Electric cars + creativity = greenest mode of transport

Thank you for your serious treatment of car owners who want to plug in their hybrid cars to charge their batteries, further cutting their gas consumption "(Hybrids? Some opt to go all-electric," Jan. 27).

Despite warnings of warranty invalidation, dozens have modified their hybrid vehicles not just to increase their miles per gallon but also to reduce pollution significantly in urban areas, where most driving is short hops and vehicle emissions are most concentrated.

The reduction in overall emissions from plugging in electric vehicles (EVs) vs. burning gasoline has been quantified. According to Chip Gribben of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C., the California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that EVs operating in the Los Angeles Basin would produce 98 percent fewer hydrocarbons, 89 percent fewer oxides of nitrogen, and 99 percent less carbon monoxide than internal-combustion vehicles.

Mr. Gribben also claims that a study conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power found that EVs were significantly cleaner over the course of 100,000 miles than cars with internal-combustion engines. Electricity generation produces less than 100 pounds of pollutants for EVs compared with 3,000 pounds from traditional cars.
Jerry McIntire
Portland, Ore.

In your Jan. 27 article Toyota environmental engineer David Hermance is cited as saying that plug-in hybrids are not that green because they run on electricity from coal-fired power plants. Mr. Hermance is echoing a line that the big auto manufacturers have been promoting at great expense to deceive the public.

In California, for instance, much of the electric power produced comes from hydro, nuclear, wind, and natural gas, not coal. Even when the power is produced from coal, however, the pollution produced is far less than that which is produced in internal-combustion engines for the same energy output.

In centralized power plants, it is feasible to incorporate scrubbing equipment that is much more effective than any that can be used on automobiles.
Ed Stoneham
Los Altos, Calif.

The article quotes Sam Butto of Toyota as questioning why anyone would want to make the Toyota Prius pluggable: "One of the great features of the Prius is that you don't have to plug it in." Additionally, Toyota's Mr. Hermance argues in the article that electric cars "run on electricity that's often created by coal-fired power plants."

In fact, electric cars, such as mine, often charge up overnight using electric power that otherwise goes to waste, and is paid for by credits gained by my solar rooftop sytem.

These Toyota arguments were deceptive, particularly since it's the Toyota RAV4-EV that currently allows me to continue living essentially oil free - using solar power -at a cost less than my old electric bill.

The RAV4-EV goes an average of 120 miles on the energy equivalent of less than one gallon of gasoline, with no smog checks, no exhaust, no oil drips, and no radiator boil-out - and without an engine at all.
Doug Korthof
Seal Beach, Calif.

While the demand for electric cars is less than for regular cars, there were lots of people on a waiting list to lease an EV from Ford and GM. Some of us were waiting until the cars could be purchased rather than leased; others of us could not afford a new car yet. If I could have afforded to purchase a new car, I would have bought one. But as I cannot afford $85,000 for a Tango 600, I will be converting or building my own.
Bruce Weisenberger
Gilbert, Ariz.

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