Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hybrids, shmybrids...

So I'm watching the Superbowl — more for the commercials than for the game — and I see a commercial praising the virtues of the GMC Yukon hybrid. Wow. For an extra $20,000, you can get 21 mpg in the city instead of 14 mpg. I can't express how frustratingly idiotic that is.

All of the Presidential candidates have been talking about "energy independence" and a few have actually mentioned alternative energy sources. And hybrids are a step in the right direction. I have one myself — a Honda Insight, which I absolutely love, and which gets about 50 mpg — but they are only a band-aid solution. Yet automobile manufacturers by and large seem to be focused on producing hybrids to the exclusion of other, better, solutions. Now we have a hybrid Yukon. What's next, hybrid school buses? Hybrid dump trucks? The usefulness of a hybrid vehicle is completely lost on large, heavy gas-guzzlers. A hybrid Yukon is little more than a balm to the egos of wealthy idiots who don't really care about the environment but feel that they should. So now they can drive their huge SUV beast and still brag to their wealthy idiot friends that they care about the environment because they drive a hybrid, even though they could do better by driving a non-hybrid minivan or sedan.

If we want to really help the environment, and truly become energy independent, we as a society need to demand that auto makers seriously devote themselves to the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, grid-powered electric vehicles, as well as the infrastructure to support them. We need more and better public transportation (even — or especially — if it is actually produced by the private sector), and we as a society need to actually utilize it.

And we need to realize how dumb the idea of a hybrid Yukon really is.

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