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I’ve been suprised lately how many hybrids are popping up and how good they’re getting. Clearly taking the trophy are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. The Prius gets a mind-boggling 60 MPG in the city. The Insight comes in a close second.
In the “can’t tell it’s a hybrid from looking at it” department I think the Honda Civic wins. It gets 45-47 MPG. And then in the “still gotta have my huge SUV” department the Toyota Highlander seems nice. It seats 7 and gets a suprising 33 MPG for a large SUV.
The only downside I’ve heard for hybrids is the eventual replacement of the batteries, which could get costly. But, with a decent hybrid you’d probably save enough on gas each year to still come out ahead. See how much you’d save on gas each year with this hybrid fuel cost comparison tool
More info on hybrids at Wikipedia
I still think we should be going all electric though. Considering neither end of the chain (energy production to usage) is efficient yet, it seems like it would be a lot easier to change thousands of power plants than 500 million cars. Hopefully sometime soon we’ll find some kind of clean and efficient energy production technology so if all cars are electric there’s no changes required at that end.
I really do think we’re close (ie: decades) to some kind of breakthrough here. The problem is that even if all power plants are producing limitless clean energy, oil is still an “efficient” mobile energy storage mechanism, and vehicles are most of the pollution problem. Battery technology would have to come a long way to compete with the range and recharge time of oil-driven vehicles.
I guess in this case though hydrogen would be a good possibility. The reason it’s not right now is because it’s a net-negative energy system. It takes more energy to produce the hydrogen (mostly from seperating the hydrogen and oxygen in water) to deliver to cars than it provides. But if we have an electricity producing system that’s abundant and renewable, energy waste isn’t as big of a deal and could be considered a cost of making the energy transportable. By comparison I’m sure it takes multiple times the energy provided by a AA battery than was used to produce it.