While I see that the Ford Focus is getting 105 MPGe, and that is cool, I am still having a problem with the rating system. The EPA takes the amount of energy in a gallon of gas, then translates that into electricity, something like 33kWh, then they count this as the equivalent to gas. The only problem is that if you make electricity out of gasoline, you are only using 40% of the power for actual work. You have the same inefficiencies that exist in the internal combustion engine. So their 105 MPGe is really closer to 42 MPGr (or MPG – really). Not so impressive any more.
The reason for even using MPG, or miles per gallon, is because most people know this term, so they want a way to compare efficiencies…but this is not a true comparison because it doesn’t take into account generation of electricity. So an electric car running on locally supplied wind energy would be greener than one powered by the neighbor’s gas-powered generator while he is away.
To resolve this confusion, I suggest that we use the term RPG, or Role-Playing Games, and base it on the number of RPG’s it takes to run the car.
This is how it works…while playing an RPG, the XBox 360 (the only cool product Microsoft has anymore) uses 170 watts. It takes about 6.5 hrs for a hardcore gamer to beat Modern Warfare 3, so they use approximately 1.1 kWh to beat the game. The EPA says that 33.7 kWh is equal to 1 gallon of gas, so using some fuzzy math b/c I won’t actually calculate this, the car gets about 3 miles per RPG, which in scientific terms would be an RPG rating of 3.
Basically, for every 3 miles you drive this beast, you are stealing an entire RPG’s worth of energy from the grid that some kid stuck at home could be using.
Makes you think twice about driving?