Saturday, August 16, 2008


Some of you guys may have heard of the Chevy Volt, the first commercially available plug-in hybrid that will become available in the US in 2010. Translation: Electric car. Sort of like an American Prius, but backwards. (Instead of running primarily on gas and switching to electric, it's primarily electric and switches to gas if it needs to.)

That the major players of the automobile industry are heavily researching this, to me, is great. Plug-ins, at least in theory, get awfully good mileage, to the point where one might not even need gasoline at all, and are essentially zero-emissions unless they switch to gas. Since home electricity costs a fraction of what gasoline costs, it's a win-win for everyone. (Except for the oil industry. But seriously, who cares?)

Considering that, according to this graph on the Dept. of Energy website, the US uses 70% of its petroleum on the transportation industry (which in turn is 96% dominated by petroleum), this is a big step in the right direction. The US is the biggest consumer of petroleum in the world, thirstily drinking a hearty 20mil barrels per day. All day. Every day.

With gas prices skyrocketing as they have in recent years (we almost hit $150 a barrel last month. Oil didn't even hit
$40 a barrel until '04), the US's obvious addiction to foreign oil has become a problem. We import almost 70% of our crude oil from other countries, which puts us at the mercy of the market. As supply falls and global demand rises, prices are only going to get higher, and supply much more limited. And with over half of our imports coming from unstable OPEC nations, the issue is not only economic, but one of national security.

It's good to see things like this, though. Makes you think it might just be possible for us to get off of foreign oil dependency, eventually.

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