Monday, December 8, 2008

Big Green Trucks

Be sure to enjoy the new article about flywheel hybrids here!

Hybrids got a lot of press when gas was $4 a gallon, but now that it is below $2, does anybody care? Well, Eaton does.

Eaton has been in the power, hydraulics, and automotive business for quite some time, quietly developing new technologies used in most cars, trucks, and heavy trucks today. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

As I have written previously in "Hybrid Hummer Hums," Eaton was a main supplier in the hydraulic units for that vehicle. In this article, I will discuss two Eaton implementation of hybrid technologies.

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Parallel Hybrid System
The picture above graphically displays Eaton's Hydraulic Launch Assist system, a heavy vehicle (garbage truck) with a standard engine, and hydraulic system is supplemental power. It is designed to capture energy through regenerative braking, store it in hydraulic fluid, and then use it to "launch" the vehicle from a stop.

From Eaton's web site, "During acceleration, fluid in the high-pressure accumulator is metered out to drive the pump/motor as a motor. The system propels the vehicle by transmitting torque to the driveshaft." This system is able to work in either Economy or Performance mode. The difference being that engine doesn't perform acceleration until after the hydraulic system is spent in Economy mode, while in Performance mode, both the engine and hydraulic system work together. In either case, Eaton predicts a 20-30% fuel efficiency increase.

Series Hybrid System
A series hybrid varies from a parallel system in that, "... conventional transmission and driveline are replaced by the hybrid hydraulic powertrain and energy is transferred from the engine to the drive wheels through fluid power."

The series hybrid allows the engine, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to operate at optimum efficiency, while "energy is transferred from the engine to the drive wheels through fluid power." This system also uses regenerative braking and managed engine cut-off to show fuel efficiency improvements of 50-70%. Would you feel better if you had more energy? Try FRS® Healthy Energy™ Free*!

Although these systems are not in full production, they are the leading edge in hybrid technology for heavy vehicles. Think about these hybrid systems when you see a city bus or garbage truck accelerate from a stop. Imagine seeing that same bus accelerate, but without that black cloud. That is progress.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stop the Meddling With the Market!!

On the front page of the 04 December print edition of "The Wall Street Journal," the headline is "U.S. Eyes Plan to Lift Home Sales." Are you kidding me?? The article states unbelievably, "The plan, which is in the development stage, would temporarily use the clout of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to encourage banks to lend at rates as low as 4.5%, more than a full point lower than prevailing rates for standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgages."

You just read what I read, Freddie and Fannie back loans whose rate is below market. Good grief!! The goal is to extend more loans and "address falling home prices." Doesn't anybody remember the housing bubble? Why does the government think it makes sense to prop up home prices instead of allowing the market to price them? Also, why allow failed institutions to back below-market mortgages? I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone.

Let's take this a step further. This scheme is only for buying a home and not refinancing. However, later in the article, Secretary of the Treasury Paulson says " to reduce the cost of mortgage finance so more families can afford to buy a home and so homeowners can refinance into more affordable mortgages." Huh? Now he wants to subsidize mortgages? Maybe the plan can include only those refinancing with bad credit, as the rest of us suckers are stuck with what we've got.

When I bought my house, I had to scrimp and save to get a suitable down payment, as well as prove employment and the ability to pay. Guess what, I have been able to pay my mortgage, on time, and without any "adjustments." So why should things change now? What should happen is that those institutions that made bad loans face the consequences.

As a taxpayer, and somebody who pays on time, I resent that some new home buyer is going to get a subsidized mortgage. I also resent the fact the lenders are going to rewarded for not applying standard risk models and setting rates. Stop this madness!! If the US government wants to restore both faith in the financial markets, as well as stability, mortgage and home prices should be set by the market, not by government interference (and my money!).
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