By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
We write a lot about hybrid and all-electric cars, mainly because they are new creatures in the forest and bring a lot of new technology with them. Sooner or later you’re going to meet one of these critters if you haven’t already.
But not everyone is a fan, particularly of all-electrics, and some observers predict very limited market penetration, low sales numbers and niche-only applications. Time and the market will tell and it is still fairly early in the game to make high-level judgments.
However, electric drive technology may get a boost from some unlikely places. The U.S military is looking into a variety of propulsion systems to reduce their petroleum use.
Fuel in all forms is the lifeblood of today’s military; CNN recently reported that combined U.S forces used 5.5 billion gallons for petroleum products in 2010.
Even allowing for the very thirsty fuel consumption rate of jet aircraft, that’s still a lot of petroleum, and even the military has to pay for it. A significant reduction in fuel use would lower dollar costs in troubled financial times. But there is also a potential greater benefit— CNN Money reported recently that one in eight soldiers (12.5%) killed or wounded during the period 2003–2007 in Iraq or Afghanistan were protecting fuel convoys.
Even using small electric motors to assist heavy, wheeled vehicles during acceleration from rest would contribute something to the plan, and adapting existing vehicles to such a helper system may not require extensive redesign.
The second surprising source turns out to be the commercial trucking industry. As noted above, moving a heavy vehicle from rest is a period of high fuel use and the heavy duty OEMs are looking varieties of electric assist and electrically operated accessories to reduce fuel use.
As the cost of diesel fuel continues to rise, users both civilian and military are clamoring to keep costs down. There may be synergy forming here as many HD OEMs also have some connection to manufacturing military vehicles either as system suppliers or producers of entire vehicles.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.