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interview > romm > romm 9

Romm 9 (1:46)
Topic(s): Auto Industry / Electric & Hybrid / Government
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Romm

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Well, of course today, ethanol is blended into gasoline. It's primarily corn-based ethanol, so it's not that great for the environment. It's very energy-intensive to grow corn and extract energy from it. Cellulosic ethanol, which is sort of the ethanol of the future, from dedicated crops or crop waste, I think it's going to be maybe ten, 20 years before that is widespread, but I do expect to see flexible-fuel vehicles running on gasoline-ethanol mixtures to become increasingly popular.

Hydrogen is a long ways away. I don't think Tom and Ray are going to be driving a hydrogen car unless someone gives it to them. And even then, I don't know where they're going to find fuel for it, because there really aren't very many hydrogen fueling stations and it's a good question as to when enough are going to be built that someone is going to risk buying a car. Because after all, cars equal mobility equals freedom to go when you want, where you want. And unless there are fueling stations available widely, no one's going to buy a car that uses a certain alternative fuel.

I tend to think that the car of the future is the plug-in hybrid. I said that in The Hype About Hydrogen and in Hell and High Water. I think the car of the future is going to be an advanced hybrid with a battery that's big enough to store an electric charge from the grid, and go 20 to 40 miles, all electric, before reverting to be a regular hybrid. That would give people the ability to drive to work, charge up at work, drive home, charge up at home, and stay mostly electric during most of the time, except during very long trips. And replacing gasoline with electricity, I think, is going to be what we're going to see; people should be able to buy those cars maybe as soon as five years from now and I expect they'll be quite popular in the next decade.

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