French analysts have concluded that the wild popularity of gasoline-hybrid electric vehicles in the United States could potentially hinder development of more sustainable and advanced green vehicles:
Hybrid electric vehicles that run on both conventional gasoline and stored electricity can be no more than a stop gap until more sustainable technology is developed, according to researchers in France. They suggest that the adoption of HEVs might even slow development of more sustainable fuel-cell powered electric vehicles.
The researchers go on to argue that the “misinformed craze” for hybrids in the U.S. is creating a situation where every manufacturer must include hybrid technology in their portfolio in order to stay afloat:
“Such a convergence is based more on customer perception triggered by very clever marketing and communication campaigns than on pure rationale scientific arguments and may result in the need for any manufacturer operating in the USA to have a hybrid electric vehicle in its model range in order to survive.”
But which technologies are hybrids precluding, anyway? Certainly not plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles, which seem fully compatible with gasoline-electric models. The study authors point to possibility of sustainable hydrogen fuel cells being delayed, but then admit that these won’t be around any time soon, anyway (not to mention finding a sustainable hydrogen source).
While I don’t think anyone here is going to buy their argument, it does offer some food for thought. In the near-term, will we settle on hybrid-technology even when higher-mileage or more sustainable alternatives exist?
What do you think?
Science Daily (Feb. 8, 2008): Hybrid Electric Vehicles Not As Green As They Are Painted, Analysts Contend