partnership between Global
      Exchange, Rainforest Action Network, and Ruckus
      Society -- has launched a new "Ideas Project,"
      soliciting from the public: "ideas for an oil
      independent future – do you have a backyard
      bio-diesel project, a new strategy for critiquing
      car culture, or an oil issue that needs some attention?"
      They say "It's time for Ford to lead the way to
      oil independence. Ideas Project: Powered by You."

      They plan each month to feature a new idea.
      They've launched the project with a profile of CalCars:

      Don't we all wish we could get at least 100 mpg from our cars?
      Well, wish no longer. Cal Cars has made it
      happen with the Plug-In hybrid (PHEV)
      In their own words:

      We've taken the well-designed and highly-popular
      Toyota Prius and souped it up -- or more
      accurately, "green-tuned" it! We've added
      batteries and grid-charging, and you get PRIUS+,
      a "plug-in" hybrid (PHEV). We've taken hybrids
      the next step, adding a second fuel
      source--electricity--that, compared to gasoline,
      is cheaper, cleaner, and domestic. That means no
      gas when you do your errands on local streets at
      35mph. On the highway, it runs just like any
      other Prius, with the gasoline engine doing most
      of the work -- and the extra batteries kicking in
      to improve performance at ALL speeds.

      Unfortunately, the automakers don't believe
      there's a market for these cars, so they won't
      build them...YET! It's our job to convince Ford to build PHEVs.
      For more info, check out the Cal Cars website.

      (They've also created a page showing alternatives
      and concluding that their ideal car is a plug-in
      hybrid with cellulosic ethanol as the
      range-extender fuel -- see original URL for many links)


      * Walk, Ride Your Bike and Take the Bus

      Bicycles are the best zero-emission vehicles, and
      the easiest way to break your oil addiction is by
      walking or riding your bike. Public
      transportation, even diesel buses, are much much
      more efficient than single-driver cars. Not
      everyone has access to public transportation, and
      many people work too far from home to walk or
      ride their bikes. But those of us who can walk,
      ride our bikes, and take the bus or train are
      helping America declare independence from oil!

      * More efficient internal combustion engines
      The technology exists today that could
      dramatically improve the fuel efficiency and
      greenhouse gas emissions of Ford’s vehicles.
      Essentially, a vehicle that is powered by an
      internal combustion engine is not a very
      efficient machine. Improvements in engines,
      transmissions, and vehicle design exist, but they
      are mostly sitting on shelves instead of making
      Ford’s engines more efficient. According to the
      Union of Concerned Scientists, if Ford used
      today’s technology to clean up its internal
      combustion engine, its cars would get an average
      of 40 miles per gallon, and if Ford used the most
      efficient hybrid-electric technology in its
      vehicles, they could average 55 mpg, a big
      improvement over Ford’s current average of 19.1 mpg.
      Learn more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
      And read about how clean vehicle technologies can
      save jobs, according to a study by Natural
      Resources Defense Council and the Office for the
      Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) at the University of Michigan.

      * Hybrids
      Hybrid electric vehicles are a good step towards
      a more fuel-efficient fleet of vehicles. Hybrids
      use an electric motor and large battery to
      capture and store energy that is normally lost in
      inefficient gasoline engine. In the most
      efficient hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and the
      Honda Civic, the energy is used to help run the
      vehicle and can dramatically improve fuel
      efficiency. However, not all hybrids are designed
      to maximize efficiency; the Honda Accord and
      Toyota Highlander use the battery electric motor
      to boost the power of the engine and are hardly
      more efficient than their non-hybrid counterparts.
      Hybrids should play an essential role in reducing
      our oil dependence, Ford’s two hybrid SUV models
      are certainly improvements over standard SUVs.
      However, for hybrids to make a dent in Ford’s oil
      addiction, the company will have build a lot more
      than 22,000 in each model year. Ford’s challenge
      will be to move hybrids out of a niche market,
      and into the mass market. If Ford can offer a few
      of its customers this efficient technology, they
      should be putting hybrid engines in all of their vehicles.

      * Plug-in Hybrids
      Although hybrids are efficient, they still use
      oil; they are simply more efficient gasoline
      cars. A better solution would be Plug-in Hybrid
      Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). The idea is to
      enlarge the battery pack in a normal hybrid so
      that it can hold more energy, and add a plug, so
      that the car can get the energy from the grid or
      from rooftop solar power. With a plug-in hybrid,
      which uses a battery-powered electric motor for
      the first 30 to 50 miles, most American commuters
      would rarely if ever need to fill up or even top
      off with gasoline unless making a long
      trip. Engineers estimate that with a plug-in
      hybrid electric car, an American driver could
      save a whopping 85% of their gas consumption!

      * Electric Vehicles
      Ford once mass-produced two full-sized vehicles
      that were completely independent from oil: the
      Th!nk City EV and the Ranger EV pickup truck.
      Ignoring demand, Ford eliminated the program and
      destroyed all but a few hundred of its only
      zero-emission vehicles. Click here for more info.
      EVs are occasionally available today through Ebay
      and other, mostly online sources, and custom EVs are being made.
      The greatest advantage to the EV is that it has
      no gas tank, the only power for the car is its
      electric motor and a very large battery pack,
      which is plugged in to recharge. Ford’s EVs had a
      range of 80-100 miles; advances in battery
      development give the latest EVs up to a 300 mile
      range. The drawbacks of EVs today is that they
      have become extremely rare; with no major auto
      manufacturer currently producing EVs in the U.S.,
      Americans no longer have easy access to petroleum-free, pollution-free cars.

      * Biodiesel
      An ordinary diesel engine, like those in a
      Volkswagen or a Jeep Liberty, is already equipped
      to run on biodiesel, a renewable and
      biodegradable version of diesel fuel, but made
      from biomass such as vegetable oils, animal fats, or algae.
      Biodiesel is plant-based, and plants sequester
      greenhouse gases which offsets the emissions
      produced by biodiesel. Also, biodiesel produces
      less air pollution than regular diesel and would
      reduce our dependence on petroleum.
      There are also drawbacks to biodiesel, for
      example, the energy it takes to grow plant crops
      for any biofuels raises concerns about the
      sustainability of biofuels. It is also uncertain
      whether agricultural land currently devoted to
      food crops should be diverted for transportation
      production, a situation that may be resolved with
      developments in cellulosic ethanol.

      * Vegetable Oil
      Run your car on French fry oil!?! Used or new
      vegetable oil is for more than just cooking; it’s
      also a biofuel that is gaining nationwide
      grassroots support. Veggie oil is plant-based,
      and plants sequester greenhouse gases which
      offsets the emissions produced by the oil.
      Diesel engines running on veggie oil produce less
      air pollution than regular diesel and would
      reduce our dependence on petroleum. Used fryer
      oil is a waste product and operating your vehicle
      on filtered fryer oil removes this product from
      the waste stream. And it’s usually free of
      charge, since restaurants are often happy to get
      rid of it. The drawback is volume—used veggie oil
      is free and plentiful right now, but it is in
      fact a limited resource. As the current
      grassroots demand grows and shifts toward
      mainstream usage, we could soon experience Peak Veggie Oil.
      Diesel engines can run on vegetable oil with a
      modification kit, which retails for $600-$1000.

      * Ethanol
      Ethanol is a biofuel that can be used in standard
      (non-diesel) cars that are factory modified.
      Since 1999 an increasing number of vehicles are
      designed to be dual-fuel or flex-fuel vehicles,
      so they can automatically run on either ethanol,
      gasoline, or a high blend (85%) of ethanol called
      E85. Gasoline also may have up to a 10% blend of
      ethanol, known as E10 as an additive to reduce
      pollution. Ethanol-blended gas is already for
      sale in California and many regions of the
      country at an ordinary gas station. A plug-in
      hybrid car that uses E85 instead of gasoline
      would effectively get 500+ MPG of gasoline, plus electricity, plus ethanol.
      Ethanol produced from sugar cane is being used as
      automotive fuel in Brazil. Most ethanol in the
      U.S. is produced from corn, but ethanol also
      could be derived from wheat, potato wastes,
      cheese whey, rice straw, sawdust, urban wastes,
      paper mill wastes, yard clippings, molasses,
      castor beans, seaweed, surplus food crops, and
      other plant wastes. Since ethanol is plant-based,
      the plants sequester greenhouse gases, which in
      turn offset the emissions produced by the
      ethanol. Ethanol also produces less air pollution
      than regular gasoline. Ethanol could reduce our
      dependence on petroleum, so long as it doesn't
      take more fuel to grow crops than is produced.
      The drawback of ethanol is in the amount of land
      use and energy inputs required for production.
      Many experts have expressed concerns that
      switching from food crops to transportation crops
      may not make our transportation more sustainable.
      Other critics point to the very high energy
      required to grow crops like corn, including
      gasoline in tractors and transportation of the
      grain as well as the various chemicals sprayed on
      the crops. To learn more, go to:

      * Cellulosic Ethanol
      Cellulosic ethanol is the same as normal ethanol
      except it is not derived from crops. Instead it
      is made from grasses and agricultural waste. In
      other words, rather than using the kernel of
      corn, cellulosic ethanol uses corn stalks, which
      would otherwise be wasted. Cellulosic ethanol
      offers a promising alternative because it’s as
      clean and carbon-neutral as regular ethanol, but
      it doesn't have the drawbacks of regular ethanol.
      However, because cellulosic ethanol is in the
      development phase, it is not currently available.
      Learn more about cellulosic ethanol

      * Hydrogen Fuel Cells
      The fact is that hydrogen fuel cells are still
      science fiction. Fuel cells won't be marketable
      for 20 years, not to mention the fact that we do
      not have an affordable, climate-neutral means of
      producing hydrogen. In order to generate the
      amount of electricity needed to get hydrogen from
      water, we would produce an enormous
      polluting. In other words, we would use enormous
      amounts of dirty energy in order to create a
      nonpolluting energy source. Without a dramatic
      shift in electricity generation in the U.S.,
      hydrogen fuel cells will be like lead us from the
      frying pan into the fire. In fact, electric
      vehicles, available and on the road today, are a
      sustainable short-cut. They also require a clean
      energy revolution, but they don't require us to
      wait 20 years before we can get started.
      Learn more about hydrogen fuel cells

      * The Ideal Clean Green Car
      We don't know which of these technologies will
      enable us to completely end our oil addiction –
      likely it will be a combination. What we do know
      is that we can’t wait. Our planet is in a crisis,
      people are being killed and we need to take a
      dramatic step in ending our oil addiction. While
      we continue to develop new, healthier
      technologies we can and have the ability to act today.

      We recommend:
      1) A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle with at
      least a 40 mile range in its battery
      2) Recharged with electricity powered by residential rooftop solar
      3) And for longer trips, with cellulosic ethanol
      or waste biodiesel fuel in the tank.

      What are we waiting for?
      Join the movement!

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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