NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Unpromising Future of Hybrid Cars

July 12, 2002

The latest studies show electric automobiles and "hybrid" cars are destined for failure. The attempt to reduce auto emissions and reduce energy consumption -- which are sometimes incompatible goals -- through emissions and mileage mandates is foolish, researchers say. Among recent findings:

  • The added cost of hybrid technology -- which uses a combination of conventional internal combustion engines and electric batteries -- is 1.5 to 3 times the costs of other technological improvements that could achieve the same environmental performance improvement.
  • Production of ethanol gasoline additives and bio-diesel fuel demands vast quantities of electric power, making them less energy efficient than using conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • What's more, buyers don't care: fuel economy ranks 25th among considerations in the decision to buy a particular car.

Most seriously, improving car mileage by reducing a car's weight increases traffic fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, passenger car standards, which have been lowered to accommodate fuel mandates, have already caused an additional 2,000 deaths and 20,000 serious injuries each year.

In light of these negative hurdles, gasoline alternatives will likely power stationary home operations long before they power an automobile economically.

Source: Jay Lehr, "The Car of the Future (Hint: It Looks a Lot Like Today's Cars and Trucks)," Environment & Climate News, Volume 5, Number 6, July 2002, Heartland Institute, 19 South LaSalle #903, Chicago, IL, 60603, (312) 377-4000.


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