Whoever saw the movie, Who Killed the Electric Car? will have a tough time understanding why GM “killed” the car.
However, Jeff McIntire-Strasburg on Sustainblog was one of the bloggers who were invited to GM recently to check out the Volt, the new electric car from GM. I specifically want to quote from what GM CEO Rick Waggoner said about E-Flex.
What exactly do we mean by E-Flex? Well, the “E” is no surprise – it stands for “electric,” because no matter how an E-Flex vehicle is configured, it will always be driven exclusively by electricity.
This is the major difference between E-Flex and hybrids. Hybrids can be driven by an internal combustion engine, or an electric drive, or both systems simultaneously. E-Flex vehicles will always be driven by electricity.
What about the second half of the name? Well, that’s the really interesting part of all this. E-Flex is “flexible” because the electricity it uses to drive the vehicle can come from a wide range of fuel sources. It can come from a hydrogen fuel cell; it can be generated by a small motor running on ethanol or bio-diesel or synthetic fuel; or it can come from the power grid, and be stored in a battery. And, when the electricity comes from the grid, it can be generated by natural gas, coal, nuclear power, wind, hydroelectric, and so on.
In short, E-Flex vehicles will enjoy one of the really outstanding benefits of electricity: the opportunity to diversify fuel sources for the vehicle.
E-Flex is also flexible because it offers flexibility around the globe. Europeans rely more on diesel fuel than North Americans, Brazil has gravitated to E-100 ethanol, and we see tremendous opportunities with bio-fuels here in the U.S. China, meanwhile, may well be the first country to develop a broad-based fuel cell infrastructure.
By setting up a propulsion system that allows us to power vehicles with any of these fuels, E-Flex provides us with a single elegant solution.
In short, E-Flex creates options. It’ll allow GM to leverage a range of electrically driven propulsion systems, as well as benefit from the inevitability and the promise of energy diversity.
I think this is an important strategic move by GM. Powering automobiles by electric technology is far more suitable than even a hybrid. In the end, diversity of electricity sources will make this a greener option.