The post of March 15th discussed the use of all electric vehicles to reduce foreign oil consumption. More realistically hybrid electric passenger vehicles may lead to reduced foreign oil consumption, possibly sooner than all electric vehicles, given their fuel efficiency and number sold to date. For example the Toyota Prius (model year 2010) achieves nearly 50 miles per gallon, an average between city and highway driving according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The following figure indicates steadily increasing market penetration of both Honda and Toyota hybrid vehicles with a combined total approaching 2 million in 2010.
A problem with counting on hybrids to alleviate oil consumption in the near term is that it won’t happen in the near term. In the meantime, there may be serious disruptions to U.S. oil supplies from overseas any time a Middle East conflict erupts (such as in 1973, 1978, and 1990). What is the plan for that event? Long lines at gas stations? Don’t count heavily on the U.S. petroleum reserve, which has a supply for about 34 days at the current level of consumption.
Even more realistically, one should develop policies and comprehensive plans for using less crude oil in transportation by reducing the number of passenger vehicles in favor of expanded use of trains, buses, bicycles, Internet conferencing, and working from home. At present the United States does not have such policies and plans to squarely confront the fact that all U.S. crude oil assets are producing less oil every year. These assets include the lower 48 states, the Gulf of Mexico, and Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.Foreign Oil, Hybrid Electric, Oil Reduction, Vehicle Sales