Saturday, August 17, 2013


This study examines the current state of the art of alternative automobile propulsion away from the industry standard of gasoline and diesel consuming internal combustion engines (ICE). The areas of study are limited to:
- Electric vehicles (EV), also referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEV)
- Hybrid vehicles (hybrids), vehicles with an internal combustion engines combined with an electric motor and the various types of hybrid vehicles such as mild, series and parallel
- Fuel cell vehicles, that is vehicles that generate energy by some combination of chemicals mainly known for the hydrogen and oxygen combination to produce electricity
- Other nonstandard vehicles, test platforms and fuels designed for current and future consumer vehicle markets
This research project describes the historic context of innovation in vehicle propulsion systems, the reasons for the acceptance of some and the rejection of other innovations as consumer products. The reasons why consumers accept or reject innovations will be used to evaluate the recent history and the current state of innovations and their likely or unlikely entry and hold in the consumer marketplace.
This report shows the origins of automotive propulsion systems, the rise and market dominance of internal combustion engines, a historical look at market factors that have been a catalyst for change, the modern pressures for change affecting the internal combustion engine, the current state of recent technological breakthroughs and the “what-is” for future sustainable change in automobile propulsion systems.
Context of the Problem
The problem with current automobiles in the United States and the world is that the automobile uses an energy resource that is not renewable. That resource, fossil fuels, produce large amounts of pollutants that contribute to problems such as, smog, global warming, various lung diseases, acidic rain, political instability in oil producing nations and many other problems that would take up the length of this report to innumerate.
The resource in the United States is not priced high enough to fully explore and extract large enough amounts from our own soil to meet the demand levels of U.S. consumers; inexpensive oil from other countries makes-up the difference. The production from other countries come with the added disadvantage of monetarily empowering nations that do not have the same values as ours and whose populations and governments often see us as their enemy. In the 1970s the resource was used by some of the producing nations as a weapon to stifle our economy and to lessen our support of Israel. The first Iraq war was seen by many to be a war for the control of the Kuwaiti oil fields. In the new millennium wars are still fought over this resource. At some time in the future this resource will be depleted. If wars are fought over this resource today, when there is relative abundance of the resource, what will a future of shortages hold?
The problem isn’t just the over consumption of oil, but oil itself. As stated above there are a myriad of problems associated with oil and its consumption. The question is if you don’t have oil, what do you have? The answer cannot be stated in a short statement. The reality is that there are many other types of fuels; however, few fuels solve the problems that are associated with oil. The answer to the problem of oil has to be an answer that solves the most pressing problems that come with the consumption of oil. These problems are:
- The production of hydro-carbons and other “greenhouse” gases that contribute to global warming
- The production of other pollutants that contribute to smog and air pollution in general
- The fuels ability to be renewed
- Pollution from support chemicals added to fuels, such as Benzene
- Pollution from chemicals such as grease and anti-freeze added to the engine to keep it functioning
Given the problems of oil as an energy resource it is no wonder that from time to time in our nation’s history there have been and are people looking to wean America off of oil. This endeavor referred to as alternative fuels has lead to some unique technologies that may assist in reducing or eliminating the use of oil in the near future.
Statement of the Problem
The main question that this research project asks is what is the cutting-edge of automotive propulsion systems that significantly reduce the effects or eliminate the effects of pollution in automotive propulsion systems? Who are the major players in the industry? What are they doing to lessen or solve the problems of oil using alternatives? When are they going to come out with these products? In a global economy, competitors can come from anywhere, we need to ask, where will these new products be produced? The main focus of this project is to show the methods that people have used in the past. In other words, how will the players in the industry solve the problems of personal propulsion pollution?
Through the overview of historic information about the acceptance of electric vehicles and alternative fuels and technologies, this study will devise standards of measurement to measure whether or not the new products will actually have some chance of establishing themselves in the marketplace. In order to be more accurate as to whether or not the new technology will find a market in automotive propulsion, this study will state what must happen with the product or the market for such new technology to achieve acceptance. The study will also address whether or not the new technology is likely to achieve the necessary market accessible changes to go on to be a viable product.
The most formidable problem with replacing oil today is its ubiquitous nature within our society. It has become a cheap commodity that is available just about anywhere in the United States and for that matter anywhere in the populated world. Any substitute for oil must compete in the area of being available everywhere and competitive in price.
Will these new technologies or fuels achieve an acceptable price? Will these products be durable? Will there application require some sacrifice in comfort, cabin space, trunk room, speed, agility, or range? Will these factors truly affect demand? Will sacrifices in one area be offset by advantages in others? Will there be enough demand for such products that manufacturers will continue to produce them continuously well into the future? How will these new products or processes affect the economy or ecology?
This study looks at what has been written about companies with leading edge technologies and will look at the advancements they have made to those developments. The study will also be looking at some products made by small entrepreneurial companies even from other industries that have significant adaptability to solve or contribute greatly to the solving of the problems mentioned above. From my reading on the subject I have found that even the experts in the industry and the writers of future trend books often miss significant adaptable technologies found in other industries or manufactured for other purposes.
To summarize the problem, the alternative fuel or propulsion system must not pollute or significantly reduce pollutants, be renewable or tremendously abundant, accessible, distributable or producible everywhere and cheap. In essence the question that summarizes what I have said above is, will the new technologies that reduce oil consumption significantly or avoid the problems associated with oil altogether, have what it takes to enter the marketplace and stay?