April 11, 2006

Tech > Report Questions Hybrid Car Efficiency

A new report on crade-to-grave energy consumption finds that hybrids use more energy than most conventional cars.

For example, the Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the "Dust to Dust" lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version.

One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.

And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced.

For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile.

Assuming the study's correct, I'm still hopeful that hybrids will offer improvements in fuel efficiency. Improvements in battery technology would help. One possibility that's been discussed is getting rid of the transmission and sending the electrical output to electric motors connected directly to the wheels.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack

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