Do Hybrid Cars Really Make Us Greener?
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have been a common sight on American roads since 2001 when Toyota introduced the first-generation of its Prius to the United States market. Since then, HEVs, along with electric vehicles, have contributed to a reduction in the percentage of overall fossil fuel consumption, from 86.3 in 2001 to 83.6 in 2012.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, approximately 95 percent of American households own a car and only recently have the advancements in both fuels and vehicles truly secured a foothold with consumers. Which begs the question: Do hybrid cars really make us ‘greener?’
With the intent to create a “greener” option for a more sustainable lifestyle, HEVs have been discussed as a potential way to alleviate the pressure of this developing fossil fuel crisis. But are HEVs really doing what they say they are doing?
When looking at the United States’ efforts in particular, there has been a decrease in fossil fuel energy consumption from 2009-2012, according to The World Bank. Could this be attributed to the push of hybrid cars? The World Bank does not yet come to a conclusion.
HEVs may just be doing all that they can at the moment, given their open support from “green” organizations such as the U.S. General Service Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, and much more.
So, what exactly are HEVs claiming to do? The USDE provides the following reasons why the HEVs can make an environmental impact.
- Domestic Energy: HEVs can rely on the use of local electricity. That being said, the U.S. can rely less on importing petroleum from beyond our borders.
- Travel vs. Consumption: HEVs are typically configured to maximize fuel economy. In HEVs, longer trips don’t have to mean more consumption of fuel. This can result in paying less overall.
- Convenience: Imagine a life away from the gas station. HEVs provide the benefit of not having to make that trip to fill the tank, which, as a result, can help cut travel time.
- Emissions: Compared to the traditional vehicle, HEVs produce less pollution.
While today’s HEVs certainly aren’t the magic bullet with regard to ‘green’ transportation, they may represent a step in the right direction toward future eco-friendly vehicles.