Hybrids and US Policy ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrids and US Policy

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hybrids and US Policy

David Leonhardt wrote an interesting article for the New York Times titled 'How U.S. policy undermines hybrid cars'. But he gets some things wrong.

"Too bad the benefits of the new cult car have been so exaggerated...
hybrids have the most overblown mileage ratings in the auto industry. In the U.S. government's road tests, which are conducted in a world without much traffic or any air conditioning, the Prius gets 55 miles to the gallon...
Consumer Reports says the Prius really goes 44 miles on a gallon of gasoline. When I used one last week - and there is no denying that it's a great car to drive - I got 45 in New York City and on local highways."

While it's true that the MPG on hybrids is wrong (and by 10 mpg), it still puts the hybrid head and shoulders over the competition. And by not mentioning the EPA estimates of mpg on all cars is wrong, he seems to imply the hybrids are the ones that are getting it wrong. The EPA tells you these estimates are just that. You should use them for comparison purposes, not as real world predictions.

"In 1978, Congress set a minimum Corporate Average Fuel Economy for all carmakers. Today, the mandated minimum average for cars is 27.5 miles a gallon. For light trucks, which include SUVs, it is 21.6.

You can guess what this means for hybrids. Each one becomes a free pass for its manufacturer to sell a few extra gas guzzlers."

He forgets to point out how this policy has changed the production priorities of the big carmakers. Not to mention the savings in pollution output. To say hybrid cars makes it possible to gas guzzling cars/suvs to be sold is irresponsible. It's the US marketplace that is determining how many of these gas guzzlers are being sold.

The carmakers are paying the fines for being below the minimum average and are basically just costing them out as part of doing business. They are just passing those fines onto the customers, who are gladly paying them.

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