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[cdn-nucl-l] " Why should taxpayers subsidize hybrids? "
Why should taxpayers subsidize hybrid hot rods?
JAY BRYAN, The Gazette
Published: Saturday, April 01, 2006
we have hybrid hot rods like the Honda Accord hybrid, whose fuel economy (25
mpg) is hardly better than that of the far cheaper Honda Accord with the
standard 4-cylinder engine (24 mpg), but whose acceleration is much, much
And there's an emerging generation of giant SUVs whose hybrid engines also
give them extra zip, but that have unimpressive economy. The Toyota
Highlander hybrid gets a mediocre 22 mpg, not a lot better than the
conventional Highlander's 19.
This new crop of hybrids tend to be luxury cars with price tags well over
$30,000, so automakers have made the reasonable assumption that their
well-heeled buyers prefer the excitement of smoking-hot performance to the
prospect of saving on gas.
That's a choice they're free to make, but why should taxpayers subsidize it?
Consumer Reports has identified several conventional cars that get better
mileage than most hybrids. The Toyota Echo family sedan (recently replaced
by the similar Yaris) averages a remarkable 38 mpg. The Volkswagen Jetta
diesel gets 34. Several other conventional sedans get 30 mpg or better. By
contrast, most of the new crop of hybrids are big vehicles that get well
under 30 mpg.
So here's the situation: a guy with a modest income and a small, very
economical conventional car gets no subsidy. But he gets to pay higher taxes
to subsidize the more prosperous guy down the street with a luxury SUV that
guzzles gas, but happens to be a hybrid. This is green?
At least Quebec's hybrid subsidy is supposed to be limited to more
economical ones. But even in Quebec, there's no equal benefit for a highly
economical conventional car.
Why? If you're just a tad cynical, you could imagine that there's less than
meets the eye to these politicians' claims to be aiding the environment.
In the image-driven world of politics, economy in itself isn't very
exciting. A cool new technology is. Better still, by subsidizing only
hybrids, which still represent a tiny part of total auto purchases, you can
buy your fraudulent green image without spending much.
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