The Energy Security Implications of Hybrid Cars
The hybrid car market is slowly ramping up. In the past five years the number of hybrid sales numbers in the U.S. grew tenfold from 9,500 in 2000 to 100,000 in 2004. By the end of 2005, the number of hybrid cars on American roads will grow to 300,000, represented by about seven or eight hybrid models, including the two-door Honda Insight, which will have sales of about 2,000 in 2005.
The increasing sales numbers are encouraging, but must be viewed in the context of the overall car market. The 100,000 hybrid car sales in 2004 represent about one-half of one percent of the 17 million new cars sold this year. If every new hybrid driver effectively (and optimistically) doubled fuel economy from 20 mpg to 40 mpg for 40 miles of daily driving, then a gallon per hybrid car would be saved every single day. That's a whopping 100,000 gallons per day chalked up to hybrid car drivers. But, we've only reduced our daily U.S. consumption from 360 million gallons to 359,900,000 gallons.
Market forecasters predict a continued annual doubling of hybrid car sales for the next few years. We could reach the major milestone of one million hybrid cars on American roads somewhere in the 2007 or 2008 timeframe. Again, this is cause for celebration, until you consider that there are approximately 200 million cars in America today--and over 700 million vehicles worldwide. If car numbers keep increasing at the present rate, there will be more than a billion cars and trucks on the road across the world in 20 years. Vehicles are now driven two trillion miles each year in the U.S., and there are more cars than adults.
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