Hybrid solutions

At U.S. automakers, hybrids are still “mostly concepts,” says Daniel Gross in Slate. But GM and Ford can still crack the Japanese-dominated hybrid market. Apple “crushed its competitors” with its iPod, just like Toyota has with its Prius, but the iPod has spawned its own aftermarket “entrepreneurial ecosystem.” U.S. tinkerers have come up innovations like a car battery that allows a 45 mpg hybrid to “get up to 125 mpg,” and U.S. automakers are taking notice. It may not be easy getting these concepts to work in the “real world on a mass scale,” but “that’s exactly what U.S. automakers said about hybrid vehicles themselves—1 million sales ago.”

With their higher prices, hybrids still account for “only about 2 percent of vehicle sales” in the U.S., says Mark Solheim in Kiplinger.com. But  Cleaner diesels, natural gas and flex-fuel ethanol cars, electric roadsters, and even hybrid SUVs all offer some environmental and fuel-efficiency benefits. But while consumers are coming around, automakers are still “less than enthusiastic about higher fuel-economy standards.” And these alternatives will remain eco-band-aids until we put “all cars, trucks and SUVs on a fuel-economy-boosting diet.”