Friday, October 4, 2019

Economical and Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis on Hybrid Cars Essay Example for Free

Economical and Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis on Hybrid Cars Essay A hybrid car is a car propelled by the application of two or more power sources. First attempts to introduce hybrid cars goes back to mid 1660, way before the discovery and introduction of the fuel powered conventional cars but were never commercially manufactured until 21st century when Japanese car manufacturer, Toyota produced the Toyota prius exclusively for its domestic market. In fact, it is estimated that the first attempt to produce a hybrid car was in 1665. The delay in the production of this class of vehicles was because of two main reasons; first, the limited range in the distance the vehicles could cover and secondly the difficulty and costly process of recharging their batteries. Furthermore, it is a basic science concept that the more complex a machine is the more it is prone to failure and thus the idea of commercial production of hybrid vehicles has been a slow process over the centuries. World’s population explosion, demand for fresh air and green cities, dwindling petroleum deposits, over dependency in overseas oil, economic recession and global warming are just some of the environmental and economic factors that have forced world’s leading car manufacturers to provide to the market car models that are not only environmentally friendly but also cost effective. A cost-benefit analysis on this topic will attempt to bring out the cost of getting a hybrid car into the road in comparison to the benefits that the world stands to reap as a result of this venture. This research seeks to bring to the surface three major aspects that are associated with the introduction of hybrid cars into the transportation world. These three issues are: (i) The cost of producing a hybrid car: The successful landing of a hybrid car is in focus under this area. It is not easy to get into the road a car that makes use of a combination of two or more sources of energy. The research involved is estimated to run to millions of dollars thus sky-rocketing the price of a hybrid car. (ii) Environmental factors: Environmental factors simply refer to the concerns that a particular type of car produces substances that injure our surroundings thus making life on earth more dangerous and therefore more complex. These substances include green house gases as well as toxic metal compounds such as the ones that contain lead in their structure. (iii) Economic cost benefit factors: Economic factors have much to do with the living standards of people as far as the generation and investment of money is concerned. The economic make up of the world has gotten pegged heavily on oil and there are concerns from every right thinking citizen of the world that this is a self consuming trend that is likely to create serious economic problems if the oil industry hits a serious problem. This has already been witnessed before whereby a slight rise in oil prices has sent shockwaves in economies in both the developed and the developing world. Literature Review The former Vice President of the United States who later won the Democratic Party nomination and lost the presidency in a controversial manner to George W Bush, Mr. Al Gore, has had the world rethinking its actions as far as the degeneration of the environment is concerned. An inconvenient Truth, a film he worked on captures the problems that are already being experienced in various parts of the world as a result of global warming. This, he says is being fuelled by the use of environmentally unfriendly cars that use oil or gasoline (Gore, 2006, para1-3). It is not surprising that he went a head to win a Nobel Prize for this peace of work. Electric and hybrid cars have always received much appreciation due to the perceived ability to tackle this burning issue of climate change. Their ability to cut the emission of these toxic substances into the atmosphere that lead to negative climatic shift is the major reason for this (Anderson and Anderson, 2004, pp 6-10). In recognition of this serious problem, vital steps have been made in the research that is involved in the development and production of cars that make use of a combination of two or three sources of locomotive energy. Chief among these is the research into electric cars that promise to reduce the overreliance on oil (Westbrook, 2001, pp 34-39). The pioneer nation in the world in the research and possible mass production of hybrid cars is Japan. But the appetite with which the United States of America has picked up the issue points to the significance of this type of car. The driving force is the reduction in pollution, the saving that comes in terms of finances and most importantly national security that is put at risk with too much dependency on foreign oil. The argument is often projected in terms of supplying their dollars to nations that fund terror groups such as al Qaeda (Boschert, 2006 pp 2-7). It is common knowledge that mass production of hybrid cars will not only provide a partial solution to world environmental problems but also be a practical measure to save countries from losses running to millions of dollars due to escalating prices of world crude oil. The cost of producing a hybrid car The production of hybrid cars is not a cheap or a simple venture. Confessions by companies that have dipped their fingers into this hot pot have clearly shown that more than just simple technology is in play in the production of this type of cars. Research that has been on-going for a long time now is very complicated and has consumed millions of dollars. At the end of the day, despite the hyped advantages of shifting from purely oil consuming cars to hybrid cars, the cost that must be borne has to be high (Westbrook,2001,pp 56-61). It is the overall ability of the hybrid car to assist man in solving most of his economic and environmental problems that make the whole exercise worthwhile. Environmental factors While scientists agree that there can never be perfect environmentally friendly hybrid cars and that this depends solely on the design and model of hybrid power system. It is worthy appreciating that the use of this class of vehicles will automatically lead to the reduction of global warming by approximately 0. 3 to 0. 5 percent and that more advanced models and designs in the coming years due to technological advances would reduce this figure even further. The problems of the quality of urban air, reduction of noise due to application of electric motor in fuel power conventional cars, and elimination of smog forming pollutants could be solved in a century if research on mass production of hybrid cars is given a priority. The main source of air pollutants in cities and major towns is transportation. Fuel powered conventional motor vehicles produce much higher levels of carbon dioxide (Co2) carbon monoxide (Co), nitrogen oxides (Nox) and hydrocarbons (Hc) and this from the primary source of these dangerous pollutants. This is mainly because fuel powered conventional cars (FPCC) make short trips that do not give time for electric motor warm ups and cold starts. It is noted that hybrid cars reduced the levels of the carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide by 97% in comparison to other sources of these pollutants. Carbon monoxide (C0), when inhaled for long periods interferes with the proper functioning of the brain in that it impairs the flow of oxygen (O2) into the brain. Once the brain stops working in the expected way, the person involved turns into a vegetable. Carbon dioxide and water vapor form the principal components of green house gases that bring about the green house effect. Green house effect is a scenario in which too much heat is trapped within the atmosphere due to the presence of such toxic gases as carbon monoxide and this resultant effect is a highly raised earth temperature. Infact carbon dioxide (C02) is considered one of the major atmospheric pollutants, and is solely responsible for approximately 57% global warming. Negative effects of global warming include the rapidly declining numbers of polar bears and melting of ice in the tropics. It is therefore an open knowledge that releasing carbon dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere is detrimental to the lives of living organisms and the equilibrium of the ecosystem. Sulphur and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are very dangerous air pollutants produced by combustion of sulphur containing fuels. Over the years, scientists have devised means of producing sulphur and lead free fuels but achieving an excellent degree is still a distant mirage. Deposition of these compounds in the air is harmful to plants, man and infrastructure. Exposure to high concentration of sulphur dioxide irritates respiratory tracts making breathing difficult and can easily cause lung problems. Sulfur Oxide contributes to respiratory illness. Patients suffering from heart diseases risk aggravating their conditions if exposed to even mild concentration of sulfur oxides. These components also form secondary pollutants when transported and combined with other elements forming sulphates, nitrate salts, nitrogen dioxides and even nitric acid vapor. This is what is commonly known as acid rain that corrodes buildings, burns vegetations, burns the human skin and destroys infrastructure. Chlorofluorocarbons also form component of green house gases that bring about the effect of global warming. When exposed to gamma rays, these compounds break down to release chlorine atoms. The presence of chlorine atoms in the atmosphere catalyses splitting of Ozone (O3) into oxygen gas (O2), however the negative effects of their presence overweigh their importance. Photochemical air pollution, usually known as smog and is commonly sported in the tropics and subtropics is also caused by incomplete combustion of gasoline emitted by fuel powered conventional vehicles. This process leads to the production of Ozone gas that is responsible for irritation in the eyes, extensive damage to plants and crops and lung complications. The release of carbon dioxide (C02), chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides (N0x) and other pollutants into the atmosphere contributes to the destruction of plants on the earth’s surface. Photosynthesis, the process through which trees produce oxygen from carbon dioxide is so vital to human life in fact it is said that life cannot exist without trees. Destruction of trees by releasing these pollutants into the air is equal to destruction of both human life and plant life. While particulate matters are the main contributors to lung problems and most cancer cases, hydrocarbons are also a cause of lung problems and other tissue problems. Long exposure to high concentrations of hydrocarbons eventually leads to total organ failures. Furthermore it is a major contributor to birth defects and other complicated illnesses like cancer. With the commercial manufacture and introduction of hybrid cars, extensive damage to the environment is definitely reduced, quality of life enhanced and urban areas become clean to inhabit, the dream of world environmental rights groups. Economic factors Crude oil is the raw material that propels almost all components of world’s economy in many ways. In fact the world is so dependent on crude oil that if its supply would be cut abruptly, major world economies like United States of America, Russia and China would immediately come to a standstill. United States depends on crude oil alone for 40% of its energy supply, triple than other sources. Overdependence on crude oil is not sound enough. First, crude oil is a non-renewable source of energy and analysts predict it will be largely exhausted within half a century. This rings an alarm bell that if measures are not put in place and countries go green by using hybrid cars, then the future is bleak and the word is in danger. Transportation sector depends entirely on oil for energy supply. Trucks, planes, ships cars and buses are propelled by motor engines that use oil. Introducing hybrid cars would reverse this trend, make the world safer from fluctuating oil prices and reduce dependence on this energy source (Paterson, 2007 para. 3-5). Reliance on crude oil for fuel supply is a major contributor to ethnic and tribal wars in Africa. This demonstrates the levels at which scramble for this commodity has reached. In fact notably China is so hungry for crude oil that it is ready to ignore the sufferings of millions of peoples around the world and specifically Sudan, so as to get its industry moving. It therefore points to the fact that lasting peace and safety will be found and armed conflicts reduced drastically when less fuel consuming cars are produced and thirst for oil curtailed. Hybrid cars are pocket friendly as they consume less gasoline in comparison to fuel powered conventional cars. Even though they are slightly expensive to purchase, the reward is achieved in long term due to lower fuel consumption. Further, governments and notably the United States of America give tax incentives to buyers of hybrid cars in to a move aimed at reducing the average prices of these vehicles and thus encouraging more people to purchase them. Dwindling petroleum deposits in a major concern to the world. It is widely acknowledged that only a total of one trillion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserves is available for exploration worldwide with only two percent (2%) of this value in the United States of America. Most of these oil deposits are found in the eastern hemisphere that is made up of countries that are well known for political instability. It is therefore very wise for countries that fall in the Western hemisphere and more so, the United States to adapt the mass production and commercial use of hybrid vehicles. This will not only cushion them from ever fluctuating oil prices but will also prevent the imminent collapse of most sectors of the economies of these countries. Conclusion From the foregoing, it is evident that the world stands to gain immensely from the introduction into the world of transportation hybrid cars. It is true that the cost of producing a hybrid car is not one that sends one smiling all the way to the bank. In fact it is prohibitively high and the faint hearted who will not pay attention to the long term benefits of this hybrid car model will not dare. But the benefits or gains both in terms of saving a planet in peril and a global economy in a shambles are so enticing and crucial that it is actually the way to go. The environmental problems that come as a result of oil utilization in transport and other areas of life will be dealt with once and for all. For instance, the release of dangerous gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere that is responsible for global warming and numerous respiratory problems as well as problems in farming thorough such phenomena as acid rain will be solved. The economic woes that emanate from over dependence on oil will also be contained. The availing of financial resources to rogue nations such as Iran that fund terrorist groups, the shaking of the global economy due to shifts in oil prices as well as the escalation of conflicts in most third world countries in the east and Africa as a result of scrambling over oil resources will be eliminated. References: Anderson C. D Anderson J (2004); Electric and Hybrid Cars: A History. ISBN-10: 0786418729, ISBN -13: 978-0786418725, McFarland Company. pp 6-10 Boschert, S. , (2006); Plug-Ins: The cars that will recharge America. pp 2-7 ISBN-10: 0865715718, ISBN-13: 978-0865715714, New Society Publishers. Gore, A. (2006): An Inconvenient Truth. Retrieved on 24th March 2009 from: http://www. climatecrisis. net/aboutthefilm/. Para 1-3. Paterson, B. N. , (2007). Economic benefits of hybrid cars. Retrieved on 23rd March 2009 from: http://www. helium. com/items/1026111-economic-benefits-of-hybrid-cars, para 3-5. Westbrook M. H, (2001): The Electric Car: Development and Future of Battery, Hybrid and Fuel-Cell Cars. ISBN-10: 0852960131, ISBN-13: 978-0852960134. The Institution of Engineering and Technology. pp 56-61.

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