about Hybrids and Hydrogen
Home grown American automobile
advertising is probably the most dishonest form of communication (if you don’t
count the White House daily briefing.). Selling poorly designed cars that are
marketed more to our libido’s than brains has not paid off for General Motors
GM, the company
that built my dad’s Pontiac and Oldsmobiles, has been mismanaged into junk bond
status. Ford has got a family member at the helm again. The jury is out on if
that is a good thing. Both companies are trying to catch up with the
Both companies have
seen much better economic times largely because the buyers they once enjoyed
have disappeared generation by generation. What is worse is some foreign
companies that once made great and well designed cars have begun to make poorer
quality cars since they were taken over by the rock heads who run the big
companies in Detroit.
A couple of years
ago I had to buy a car. I approach this process with the joy of someone facing
gum surgery. I used to feel guilty about buying foreign built cars. But when
American companies won’t make a product that lasts or delivers decent gas
mileage the guilt was something I got over. Also ALL car dealers, including the
ones that sell the cool foreign cars, behave the same. At the end of the process
you want to stand under a 120 degree shower and be sprayed with car salesman
disinfectant. I didn’t even know polyester came in those colors.
My wife discovered
that two Japanese companies were building gas-electric hybrid cars that I could
drive in restricted interstate lanes without having any passengers in my car. To
me this news was better than winning the lottery. I tried shared commuting.
Let’s say I don’t have the personality for riding with lawyer/agents and leave
it at that.
So after checking
the fine print I ended up buying a Honda Civic hybrid. The buying experience was
dreadful. The dealer took so long to get me the promised special fuel plates
that I got pulled over by the State Troopers so often we were on a first name
If it were not for
a couple of instruments, an odd lack of engine noise at stoplights, and the
magic power I have to drive in HOV lanes during rush hour without stopping for
slugs, you would not know you are driving a different kind of car.
I commute a very
long way every day so how much gas a car uses is of some importance to me. I
also travel by interstate all but 20 miles of a 130 mile round trip. So the car
I drive has to be able to hold its own to myriad of people with no driving
manners or regard to safety. Did you know people read the paper at 70 miles an
In a real sense my
life depends on my car doing what it is supposed to do. After nearly 58,000
miles I can tell you that Hybrid technology – a combination of a 4 cylinder
gasoline engine and an automatically recharged battery powering an electric
motor – works brilliantly. I average 41.5 miles to the gallon. I would get more
I am told if I did a lot of start and stop city driving.
The only problem I
am facing is jealous commuters who don’t have Hybrids are trying to get the
State Legislature in Virginia to take away my right to us the HOV lanes without
at least one other passenger. Even if they did that I would buy another hybrid.
It is one of the few things an average person can do that makes you feel like
you are not making matters a lot worse.
Yes, there is some
pleasure in watching the lunkhead who bought a Godzilla sized Ford Expedition as
you fill your tank in the Shadow of his beast. The smirk on his face disappears
into helplessness as he sees that food is probably out of the question if he is
to pay for gas.
The guys in my
parking garage call my Honda “the electric car.” Puny GM and powerhouse Toyota
have joined together to research Hydrogen powered cars that use NASA style fuel
cells. They say hybrids are just transitional technology. Anyone who has owned a
mobile phone, computer or TV set knows all technology is transitional.
President Bush has
said his energy plan is based on Hydrogen. Of course that means you don’t have
to do much since it would be cheaper to run cars on truffle oil. Here is a real
energy plan for Bill and Dick: Reward people who build and buy cars that get
better gas mileage and urge more of us to embrace hybrid technology. Unlike
hydrogen this actually works and makes a difference. Get people into enough of
these cars and maybe you two can stop kissing so much Saudi royal behind, unless
you just like it.
© 2003-2006 Public Education Center, Inc. All rights
www.publicedcenter.org This essay is
herein republished with the author's consent.
has spent more than 35 years as an
investigative journalist, working with both print and broadcast outlets and
writing extensively on national security issues. Before joining the National
Security News Service in 1991, Trento worked for CNN's Special
Assignment Unit, the Wilmington News Journal, and prominent journalist Jack
Anderson. Trento has received six Pulitzer nominations and is the author of five
books, the most recent of which is The Secret History of the
CIA. He regularly publishes a blog at www.storiesthatmatter.org
Posted December 08, 2006