Stop the Financial Double-Standard for Green Cars

Submitted by Charles Frost on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 21:05.

Car At Gas Pump

It seems like many people, especially in the big media, are obsessed with whether or not that hybrid/plug in hybrid/electric car/etc will "pay for itself" with fuel savings. The latest example is the (misleading) "The payoff for plug-in hybrids: 95 years?".

Sometimes it is specifically claimed that "car X" will save you money, and it's only natural to examine that claim. We have no problem with that. But the meme seems to have taken a life of its own and now it seems that people think the whole point of green(er) transportation is saving money, and that it's the yardstick to measure all new green cars against. That's plain ridiculous. Since when are cars supposed to pay for themselves anyway?

When someone decides to pay extra for the bigger V6 engine, or the sunroof, or the nicer wheels, who's asking them if it will "pay for itself"? Why are people allowed to make personal choices based on aesthetics or performance requirements (real or imagined) without having to justify themselves, while people who want cleaner cars because they want lower emissions, or enjoy driving in electric mode, or want to encourage new cleaner technology, or whatever, are asked to make a financial case?

At least the extra money spent on a more efficient vehicle will partly pay for itself (if not pay for itself completely, depending on conditions). A big engine will just cost more to get and then cost more to operate.

Lets stop the financial double-standard for green(er) cars, unless the question really is "will it pay for itself?".

See also: ::Green Basics: Hybrid-Electric Cars, ::Green Basics: Electric Vehicles and Cars


Techno-optimist or Eco-pessimist?

  I would have to call myself an eco-pessimist and a Cassandra.  We know our friend JMurray is a techno-optimist, but re-reading this article by Elizabeth Kolbert from the Nov 5, 2007 Running on Fumes piece in the New Yorker, reminded me of the sadly unpromising and unproductive Energy conference held at Case (in 2004 ? Sudhir, do you remember?  All that leaded gasoline from the '70s is catching up with me).  Going nowhere, too fast.

Going nowhere FAST

Personal freedoms. When is it worth sacrificing our unchecked personal freedoms for the greater good?