As technology progresses the human race progresses with it. CD players heralded the downfall of cassette tape players and the MP3 player now dominates CDs.
The demand for new technology has wavered few times in history. One instance in which demand for new technology has tapered off is significantly detrimental to the environment and the economy: the gas-powered automobile.
The technology that can revolutionize the world economically and environmentally is the hybrid automobile.
The average driver doesn’t see the logic for resigning the outdated and inefficient fossil fuel cars for the new line of hybrids and other low-emission vehicles.
In California alone, 40 percent of the total greenhouse gas pollution is produced by automobiles. California, the fifth largest economy in the world, produces 40 percent of its greenhouse pollution by automobiles and this is in spite of California’s very progressive stance in regard to gas emissions of automobiles.
According to newrules.org ‘On Sept. 24, 2004, the California Air Resources Board announced that they had approved a landmark regulation that requires automakers to begin selling vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2009.’
What is a hybrid electric vehicle? There are a few different types of HEVs but the most popular HEV is the battery-assisted energy vehicle.
As defined by the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, an HEV is ‘any vehicle which is included in the definition of a ‘series hybrid electric vehicle’ a ‘parallel hybrid electric vehicle’ or a ‘battery-assisted combustion engine vehicle.”
The battery-assisted combustion engine vehicle uses a battery to preserve the electricity produced by retaining the kinetic energy lost while braking.
Every time the vehicle brakes it regenerates the battery pack to supplement or replace the combustion engine temporarily.
How does ozone, or greenhouse pollution, take place and how do cars have an effect on ozone pollution? It is a quite simple chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and sunlight.
As the federal Environmental Protection Agency Office of Mobile Services states in its guide on Automobiles and Ozone, ‘Hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides come from a great variety of industrial and combustion processes. In typical urban areas, at least half of those pollutants come from cars, buses, trucks and off-highway mobile sources such as construction vehicles and boats.’
The economic incentive to go hybrid is to lessen the United States oil dependency.
For example, according to hyrbridcars.com, if we were to increase the average cars’ mileage by 2.7 miles per gallon, the need to import oil from Iraq and Kuwait would cease in its entirety.
If we were to raise the average to ‘7.6 mpg, we would save enough to eliminate 100 percent of our Gulf oil imports into this country.’
By increasing the fuel efficiency of all cars in the United States by one mpg, ‘we would save twice the amount of oil that could be obtained from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.’
How can people respond? By purchasing Super Ultra Low-Emission Vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles.
The most popular HEVs are the Honda Accord Hybrid, the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Honda Insight, the Toyota Prius and now the Lexus RX 400h hybrid that, according to advanceautoparts.com, ‘will utilize a version of Hybrid Synergy Drive with front and rear electric motors and a front-mounted V6 internal combustion engine.
This combination will create the power and torque of a V8 and deliver the fuel mileage of a compact car while producing a fraction of the emissions of standard SUVs.’
Many other car companies offer hybrids including Ford, Dodge, BMW, Hyundai, etc. Hybrids offer high efficiency as well as high performance.
For extreme efficiency, the Honda Insight surpasses 60 mpg on freeway- and street-driving whereas the Accord Hybrid has 255 horsepower that can do a quarter mile at 15 seconds, thanks to the dual combustion and electric engine.
The Lexus RX hybrid is quicker off the line than its gas-only predecessor, the RX 330, and has a greater mileage than the average compact sedan at 27.6 mpg.
More incentives to buy a hybrid vehicle: If you were to purchase a federally accepted hybrid vehicle you could receive a $2,000 tax deduction.
And in California, legislators and Gov. Schwarzenegger are in the process of extending permission to use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers for HEVs, which are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2007.
Eric Schafer is a first-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org