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Driving the Marketplace to Energy Efficiency

January 19, 2003

For more than four months we have commuted, dined, run errands and visited parks, mountains and beaches with our electric vehicle. It cruises easily at 80 mph (according to my wife). Every day I'm reminded of the exhaust that is not coming out of the (nonexistent) tailpipe and how every trip and every start, stop and acceleration costs energy. The EV is a wonderful experiment in which middle-class consumers have been able to participate. Our family is not unique in California -- with an under-30-mile daily commute and our willingness to accept what we regard as several minor inconveniences.

All this aside, the EV is apparently not regarded as a viable commercial technology, and Toyota, like GM and Honda, has announced the end of EV production. No major auto maker is producing a freeway-safe EV. The zero-emission replacement, assumed to be the fuel-cell vehicle, is more than five years off in terms of widespread availability, and probably much longer, before public refueling is in place.

I only regret that EV advocates and owners did not beat the drum louder, letting everyone know of our enthusiasm and success with our EVs. If we had, perhaps the major manufacturers' EV experiments might have lasted longer, bridging the gap to the introduction of a superior zero-emission technology. If you are in a position to buy or lease a hybrid vehicle or add solar water heating or solar- or wind-powered electricity to your home, do it now. California has excellent incentives for saving energy, and your action in the marketplace will speak the loudest.

John Aalto

Studio City

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So, if my SUV gets 12 mpg and I drive 180 miles a week, I use 15 gallons of gas. If my neighbor's economy sedan gets 25 miles to the gallon and he drives 400 miles a week, he uses 16 gallons of gas. But I'm the one supporting terrorism, right? What really amazes me, however, is how advanced gas station technology has become since my high school pump-jockey days. The pump knows that my SUV should get the terrorist gas and that my credit card payment should go directly to Saddam Hussein and the gang.

But then it knows that the compact car behind me -- or my wife's car -- should get the nice gas. Now that's quite a feat of engineering!

Lee Watters

Marina del Rey

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I am puzzled by the comment "What would Jesus drive?" in the context of SUVs and their high gas consumption. Anyone with even a small knowledge of Scripture should know that Jesus rode on an ass. And if he returns now he will have a lot of them to choose from.

Arnold Sodergren

Simi Valley

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