Hybrid And Plug-in Cars…are they green?

Toyota-prius-hybrid-plug-in-car

Photo: CarandDriver.com

The debate continues about bamboo flooring and sustainability…do the green qualities of bamboo and its’ uses outweigh the increased use of fossil fuels to deliver those products to a seaport in the United States?  From the point of arrival these products are then transported (more fuel) to distribution centers throughout the US.  Personally, I would call bamboo flooring “designer green” meaning the flooring is a product that is marketed as green but is only green when used “locally” – near the point of manufacture.  It’s all about the marketing hype that makes homebuyers think bamboo is a green flooring alternative.

Now we have the hybrid and plug-in cars which are becoming more popular as the price of gas fluctuates between $3.60 – $4.00 a gallon.  I love the thought of independence from fossil fuel by buying a hybrid or plug-in vehicle which would increase my gas consumption from 20-25 mpg to 50-100 mpg, but again, are these really “green” vehicles or are they “green-washed” versions?  Toyota boasts  sales of in 2011, the last full year of recorded sales, of 136,463 Prius hybrids sold in North America.  They expect sales to reach 200,000 by 2015!  Not one of these hybrids, Toyota or Honda, is manufactured or assembled in the US!  So once again, these vehicles are loaded on cargo ships and transported from Japan to the USA.    Now Toyota does plan to begin assembling the Prius vehicles in the US beginning in 2015.  They claim it will reduce their costs significantly to manufacture the vehicles closer to the point of distribution…a “no-brainer” considering the price of fuel keeps increasing!  Bottom line…Toyota Prius and Honda Insight  are “designer green” vehicles in my opinion!

If the greenest house is one that is already built, is the greenest car one that is already built?  Can cars be “remodeled” like houses to become more energy-efficient or do we wait for our “catch-up” auto industry to produce more hybrids and plug-in vehicles so we can buy a truly green car?

I plan to wait for a US manufactured hybrid or plug-in before I trade in my old, “greener” car!  What do you think about the hybrid and plug-in vehicles?

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