I just can't keep myself from finally weighing in here. I'd add a couple things to this back and forth on hybrids:
1. There are a host of technologies that improve fuel efficiency in vehicles not just hybrids - eg, new materials, better gasoline engines, new clean diesel engines, etc etc - many ways to get there, packaged in all shapes and sizes of vehicles. For no CO2 emitting sector is there one silver bullet technology, but instead many. All have strengths and weaknesses, but in the context of clear regulatory framework, taken together, they'll get us there.
2. And speaking of taking things together, reducing CO2 emissions from the transport sector does include fuels and vehicle use too. Thats not to say that improving vehicle efficiency isn't critical, but we should think seriously about an investment in things like an effective and attractive public transportation infrastructure as well. Not using your car to commute cuts emissions dramatically, more dramatically than switching to a more efficient vehicle - and its more pleasant and more productive than sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. But currently most people who drive to work, don't have a very good alternative - thats something we can change, and create large numbers of jobs at the same time.
3. I tend to think Chuck is right that payback isn't the key reason people buy green. People do buy more fuel efficient vehicles as fuel price goes up, but cool new enviromental technology isn't just about that. Quite some time back I spoke with someone at honda about the Insight hybrid -- it had been out then just a year or two -- and they said that average early buyer of the insight was (roughly here, I don't have this written down anywhere) a 28-year old white male republican who loves technology -- not a classic tree hugger. Its time we thought about and marketed these technologies as cool, as things people actively want (I know I do! along with a nice color and great performance) not as some sort of a hardship or sacrifice.
Midwest Program Manager, Global Warming
National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Office
213 W. Liberty St., Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1398
>>> "Chuck Cubbage" <firstname.lastname@example.org> 5/24/2007 10:56 PM >>>
I find one of the "decision" factors in selecting cars to be quite interesting. Re hybrids, invariably "payback statistics come up. I wonder how often that criteria is applied to the many options one can get when shopping for different versions of different makes. My bet is that payback has very little to do with people's selection. If they want a red car with air, Bose stereo, ABS, how many of them worry about the payback ? But just let the topic of being green come up and all of a sudden - "it just isn't practical given the payback...." becomes the mantra. There are other reasons than personal finance to select "green" maybe?