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Hybrids: Are they the answer to declining resources?
How soon we forget. It’s not completely our fault. We as a culture are always looking ahead and up; rarely do we ever look down and behind ourselves. The historians have warned us throughout the ages that we’re doomed to repeat our past mistakes but the optimists that we are, we just trudge right along. How irritating it is to have those self-righteous naysayers end up being right after all. In a world with pre-packaged meat, seemingly endless running water and a magic truck that whisks last weeks treasures but this weeks rubbish away, is it really all that surprising? Besides, how long has the earth been compressing decomposing organic matter? We were bound to use more than was produced; have you seen the mileage for autos weighing in at over 3500 lbs lately?
During the gas crisis in the ‘70s, Americans did what we always do in a crisis; we buckled down and did what we had to do in order to reap the benefits later—and bitched about it the entire time. Americans saw that their monstrous vehicles equipped with inefficient six- and eight-cylinder engines were not practical for how volatile the world of Mid-East politics affected their sense of freedom. After World War II, it was the thrill of nimble handling that service men experienced in Europe that created a niche market for small-displacement, light-weight vehicles, but it took the fuel crisis to usher in what was to become a new era for the automobile market.
With the mind set of economy fully entrenched into the psyche of cars owners, German and Japanese fuel efficient imports flooded the market, creating some iconic autos along the way. Designed around lightweight bodies and small displacement, low-horsepower engines, these cars created a sub-culture of individuals that ushered in a mind frame keen on changing the world’s ecological climate and inspiring further environmental changes in the auto industry. Of course this only goes so far. We are a protectionist culture: a culture that may come together in times of hardship but only in as much as it creates a successful independence for each individual or family.
The large automobile never really dies away. The rampant fear of being on the losing end of an accident kept people in that protectionist mind frame that endured long after OPEC had decided it was in their best interest to come to a mutual understanding and let the life blood of American culture flow freely. If it weren’t for the stringent (at the time) clean air polices, further development in efficiency of the internal combustion engine—with higher mileage as a side benefit—would have drastically reduced. However, though engines became cleaner and more efficient, cars grew in weight, negating this accomplishment.
At some point the massive advancements had slowed on rationally improving engine technology for the sake of smog standards, and engineers—with the influence of cheap fuel—began to squeeze ever more power from their engines. Though acceleration times have increased at an agreeable rate, it was the need to keep the ever increasing weight of our automobiles up to pace and then some with previous performance ideals; thus the need for higher horsepower and torque figures to move these vehicles.
With almost an even 50/50 split between passenger cars, and light-duty trucks and SUVs, the gap between heavy and light-weight vehicles is closing at an ever increasing rate. The need for bigger and better to enable a sense of security on the road has pushed vehicles ever larger in order to survive an encounter with our fellow motorist. Designers and engineers are supplying cars with bulkier safety equipment and more intensive body bracing, pushing weight higher and fuel mileage lower.
Our mental prowess will save the day. We love technology and believe it is use of the human intellect that will create a better society and enable a more efficient use of our current technology. Science doesn’t lie. It may be blind, a bit stodgy and bland, but accurate nonetheless. Physics teaches us that it is a higher level of efficiency that we exert as little energy as possible in our tasks. And promoting technology which increases our ability to set a larger mass in motion for the sake of opulence and self preservation is akin to squeezing in an extra hour and a half at the gym for a few more mouthfuls of that delectable cheesecake. But we’re going to do it anyways. And will fight our right to do so; even each other if necessary.
About the Author: Ninette Marciano is an expert in the field of
new cars . She is also dedicated to educate auto consumers when shopping for a used cars.