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Winner: The Smart Hybrid

Flip a switch, and DaimlerChrysler's plug-in hybrid electric van will become an electric vehicle

11 min read

When it comes to our cars and the environment, we are all slightly sociopathic--even those movie stars in their Toyota Priuses. It's just a matter of degree.

If you commute 25 km each way to work in a mid-sized car, you make an annual contribution to the Earth's atmosphere of about 5500 kg of carbon dioxide and 1300 grams of the pollutant brew known as smog, according to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. A comparable conventional hybrid vehicle, such as the justly venerated Prius, will cut those emissions by roughly 25 percent and 15 percent, respectively, EPRI says.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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