Why hesitate on electric and hybrid vehicles?

Regarding "Return trip for electric vehicles," Jan. 7:

General Motors is to be praised for accepting that the most efficient plug-in is the serial plug-in hybrid, whose only use for the engine is to generate power for the drive electric motor.

But GM is holding its Chevrolet Volt hostage until as late as 2012, attributing the wait to the development of new batteries.

The first EV1 was released, and worked fine, with normal Panasonic lead-acid batteries, achieving a real-world oil-free range of 80 to 110 miles. GM could use lead-acid for the Volt, which needs only 20 to 40 miles of oil-free range before the internal-combustion engine comes on to charge the battery or run the car directly.

GM also is ignoring the nickel-metal-hydride batteries still in use on the 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV, which yield oil-free range of 100 to 200 miles and last longer than the vehicle.

Doug Korthof

Seal Beach

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I am waiting with checkbook in hand to replace the General Motors EV1 that I drove from 1999 to 2003, when I was forced to return it at the end of my lease.

The EV1 was probably the best first-generation automobile ever built and, despite a few minor start-up flaws, was the greatest vehicle I've ever driven.

Your statements about the EV1's capabilities were misleading. The Gen1, which I drove for two months, took only about three hours to charge, not eight. The Gen2, which I drove for three years, could go nominally 120 miles on a charge, as you report, but took about 4.5 hours to charge from full depletion.

I just hope the Volt isn't just another go-nowhere concept car.

Earl Cox

La Crescenta

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Regarding "Hybrid autos save money in long run, study finds," Jan. 8:

We attended a movie in Santa Monica on New Year's Day and parked a block and a half from the theater. We happened to be looking for a friend's Toyota Prius, as we were to meet him in front. We counted seven Priuses parked on those two blocks, with four in a row across the street.

Because the cars were in a district of homes with a median price of more than $3 million, I don't think their popularity here is about saving less than $2,000 a year. It is more a statement that one should be willing to sacrifice driving a beautiful, expensive car to do one's part to help save the planet.

I drive a Porsche myself, but only about 2,000 miles a year, and use my feet or bicycle to get to work, the bank, entertainment and the beach in Santa Monica.

But I do hope that someday gasoline engines will be banned from this small beach-side city and that all people will enjoy moving around by foot, bicycle or electric vehicle without having to breathe in those awful carbon monoxide fumes.

Helen K. Garber

Santa Monica

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