Hybrid Cars Save Money, Cut Pollution
I recently had the chance to drive around Capitol Hill in a hybrid car with rechargeable, plug-in batteries. I may have been behind the wheel of the next generation in automobile technology.
With gas prices soaring to more than $3 a gallon, whats not to like about fuel-efficient, environment-friendly cars that get more than 100 miles per gallon?
The House Science Committee is considering legislation to offer incentives to encourage development of these innovative hybrid vehicles.
We recently heard from a panel of experts that included Dr. Andrew Frank, a professor at the University of California, Davis. He said plug-in hybrids œtake hybrid technology and make it more efficient with a better transmission, bigger battery pack and smaller engine. Frank, director of the universitys Hybrid Electric Research Center, said plug-in hybrids could roll off automobile assembly lines before the end of the decade.
Since plug-in hybrids combine traditional internal combustion engines with battery power, motorists have the option of going on long trips or using all-electric power for commutes of up to 40 miles. The batteries are charged at night using a standard household outlet. If a trip drains the batteries, the car automatically switches over to gasoline power.
Recharging a car with electric energy is cheaper than gas. The California Cars Initiative, a group of entrepreneurs, environmentalists and engineers, has estimated that electricity costs roughly about one-third the current price of gasoline.
By my calculation, the cost for fueling a plug-in hybrid would work out to the equivalent of 62-cents-a-gallon for gasoline. The last time the price of gas was that low I had a full head of hair.
I previously sponsored legislation to encourage hybrid vehicles incorporated into a highway bill Congress passed last year. It cleared the way for California and other states to let hybrid vehicles use car-pool lanes on freeways when the state determined there was extra capacity.
Hybrids may well be the car of the future.