Love it or hate it, the car culture is a big part of the American identity. People just love talking about their cars, and I get to hear a lot of inspiring car stories because of what I do. Once people find out that my research focuses on oil dependence, fuel economy, and electric cars, they can’t help but talk about why they bought and continue to enjoy their vehicle (or bemoan the high price of gas). Just this week I heard two very different but equally intriguing stories about the benefits of cleaner cars. I know many of you have hybrid or electric car stories of your own, so please share your clean car experience in the comments section below.
The subtle joys of owning a hybrid
The first story, which inspired this blog post, comes from a co-worker who just happened to email me recently about the more subtle joys of owning a hybrid. I think her words speak for themselves:
“As I sit here waiting for the drawbridge to let the tanker into the harbor, I especially love my Prius. While every other car spews exhaust–so I can’t open my window–my car sits perfectly still, engine off, but at the ready to spring into action. I can’t understand why anyone would be opposed to clean car technology… No brainer!!!!”
I can’t help but wonder at the potential irony. There she was, stuck in traffic, but instead of being frustrated, she was able to enjoy the benefits of owning a car with cool technology—while stuck, her car made no engine noise, produced no pollution, and guzzled no gas. If the tanker was delivering gasoline or heating oil, then she was inconveniently stuck due to our oil dependence, yet her very efforts to cut down on that dependence helped relieve her potential frustration.
Hybrid cars and national security
I heard the second story on a flight out of Washington, DC last week. I was tip-tap-typing away on my laptop when the gentleman next to me asked what I did. After hearing my answer, he quickly shared that he was on his third hybrid, shifting from a Toyota Prius, to a Toyota Camry Hybrid, and finally to a Nissan Altima Hybrid. He wanted the bigger space of the Camry over the Prius, then switched automakers.
I probed a bit more and found out that he works in the defense industry. You don’t need to be following the latest on world tensions over Iranian oil (though you should) to guess that there’s a connection between his work on national security and his car choice. As it stands, we’re sending nearly $1 billion a day to other countries to import oil, many of whom are either unfriendly or are directly or indirectly destabilizing world energy markets and politics. Driving a hybrid or electric car is a great way to save fuel, cutting our vulnerability to world oil markets and the countries that control them.
What’s your story?
So, what about you? Do you own a hybrid? Did you take a step even further and buy an all-electric car? Or are you still waiting for that high-tech car of your dreams?
Either way, we want to hear your story: what you like (or don’t) about your car, why you bought it, and what you are doing to cut our oil use, reduce pollution, save money, and improve our energy security. Let us know in the comments section below.
And, to learn more about hybrids and electric cars, check out our Model E website with blueprints for the future of electric car powertrains along with an honest look at their promise and pitfalls.