WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2007
THE BLOG OF THE RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK

Google Cars?

On Monday of this week, Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced the launch of their 10 million dollar plug-in hybrid electric vehicle initiative (RechargeIT), and unveiled the largest solar charging station in the country. Google's support of plug-in hybrid technology gives a healthy boost to the movement to demonstrate that plug-in cars are viable, marketable alternatives to the gas-guzzling cars and trucks currently clogging our roads. But this announcement certainly begs the question: Where have all the automakers gone? Just to be ironic, let's do a Google Search for plug-in hybrids. What you will find is a page full of advocacy groups talking about the benefits of ultra-efficient plug-in transportation and only ONE mention of a car company that's actually considering building them. Oh sure, there have been a handful of prototypes, but not a single operational plug-in hybrid in mass-production. Automakers have refused to add a plug to their hybrid cars. This means that right now, if you want a plug-in car, you can't just buy one. You have to buy a regular hybrid and THEN go through the expensive process of having another company convert your hybrid to a plug-in. In fact, Google's fleet of converted Toyota Priuses and their plans to team up with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to convert 100 more, will be the largest fleet of plug-ins on the road. This foot-dragging is especially outrageous because Toyota -- supposedly an environmental leader -- has done the least of all the major automakers to demonstrate that they're moving toward the large-scale manufacture of plug-in hybrids. It's high time for automakers like Toyota to hurry up and meet Google in the 21st century.

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