This is not to suggest that hybrid vehicles do not provide certain benefits, they most certainly do, but that some of the benefits are not as complete as the media would have us believe. Indeed, in addition to certain overstatements regarding the benefits of hybrid vehicles, there are some disadvantages. A more sober analysis of hybrid vehicles demands a careful examination of the extant of the advantages and disadvantages rather than lofty statements unsupported by the evidence. To this end this essay will discuss the rationale for pursuing hybrid technologies, define more precisely what is meant by a hybrid vehicle, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages.
As an initial matter, one cannot understate the significance of the motor vehicle to the American way of life. They are pervasive as they are used by individuals for leisure, by individuals for getting to work, and by businesses for commercial transportation. A review of the statistical data is staggering. In a recent report by the United States Department of Transportation it was stated that there are more than one hundred and thirty-six million automobiles, more than ninety-five million other types of two-axle four tire motor vehicles, and more than eight hundred busses, more than eight million trucks (Number of Aircraft, Railcars, Vehicles, and Vessels, 2005: n.p.). In short, there are there are, perhaps, more motor vehicles in the United States than human beings. Having this many vehicles, in turn has consequences. The pollution generated by these motor vehicles is similarly staggering. The 28th National Air Quality and Emission Trends Report, for instance, that motor vehicle miles traveled continues to increase and that this factor is one of the most significant contributors to air pollution (2003: 1). This pollution poses severe risks to public health; indeed as again stated by the 28th National Air Quality and Emission Trends Report "Exposure to air pollution is associated with numerous effects on human health, including respiratory problems, hospitalization for heart or lung diseases, and even premature death. Children are at greater risk because they are generally more active outdoors and their lungs are still developing. The elderly and people with heart or lung diseases are also more sensitive to some types of air pollution" (2003: n.p.) Even a cursory examination of the relevant statistical data demonstrates that motor vehicles are pervasive in American society and that they generate substantial expenses both in terms of financial expenditures and in terms of public health.
Hybrid Cars: Definition and a Comparative Analysis
It is within this context, attempting to minimize financial, environmental, and public health costs, that the hybrid car has generated so much excitement. Most generally, a hybrid car refers to a car that can use two or more separate sources of power. Although there are different types of hybrid motor vehicles, this essay is most concerned with a hybrid car that uses an internal combustion engine and an electric motor as its two separate sources of power. This further reduces the analysis to power which is typically generated by oil versus power which is generated by an electric battery. This type of car has proven extraordinarily