Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hybrids spreading across California

In the San Francisco Bay Area, BART stations will be getting shiny, new, fuel-efficient hybrids for people to rent by the hour:

Promising a "major Bay Area expansion,'' City CarShare on Wednesday said that it has just opened vehicle rental locations at two BART stations, in Berkeley and Oakland.

City CarShare's two new East Bay rental locations, which opened last week, are at the North Berkeley and MacArthur BART stations, both of which will offer 2005 model Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles.

The organization rents parking spots for its cars at three other East Bay BART stations -- Ashby, Rockridge and Lake Merritt -- and at or near the Glen Park, Mission, Powell Street and Civic Center BART stations in San Francisco.

Moves like this may explain why Toyota is bullish on the vehicles:

Toyota Motor Corp. wants hybrids to make up 25 percent of its U.S. sales by early in the next decade and is considering adding the technology to its entire lineup, including trucks, Toyota's North American president Jim Press said Wednesday.

"To us, it's not a passing phase but a vital technology for the 21st century," Press said at an annual automotive conference in Traverse City, about 200 miles from Detroit.

Of course, with gas prices going back up to record highs, who could blame them for thinking there will be demand?