Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Hybrid cars as an alternative

While I admire Tony Weir's vision of a green future for Taiwan ("Letters," May 9, Page 8), I also agree that it won't happen very soon.

Although the government professes concern for the environment, I feel very little is being done to educate people. I am reminded daily of how little the public knows even about basic issues.

For example, over the past year I have yet to see any shopper use a recycled bag instead of the plastic or paper ones offered at supermarkets, shopping malls, street stalls or markets. If such a simple change in attitude cannot be implemented, getting rid of petrol vehicles would be an unsurmountable challenge.

Sports utility vehicles and other recreational vehicles are mushrooming in my neighborhood. However, the government isn't doing anything to encourage consumers to even consider more environmentally friendly cars.

Despite US President George W. Bush administration's terrible record on environmental protection, hybrid car buyers in the US receive incentives, such as tax rebates.

Unfortunately, in Taiwan, the extremely high price tag on these hybrids make it difficult for many to consider buying such new technology.

Clearly, the government has a lot more work to do in order to reduce Taiwan's carbon footprint.

Jesse Chalfin

Changhua

It is interesting to note that the cars advertised in the Web sites mentioned in Tony Weir's letter sell for US$90,000 and above, which is by no means within the income range of most Taiwanese, nor a majority of people anywhere.

These cars use lithium batteries, which are expensive given the technology used in their production. Better economies of scale are unlikely to drastically reduce lithium battery's production costs, as the market is already quite mature and very competitive. There may be produceres who are working on developing a new, low-cost battery that offers the same level of efficiency, but that has yet to happen.

For now, the only economically feasible alternative will be pure hybrids, which though dependent on a gasoline motor, offer huge improvements in efficiency and energy-saving techniques such as using the energy from braking to recharge the battery.

Michael Grimes

Tainan

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