There's an institute in Davis, California, dedicated to studying what works and what doesn't work when it comes to people moving around. Headed by Dr. Dan Sperling the faculty and research staff have delved into all manner of transit modes, energy sources, etc. They don't have Washington lobbyists or expensive commercials online or on TV so you may not yet have heard of them. But when weighing alternatives and the specious crud churned out by politicians, CEOs and MSM, give these guys a look for what is reality.
Here are samples of their recent research:
Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) and how the public will receive them. Not a surprise, the auto industry is crap at explaining these vehicles to potential buyers. The Davis folks conclude, "most new vehicle buyers are unaware of PHEVs in particular and are confused about electric-drive terminology commonly used by experts."
Further, "we estimate that about a third of the target population has both the infrastructure to recharge a PHEV and interest in a vehicle with plug-in capabilities."
Perhaps most interestingly, they looked at the recharging situation. "Widespread PHEV use could halve gasoline use, impacts to the electricity grid could highly depend on the time-of-day and location recharge management strategy. While unconstrained recharging among PHEV buyers may exacerbate current peak electricity demand, pushing vehicle recharging to off-peak hours through charging controls, time of day tariffs or other means could reduce overall electricity used by vehicles."
Let's hope some of the folks in charge of utilities and energy and transport policy have read this so we don't melt down the grid when we begin to convert to more electric-powered vehicles.
Some other noteworthy topics
How many urban re-fuelling stations wil be needed for any viable alternative fuel to begin reducing gasoline dependence?
How land use and housing patterns affect transit decisions. Why Johnny won't walk. This last one is perhaps the hottest political potato in the whole energy salad. Eventually large corporations will find ways to make billions off any energy or transit vehicles. Gasoline will eventually fade into the realm of ox carts or steamboats. But to begin to thwart developers, tell folks they have to pay more fuel tax to support public transit, stop further suburbanization of farmland--this smacks of the sort of political controls that much of America confuses with communism and sends the corporatists into snarling attacks on any who suggests the "R" word (Regulation). That said UCDavis's research has some clear messages on land use that are already well understand in numerous civilized nations. Will we Americans bother to listen before we have gasolined our nation into bankruptcy?
[Dr. Sperling was interviewed on the radio for a program called Jefferson Exchange, August 21, 9am Pacific Time. You can find that as podcast on iTunes.]