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MSN: Climate Activists Question ‘Green Benefits’ of Hybrid Vehicles

Climate activists are questioning how environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles are as those cars rise in popularity, according to a report from MSN.

The battle over the green bona fides of hybrids comes ahead of what could be the toughest U.S. restrictions on car pollution.

Hybrids combine a gasoline engine with battery power and generally get far better gas mileage than the cars and trucks Americans have typically driven. Hybrid makers led by Toyota Motor argue that the vehicles’ popularity is something to celebrate and “an important solution toward achieving carbon neutrality,” Toyota executive Yoichi Miyazaki said.

Those on the other side of the debate, including activists and some regulators, say hybrids aren’t good enough if the world hopes to meet ambitious carbon-reduction targets.

“Putting more gasoline-powered cars on roads and saying that’s good for the climate is just misleading,” said Aaron Regunberg, senior policy counsel at consumer group Public Citizen and a former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

The market’s shift to hybrids has brought a windfall for Toyota and prompted automakers including Ford Motor and General Motors to lean more heavily into gasoline-electric technology.

In December, Public Citizen filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission saying Toyota’s branding of its hybrids as “hybrid EVs” as well as marketing phrases such as “electrified mobility” and “beyond zero” mislead consumers. Toyota North America said its marketing uses terms that are standard in the automotive industry.

Public Citizen has pushed attorneys general in states including Oregon, New York, Rhode Island and Illinois into examining the matter. Representatives at the state offices declined to comment about potential investigations and how far they may have progressed, and the FTC didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The marketing debate is a skirmish ahead of an Environmental Protection Agency decision, due this spring, on proposed restrictions. As proposed last year, the new standards would require average fleet emissions to be cut by 56% by 2032 compared with 2026 model-year requirements.

A group representing carmakers including Toyota, Honda Motor and Ford is lobbying against the rules. Automakers forecast they would have to sell 67% electric vehicles by 2032 to meet the standards. The companies say the rules would force them to pivot away too quickly from hybrids and other gasoline-powered cars and result in consumers purchasing more costly vehicles.

Read the full report from MSN here.

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