Thursday, August 04, 2005
The Hybrid Car You Never Hear About
Kos diarist KumarP has an interesting diary about biodiesel that manages to shoot down a number of popular myths about it -- while reminding us that we could have had clean non-OPEC-reliant cars sold to us decades ago, except that certain petroleum-based interests (such as the Bush Family) fought tooth and nail to make sure this didn't happen.
Sell crack to the Chinese, and crystal meth to the west side. Oh, wait... they already do that last part.
No. I do not make a distinction between Halliburton and the guy who sells crystal to teenagers at 19th Ave and Van Buren, except to say that Halliburton is of course a lot worse.
If gas is $2/gallon, that drops to 7 years, and at $4/gallon, the payoff is 3.5 years. And if you drive more than 15,000 miles, the payoff is even shorter.
But there's also the costs of financing, hidden or not. If you had to borrow the $7500 at 10%, it's costing $750.year. Even if you don't have to borrow, you could invest the $7500. At 5%, it is earning $375/year. Financing considerations roughly double the payoff time. Even $4/gallon gas makes it a roughly breakeven investment.
Then there's the question of whether the fuel sources don't have their own hidden costs. The Kossacks have done a good job laying out the issues. Used restaurant oil has a negative opportunity cost vs. disposing of it (in other words, using it for anything is a net benefit over dumping it). But using, say, corn has hidden costs in the energy used for farming and in damage to the land. If you can make biodiesel out of kudzu or cockroaches or College Republicans, it would probably be cost effective (see Townhall columnist The Virgin Ben for the lowdown on the Cockroach Republicans.).
Now, as these cars are mass produced, the costs will come down. But at the moment, these would be a tough sell to the American public, few of whom can spend the extra money up front.
More blogs about politics.