Sunday, December 21, 2003

A consumer writes: U.S. automakers turned backs on us

The Prius is among the lowest-emission, most efficient vehicles on the planet; when the gas/electric hybrid minivan is made available in this country we intend to have one as well.

The automakers in this country have had the technology to build such cars for many, many decades, but have refused to do so. Congress recently had the opportunity to increase the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards minimally; it caved in to intense lobbying from both the auto and oil industries, with the complete backing of the Bush administration. That's who turned their backs on America, not the buyers of foreign cars.

And lest we forget, the Bush administration, soon after taking office, ended funding for gas/electric research and production, instead claiming that hydrogen fuel cells were the wave of the future. Perhaps this is true, but hybrid technology is available now.

Two points:
One is that Detroit may not be producing hybrids because they do not know how to produce them. This may sound strange, but think of it this way. Toyota and Honda came up with Hybrids about 5 years ago. Generally, all the auto makers are within one or two years of each other. So, don't you think this five year lag may have something to do with Detroit not investing in hybrids initially, and then falling back seriously?

Secondly, while purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles is to be applauded, we must think about how much we drive, how we drive and when we choose to drive.


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