Sierra Club Promotes Hybrid Car

The Sierra Club is promoting the environmental benefits of hybrid cars.

A representative from the group is driving a Toyota Prius from Tampa to New Orleans, drawing attention to the advantages of so called "green technology".

The new car runs on a combination of gasoline and electricity.

The environmental group says Americans could greatly reduce the problem of air pollution from traditional gas powered cars, by taking a serious look at the advantages of hybrid vehicles.

The New Orleans destination is part of the group's plan. They'll be promoting the technology outside a meeting about future oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

"They save money and also they dramatically reduce air pollution," said Darden Rice, who drove the Toyota Prius into Gulfport from Tampa, Florida.

Rice gives the hybrid vehicle an enthusiastic thumbs up.

"They're fun to drive. I've had a blast. I've had a lot of people show interest in these cars."

The Sierra Club is touting the vehicle's high gas mileage and ultra low emissions.

Harrison County supervisor Connie Rockco, often outspoken on environmental issues, couldn't wait to get behind the wheel.

A quick spin around the small craft harbor helped convince the public official about the car's potential.

"I know we've always seemed like we've had the technology, we've just lacked the will. Anytime there's change, there's pain it seems like. You know people just, they're just very leery of change," said Rockco.

Those who got behind the wheel of the hybrid Toyota were rather impressed. Concerns about pick up, roominess and power seemed to disappear.

Sierra Club member, John Welch, was convinced.

"Yeah, it runs just great. I'd like to have it on the highway. She told me she went 80 miles an hour so I said that's fast enough for me," said Welch.

The environmental benefits are obvious. The car gets 52 miles to the gallon, plus it has good pick up. So, what will it take to sell this vehicle to the American consumer?

Those promoting this "green technology" say auto makers are making the new technology more available.

"There's been a lot of interest in them. And we're going to see a lot of auto makers turn out more hybrid cars. Even Ford is going to be cranking out their own version of a hybrid. In the next couple of years we're going to see hybrid SUV's that get 40 miles to the gallon," said Darden Rice.

Honda also makes a hybrid car, called the "Insight".