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Re: Hybrid Vehicles



OK, I'm finally being dragged into this discussion.  As an electric
vehicle owner, I'm sold on 100% electric cars--mine (a Honda EV Plus) is
wonderful!  It is quiet, costs half the cost of gasoline to fuel,
requires little maintenance, and lacks most of the parts that cause
water pollution and generate hazardous waste to maintain (no motor oil,
no spark plugs, etc.).  It runs on nickel metal hydride batteries, which
charge up overnight in my garage (giving me an 80-100 mile range with
speeds up to 85 mph).  The air pollutant emissions from driving are
about equivalent to a 90 mpg car (considering the electric generation
source mix here in California).  Plus, my convenient 4-seater minivan
has peppy acceleration on city streets, which is convenient in hilly San
Mateo.

Hybrids can be more fuel efficient than ordinary vehicles, but have all
the maintenance-related pollution sources that a regular vehicle has
(plus the pollution associated with the batteries). Their primary
advantage is that they can be refueled just like a gasoline car, so they
can be taken on long trips (an option not currently available for pure
electrics, as battery implementation and charging infrastructure have
not caught up with demand).  My guess is that the maintenance and
engineering headaches of the hybrid technology will make it less
desirable in the long term than fuel cells (for long-distance vehicles),
CNG, and pure electric vehicles (probably primarily for local/regional
use).

As for overall ownership ratings, Consumer Reports has rated the Honda
Insight poorly for several design factors, none of which relate to the
hybrid engine itself.  I have get to see an impartial rating of the
Toyota Prius.

I should note that previous editions of the "Environmental" Guide to
Cars and Trucks that Tony mentioned have really only been "air quality"
guides, not analyses of multi-media environmental impacts of vehicles. 
Unfortunately, most automobile environmental analyses consider only fuel
efficiency and tailpipe emissions--and even there often don't downgrade
diesels for their significant toxic pollutant emissions.  Most analyses
do not consider water pollution impacts from cars, such as those from
maintenance, fuel transport and storage, motor oil spills and leaks,
brake pads wear (many pads contain copper and are a likely source of
copper impairment of numerous urban watersheds), and toxic pollutant
emissions (e.g., polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins from diesel
fuel).  When these other impacts are taken into account, current options
like pure electric and CNG, and future hydrogen fuel cells look pretty
environmentally attractive.

Kelly Moran
TDC Environmental
Honda EV Plus Owner


Anthony Sasson wrote:
> 
> All (Nader voters and others ;-)  ):
> 
> Also see http://www.greenercars.org/pr4.html, but you have to buy the book,  ACEEE's Green Book: The Environmental Guide to Cars & Trucks, for more details.
> 
> AS
> 
> Anthony Sasson
> anthony.sasson@epa.state.oh.us
> Ohio EPA
> Office of Pollution Prevention
> Lazarus Govt. Center, 122 S. Front St.
> Columbus, Ohio  43216-1049
> 614/644-2810     fax - 644-2807
> www.epa.state.oh.us/opp
>