Plug-In Hybrids Could Help Cut Emissions

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.

Even so, backers of plug-in technology were heartened by the latest findings, which could help defuse the charge that the vehicles would simply transfer the source of air pollution from vehicle tailpipes to power station smokestacks.

The study “finally gives an environmental stamp of approval” to plug-in hybrids, said Felix Kramer, founder of, an advocacy group in Palo Alto, Calif. “It shows that even with today’s power grid, plug-in hybrids are a great idea.”

Plug-in hybrids sound pretty cool. The main thing holding them back is the lithium-ion battery technology, which, as laptop owners already know, could use a lot more work.

Study: plug-in hybrids cut emissions, don’t hurt power grid [LA Times]