Going by what we’ve seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit over the past few days, the electric vehicle market is starting to take off like a rocket. But, that certainly doesn’t mean we’re going to see fewer gasmobiles on the road. The reality is that the global population is growing and the auto consumer class is growing along with it. For the foreseeable future, you’re going to see growth in the gasmobile market, too.
That doesn’t have to be all bad news for carbon emissions. Let’s say in the sparkling green near-future, more fossil carbon gets left in the ground, and more gasmobiles are fueled by low carbon — or perhaps even carbon neutral — biomass. The flip side is that we’re quickly going to reach a tipping point for the land and/or water resources needed to raise feedstock for biofuel, unless auto makers pay much more attention to fuel efficient engines than they are now.
That brings us to this beauty of a personal mobility device, which Ford unveiled at the Detroit show on Monday:
Okay, so it’s not a Tesla. And unlike the Ford Focus, the new GT will probably never be modded into a battery EV or, for that matter, into a fuel cell EV (prove us wrong, guys!). However, it does sport a more powerful version of the company’s recently launched EcoBoost fuel efficient engine, and apparently it’s going to serve as a platform for further enhancements to the technology.
Among other awards, the company’s EcoBoost 1.0 liter engine was named International Engine of the Year in its class last summer. Ford initially offered EcoBoost as an option on just a few models including the Fiesta, Focus, and the new 2015 Edge crossover. The customer response must have been quite satisfying because now the Ecoboost is available for every North American model. Aside from the racy GT (the GT pictured above won’t be produced until next year, btw), that includes the off-road Raptor pickup:
…and the ultra-luxury new Lincoln:
…and also the iconic F-150, which just got a makeover last year with an all-aluminum body (that’s for lighter weight/fuel efficiency/performance as well as virtually 100 percent recycling of scrap on site). Here’s a shot inside just one little corner of Ford’s Rouge factory dedicated exclusively to churning out F-150’s:
Putting all these pieces together with what we already know about EVs, we’re more convinced than ever that electric vehicles will dominate the 21st century, despite the recent freefall in oil prices. However, the realness is that gasmobiles and hybrids will also play a significant role far into the future (take another look at that Rouge factory if you need more evidence).
Biofuel could provide a sustainable answer, but not necessarily a cheap one: consider the three-way tension between a continuing demand for liquid fuel, the growing pressure to keep more fossil carbon in the ground, and the impact on land and water resources from biofuel production.
Let’s face it, the future price of liquid fuel, whether bio or petro, is going to go up. For that matter, the petroleum industry is already retrenching like crazy (at least, here in the US) and reserves are being stockpiled in tankers offshore in anticipation of the inevitable oil price spike to come.
That sets the table for auto manufacturers to continue to develop the next generation of fuel efficient gasmobile engines to meet the full range of consumer demand, including adventurers, funseekers, and luxury buyers as well as the budget and eco-aware markets.
That’s our takeaway from the Detroit Auto Show, take it or leave it.
Speaking of leaving, we only had a couple of days at the show and now we’re done. We’ve been focusing on Ford because the company made it possible for us to get to Detroit in the first place, but we also had a chance to run down to the mysterious lower level of the convention hall and check out the biggest autonomous vehicle that you’ve probably ever seen in your whole entire life, among other goodies, so stay tuned for some exclusive auto show coverage.
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