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Saturday, June 11, 2005

'GO' (Gas Optional) Cars OK to GO

• America's oil consumption has increased 25% since 1980—we're now chug-a-lugging 20 million barrels of oil every single day (up from 16 million in 1980).

• Global consumption is above 83 million barrels daily and rising rapidly.

• U.S. gasoline prices are approaching $3 a gallon.

• To keep the crude flowing, the U.S. is deploying its military all around the world at a staggering cost in money and lives.

• The chemical refuse of our gasoline addiction is fogging the globe with greenhouse gases that are altering our planet's climate,

The world's supply of recoverable oil is fast running out. An energy policy (or the lack of one) that leaves us with no alternative but swilling more oil is suicidally stupid. But where's the leadership? Neither the White House nor the Congress, neither the Republican nor the Democratic party, has a plan for coping with what is clearly a looming disaster. They're not even discussing it.

Cut the leash

If our leaders are too corrupted, too weak, and too unimaginative to cut America (and ultimately the world) free of our tether to Big Oil, then we must do it ourselves. A good place to begin is for us to start buying cars, trucks, and other vehicles that get 500 miles per gallon.

We're talking about using two affordable, available technologies that are already achieving amazing fuel economy on America's roads and cutting pollutants to little or zero.

Combined, the two technologies create "plug-in, flexible-fuel hybrid vehicles," for which a more manageable moniker would be "gasolineoptional," or GO cars. As you know, hybrids are already out there. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic use electric batteries to supplement their gasoline motors. The battery-powered motor provides acceleration, and the gasoline engine kicks in at cruise speed, combining to give happy owners an average of about 50 miles per gallon of gasoline (60 in the city). Electric motors are more efficient, and these hybrids use other new technologies to improve gas mileage. For example, when you hit the brakes on conventional cars, all the forward motion energy is lost—turned into heat between brake pads and brake drums— while hybrids capture that energy to recharge their batteries. Three years ago, these hybrids were mere curiosities, but sales have taken off, with demand jumping by 88% a year. Toyota plans to offer a hybrid version of all of its models by 2012, and every American, Japanese, and German automaker will introduce at least one hybrid model within the next two years..

Roger Duncan at Austin Energy is traveling the country promoting the idea that the time is ripe for a convergence of municipally owned electrical operations with the transportation sector. The fit becomes natural through the increased use of gas-optional vehicles (GOVs).

Preferring the term "gas-optional" vehicles rather than Plug-In Hybrid Cars, Austin Energy has adopted a strategy to diversify and grow its electric utility operations and hopes to convince cities nationwide to follow their lead.


Information: For solid data and analysis, Austin Energy is a reliable source. A recent 25-page report called Transportation Convergence is available from AE, which includes the 'Gas Optional' incentive program adopted by the Austin City Council. AE can also provide copies of the 'Set America Free' proposal for U.S. energy security, issued by various neocon organizations.
Contact: Jeff Vice at or call 512-322-6087.
Legislation: Get your own city council to adopt the Austin 'Gas Optional' incentive program. Copies available from Austin Energy at or 512-322-6087.
Agitation: Get involved with the California Cars Initiative.
Source: Jim Hightower - A city in Texas starts smart-energy driving
'GO' Cars: New Energy® News

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