Newsom not hyped for hybrids

As Mayor Gavin Newsom gushed over a new electric car Wednesday, he revealed a less than positive feeling toward the most popular fuel-efficient cars on the road: hybrids.

While applauding the completely electric 2008 Tesla Roadster at a Fisherman’s Wharf event, the mayor said “halfway is no way” in reference to the hybrid technology that combines gasoline and battery power.

Newsom acknowledged the importance of hybrid technology and the popularity of hybrid cars but said they did not compare with all-electric cars and the zero emissions they produce.

“I’m not anti-hybrid,” he added, scoffing at most fuel-efficient cars on the road today. “I’m still mixed on hybrids.”

With thousands on the road in the Bay Area, San Francisco is the No. 1 market for the Toyota Prius, the most popular brand of hybrid cars.

Unlike the popular hybrids, the 2008 Tesla Roadster runs completely on a lithium ion battery — the same technology that powers a laptop computer — that gives it a driving range of 200-plus miles beforeit needs recharging.

The car battery fully charges in 3.5 hours and costs roughly $2 to $3 per charge, reducing the car owner’s costs to less than two cents a mile, said David Vespremi, a Tesla spokesman.

The electric sports car with a baseline price of $98,000 was showcased Wednesday at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf as part of an announcement of an agreement between the San Carlos-based Tesla Motors and Hyatt to place battery-charging stations at Hyatt hotels.

The roadster accelerates from zero to 60 mph in four seconds and has a top speed of more than 130 mph. Solar technology connected to the charging unit would also create the opportunity for the car owner to take the vehicle completely off the power grid, Vespremi said.

“This is electric; this is the real deal,” Newsom said of the roadster. The company has already pre-sold 600 cars to the likes of actor George Clooney, and production begins this fall with the goal of 800 first-year cars, Vespremi said.

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

dsmith@examiner.com

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