Are Hybrid Vehicles the 8-Tracks Of the Car World

By Jonathan Welsh

General Motors Departed EV1 outshines today’s electric cars.
“I recently read a report that found people are surprisingly open to the idea of owning hybrid or electric vehicles. According to a Capital One Auto Finance survey, 34% of respondents said they were likely to buy such a car next time and 54% said they will own one eventually.

“This sparked a long family discussion of what we might be driving in five or 10 years. The conclusion: We’ll skip hybrids and try to hold out for electrics.

“I’m no technology hound, but I try to skip interim products because, let’s face it, they make us feel like suckers for ever believing they were end-alls or even worth our time. I’m talking about more than just 8-track tapes and laser video discs. I know plenty of people who are kicking themselves for ordering DSL Internet service instead of waiting for fiber-optic.

“I think today’s hybrids will turn out to be the DSL of the auto world — clunky and outmoded. As electrics get better, with longer range and shorter charging times, more people will start looking past hybrids the way they looked past cassettes after CDs came along. Electric cars available today, like the battery-powered Mini Cooper I recently tried out, aren’t ready for prime time, but they’re close enough that I’m willing to wait awhile.

“I doubt the wait will be long. Look how quickly the alternative- fuel movement has sorted itself out already. When was the last time you heard anyone talking about hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles? How about flex fuel and the E85 ethanol-gasoline mix? They are still out there, but not as serious players. Unless you’re a corn farmer, ethanol is an all-around disappointment. And fuel cells? Tell me — who wants to drive around with a tank of pressurized hydrogen?

“Electrics are simpler and make sense for most drivers. My wife and were convinced of this early on, about 10 years ago, after driving aGeneral Motors EV1 that we rented in Los Angeles. It was during the last big push for electric cars that fell short. The EV1 never made it to mass production. It’s too bad, because the electrics I have driven recently like the Mini and Chevrolet’s Volt don’t hold a candle to the EV-1. Why was it able to go 130 miles on old-fashioned nickel-metal hydride batteries while today’s electrics struggle to go 80 or 90 miles on advanced lithium ion cells? Oh, don’t get me started.

“Let’s just say that we’d be farther along if GM had the foresight to fund the EV-1 instead of, say, the Hummer program or all those years of life support for hapless Saturn. Now the industry is catching up to where the EV-1 was a decade ago. When it gets there, I’m going shopping.”

http://blogs. wsj.com/drivers- seat/2010/ 04/25/are- hybrids-the- cassette- tapes-of- the-car-world/

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