Plug-In Hybrids: Tailpipes vs. Smokestacks
Plug-in hybrids may one day constitute a majority of the cars on U.S. roads. Like today’s hybrids, they have both a gasoline engine and an electric-drive motor whose batteries can be recharged by the engine. But they can also be recharged at a standard wall socket. Given that they’ll raise electricity demand and increase power-plant emissions, will they really reduce overall greenhouse-gas production? It turns out that plug-ins always result in lower emissions than conventional cars do, and they beat regular hybrids handily–except when the electricity comes from coal (the source of 43 percent of U.S. electricity), according to a study. But as gasoline comes from dirtier oil sources, such as tar sands, plug-ins may win even when powered indirectly by coal, one study author says.
Infographic by Tommy McCall
1. Incomplete data. 2. Partial-year sales figures. *Median projection
Sources: Comparisons and projections: Electric Power Research Institute
and Natural Resources Defense Council (www.epri-reports.org) ;
Hybrid sales figures: Electric Drive Transportation Association
The inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it
Exclusive conversations that take us behind the scenes of a cultural phenomenon.
How Rust went from a side project to the world’s most-loved programming language
For decades, coders wrote critical systems in C and C++. Now they turn to Rust.
Design thinking was supposed to fix the world. Where did it go wrong?
An approach that promised to democratize design may have done the opposite.
Sam Altman invested $180 million into a company trying to delay death
Can anti-aging breakthroughs add 10 healthy years to the human life span? The CEO of OpenAI is paying to find out.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.