Shah opines hybrids are overrated, but manufacturers don’t appear to agree

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More and more consumers are examining hybrid car technologies for their next vehicle choice because of their purported advantages for the environment. But Jigar Shah, an entrepreneur focused on the growth of energy initiatives, would like to issue a rebuttal to such claims, calling hybrids “overrated.”

The former speaker for Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference and author of “Creating Climate Change: Unlocking the Impact Economy” sat down with Fortune to discuss a number of green energy topics, but his view of hybrids was particularly interesting.

Beyond just calling hybrids overrated because they “won’t get us very far,” he continued on to say, “(hybrids) are like trying to make coal plants more efficient: interesting opportunity, but like a Band-Aid on cancer. We need to drive industries that will be here for the long term that stave off the effects of climate change and drive economic growth.”

While critical of hybrid technologies, Shah was complimentary of car-sharing company SideCar, operated by Sunil Paul. That business is trying to drive people away from owning vehicles all together. Shah also had much to say about the positives surrounding solar energy and how exciting truck efficiency, among other things, is for the future of our environments.

Whether or not you agree with Shah that hybrid technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, that hasn’t stifled the market for more fuel-efficient vehicles. VIA motors announced it is preparing production on its series of hybrid pickups, vans and, at down the road, SUV’s based on GM chassis and engines. Additionally the carmaker is introducing a solar panel on their vehicles, which will, in theory, help to power the trucks.

Meanwhile, Honda and Nissan are expanding their hybrid car models into India and the UK. Nissan announced it’s even starting a reward program of sorts for UK owners of the Nissan Leaf, which will dramatically improve the ownership of the car. Drivers will be able to rapid charge their car for free at any Nissan dealership; have access to a petrol or diesel Nissan if needed for a special trip and more. The program is meant to assuage nerves of those who are concerned about owning an “alternative” vehicle for the first time.

So Shah may be of the opinion that hybrid technologies aren’t worth all the fuss, consumer sales continue to grow and manufacturers appear committed to churning out new options. Until giving up cars completely takes over, they may still be the best compromise between performance and environmental consciousness.

1 thought on “Shah opines hybrids are overrated, but manufacturers don’t appear to agree”

  1. Thanks for the mention! Hybrids are great and I have owned 3 of them, but fuel choice and simply moving to more economic car ownership (sharing, renting, using them more than 3% of the time) will have a much bigger impact on saving carbon emissions on a macro basis. Many of us like to save money and for that buying a simple hybrid is a great choice, but as an advocate don’t get fooled that we are on track to 10% oil savings by 2020 (to reduce oil prices by 50%) or to 80% carbon savings by 2050.


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