Sunday, September 16, 2007

Never confuse the words "hybrid", "dual fuel", and "fuel efficient"

Toyota Highlander or Toyota Echo -- which one is better for the environment? Across American legislators, city governments, policy advisors, and every day people are getting it wrong. We need to understand that the word “hybrid” does not mean “great for the environment.” “Dual fuel” does not mean great for the environment. Fuel efficient -- with a specific reasonable benchmark applied -- can mean better for the environment.

Below the benchmark of the US fleet vehicle average of 22mpg, we do find the obvious problem cars:

Hummer 8-10 mpg
Ford Expedition 14-19 mpg
Chevy Suburban 13-17 mpg

But here are examples of two cars with the "hybrid" word attached

Hybrid Lexis GS 450 h 25/28 mpg (highway/city)
Hybrid Toyota Highlander* 27/32 mpg

that are worse performing than these traditional gasoline-powered cars:

Honda Civic 26/34mpg
Toyota Yaris 34/39 mpg
Toyota Echo 35/43 mpg

We should definitely not be giving special dispensation to people who buy SUV hybrids over people who buy small space- and fuel-efficient traditional engine cars.

Amazingly, Al Gore is giving away a Toyota Highland Hybrid to the person who comes up with the winning 30 second advertisement that alerts the American public to the perils of climate change.

Al, I admire and respect you. An Inconvenient Truth changed the way Americans think, but you need better transportation policy advice. Send me an email, I’m happy to help.