Hybrids aren't the solution. At least not yet.

This article from Newsweek (also reprinted by MSNBC) - Imagine: 500 Miles Per Gallon - unfortunately misses a number of key important points.

Firstly, hybrid cars are currently worse performing than diesel cars. They burn more fuel. They cost more. Their batteries are expensive and wear out after 4 years - at a large cost to the environment. They pollute more even if you don't take into account the batteries - modern diesels from Europe put out less waste products than modern gasoline engines seen in the US.

Secondly, battery technology isn't accelerating that fast. It hasn't accelerated anywhere near where we'd like it to. Look at laptops for proof of this - they're having trouble keeping up. Because of this, fuel technologies will need to get better - and they're not keeping up all that fast. The biggest advance in the last 50 years was the new design, impressively efficient - yes, you guessed it -
diesel engine.

Will a hybrid diesel work? Maybe. Will we get around the battery issues? No time soon. Besides, Buzz Aldrin already tried to point out that improving battery life would be an important step forward as a political campaign platform in the 70s. No-one bought it. Sure, the climate might have changed, but has it changed that much?

All in all... don't go for a hybrid yet. Even with the latest models, diesels are better for the environment. If you really care about that kind of thing, buy a diesel. You'll spend less on gas than for a hybrid too...

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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Gary wrote on Wednesday, March 2, 2005:

A diesel will always be better when in a hybrid mode for two reasons: 1)regenerative braking and 2)a plug in hybrid san supplement the fuel need with electricity from sources like nuclear, etc.

Yes Sir, I Will! wrote on Tuesday, March 29, 2005:

Diesel is by no means a solution.
Since 1990, diesel exhaust has been listed as a known carcinogen in California and since 1998 diesel particulate is listed as a toxic air contaminant. So, you think Californians a strange folk anyway? They are not alone: http://www.catf.us/publications/view.php?id=83
I am saying get rid of your car. Walk more, ride your bike and save the money you would otherwise spend on car payments and the Gym.

Anonymous wrote on Sunday, April 3, 2005:

Broadly speaking, Europeans traded better diesel efficiency for higher particulate emmision health risks.

And broadly speaking California traded better air quality for lower fuel efficiency.

A good clean diesel hybrid would be tops in both categories (low sulphur fuels, etc.) but until then, I can see gasoline hybrids as the best truly “available” option.

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