Ah, the hybrid car. You know, people who have them seem to think they are the slickest thing since sliced bread. I don’t blame them though, the electronics alone are worthy of a NASA space mission.
But, can the past crop of hybrid cars really be called “hybrid”?
I remember many years ago when one of the tech mags (Pop Sci, Popular Mechanics, can’t recall) had an in depth article about a “homegrown” hybrid car someone had built. Big car, lots of batteries, ran on electricity until batteries ran dry and then a gas engine kicked in to recharge the batteries. I think it had a range of about 40 miles until it had to use gas. Now, that’s what I call a true hybrid – uses the best of both worlds.
Now, the Obama administration has set a goal of having a million “plug-in” (that means no gas) electric vehicles on the road by 2015, and the government offers a $7,500 tax credit to buyers. But, for the most part, Americans still are rejecting all-electric cars.
Electric vehicle sales accounted for just 0.1 percent of the market, up only slightly from 0.09 percent in 2011, according to The Fiscal Times. (Wow, big jump). Projections are that in 10 years, EVs will account for only 1.5 to 2 percent of the market.
Chief among perceived drawbacks are the price of the vehicle and the limited range that requires frequent battery recharging. One Nissan Leaf driver complained that the car lasted as little as 43 miles on a charge in the winter rather than the promised 73 miles, and recharging the car with a 120-volt charger could take 20 hours.
"Federal billions cannot overcome the fact that electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrids meet few, if any, real consumer needs," The Washington Post observed in an editorial. "Compared with gas-powered cars, they deliver inferior performance at much higher costs."
Nevertheless, some car manufacturers remain hopeful. Six new EVs were unveiled last year, and this year will see the rollout of Tesla's Model S, a large EV that can travel more than 200 miles on a charge. The car's price tag after the $7,500 tax credit: $52,400. Federal loan guarantee for Tesla: $465 million.
- The electric car mistake(triblive.com)
- Charles Lane: Obama’s electric-car mistake(utsandiego.com)
- Tesla’s Gotcha Blog Catches New York Times Reporter Driving In Circles(forbes.com)
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