HIGHTOWER: Japan Makes a "Green Car"

Airplanes will never replace trains, said America's railroad barons 70 years ago. Likewise, when television first flickered onto the scene, the radio moguls scoffed that no one wanted to watch a box.Now come America's Big Three automakers saying that consumers don't want a [quote] "Green Car" -- a low-polluting, fuel-efficient automobile. Battery-powered vehicles, they snort, are heavy, slow and require you to stop every 60 miles to get an 8-hour recharge. "Who's gonna buy this white elephant?" the geniuses of Detroit ask, howling in laughter and dragging their feet on public demands that they cut their gasoline emissions.But while the Big Three Car Barons are busy laughing ... look what Toyota has done! It's come out with a hybrid engine that is propelled in part by batteries and in part by gasoline. At low speeds, the batteries move the car -- noiselessly as well as efficiently and without polluting. At higher speeds, the gasoline engine kicks-in, providing all the zip of other cars.But what about stopping to recharge those batteries? No need -- the gasoline engine constantly charges the battery while it runs. Toyota's hybrid also whacks pollution, cutting carbon dioxide emissions in half and other pollutants by 90 percent. And you'll smile when you pull-in to a gas station to tank-up, because this car gets 66 miles-a-gallon.Toyota will begin selling its Green Car in Japan this year, leaving the US auto giants scrambling to catch up. The Japanese company already has applied for some 300 patents on the technologies involved.This is Jim Hightower saying ... America's autoworkers can match the productivity of the Japanese any day, but we need some auto executives who, instead of just counting their stock options and trying to avoid pollution rules, suck it up and show a little of the old American "can-do spirit" ... like the Japanese are doing.Source:"Toyota hits road with hybrid engine" by Yuri Kageyama. Associated Press in Austin American-Statesman: May 31, 1997. "New auto fuel cell process unveiled" by H. Josef Hebert. Austin American-Statesman: Oct. 22, 1997.

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