The Road Ahead


From hybrids to hydrogen fuel cells, AutoblogGreen has the eco auto industry covered.


By Sarah Parsons


The auto industry makes some greenies cringe, but AutoblogGreen, an eco-minded site for car buffs, really revs our engines. The site launched on Earth Day in April 2006 as a spinoff of Autoblog. Plenty caught up with Sam Abuelsamid, a writer with AutoblogGreen who also works as an engineer for an auto supplier, to talk about the driving forces behind environmentally-friendly vehicles—and the new technology and cars we can expect to see a little further down the road.

Has your audience grown since the site started?

There was fairly steady growth after the site launched, and at the beginning of this year we took a big jump when we started following some of the new stuff that’s been coming out, particularly the Chevy Volt concept. We had a very large jump in traffic that we’ve managed to sustain and is growing at a fairly reasonable pace.

What are some of the most popular topics?

It’s all kinds of things. Sometimes it will be an interesting new concept like the Chevy Volt, and people are very interested when new information comes out about cars like the Tesla Roadster.

How close do you think the auto industry is to mass-marketing hydrogen fuel cell cars?

I would say in any significant volumes, we’re probably looking at least 2013 or 2014. GM is going to have at least 100 of their Equinox fuel cell vehicles later this year. Honda is going to have some of their FCX fuel cell vehicles next year. Around 2010, GM is talking about having thousands per year based on their new generation fuel cell technology. But it will probably be about 2013 or 2014 before we’re talking in the high thousands to tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles that are available. In part that comes down to availability of fuel—being able to find a place to refuel a vehicle. The vehicle side of it is actually very close. They’re getting to the point where they’re driving the cost of the fuel-cell technology down, and now it’s more a matter of getting the fuel storage and distribution in place.

What are some the greenest vehicles on the market now, or soon to be on the market?

Some of the hybrids like the Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid get very good fuel economy. There are going to be a lot of new diesel vehicles coming out in the next year now that they’re finally starting to roll out ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Some larger vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon are coming out with GM’s new two-mode hybrid system later this year. They are very large vehicles, and even with the hybrid they still use a fair amount of fuel, but there are some people who actually have a legitimate need to use a vehicle of that type. There are diesels available in a lot of those bigger vehicles as well. Later on this year and into next year, Volkswagen is going to reintroduce a diesel Jetta with BlueTech emission control technology that will almost completely eliminate soot , particulates, nitrous oxide emissions. So the diesels that are coming are also a good alternative. They’re extremely fuel-efficient—at least 30 percent moreso than gas engines, and still offer diesel performance. And, there are no potential issues with battery. There’s something for everybody. There’s going to be a lot of other electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles coming in the next few years.

What can we expect to see from AutoblogGreen in the future?

We’re trying to do more original content as opposed to just aggregating news from other sources. We launched our podcasts in April, and we’re doing a lot of interviews with people like Martin Eberheart, the CEO of Tesla Motors; Alan Gotcher, the CEO of AltairNano; people inside the auto industry. We’re also reviewing vehicles when we get a chance to drive some of these alternative-fuel vehicles. I recently took part in a 300-mile drive with GM in their Sequel Fuel Cell concept vehicle through New York State a couple weeks ago. We’re trying to bring readers things that they’re not going to find elsewhere.

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Comments

Hydrogen fuel cells will be eclipsed and never appear, simply because practical batteries will be available before fuel cells ever acheive practicality. Fuels cells are 4 times less efficient and at least 6 times more costly than electrics, even if a hydrogen infrastructure floated down from heaven, gratis. Hydrogen is totally nonsensical, no matter how one views or evaluates it.

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