Insight on hybrids

Hybrid cars may be slow and goofy looking, but they sure are popular. I know this because I’m always bumping into them trying to parallel park my massive SUV.Burlington is all about them because driving one is a great way to show off how environmentally conscious and wealthy you are.We get the idea that these cars have good fuel economy, even though most of their MPG figures were met or bested by Japanese cars from three decades ago.Electric cars and hybrids aren’t a new thing — they’ve been around for a while.  Remember the original Honda Insight?  More than 60 MPG if driven gently, but everyone laughed at it because it looked like a sigmoidoscope and could only carry T-Pain or his top hat, not both.Alright, I guess those are pretty legitimate reasons to laugh at it.The GM EV1 was rejected for similar reasons — or a government conspiracy theory, depending on whom you ask.But since Al Gore told us that Chevy Suburbans will be the downfall of civilization, people have been scrambling to put money down on battery-assisted cars shaped like sex toys.Hybrids have become so pervasive that they’ve started to form their own microcosm of the real car world.There’s a whole range of hybridized cars out there: a few SUVs, sedans, luxury cars and even a sports car ­— the “Tesla,”  a Lotus Elise with a nose job and about a million Duracells in place of a petrol engine.But I’m not convinced that they’re changing the face of motoring, for now or forever.Most hybrids use a lithium-ion battery to power the car when it’s going very slowly — basically a giant laptop battery.We all know how bad production of such things is for the environment — so do the gas savings of a hybrid outweigh the ecological damage?I suppose hybrids also attempt to appeal to those looking to save money by buying lessfuel, but I think this may be another misguided notion.To really spend as little as possible on a car, buy a 10-year-old Honda. Otherwise, the money you save at the pump is going straight to interest payments on a $40,000 Prius.Even with something fresh out of the Toyota factory, it would take the average driver years before spending more, including fuel, than a Prius.So where does the future of motoring lie? Not in petrol, there’s not enough of that left for me to share with all of you.But I don’t think it’s in hybrid electric vehicles, either.  Hopefully environmentalists and automotive enthusiasts (like me) will be able to compromise and build a car that can keep up with motorcycles and emit nothing more than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.