In April, I had talked about how making the move to ethanol fuel for the transportation industry will pave the way for the same industry to transition into hydrogen. Apparently, General Motors’ research and development chief Lawrence Burns has now spoken about the same thoughts.
According to Burns, “Even some of the initial steps in the processing of the biomass – whether to make it hydrogen or ethanol – will be one and the same, so it is an important step toward an alternative pathway for energy. And it allows us to use our existing internal combustion engines as we transition to hydrogen in the future.”
General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has also stated that he doesn’t see a huge ongoing market for hybrids as ethanol makes more sense. Wagner says GM will still develop hybrids for the positive image they project but will focus more on ethanol (E85) vehicles going forward.
I think GM is missing the mark on this one. Since hybrid vehicles reduce the consumption of any fuel source whether it is gasoline, diesel, ethanol or hydrogen, for example, why not develop a vehicle that will use as little fuel as possible? Developing ethanol gas hogs (or hydrogen gas hogs) isn’t a business model that makes much sense especially in light of ethanol being dependent upon farmers to grow the crops, which are themselves subject to market fluctuations and conditions such as drought.
Reducing our nation’s dependence upon any fuel source, as much as possible, would not only be a sensible social goal, but a sensible business goal as well.