Ford denounces bill giving some hybrids special access
One of the bills up for California legislation right now is one which would allow Hybrid vehicles which get 45 mpg or greater the right to use the HOV (Carpool) lane regardless of the number of passengers. Alternative fuel vehicles such as electric and compressed natural gas have had this ability for years, and now Ford (which developed the EV1 electric car, leased them out and then took them all back last year) is throwing a fit because their Ford Escape SUV only gets 31 mpg.
My take on the situation is this: there are many cars out there that can get 31 mpg that are not hybrids, and having a hybrid means that you are still dependent on gasoline and the pollution that results from the manufacture of gasoline. A hybrid does not mean pollution-free driving -- it means more efficient driving, which is one of the things HOV lanes try to encourage.
Using the HOV lane with a single occupant is a perk, a thank you for sparing the air. HOV lanes can be used by any vehicle with 2 or more occupants -- whether they get 1 mpg or 60mpg. The idea is that in having passengers, you are reducing the number of cars on the road thereby reducing wear and tear on the road, pollutants in the air and traffic congestion. By putting the hybrid benefit on the carpool lanes without a standard, it potentially rewards poor efficiency, and it potentially allows more gasoline efficient cars to sit on the congested highway. Hybrids have no problem sitting in traffic. In congested traffic, their gasoline motor switches off, and their electric motor kicks in. In a carpool lane, however, both electric and gasoline motor are being used -- it is at the higher speeds that hybrids are at their most fuel inefficient.
Ford claims that the bill gives the Hybrid market to the Japanese companies stating that the plan is a "Buy Japanese" bill and a "special-interest measure ... intended for almost exclusive use by Toyota Prius drivers." What is really funny is that Toyota lobbyists wanted the mpg requirement set lower, as they have plans for hybrids that probably won't meet that requirements.
One should also not forget that "Ford Motor Company is America�s oil addict. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel efficiency of Ford cars and trucks today is 18.8 mpg, dead last among the top six automakers for the fifth consecutive year. From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford's current fleet of cars and trucks gets fewer miles per gallon on average than its Model-T did 80 years ago." (zpenergy)
My suggestion to those with Ford Escape SUVs is simply to carry along another passenger. To use the HOV lane for what it was intended for: to reduce the number of cars on the road, and to reward those that rideshare.
My suggestion to the Ford Motor Company is quit complaining and to put that time to design and build better hybrids which can meet the criteria set by the state of California. I'll never understand why they stopped their development of electric vehicles, which was something that they were doing better than any of the other domestic automakers. Did I remember mention that pure electric vehicles can travel in the HOV lanes with a single occupant?