Matthew Wald of the NY Times writes about how today's new hybrid vehicles aren't as green as they seem. Car companies like Honda have started "hybridizing for performance," meaning that the new hybrids get about the same gas mileage as their non-hybrid sisters in exchange for slightly faster acceleration and pickup. What might be questionable in all of this (besides the fact that the companies are selling the cars as "green turbochargers") is that the buyers of the new Hybrid V6 Accord (or the Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Civic)still get the $600-$1300 tax rebate at the end of the year, even though they are burning just as much gas as their neighbor driving the standard Honda Accord or Civic. Not sure Joe Merica will be excited about the fact that vehicles targeting upper-middle class motorists is giving out questionable tax rebates for a car that chews through just as much gas as anything else on the market but happens to get off the line a few seconds quicker. The EPA ranks the vehicles as getting a mile per gallon more than the standard models but these rankings are always considered inaccurate because they don't reflect the way in which cars are actually driven.
One line from Wald's article sums it up nicely:
"Hybrid technology seems to be heading the way of earlier technologies, which got more work out of a gallon of gasoline, like four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing, that have been used in the end to make cars accelerate faster, rather than to hold them steady in performance and to cut fuel consumption."
Anyone else worried our hybrid euphoria could crash before it actually takes off?