If you want to debate whether gasoline-electric hybrids are a good thing, you can find a lot of folks who would be willing to take one side of the argument or the other.
But make no mistake, hybrid cars and trucks are more fuel efficient than their counterparts that use normal gasoline engines.
And the public loves hybrids. There is a big demand for the small number of vehicles offered by a few manufacturers. But as the public's demand for those specialized vehicles accelerates, so will production volume. There also will be more models available from all the car companies.
The same will hold true for what are called "clean diesels." In the next couple of years, we'll see a huge increase in the number of passenger cars, light-duty pickups and SUVs offered with diesel engines.
The energy bill that passed the U.S. House offers tax credits for buying diesels, but not hybrids, which probably will be added to the bill in the Senate and resolved in conference. The House version also authorizes spending up to $3 billion over 10 years to help the industry convert to advanced technology, including hybrids and diesels. That provision may not survive.
But the bill has a strange assortment of allies, which proves that it's becoming more important to start working on increasing fuel economy, regardless of how small and insignificant the improvements are in the beginning.
If we start to change the mind-set and are willing to explore and promote alternative fuel systems, we will make progress.
Diesels are popular in Europe, mainly because of the taxation system, but they make even more sense in the United States with our love of pickups and SUVs.
Those who manufacture hybrids are learning more about electricity and using electricity to run automobiles. It's a technology that will become more prevalent in the future.
If Congress passes legislation that encourages the U.S. production of those systems, it will be a step forward. As we all know, every journey starts with a single step.