Lebanese American University


A hybrid solution?

Dr. Ahmad Houri, LAU chemistry associate professor, returns to Lebanon after completing a three-month study in Spain on hybrid cars.

Dr. Ahmad Houri, LAU associate professor of chemistry, says the government should entice consumers to move away from gas guzzlers toward efficient cars through tax incentives.

Houri with a hybrid car displayed on LAU's Beirut campus in December 2008.

Dr. Ahmad Houri, associate professor of chemistry, says he came back to Lebanon surprised after the fruits of a three-month study in Spain to examine the economic and environmental impacts of hybrid cars revealed unexpected results.

During a public lecture on January 20 at LAU Beirut to present his findings as Euro Arab Chair for Renewable Energies, Houri explained that contrary to what he expected and hoped for, coughing up extra cash to purchase a hybrid car might not make economic sense. He used a special calculator to generate consumer costs based on individual driving habits.

“I felt that I was going to come up with a certain conclusion, but I arrived at a completely different one,” Houri said. “This is what research is all about.”

In one scenario comparing a regular car with a hybrid car that costs $3,000 more, it would take a driver almost 10 years to recover the extra cost based on average driving of 15,000 kilometers per year and current gas prices.

“That is not a happy thought,” Houri said, adding that despite our concern for the environment, our decisions are always motivated by economic realities.

Houri also called on the Lebanese government to encourage consumers to move away from wasteful cars by placing heavy taxes on gas guzzlers and offering financial incentives for purchasing more efficient cars.

“It is not our interest in Lebanon to promote hybrid cars,” Houri said. “It is in our interest to promote efficient cars, whether they are hybrid or otherwise.”

Read more about Houri’s three-month study in Spain.


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