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Plug in, Turn On?

Which solution will meet tomorrow’s clean energy needs?

by on Jun.18, 2010

Will pure battery power transform the auto market? Nissan is betting so with its new Leaf

Within the next two years, several automakers will introduce new vehicles aimed at helping to solve the problem of reducing, if not eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels — but it seems that every maker is taking a different path to achieve that goal.

Any number of possibilities – from pure battery power to an alternate to the traditional gasoline engine, dubbed OPOC, for opposed-piston/opposed-cylinder  – are being proposed as the best solution for tomorrow’s cars and trucks.  But there’s truth to the current cliché that suggests there is no single “silver bullet. 

“There’s a lot of bets being made out there,” said Micky Bly, director of electric vehicle programs at General Motors, during this week’s Green Car Conference, in Detroit. The future of personal mobility will involve many approaches, agreed most of the experts who joined Bly at the event.  And the competition, the GM executive suggested, “is good. It’s healhy.”

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GM used the conference to spotlight its own preferred option, the extended-range electric vehicle, which provides just enough battery power to handle the typical American’s daily commute.  For longer trips, a small internal combustion engine kicks in, giving products like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt essentially unlimited range as long as there are gas stations handy.