When it comes to car rentals, I’ve rarely cared about the make and model of what I’m driving, so long as it’s in my (low) price range, it has a working radio and the driver’s side door operates properly. So it’s a good thing I’ve never tried to rent a hybrid, because the New York Times says I’d be paying anywhere from 30-70% more for the thrill of it all. [More]
A Consumer Reports study finds that 79% of consumers surveyed say they plan on buying a car with better fuel economy. [Consumer Reports]
If you’re still thinking of purchasing a hybrid vehicle this year, time is running out to get in on the Alternative Motor Vehicle tax credit. We pointed out the official IRS schedule of expiring credits back in March, and now you’ve got less than 30 days to score a small credit (currently 25% of the original credit amount) on a Toyota or Lexus hybrid—after September 30th, the credit disappears for good. Honda tax credits may be cut by 50% after September 30th, but the verdict’s still out on this one.
This week, GM announced it plans to begin testing its plug-in, rechargeable car, the Chevrolet Volt, in the spring of next year. Says GM bigwig Bob Lutz, “We’ll have some on the road for testing next spring, and we should have the Volt in production by the end of 2010.” The secret ingredient to the Volt’s claim of 40-miles-per-charge is its “next-generation” lithium-ion battery, which is designed to last for 10 years, and which Lutz says will be ready by this October. Can we get one for our laptops?
Plug-In Hybrids are not yet available, but new research says that when they are their use could slash emissions by, well… a lot. Theoretically, plug-in hybrids could be driven up to 40 miles a day on electricity alone. More good news: using electricity for fuel wouldn’t harm the power grid and the equivalent cost would be about $1 a gallon. But can car manufacturers make the cars cheap enough and the electric company make power clean enough to sell the idea to the American public?
The upbeat news for plug-ins, seen by many as the next big step in environmentally friendly automotive technology, came with two caveats. Achieving the maximum air quality improvements would require a significant cut in the pollution produced by electric utilities. It’s also dependent on large-scale adoption of plug-in hybrids, which may not be in new-car showrooms for several years.