Essay on Cars: Fossil Fuel Vs Hybrid Cars

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With all the controversy of global warming and how it is affecting our planet. A lot of people look towards the problem of burning fossil fuels and the large amount of it that gets burned for transportation. Along with the price of gasoline increasing especially in 2008 and again in 2012 scientists and engineers have been working towards creating a more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle. Alternative Fuel cars are a great way to save money while also helping the environment. With “87% of the driving population” (U.S. Department of Transportation) having a license the chances of you being put in the choice of what vehicle you will drive is very likely. Also, when looking at saving money and the environment who would be against that? But alternative fuel cars also lack a lot and are very different in many ways when compared to a conventional cars. In this paper, you will be learning about the fossil fuel pollution problem and how alternative cars and alternate transportation might be able to change the amount of co2 pollution.

There are many ways to define an alternative fueled car or ecofriendly car. They could be a vehicle that is run by electricity with a battery or it could use a different type of fuel such as ethanol, propane, or natural gas. All these types of fuels or energy sources were created to stray away from petroleum consumption and its harsh environmental footprint. Alternative-fueled vehicles and vehicles made to run on fuels other than hurtful petroleum to help the environment have been around since the early 1990s (Hoyer). There was a lot of work and study put into these cars to make them perform. Most of the original models were quite different than the average car. As the years continued and more car designs were created the cars started looking and performing like the average plutonium car. There are other ways than just changing the car such as moving to mass transit or just encouraging biking and walking.

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Fossil Fuels are the remains of decayed plants and animals that are millions of years old. These fuels are found deep beneath our earth and are pumped to the surface to be made into oil, coal, and natural gas. In America, fossil fuels are the leading source of energy in both transportation and electricity. Fossil fuels are easy to make into an energy source but can make some harmful emissions and they are non-renewable. Ecofriendly cars can be a good thing. They can help protect the environment while also using less fuel. Also with all the new designs, There will be designs that fit everyone’s needs. But, the eco designs won't be the same as the gas models. They won't perform the same and they will cost more. The money that you save from the alternate fuel type might not be as high as the amount that you end up paying to buy the hybrid model of a car. Also, to make hybrid cars run and drive as efficiently as possible they tend to be smaller vehicles that don't perform as well or maybe even can't perform at all at high speeds such as on the highway. With smaller cars, a lot of people question the safety of the vehicle and if they will be able to protect someone when in a crash. One car by itself won’t harm the environment at all. 253 million of them here in the us (Hirsch) work together to harm the environment. If we could get that number cut down that would also greatly help with limiting co2 pollution.

When you think of fossil fuels you will mostly think of them as a bad thing, but they still do have some advantages. Therefore, fossil fuels are so highly used for energy and transportation all over the world. To start fossil fuels are cheap, as in they are easy to collect. This brings us to our next point; they are stable and safe to transport. They can be transported either by truck or through pipes, which are inexpensive forms of transportation. Another part of this is that fossil fuel plants are not very complex and can be built wherever there are fossil fuels present. Fossil fuels also have a high amount of energy or heat for their weight. Gasoline produces around 112,000 btu/gal and ethanol produces around 76,000 btu/gal (U.S. Department of Transportation). Fossil fuels have been used as fuels since 1,000 B.C. and used in cars since the late 17th century. Because of this, it makes it hard for auto manufacturers to move away from the use of fossil fuels. But now that we have advanced and created ways to burn alternative fuels we have found that it is more eco-friendly to burn alternative fuels such as propane and ethanol. (Kukreja) Also with electric cars, it is cheaper to use 33.7 kWh, which is the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline (U.S. Department of Transportation). This is just one of the reasons why people are trying to push to move away from the use of fossil fuels. Some other reason why fossil fuels aren’t the best resource to use is that they aren’t renewable, they are hazardous to the environment, and their price fluctuates often. With the number of fossil fuels being used it is estimated that we will “run out in the next 50 years” (Kukreja). Fossil fuels also can be harmful to the environment because when they are burned they produce a lot of carbon dioxide, which is one of the main reasons for global warming since there is such a large amount burned all over the world. Another effect is that leaks from fossil fuels reserves and pumps can be toxic to the environment as seen in the BP Gulf oil spill in 2010. Fossil fuels are also so widely used that even in America we have imported from other countries. This makes us rely heavily on how much other countries can produce making the price fluctuate and unstable.

With all the concern about how polluting the environment, the car industry has been working towards creating more fuel-efficient vehicles. In 1993 the 'Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles', also known as PNGV, was released by President Clinton and his executives. This program worked towards creating more fuel-efficient and cleaner cars for America's future (Hoyer). Since then there has been a lot of testing and there have been many alternative fuels created such as biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, propane, and even more. By far electric cars are the best for the environment because they have no direct pollutants to the environment. After electric cars come hybrid cars because they run most of the time off their electric engine until they need the extra horsepower and then they will turn on their other engine. Also, if their other engine runs an alternative fuel they could also be lowering emissions in that aspect. Another big reason alternative-fueled vehicles can be a good thing is that they can be cheaper than the average combustion vehicle. The auto industry is trying to make the vehicles use less fuel to limit emissions, but at the same time that allows for more mpg for the driver which can save a lot of money over time. Another way alternative-fueled cars can be cheaper is with their cost of fuel. 'In 2015, 24 percent of petroleum products were imported,' (U.S. Department of Energy) With this much of our petroleum products being imported it causes the cost to go up. When alternative fuels are introduced there are a lot of them and that creates a more diverse market and competition to keep prices lower. Not only will you be saving money on fuel costs, but federal and state governments also give out incentives to people who own electric-powered vehicles. (Shea) Also, electric engines have a lot fewer moving components in them which makes them last longer and require less maintenance over their life compared to the average conventual engine. This is another way electric engines can be more affordable than conventional engines.

Now you might be wondering why everyone doesn’t own an alternatively fueled car. There are still many problems that come along with these 'efficient' cars. One big flaw in alternative-fueled vehicles is they are usually thousands of dollars more than a conventional car of the same style. This is because most of them are still very new and use advanced technology. Along with this is the fact that it currently costs a lot to mine or collects these fuels to make them useable for cars. Another problem is that they are not really all that green. For example, an electric car has no direct emissions to the environment, but when the battery goes bad and needs to be disposed of it becomes a huge harm to the environment as it decomposes (U.S. Department of Energy). Most people don’t like how alternate-fueled cars perform. 'given a choice between fuel economy and horsepower, many people will choose more horsepower' (Anderson & Anderson, Electric and Hybrid Cars). To start off most alternate-fueled cars are given the smallest possible engines and bodies to make sure of the highest fuel efficiency. This can lead to a lack of horsepower and cabin space that turns people away. Along with the small engines brings the distance problem. Some alternate-fueled vehicles don’t have the power to run on the highway and even if they can run on the highway they usually can’t for long because of the draw that is required from the battery when at higher speeds. Also, most alternative-fueled cars have a lot of hassles such as having to plug in the car or to have to find the specific fuel your car needs (Consumer Reports).

While some are trying to fix the problems with cars and their pollution issues other groups are trying to find totally different solutions other than cars. One big solution that would decrease the number of cars being driven would be mass transportation. Many other countries have public transportation that is widely used by their population. Russia has over 50,000 miles of railways, one of the largest train systems in the world. Around half of these are passenger trains. According to the Russian Railways Corporation they had around 1.3 billion passengers in the year 2007. Compared to Russia’s population which is about seven times higher. Compared to the U.S., which has a way larger rail system of 140,000 miles of rail, there was only 5 percent of the population used public transportation every day or most days, and that is including other forms of transportation besides rail (Faris). Russia isn’t the only country that has such a popularly used rail transportation. Cities like Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore all have amazing rail systems that transport millions of people per day. Most of the main rail transportation systems are in larger cities, but there are also cities that use high-speed trains to connect cities to each other. That is one thing that isn’t found in the U.S. that could greatly help with limiting individual car emissions. Along with mass transportation comes carpooling. The government wants us to carpool. They add carpool lanes to bypass areas that are known to be congested. Also, apps like Uber and Lyft allow anyone to become a chauffeur, it allows for a cheaper way of transportation and the app also allows for ride-sharing or picking up passengers that are on the way to a destination. Aside from mass transportation, another way to drop the number of cars being driven is to use alternative forms of transportation such as walking or biking. First of all, it’s free to do, and it's almost hassle-free if you know where you’re going. As we move into the future we will see more mass transportation and other methods to try to limit the number of cars on the road. In the future, you might also see vehicles that drive themselves to help with emissions, but also other problems that occur with human drivers. (Samit)

How can we change cars to help stop pollution? There can be a lot of solutions to this problem, alternative fueled cars are one big solution, but it also has a lot of flaws. Another solution is moving away from the idea of cars for everyday transportation. Obviously, with the number of people that use cars today, it would be very difficult to get everyone or even a majority of people to move to another means of transportation. So, in the future I see scientist working towards improving the designs of the current alternative-fueled vehicle to fix their flaws and get them to a point where they will perform like a gas car while costing around the same amount. The best possible solution to the problem would be cars that drove themselves. But this would be very hard to do. This is because all cars would have to change to self-driving because otherwise, humans would make their own decisions without being able to tell other cars that drive themselves which would cause accidents. This solution might seem a lot like public transportation today, but the difference is that each individual car can go to their destination of choice. But this gets rid of human drivers totally. Until we reach this day scientists and engineers will work towards creating better performing, more efficient, and cheaper alternative-fueled cars.

Works Cited

  1. Anderson, Curtis D., and Judy Anderson. Electric and Hybrid Cars: a History. McFarland & Company, 2010.
  2. Faris, Daniel. “Why Public Transportation Is So Limited in the United States.” Truthout, 17 Aug. 2015, www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/32383-why-public-transportation-is-so-limited-in-the-united-states.
  3. Hirsch, Jerry. “253 Million Cars and Trucks on U.S. Roads; Average Age Is 11.4 Years.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 9 June 2014, www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-ihs-automotive-average-age-car-20140609-story.html
  4. Hoyer, Karl Georg. “The History of Alternative Fuels in Transportation: The Case of Electric and Hybrid Cars.” Utility Policy, vol. 16, no. 2, 2008, pp. 63–71., Science Direct doi:10.1016/j.jup.2007.11.001.
  5. [bookmark: _Hlk500104557]Kukreja, Rinkesh. “What Are Fossil Fuels?” Conserve Energy Future, Conserve Energy Future, 21 May 2017, www.conserve-energy-future.com/disadvantages_fossilfuels.php
  6. Kukreja, Rinkesh. “Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuels.” Conserve Energy Future, Conserve Energy Future, 24 Dec. 2016, www.conserve-energy-future.com/pros-and-cons-of-fossil-fuels.php.
  7. “The Pros and Cons of Alternative Fuels.” Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports, Feb. 2014, www.consumerreports.org/cro/2011/05/pros-and-cons-a-reality-check-on-alternative-fuels/index.htm.
  8. U.S. Department of Transportation “Highway Finance Data Collection.” Federal Highway Administration, 7 Nov. 2014, www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter4.cfm
  9. U.S. Department of Energy “EERE: Alternative Fuels Data Center Home Page.” Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, www.afdc.energy.gov/.
  10. Samit, Jay. “Driving Your Car Will Soon Be Illegal.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 11 Aug. 2015, techcrunch.com/2015/08/11/driving-your-car-will-soon-be-illegal/.
  11. Shea, Shannon. “Saving Money with Electric Vehicles.” Energy.gov, 15 Sept. 2015, energy.gov/energysaver/articles/saving-money-electric-vehicles.
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