A Short Path to Oil Independence

Together, hybrid cars and wind farms can slash our oil imports: a viewpoint.

Published: 13-Nov-2007

With the price of oil above $50 a barrel, political instability in the Middle East on the rise, and little slack in the world oil economy, we need a new energy strategy. Fortunately, a new strategy is emerging using two new technologies.

Gas-electric hybrid engines and advanced-design wind turbines offer a way to wean ourselves from imported oil. If over the next decade we convert the U.S. automobile fleet to gas-electric hybrids with the efficiency of today’s Toyota Prius, we could cut our gasoline use in half. No change in the number of vehicles, no change in miles driven — just doing it more efficiently. Several gas-electric hybrid car models are now on the market including the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight and the hybrid version of the Honda Civic. The Prius — a midsize car on the cutting-edge of auto technology — gets an astounding 55 mpg in combined city/highway driving. No wonder lists of eager buyers are willing to wait six months or more for delivery.

Many other hybrid vehicles are beginning to appear in showrooms, or are scheduled to arrive soon. Ford has recently released a hybrid model of its Escape SUV, Honda has released a hybrid version of its popular Accord sedan, and General Motors will offer hybrid versions of several of its cars and trucks, including the Chevy Tahoe, the Chevy Malibu and the Saturn VUE. Beyond this, GM has delivered 235 hybrid-powered buses to Seattle. Other large cities slated to get hybrid buses are Philadelphia, Houston and Portland.

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