CAUTION – The following post will most likely infuriate Libertarian readers. Blow back comments are welcome…
Start by reviewing this op ed from the National Post…
Returning to my theme of national security, to me it would be wise to look at incenting auto producers to design vehicles that can be easily switched between multiple types of fuel at minimum cost. The alternatives should extend beyond ethanol to include propane and natural gas. While it would not be necessary to include fuel storage in every car for the alternative fuels, it would be a good idea to have the ignition and fuel supply system configured to adjust with ease to alternative types of fuel beyond gasoline.
In the event of a supply disruption, having this capacity to adapt could substantially increase the resiliency of our national economies and improve our national security.
Eventually, I would like to see a migration to hybrid vehicles that could operate off of electricity as well, but the technology is still to expensive to equip most vehicles with that option. However, it would be nice to think of a vehicle that has a transmission and body design that could accommodate a retro-fit to go to a hybrid system if market conditions warrant instead of having to replace the vehicle fleet.
Larger vehicles like SUV’s, mini-vans and big cars in particular could lend themselves to including in their design a compartment in the body that could accommodate either a battery pack or a natural gas/propane tank. The concept of adapting the transmission to support an after market addition of an electric drive could also be done at relatively little cost. Maybe those options would never be used, but it would be like the design of wiring harnesses that are constructed to support all possible options in a new vehicle even if those options are not deployed when the vehicle is initially delivered (e.g. heated seats, in-vehicle televisions, surround sound systems, etc.).
When it comes to national security in general and energy security in particular, I will accept a label of being a policy hawk. Whether we are talking automobile design standards or the emerging concept of a national energy strategy that simplifies and expedites the construction of energy pipelines and transmission links, I believe it is time to look at national security risks in addition to conventional economic and energy policy.