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Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels


Not so much an alternative fuel as a different application of an alternative. Given the popularity of light rail lately - and all the fuss and disruption it’s caused, this could be a bit embarrassing for our politicians. Light rail without the rail. Another piece of the puzzle.


Fascinating insights into the economics, industry and design challenges of electric commercial vehicles. OK, maybe not fascinating to everyone - I’m a nerd. :wink:

Garbo’s that make a bit less noise:


Commercial Vehicle Conversions to alternate fuels.

While commercial vehicles are a small number compared to passenger cars, based on fuel type used (predominantly diesel) they account for approx half of the energy consumed on the roads. With much higher utilisation compared to most light passenger vehicles pay back of any alternate fuel option will be much sooner than for the average personal motor vehicle.

It may be useful to consider how well any alternative fuel can meet future non residential needs.


A bit off-topic - or maybe not. Knowing the state of play in Australia, they’re probably going to finance development of a coal-fueled car. :wink:



Yep, revive the Stanley Steamer, only a minor modification required to burn coal. Very cheap, fast, quaint, what’s not to like. Air pollution - don’t you worry about that.


Not an alternative fuel as such (although batteries are part of the mix). It looks like Mazda is reviving the Wankel.


Progress towards alternatives for heavy haulage and trucks in general has been slow out of the gates. The following promo around Cummins, who are big in diesel truck power suggests that all the options are on the table including hydrogen fuel cell, battery storage and renewable biofuels. The electric options may include high efficiency, lower emission hybrid drives using turbines or other generation options.

Most highway long distance freight (150,000 - 200,000km pa) and many around town diesel trucks (50,000km pa) do large distances each year.

Australia’s commercial road fleet makes up approx 1 in 6 road registered vehicles per ABS 9309.0. Nearly all are diesel powered. Is it possible that the alternate fuels in Australia will not be determined by consumer investment choices in emerging technology? Will it be by the alternatives that best suit long distance trucking?

It may be useful to watching the taxi/(full time Uber) fleet, who were early adopters of Toyota hybrids and note when and which way the industry chooses to jump.

Toyota has stepped towards hydrogen fuel cells.


Yes it may be a little a-“drift”.

The Mazda options of either a full battery electric or for other markets a hybrid says much. Mazda still recognise a need for a hybrid option for some markets. At least the proposed wankel hybrid has an LPG version proposed, which should also be LNG suitable with a tweek.

The commitments by Mazada to electrify (marketing speak meaning hybrids not pure electric) it’s entire range by 2030 reflects what they are thinking.


Research into hydrogen as a fuel has been going on for at least five decades. Back in the 1970s it was recognised that renewable energy sources could be used to make electricity and that electricity used to make hydrogen from water. Back then the problem was the high reactivity of hydrogen making it dangerous to transport; back then it was thought the solution would be to make ammonia from the hydrogen in order to transport it, ship the liquid ammonia to destinations, then turn ammonia back into hydrogen (in order to have the hydrogen fuel to burn where needed, eg in combustion engines or burn to heat water to make steam to spin turbines to make electricity … You can see the circular paths within this …
Today there are countries importing energy in the form of either hydrogen or ammonia - Japan being one of them. So Australia could be an energy exporter using hydrogen/ammonia made from sun and wind.


And a bit:


Everything old is new again. This could go in the renewable energy topic, but its focus is fast vehicle charging, so here it is.

Efficiency is given as 85%. That’s comparable with Lithium Ion.


Not an alternative fuel, but an alternative form of transport that just happens to use an “alternative fuel”:


A post was split to a new topic: Driverless Vehicles


I’d be interested, but:


Forum members may note that posts that are not on topic as a current consumer issue are often put in a category that is only accessible to people who’ve been around for a while and have a record of contributing helpfully.


Another article regarding fast charging of electric vehicle to provide 400 km range in 15 minutes.


I was fortunate enough to recently visit the BMW Welt and Museum in Munich. While we don’t own a BMW, we were told by German friends that it is worth a visit anyway, which we did.

The museum covers the history of motoring (with a BMW slant) and also how BMW sees the future. The exhibit indicated that BMW is speeding considerable R&D on hydrogen based technologies. The displays didn’t really indicate why, only that hydrogen is seen as a fuel of the future.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask one of the BMW boffins why BMW is spending considerable funds on hydrogen R&D. The response indicated that BMW and some other major car industry manufacturers believe that lithium battery transport technologies will only have a finite life and possibly will be an interim technology until other liquid/gas fuels such as hydrogen replace existing combustion engines. The term used was similar to lithium technology is now while non-carbon fuels will be the future.

I also asked why lithium was considered an interim technology and why lithium battery systems are being pursued by most manufactures (either as plug in or hybrid). It appears that the car industry believes that lithium technologies are reaching their maturity and any advances in the technology will be incremental and potentially smaller than seen in the past. It also appears that lithium battery systems are not the ideal long term solution for the transport industry.

It was also noted that lithium has a challenging future and this appears, reading between the lines, is mainly environmental and cost. The environmental being the damaged caused to the environmental through mining (many lithium mines are in environmentally sensitive location), byproducts of lithium and rare metal earth production for battery manufacture (maybe the recent media about radioactive byproducts from rare earth processing is rattling behind the doors within the industry), capacity for lithium to fully replace conventional technologies (for cars and electrical systems). The cost being when demand increases, the supply of lithium/rare earths will constrain ability to meet supply, thus increasing costs even though the technology costs may reduce (as evidenced currently with lithium batteries becoming cheaper as manufacturing technologies and scale improves).

The response is that hydrogen still has a number of challenges which need to be overcome to make it an alternative fuel, which BMW believes will be the case in the coming decade(s). These challenges include production of hydrogen (high energy input for manufacture for low energy output - energy conversion is low), storage and transport of hydrogen, safe use within the vehicle and sufficient storage capacity for long range) etc. Currently the most effective way to provide hydrogen is from fossil fuels. Research is being explored on how to reduce energy inputs for say hydrogen from water.


Among them being that they still need batteries:


Is there only one way forward? Hyrdogen or battery?

Looking to the big end of town, perhaps there are half way options that deliver energy from alternate sources, are practicable for a rapid transition by adapting existing assets, economically viable and reduce carbon in the short term but do not deliver zero carbon.

The two big manufacturers in earth moving and mining have taken different paths, perhaps knowing their market better than anyone else.

Komatsu - biofuel

Cat - CNG or similar

Note that heavy earth moving, mining and transport equipment has a long life cycle. It may be naive to expect that the largest users of diesel in Australia will scrap all their assets early and then reinvest at a premium in new technology. There simply is not the world wide manufacturing capacity to replace the entire fleet any quicker than planned end of life.

So LNG, CNG, biofuels, if they become a near term replacement for larger vehicles with soft conversions of engines systems may be the diesel alternative for the Urban 4WD?

No battery option here. I’ll leave the maths out of it. If you like size your battery Cat 797F for 2,800kW net, 75% duty cycle at 80% ave load factor, 50% dod over an 8hr shift, 4hr fast recharge and 700 cycles pa. And remember with a 360t payload that can be one big battery. Just leave room for the lithium ore over burden or cobalt rich dirt to make the next battery?