By Bruce Meland

1-18-2002 :: The Bush Administration's attempt to scrap a higher mileage SUV program, called The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, and replace it with a vague hydrogen fuel cell program might sound good to the uninformed public, but does little to clean up the air pollution in cities or help relieve traffic congestion for the next critical 10 years. The PNGV was pushed by the Clinton Administration.

Essentially the Bush Administration announcement of replacing PNGV with a vague subsidized hydrogen fuel cell program would only help delay any improvements in fuel efficiencies of SUV's, which came boldly on the scene a few years ago, due to the Gas Guzzler Loop Hole. This smoke and mirrors Hydrogen Fuel Cell program will allow the auto companies continue to sell highly profitable SUV's with no mileage improvements. They hope this new strategy will keep them in business during the recent economic turndown. and still give them a good image, greenwashing, while cranking out gas guzzlers.

Some major auto companies used similar tactics in developing electric vehicles over the past 10 years. Electric vehicle production was essentially scrapped by the Auto Mfg's with exception of California. GM is suing California to have the Zero Emission Vehicle requirement completely eliminated in that state also.

Most American auto companies did not have the foresight and commitment to have EV's and HEV's ready for mass market at times of slumping sales, that are presently upon them. Selling profitable gas guzzling SUV's, they hope will keep them in business, while transforming their production to user friendly environmental vehicles, whatever that might be.

But Toyota, having already sold 75,000 Prius electric-hybrid's worldwide, and has a 4 month back order! It appears the Honda Civic hybrid, available this spring, will have similar success.

So essentially, if the Bush Administration has its way, we will be choking on SUV smoke, run off the road, and squeezed out of parking lots by epidemic SUV populations for the next 10 years, unless Congress sees fit to require increased fuel efficiency on SUV's and closes the Gas-Guzzler loophole. If SUV's were subject to the gas-guzzler tax then  Expeditions would have led the pack as the highest taxed SUV, costing Ford $776 million.

With all roads nationwide being torn up by heavy trucks and SUV's, the States should issue a weight mile tax on the heavier SUV's. Most 18 wheelers have to pay a state weight-mile tax.  So write your Congressman and tell them to require increased fuel efficiency of SUV's and heavy pickups used for city driving even if PNGV is scrapped. And write your state legislators for a SUV weight mile tax to repair roads.

The auto companies already have fuel cell vehicles on the road. GM drove their fuel cell Opel Zafira from LA to Las Vegas(200+ mi) on a single tank of hydrogen. The problem is not the fuel cell technology but the economical mass production of fuel cells and hydrogen.

Electrifying Times will soon be publishing a Preview 2003 which will reveal the 10 latest
hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, 10 hybrid electric vehicles, and 10 electric
vehicles, scooters and bicycles. Bruce Meland, Electrifying Times ed.
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