My hybrid, a 2003 Civic, gets pretty good mileage, but not as good as my old Rabbit Diesel. I don't know what the fuel production tradeoffs are and how they relate to overall energy independence, but I do know that it was hard to find the diesel fuel and it was more expensive. At any rate, I'm very happy with my Civic. I got 52 mpg on one trip across the state. It's not the kind of technical nightmare that some folks were warning me of. It has to be babied just a little. Transmission fluid needs to be changed and the oil is weird, zero weight. When I tell people about it, I tell them that it takes gas like any other car. It doesn't need to be plugged in. You don't need a specialist to work on it. It's a normal car, just better, and everyone will be driving one in a couple of years. Mainly because it's got good acceleration as well.
When I was a kid, I watched an ice-racing competition involving American cars and European cars. We got stuffed. It was embarrassing. I knew then that everyone would eventually be driving front-wheel drive cars. Front-wheel drive is just plain superior. Unfortunately, it took a lot longer than it should have. America's car companies failed us in this and many other ways. Penny wise, irrational resistance to change and wishful thinking.
Here are some hybrid enthusiasts who are hotrodding their vehicles for better mpgs. What they're doing is loading them up with batteries and plugging them in at night. They are claiming to get 250 miles per gallon, spending quarters instead of twenties. This is off-the-shelf, build-it-in-the-garage technology.
Here's a chance for Detroit to get back on the map. Give people cheap hybrids with plug-in capacity. Unfortunately, the Conventional Wisdom is that American consumers are too dumb to understand the concept. Here's the beauty of it though. They don't have to! They can run it like a regular hybrid until they run out of money for gas. Then they can stretch the last tank by juicing up from the outlet. They'll soon learn to recharge regularly. Besides, a lot of customers in the northern states are already accustomed to plugging in their engine blocks during the winter.
As I remember, Al Gore was responsible for the government/automaker cooperation that developed the first hybrid prototypes. Maybe his star will shine a little brighter in history than that of the current administration, which is frankly a little hostile to Science and Innovation.
8/15/2005 5:25 PM