Honda hopes for historic hybrid

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By The Staff

Remember gasoline prices last Fourth of July?

Those were the days household budgets collided with gasoline prices that were over $4 per gallon.

Even us geologists – who are sometimes quietly glad to see high energy and metals prices because our jobs depend on them – whimpered loudly when we pulled into the pumps. I can quite clearly recollect the first time I put more than $125 of gas into my beloved 1987 pickup. Ouch!

Our friends at Honda are betting that you, too, harbor some vivid memories of gas-pump pain last July. The company is putting many millions into the wager that many of us will want our next car to be a whole lot more fuel-efficient than our current one.

This month Honda is launching its 2010 Insight, the first hybrid vehicle to carry a sticker price just under $20,000. Honda hopes to entice you into showrooms using the pitch that a hybrid “for everyone” has finally arrived.

There’s interesting physical science at the core of all hybrids. Ford, Toyota, Chevy and other automakers all have hybrid cars, each a bit different, but all pairing an electric motor with a gasoline one.

Many hybrids have the same simple-yet-smart approaches, like turning off the gas engine at red lights and automatically starting it up again only when needed. 

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