We discuss and read a lot about new technologies and fuels for transportation, but some of these are years off for being a widespread alternative to using petroleum based fuels. What I want to throw out here are some ideas of what we could do in the short term that could make a significant impact on our consumption, and consequently, our emissions.
First on the list is always conservation and changing driving habits, changing public behavior (at least in the U.S.) is difficult. So while some of us will drive less, move closer or carpool, the majority of people will still take the Tahoe into work during rush hour.
What I think has the potential to make a difference in the near term is standardizing hybrid powertrain components on all cars. Instead of making the hybrid powertrain a trim level option, the components should be included in every model. All cars could come with regenerative breaking and idle-off capabilities, among other things.
Much like what has been done with power steering, A/C, ABS and many other features that are now commonplace in cars, the same could be done for hybrid technology.
By making hybrid technology standard, prices for components would come down and overall fuel economy would improve. Even more importantly, emissions would be reduced. In the end, everyone wins. It’s senseless to have hundreds of millions of cars on the roads idling at stop lights or in drive-thrus.
Hybrids are one the of the better short term solutions for reducing consumption and emissions, so it would make sense to expand the technology. By not limiting hybrid technology to a select few models, the benefits would increase. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see more of these features become standard, and I hope that its sooner than later.