CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The route to a less polluting car looks more like a multipoint intersection than a single superhighway, a panel of experts said on Wednesday.
The auto and fuels industries are in the midst of dramatic technological change, but it's still not clear how quickly which new technologies will be adopted.
Also unknown is whether consumers are willing to switch from traditional car ownership to the "transportation as a service" model where people share a fleet of clean cars dispersed around a city.
The EmTech 2008 conference, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put together a panel to discuss green transportation with Tesla Motors Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, BP chief scientist Steven Koonin, and Ryan Chin, a student at the MIT Media Lab involved in the City Car and RoboScooter projects.
All of them agreed that there's a need to shift from today's fossil fuel-based transportation industry because of concerns over energy security and climate change. But it's unlikely that one single technology will displace the gas-powered internal combustion engine.
"You have to ask whether change will be revolutionary or evolutionary. If I had to bet, I'd say it will be evolutionary," said BP chief scientist Steven Koonin. "The most likely scenario is a plug-in hybrid with a very efficient engine powered by biofuels--with plausible technologies." … Read more