The first time I ever wrote at length about electric cars, George Bush was nearing the end of his term as president. That would be the elder George Bush. As we now know, certain automotive companies spent much of the ensuing decade innovating, risking big with technology and betting on long-term trends like rising fuel prices. Other companies thought such pursuit was sheer folly, a technological money pit on any number of counts. In addition, alternative fuel vehicles have carried a millstone of political and ideological arguments about their effectiveness and competitiveness for many years.
Writing this piece made me realize just how far we've come in the evolution of these vehicles and in their acceptance by auto companies and the public. The fact we'll be adding a new automotive term, MPGe, to our everyday language is huge. The measurement has its detractors, to be sure. But for the vast majority of car buyers, MPGe gives a helpful translation of how vehicles with very different fuels stack up to one another. Here's a free prediction for you: With the use of MPGe becoming mandatory, expect to see an "arms race" of auto manufacturers seeking to knock down significant markers: 100 MPGe, 150, perhaps even 200 MPGe and beyond!
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