This decade has been pretty volatile for the notion of ‘green transportation,’ that is moving away from a gasoline-only car fleet in America. It started off with California requiring automakers to offer electric vehicles, but those efforts were soon dropped and SUVs ruled the road for many years. Now as the decade comes to a close electric vehicles and hybrids are getting more interest again.
Over at Earth2Tech they’ve taken a look at the five top green automotive predictions of the last decade and how those notions turned out. From hydrogen and natural gas vehicles to high-speed rail, the prognosticators’ didn’t do such a great job:
1). Prediction: Natural gas vehicles will go mainstream. “I think our time has come, and I think we’re ready [for natural gas vehicles],” T. Boone Pickens told Green Car Journal in 2005. “You might say, well, if you’re talking about Monday morning, probably not. But I’m talking about the next two or three years. I think there’s going to be some real changes in the use of this fuel.”
How’d that work out?: Pickens is still touting the potential of natural gas vehicles to help wean the U.S. off imported fuels, and the tech is now getting federal attention. Legislators introduced a bill this year aimed at encouraging the development and purchasing of natural gas vehicles. But natural gas vehicles are far from mainstream, and have yet to make a real dent in the U.S. consumer market.
Their other predictions:
2). Prediction: California will finally get high-speed rail. Result: Voters approved $9.95 billion in bond funding in 2008, but this month the High Speed Rail Authority tossed the project’s route back into limbo by reneging on its approval of an environmental study for a section of the train. It could be another decade or more before it’s built.
3). Prediction: Hydrogen cars are just around the corner. Result: Still waiting.
4). Prediction: Hybrids will form a bridge to EVs. Result: Seems on target. The success of the Toyota Prius and the approach of “affordable” plug-in models for 2011 could push hybrids to over 10 percent of the U.S. market by 2015.
5). Prediction: It’s clear sailing now for electric car tech. Result: Battery technology still hasn’t improved enough to remove the key barrier between electrics/hybrids and other cars, namely cost.