Home > Environment, Oz Politics > Taking Penny Wong at her word

Taking Penny Wong at her word

February 24th, 2009

I watched Penny Wong on the 7:30 report defending the government’s emissions trading scheme against the criticism, made here and elsewhere, that initiatives such as the government’s home insulation scheme will have no effect except to reduce the price of permits and therefore the costs faced by large emitters. She did a very professional job, neither denying the criticism (which she couldn’t honestly do) nor conceding its validity.

In a long interview, she made only one substantive point, which has also been made elsewhere. By reducing the cost of reaching an emissions target, initiatives like the insulation scheme will make it easier for the government to set more ambitious targets.

I’m happy to take her at her word. The policy debate leading up to the choice of a 5/15 target was undertaken before the full severity of the financial crisis and the need for a $42 billion stimulus became apparent. So, having introduced a new measure to reduce emissions, the government is already in a position to tighten the target by an amount equal to the emissions saved.

If the package is passed unamended, there won’t be another opportunity until 2020, at least without hugely increased competition. So, I’m waiting eagerly for the announcement.

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  1. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:24 | #1

    JQ#46
    You make the typical error of judgement that the Prius is a mid-size car while the Colt is a small car. I don’t because at 6’4″ the acid test for me is to sit in any offering first and then do the sums with those I’m comfortable in. Hence my observation about the back seat headroom in the Prius. They are both 1.5L cars(shopping trolleys in my book) for good reason, but here’s the critical occupancy dimensions, Colt first, Prius second. Length 3870/4445 Width 1680/1725 Height 1550/1490.

    Now the largest 575 mm difference in length is down to 2 reasons. Firstly the Prius has to accomodate a planetary reduction gearbox and electric motor/generator under the bonnet and Mitsi decided most punters would be happier with a tight htchback rather than a bigger boot. Given the extra front end requirements of any hybrid, I’m confident Mitsi could design a shorter car with the same legroom and boot as any similar hybrid. A difference of 45mm in width between the two is negigible, depending on body shape, door thickness, etc as is the 60mm increase in height of the Mitsi, albeit that can allow a more upright seating position, negating the need for more legroom length and given the continuation of that higher flatter roofline in the hatch, negate that headroom problem in the back seat I noticed. The overall combinations of width and height suggest little advantage for either re wind resistance. Basically if you say the Prius is mid sized then so is the Colt although they may both be biggish cars of the future.

    I take your point about comparisons for truly bigger family cars and wagons, that a hybrid will prove even better in stop start driving, the higher the mass of the vehicles, although we don’t know how big those battery packs will influence those sums in future. The clear marketing choice of a 1.5L Prius now(and others) suggests Toyota is nervous about the comparisons of bigger Camry hybrids/conventionals in future, given that massive headstart conventionals have over hybrids at present.

    JQ#48
    ‘the standard practice has been that permits expire at the end the period of issue (typically one or two years).’

    Doesn’t that negate most of the theoretical benefit of cap and trade vis a vis straight carbon taxing and what’s to stop our light globe and shower head changing froggy going country shopping with his new permits, where they don’t expire or have long expiry terms?

  2. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:34 | #2

    “the typical error of judgement”. So typical in fact that it is shared by Mitsubishi and Toyota themselves, not to mention lots of reference sources. Is there something about Austrianism and a conviction that everyone else in the world is wrong? And if so, which way does the correlation run?/

  3. Bruce Littleboy
    February 25th, 2009 at 13:12 | #3

    re 48

    Maybe your reply should be more widely reported, John! Why on earth are people getting upset about issuing too many permits if we can reduce them in a year or two to a better limit? Your posting undercuts all the concern about how an individual’s electricity conservation will have no effect on total emissions. Nothing is cast in granite at all!

    I assume that water entitlements to the Murray system don’t expire quickly (at all?), and that the situation is very different.

  4. Salient Green
    February 25th, 2009 at 13:15 | #4

    observa, you are supposed to add the power and torque of the electric motor to the engine figures.
    power 30kw+57kw =87kw total (colt 77kw)
    torque 350Nm+115Nm =465Nm total (colt 132Nm)

    The new Prius here, no plug in yet.
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/01/toyota-reveals.html

  5. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 15:04 | #5

    Thanks for that link SG and yes I do appreciate electric motors have gobs of torque low down but bear in mind that disappears as the petrol motor takes over. Many owners thought the Prius a bit of a slug (no doubt price related) and as Carsguide point out some of that noticeable shortcoming has been addressed-

    ‘the new Prius has a bigger petrol engine than its predecessor (up from a 1.5-litre four-cylinder to a 1.8, the same size as the engine in a Corolla) but it also has a bigger electric motor and a more efficient battery pack.

    The torque, or pulling power, at low revs has deliberately been reduced to make the Prius accelerate more smoothly off the line. But engineers have increased the amount of torque mid-way through the rev range to better suit real-world driving conditions.

    The result is a one second reduction in the claimed 0 to 100km/h acceleration time, from 10.9 seconds to 9.9, about as ‘quick’ as a Camry.’

    New owners will however be the test guinea pigs for Toyota’s first ‘Atkinson Cycle’ engine and that could be a brave step into complexity more or less as described here-
    http://www.animatedengines.com/atkinson.shtml
    Personally I prefer to let others pioneer quantum leaps in complex technology as the run on and sudden acceleration of Toyota’s first foray into hybrids amply demonstrated.

    Same size car but perhaps Kev spoke to Mr Watanabe about that rear headroom problem as he was being chauffered about discussing the usual handouts-
    ‘Dimensionally, the new Prius has the same wheelbase as the current generation. Overall length is slightly increased by 0.6 inches, in part by moving the front cowl forward. Designers preserved the triangle form of the current model, but made alterations to the overall profile, pillar position and angle. The overall height of the Prius is the same, but the roof profile is altered by moving the top of the roof 3.9 inches to the rear. This emphasizes the wedge shape, and also allows for enhanced rear headroom and improved aerodynamics.’

    It’s easy to design an aeroplane wing that many of us bang our heads on for the sake of saving turbulence with a hatch and squeezing the last drop of economy, or simply make the wing longer.

    I see the new Atkinson cycle 1.8L plus hybrid, etc improves fuel efficiency by 8.7% from the earlier model’s 46mpg to 50mpg. Simply adjust those Colt plus solar to the grid figures accordingly, provided the new Prius owners don’t drive around in that new ‘Power Mode’ I suspect and they’ve shelled out extra for that solar roof aircon,LED lights and the like. That’s where those fuel economy figures will get a bit rubbery. No doubt Mitsi’s engineers could do likewise if opportunity cost is no object but perhaps Toyota are giving you all a whiff of what I already knew re that solar roof bit.

    My advice to Mitsi is to bring out a ‘Colt Zero’ model for intelligent prospective Prius owners. Same car (ok perhaps a longer boot) but for the price of a Prius you get the Colt and a solar to the grid system that negates the Prius footprint and you get to keep any of Kev’s cashback for the solar. Drive a ‘Colt Zero’ and stick it up those Prius posers folks! Most of them are sold to corporates and Govt by the way as you’d expect doing the sums.

  6. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 22:24 | #6

    Speaking of eco cars I came across Subaru’s Stella plug-in electric which may be of interest here-
    http://www.countrycars.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleId=61098
    Price seems to be the problem as usual, no doubt due to high development costs of new battery technology to get both range and battery longevity. That’s why Toyota are sticking to hybrid technology at present because only using the Li-ion batteries up to 40% of capacity means they can last the life of the car (Toyota reckon only 2 cabs changed batteries so far in Oz at 350,000k and 550,000k) Note the Stella needs a special charging station and only has an 80k range. Hope they’re not like mobile phone chargers or standardisation will be the big bugbear in the race to market. An important point to note with electric vs hybrid re GG emissions-

    “Despite no greenhouse emissions coming from its electric engine, Subaru says using Australia’s coal-fired electricity would produce about 125g of carbon dioxide for each kilometre travelled in the Stella – almost 20g more than a Toyota Prius hybrid car that uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine alongside its electric motor.”

    Hmmm… makes you wonder whether the Chevy Volt,etc will save US autoworkers livelihoods over the long haul. On those figures I’d be pretty nervous about staking my livelihood or hard earned on that.

  7. Tim Macknay
    February 26th, 2009 at 00:59 | #7

    I’d like to see the Mitsubishi Miev (pure electric) released in Australia. I had a look at one in Bali in December 07, but didn’t get a chance to test drive it, sadly.

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