Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Could new vehicle design cut emissions 40%?

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nonprofit advocacy group, has developed a vehicle they say will cut global warming pollution 40 percent - the same as taking 19 million vehicles off the road. You can't buy it yet; it's just a concept on paper for now. But the vehicle, called the Vanguard, could be built with today's technologies and would meet or exceed pollution standards for cars and trucks adopted by California and ten other states. From ABC News:
Those technologies include smarter engines that shut off cylinders that are not being used, improvements to air conditioning systems and the use of biofuels. Designers point out that the Vanguard would run on gasoline or a combination of gas and ethanol. It is not a hybrid, which uses a combination of gasoline and electric power.
Automakers dismissed the Vanguard idea, saying that many of the technologies it would use are already on the road today and combining them would not cut emissions 40 percent. Automakers are also fighting the states' global warming regulations in the courts, arguing that fuel-economy standards are only the authority of the federal government.

David Friedman, Clean Vehicles Research Director at UCS, responds:

“The automakers are sticking to their traditional ‘can’t do’ philosophy. Years ago they cried the sky was falling when they were required to install seat belts and airbags. Now, instead of building cleaner vehicles like the Vanguard, they’re fighting global warming pollution laws in the courts. To get the job done, they should bench their lawyers and call in the engineers.”

Transportation accounts for about 30 percent of the United States' global warming emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. UCS says Vanguard's technology package would add about $299 to the vehicle's sticker price.

Photo credit: UCS

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