Car Time – October 2021

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What is to become of the Automotive Industry?

    California, as is the case with many other states, will ban the sale of internal combustion engines starting in 2035. To clarify, the ban is on new vehicles only. So, while internal combustion will still be around, the sale of new ones won’t.
   Where does the industry go from there? Many speculate electric vehicles (EV), but that avenue presently holds some downsides. The two that stand out are ensuring we would have the infrastructure necessary to make it feasible and studying ways such a switch might still cause harm to the environment.
   Many places are still not equipped to charge EVs, certainly in contrast to the many fuel stations that currently exist. The downside for the environment concerns the materials that are sourced for production, along with the recycling process of batteries.
   For the most part, when an EV is charging, it is still using energy from the grid (fossil fuels). That doesn’t mean some of these issues can’t be worked out; for example, research about solid state batteries for vehicle efficiency and environmental friendliness might alleviate concerns.
   Hydrogen is another potential solution, although it has issues as well. A big difference is the infrastructure to utilize it already exists to some extent. It would be a matter of repurposing some fuel stations that already coexist with hydrogen pumps.
   Hydrogen is a natural element but requires molecule manipulation to work. It is formed by using electrolysis, the process of breaking down H20 (water) molecules. The process requires a lot of electricity, posing the same fossil fuel issue.
   Renewable energy, however, can be used to separate the molecules, eliminating that need. How fast it can be done poses another question. Hydrogen has been associated more with powering electric motors, but Toyota has made a prototype vehicle to use hydrogen as a fuel for a combustion engine. They even entered it in a Fuji 24-hour race event. Regardless of the application, the by-product of hydrogen is water.
   Synthetic fuels, currently being touted by Porsche as eFuel, can use existing infrastructure as well. It’s selling point is that any internal combustion engine can use it and is nearly carbon neutral. It is created by using atmospheric C02 and hydrogen to form the basis of the fuel. The complete process and logistics are a bit gray in terms of being environmentally-friendly, but its goal is to coexist with EVs.

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