The Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment compared an advanced spark ignition vehicle with a hybrid electric vehicle, a biodiesel powered vehicle, a battery-powered, all-electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. They concluded that a PHEV does the least damage to the environment. They based their conclusion on the assumptions that 1) advancing technology trumps personal emissions and 2) greenhouse gases trump local pollutants.
Plug-in hybrids are an extremely valuable bridge technology, because they retain the convenience of unlimited range that consumers are used to, while simultaneously advancing the large automotive batteries that can be the foundation for all-electric cars.
The Institute favored battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) because “electricity is by far the best way to get renewable resources to cars.” Nevertheless, they chose a PHEV over a BEV since engineers have yet to solve the “range problem“.
PHEVs face the same problem, but this failed to stop the Institute from suggesting that plug-in hybrids may be a good, long-term choice for sustainable transportation, a suggestion worthy of CalCars or Plug-in Austin.
An advanced, plug-in hybrid with a 100 mile range would need to be fueled only a few times a year, in most cases. Such a low rate of liquid fuel consumption, if it pervades the car market, would enable us to fuel all of our vehicles with a renewable liquid fuel like ethanol or biodiesel, getting the best of both approaches.
The title comes from their suggestion to avoid cars altogether. The Institute suggests walking, bicycling, public transportation, car pooling and car sharing as some alternatives.