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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-25-05 11:49 AM
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Can hybrids save US from foreign oil?
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...For proponents of energy independence in the United States, the current level of dependency is worrisome. Last year, 56 percent of the nation's oil - some 11 million barrels a day - came from abroad. That's far more than the one-third share imported during the first oil crisis of the 1970s. And it's halfway to the two-thirds share projected for 2025, if nothing changes.

To reduce that dependence will require a massive modernization of America's transportation fleet, especially more efficient passenger cars and light trucks. So are hybrids up to the task?

Most auto analysts still say no, since an enormous number of hybrids would have to be sold over more than a decade to have a real impact. Still, demand for hybrids, the Prius in particular, is so strong that customers are waiting weeks to get one. Some used 2004 Priuses are selling for thousands of dollars more than the cost of a new one. On Tuesday, Toyota announced it would begin building its first North American hybrid car in 2006 at its Georgetown, Ky., plant.

The numbers are turning some heads.

"I was a huge skeptic," says Walter McManus, an auto industry researcher at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor. "But I've basically crossed over to the dark side. You can't argue with the market reaction." He estimates Toyota, Honda, and others will sell at least 1.2 million hybrid vehicles by 2010 - about 7 percent of the US market - and possibly much higher.

If all US cars (not including light trucks) were Priuses today, the nation would save 15 percent more oil than it received from the Persian Gulf in 2002, writes energy-efficiency guru Amory Lovins in his recent book "Winning the Oil Endgame."...cont'd

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0519/p14s01-sten.html


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