Future Tech

Hybrid cars are electric efficient, gasoline convenient, and the biggest auto innovation in a century

By Brad Lemley|Saturday, April 01, 2000

y heart pounds. my knuckles go white as i squeeze the Honda Insight's steering wheel. I'm at the start of one of the short, accelerate-or-die on-ramps of Connecticut's Merritt Parkway, and if I can't hit freeway speeds in a hurry, I'll become a grille ornament on some Manhattan-bound SUV. The Merritt's 25-foot ramps spook me even in my own car, a peppy six-cylinder Camry. Here I am attempting the same daredevil entrance in a featherweight two-seater whose three-cylinder gasoline-electric engine has been engineered to squeeze 70 miles out of a gallon of gas.

But when I stomp on the throttle, both the gasoline and electric motors kick in at maximum power, and I easily slide into a gap in the speeding traffic. Ten minutes later, after two more successful test-merges, I'm persuaded: This Japanese hybrid auto is ready for America's Darwinian roads.

The Best of Both Worlds

Honda's Insight combines the advantages of battery and gas power. It accelerates briskly yet achieves 61 miles per gallon in the city and 70 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
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