Apples to Apples when talking Vehicle Performance and MPG Please

April 25, 2012

For two nights now, I’ve been watching the TV and online news as they tout Massachusetts as the second state in the Union to put special license plates into place designating whether a car is electric or not. I’m fine with that. It’s actually a safety issue for first responders to know whether a car has batteries on board and if it’s safe to reach inside the vehicle.

Here I am sitting in the 37MPG Scion iQ at the Boston International Auto Show. This photo taken by Steve Garfield of

What burns me is that representatives for the state of Massachusetts are talking about giving special rights to folks who choose to purchase these vehicles – and now it will be easy to determine which vehicles get special treatment because they’ll have special plates.

Sounds OK? It’s not. Let’s look at the carpool lane (a topic that could use its own blog post rant). The official I saw talk on TV the other night said that in the future, cars with the special electric or hybrid plates might be allowed in the carpool lane even without the required 2+ occupancy. Wait a minute there!!!

My little car – a 2004 Scion – gets 33MPG and uses only gasoline. A brand new hybrid Toyota pickup truck gets only 22MPG but would get to use the lane because it has special technology on-board? Who’s running this chicken ranch? The same folks on TV were talking about special recharge stations in Cambridge and Boston for these electric and hybrid cars.

Wait until I see a hybrid Ford Excursion parked at one of these recharging stations – boasting a likely 18MPG. I don’t think many people will have enough restraint to leave the air in the tires or the side of that land-yacht unkeyed.

Hey Massachusetts! How about comparing apples to apples and giving people a break based on how their vehicle really performs. Special plates = special treatment? I don’t think so.

If you think there should be some equity, have Travis Anderson at the Globe do another story on the inequity this presents. Scion, Chevy and others (including the aforementioned Ford) have cars coming out that are gas-only and get 40MPG. Until all hybrids get better MPG, the playing surface here is still not level.