The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 October 2005

Trust us

Car and Driver editor Csaba Csere has heard the same stories you have about so-called "plug-in" hybrids that get triple-digit gas mileage. In his November column, he reveals that he dispatched editor-at-large Barry Winfield to get some seat time in one of these cars if at all possible.

It wasn't. Writes Winfield: "The developers of plug-in hybrids are extremely unwilling to have their babies tested by any means right now." Some things are known: with the gasoline engine disconnected, the Toyota Prius, the usual test bed for plug-ins, is limited to 28 bhp running on batteries only, and tops out at around 34 mph.

Winfield's conclusion after trying to get a grip on the state of this particular art:

[T]he plug-in hybrid developers are happy to have the uncritical support of various newspaper journalists who blithely reprint the claims of 250 mpg, but as soon as you say fuel consumption or performance test, they're not having any of it.

C/D, whatever their degree of cynicism, actually did test a Honda FCX fuel-cell vehicle this year, and they reported that apart from a different portfolio of noises, it was pretty much like driving a Civic — assuming you could fatten a Civic up to 3700 lb. Of course, there is as yet no hydrogen-refueling infrastructure to speak of, but the FCX seems much closer to being a Real Car than any of these electrified buggies.

Posted at 6:21 AM to Driver's Seat