Hybrid Equals Low Emissions and Great Fuel Economy? ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrid Equals Low Emissions and Great Fuel Economy?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hybrid Equals Low Emissions and Great Fuel Economy?

Today, I want to talk about a popular myth about hybrids, i.e. hybrid technology means low emissions and great fuel economy, right?


While hybrid technology can be used to lower emission and increase fuel savings, it can also be used to enhance performance instead.

For example, the Prius and the Insight were both designed to maximize fuel economy and to lower emissions. Since these were the two hybrids first sold on the modern market, hybrid technology has become synonymous with fuel savings and being good for the environment.

Some, more recently introduced hybrid electric cars were not designed that way, however. For instance, the Honda Accord Hybrid was designed to get more power by using the electric engine to produce more horsepower, i.e. you can get V8 power with a V6 engine.

Another good example is the new Lexus LS 600h which just went on sale in Japan and will be out in the US in June. This car was designed for luxury and power. Yes, it gets higher fuel economy than other cars in its class, but buyers should not expect to be wowed by those numbers (low 20's) just because its a hybrid. Instead, what Lexus (or Toyota if you want to think of it that way) did was put in a V8 engine, and enhance it with the electric engine so that you get V12 power.

What brought about this issue is the following story from ABG (Lexus hybrid ad reported as misleading - AutoblogGreen). Lexus has been warned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in England for misrepresenting the RX400h.

Specifically, Lexus was touting the following tag line: "HIGH PERFORMANCE. LOW EMISSIONS. ZERO GUILT". But, low emissions is a subjective thing. According to Lexus, they meant low emissions in comparison to other vehicles in its class, which is true. But that's not what others were seeing. Since the RX400h emits 192g/km of CO2, but the average European car emits less than 160 g/km, the RX400h does not have low emissions by that standard.

To summarize, hybrid electric cars do emit less and do get better fuel economy than their counterparts. But you should always look to who those counterparts are. Yes, the RX400h does emit less and does get better gas mileage than other luxury SUVs, but it is not better than a compact car.

Just because it says hybrid on the bumper does not mean you should feel like you're correcting all the worlds woes.

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