Hybrid or Diesel? Depends.

Despite Sam A's recent post about hybrids losing some appeal relative to the upcoming cleaner diesels, I tend to feel hybrids are here to stay and will include ever growing part of the auto market. To back me up, is the recent survey by those wild guys over at Consumer Reports. More than 1,800 people were polled and more than 50 percent said there were willing to switch to smaller vehicles if that improved fuel efficiency. It does. Not quite as many - about 40 percent - said they were willing to pay more for fuel efficient vehicles. About 30 percnet were willing to pay more for alternative fuels.

There are a lot of factors at play here. Most of our fuel is imported so when we buy petroleum we are exporting our dollars. Buying less fuel means we export fewer dollars. However, buying an imported hybrid car means we are exporting dollars once again. Depends on who you are exporting the dollars to. Of course, hybrids were developed and perfected in the US. The Big 3 worked on them during the 1990s with government funding. But they did not have to build them and they didn't. They were too busy selling SUVs then. So Honda and Toyota, coming from a country with absolutely no oil reserves, jumped right in with their own system. Shame on us.

Consumers Reports favors higher mileage standards. They estimate that each car owner would save $865 a year if the mileage standards were raised to 35 MPG for cars and light trucks. Now, that is $865 out of pocket expense for each car. That means earning about $1,330 before taxes or $2,660 for a 2-car family. Anyone here have that kind of extra cash lying around?

As far as Diesel vs. Hybrid, I think the two features will be merged into one. A small diesel engine and a hybrid system seems like an ideal package for the long run. The diesel can be optimized for low emissions in its operating "sweet spot" and the extra load can be taken up by the energy storage system. As a matter of fact that is what the Big 3 each came up with in the 1990s.

[Source: Light and Medium Truck]

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