Obama on Hybrids

Recently in Barack Obama – U.S. Senator for Illinois‘s blog, he posted a reaction to the State of the Union speech, focusing on hybrid cars and the American auto industry. I’ve been meaning to respond to this for a while, because we own a Ford Escape Hybrid.

I was reminded of this vague intention because we followed another Ford Escape Hybrid last night after dinner, which always gets us talking about the technology, the pigheadedness of goverment in not getting behind the concept more, and so on.

Obama says:

The precariousness of an oil economy, crushing healthcare costs, and the failure to design for the future are killing our auto industry. And so we have a choice. We can sit by and watch it crumble. Or we can do something to save jobs and boost our economy.

It’s time to help the auto industry invest in more fuel-efficient cars, and we believe the federal government has a role in helping them do it. We’ve introduced a proposal called the “Health Care for Hybrids” Act to address the challenges of the US auto industry and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil at the same time.

This bill would set up a voluntary program in which automakers could choose to receive federal financial assistance towards their retiree healthcare costs. In return, the automakers would be required to reinvest these savings into developing fuel-efficient vehicles. As a result, our proposal would measurably reduce our nation’s dependence on oil. Some of these technologies are already available and awaiting use by the Big Three.

Instead of a no-strings-attached financial bailout of the auto industry that could lead to factories being built overseas, our proposal could jumpstart the industry to commercialize new technology that consumers are demanding. More American hybrid cars also ensure that there is competition in this growing market, and would also help keep car prices low.

Hey, I’m all for the idea of affordable, highly fuel-economical cars. When it comes time to replace the RAV, I’d love to be able to get a hybrid, too, but the SUVs are pretty expensive, and I’ve already learned that I don’t care for winter driving in a car the size of the Corolla.

As it happens, several of our friends and acquaintances have hybrid cars (of various makes and models) so the topic is never far from our minds. Currently, it’s ALWAYS on our minds, because gas prices are extremely high at the current juncture.

I’m so happy that Sen. Obama is making this issue one of his own.

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