Clean Car Campaign: "America's cars and trucks can reach an average of 60 miles per gallon by the end of the next decade if automakers use the best hybrid vehicle technologies and mass-produce them fleet-wide, according to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists.. SUVs, pickups, and minivans show the greatest promise for improvement with the technology.
The report characterizes the Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid as "mild" hybrids because they use a downsized engine along with an electric motor. A regenerative braking system, which enables the electric drive motor to assist the brakes, saves wasted energy. The Toyota Prius is defined as a "full" hybrid because it takes the additional step of using its electric motor and battery pack to drive the vehicle at low speeds with the conventional engine turned off, providing added fuel economy benefits." They define "plug-in" hybrids as full hybrids with battery capacity for 20 miles of driving and the ability to charge the battery from a wall plug.
The biggest benefits arise from combining efficiency improvements (eg, in transmissions and materials) with either mild or full hybrid engines. Full report online. Summary of potentials, by engine type, showing all options save money over vehicle lifetime:
- Today (baseline): 23 mpg fleet average, cost $0, lifetime gas savings $0
- Best conventional engine: 40 mpg, cost $1700, gas savings $3800
- Mild hybrid: 50 mpg, cost $2900 by 2010, gas savings $4700
- Full hybrid: 60 mpg, cost $4000 by 2020, gas savings $5500