Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blinded by the Sex Appeal of Hybrids

Further evidence that equating "fuel efficient" with "sexy", or "cool", isn't going to quench our thirst for gas guzzling autos: "Life in the Green Lane." This New York Times op-ed piece by Jamie Lincoln Kitman points out what is getting lost in the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles is actual reductions in gasoline consumption.

As Kitman points out, embracing hybrids because of the green cachet does us no good, as the environment tends to be relatively indifferent to how good we feel about the environmental impact of the cars we drive. The environment tends to be more concerned with how much gasoline they actually consume. Legislators, on the other hand, are concerned with what sells. And right now, anything with the label "hybrid" attached to it is a big, big seller - there's even a certain sex appeal to driving a Prius these days, although it doesn't appeal to quite the same crowd as driving a Ferrari - irrespective of its actual gas mileage.

I won't carry on rehashing Kitman's critique any longer. For more read the op-ed and, also, please see last week's post on this topic: Cleaner Cars: Where There's a Will, There's a Way. The basic problem here is that hybrid vehicles are booming in popularity primarily because they're booming in popularity, not because of their diminished environmental impact. Unless and until that reality is understood, and hybrid vehicles stake their desirability on more than a trendy classification, I fear that it's going to take state intervention if we're to make any real headway in efforts to curb our consumption of gasoline.


Blogger Potentilla said...

So isn't there a website comparing the fuel-efficiency of cars driven under different circumstances? Run by a green organisation?

Mon Apr 17, 03:02:00 PM EDT  

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