Thoughts inspired by Ferrari's first production hybrid (950 horsepower)
It's about mindshare & perceptionFerraris (and other exotic sports cars) are definitely not green, don't get me wrong. But they're produced in such low numbers that properly inflating the tires on 0.1% of the Corollas out there would probably save more fuel than taking them all off the road, so I don't think they should be a priority. What's more interesting with Ferrari's new hybrid LaFerrari (kind of a dumb name) is the progression of fuel-saving technologies into so-called "halo" cars, the kind that 10-year old boys build models of and daydream about. That kind of publicity can't be bought, so it's too bad this one is just a regular hybrid and not a plug-in hybrid, or a fully electric vehicle, but that'll come.
In about a decade we went from this:
If you're curious about the specs, the LaFerrari is powered by a 6.3-liter V12 that is rated at 789 horsepower, with a pair of electric motors, mated to the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, producing 161 hp to bring total output up to 950 horsepower and 660 lb-ft of torque.
And while I'm convinced that nobody reading this will ever buy one (or even see one out on the street, probably), whether we like it or not, these kind of things do matter with getting mindshare and helping other more mainstream company justify investing in these technologies (GM executives have said on camera that Tesla making electric cars cool had allowed them to invest in EV technologies and make the Volt).
Starting around 2006, Tesla Motors did a great job changing people's perception of electric cars from this:
So as much as we can wish for everybody to make the right decisions for the right reasons, human nature works in such a way that perception and marketing work (otherwise, billions wouldn't be spent on it), and so anything that helps make greener technologies more sexy and desirable probably can't hurt. As long as there are cars being sold, people might as get the most fuel-efficient models that meet their needs.
This works for cars, and I'm sure it would also work for biking and transit. We need to better market these to people who might not even have considered them as viable options. The priority should be to improve biking and transit infrastructure, but that alone won't reach everybody or correct misconceptions. But I digress...