Like fuel cell vehicles, battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) are extremely efficient, clean, quiet, smooth running, easy to maintain, and economical to operate. Tailpipe emissions are zero, and if the battery is charged with electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, or biomass resources, the entire fuel cycle will be emission-free (although emissions are likely in the vehicle manufacturing phase). Electric vehicles are also four to five times as efficient as gasoline vehicles when their efficiencies are compared by computing the efficiency of the gasoline vehicle from the nozzle of the fuel hose with that of the EV computed from the electric outlet at which it is charged. Thus, putting larger numbers of EVs on the road will catapult us toward a clean transportation system.
Unfortunately, early in 2001, the California Air Resources Board, under pressure from the auto industry, continued its policy of relaxing its zero-emission vehicle requirements for makers of automobiles sold in California, in effect reducing the number of electric vehicles that car manufacturers will be required to sell in the state. The commission's zero-emission mandate—first formulated in 1990—initially provided a strong impetus for the development of electric vehicles, but critics of the requirement successfully argued that advanced batteries could not be developed quickly and cheaply enough to meet consumers' needs and that because of high battery costs and limited vehicle range, consumers were not willing to buy electric vehicles in sufficient number to make their manufacture worthwhile. Supporters of electric vehicle technology maintained that demand would have been adequate had vehicles been produced in quantity and offered for sale at more reasonable prices.
The preceding objections about vehicle range and battery cost do not apply to hybrid electric vehicles. They have even longer ranges between refueling than conventional vehicles and, instead of a large, expensive battery pack, are equipped with fuel tanks and a small internal combustion engine plus an electric motor and battery. On-board regenerative braking systems are used to capture vehicle momentum during braking for conversion to electricity, which is stored in the vehicle battery for later use.
Hybrid electrics are cheaper to manufacture than pure EVs, and demand for them has been brisk. Because they are much more fuel efficient than conventional vehicles, they offer large potential fuel savings and the opportunity to avoid emissions. The Honda Insight, for example, gets more than 60 mpg in cities and more than 70 mpg on highways. Toyota began marketing its Prius hybrid in the United States in 2000, and demand has been brisk. Both hybrids and EVs are powerful weapons against smog, global warming, and acid rain. The pros and cons of electric, hybrid, and flywheel vehicles are discussed in depth elsewhere.25
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Hybrid Cars! Man! Is that a HOT topic right now! There are some good reasons why hybrids are so hot. If you’ve pulled your present car or SUV or truck up next to a gas pumpand inserted the nozzle, you know exactly what I mean! I written this book to give you some basic information on some things<br />you may have been wondering about.