From special access to HOV lanes to free parking, politicians love to show their love for hybrids. And yeah, especially when you're talking low emissions, hybrids are great. The only thing is they're not a whole lot greater than many non-hybrids.
From Bob Poole's Surface Transportation Newsletter:
[I]f you want to talk about clean cars, what about new models of the BMW 325i, the Honda Accord LX and EX, Toyota Camry LE, SE, and XLE, and the Volkswagen Jetta GL and GLS? These are among the 31 makes and models that meet California's extremely stringent Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standard. To meet the standards, they must emit 90% less hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide than conventional cars sold in California. That makes them so clean that it would take 590 of them to equal the hydrocarbon emissions of a 1970 car.
Joe Nordbeck, director of the Center for Environmental Research & Testing at UC Riverside, has been testing PZEVs for several years. He completed a study last fall concluding that even greater Los Angeles will be able to meet federal clean-air standards as long as enough PZEVs are sold in coming years. "With PZEVs, the light-duty-vehicle problem has pretty much been solved," he told the Washington Times last month. "Their emissions are almost below detection level."