"Studies" that arrive at conclusions long since known raise a serious question: who finances this work? In one of the most egregious cases of not trusting the available wisdom and having to prove it to themselves, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Grenoble School of Management have published a paper in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management concluding that hybrids are only a stop-gap measure which create a risk that more innovative technologies may be disadvantaged by acceptance of the (ultimately) non-sustainable hybrid models. How can a reasonable person respond to such inanity? We suggest three options.1) Drive a Hybrid. Sure it is only an interim solution. But it is a solution which is available today, and may be better than driving a non-hybrid. Of course, everyone needs a serious think about whether a small, efficient eco-box might make a better statement than a mega-truck. But if you really need a Tahoe for your transportation needs, then a hybrid is better than a non-hybrid model.
2) Leave a comment. You can join the clever replies currently published at Cleantech. Be sure to emphasize that the American research community came to the same conclusion years earlier, for example in an MIT hybrid study. Even your humble correspondents at TreeHugger scooped the French on hybrid issues:
Taken as a whole, hybrids offer a mixed bag of issues, when it comes to their environmental considerations. They offer greater fuel efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas and particular emissions than conventional cars, but still run on gasoline, a finite and (some say) diminishing resource. They represent a technological step forward, but cost more money to buy and ultimately maintain than conventional cars. The electric batteries offer a way to power a car without using gasoline, but add weight to the car (reducing its efficiency) and are very costly (both financially and environmentally) to produce and dispose of. Green car enthusiasts generally accept hybrids as a positive step forward in greener personal transportation, but not as a long-term solution for a greener future.
3) Prove them wrong. Get behind research into the long-term solutions. Get active and involved in the issues behind alternative fuels. And when the break-throughs in technology bring a (finally) sustainable vehicle to the market, buy one.
The bottom line: interim measures are a natural step on the path to long-term solutions. Hybrids raise awareness and in some case provide a superior alternative to traditional transportation. This glass is half-full.