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Jeanne Schmelzer

And how about the comfort of hybrid cars for traveling?

Nathan Hampton

I think that hybrids are a great first step toward the future alternative energy vehicle whatever that is.

AAA and other organizations are already trying to pressure the EPA to update their mileage tests to something more modern which will likely drop a lot of mileages which might necessitate penalties against the manufacturers.

Other impending legislation is to include the big vehicles like trucks and SUVs that are marketed at regular consumers in the overall mileage average as well. These are among the first to get hybridized by Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler since they get such poor mileage just trying to get going. The new Ford Escape Hybrid SUV now gets 50+% better mileage than my full-size car.

The one thing to remember with hybrids is how they use their electric engines vs their gas engines. The Toyota Prius is better at this than the Honda Civic. The Prius is basically an electric car with a gas engine recharger onboard. You might run several miles or at least get up to speed before the gas engine even starts. The Civic tends to run the gas engine all the time, but uses the electric motors to boost the wheel power so the gas engine doesn't have to work as hard. This is also why people get such widely varying mileage returns. Wal-Mart is less than 2 miles from my house. In a Prius, the gas engine may never start on the entire trip there or back, a "free" trip. Going to work is 45 miles one-way on the interstate with very little traffic at an average speed of 70mph: all gas. Most days, the ride home is completely stop-and-go through construction traffic: mostly electric. Travelwise, it wouldn't be much of a help on fuel, maybe worse.

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