"The new Accord boasts an environmental first: a six-cylinder gasoline engine that's cleaner than many hybrid systems.
There's only one catch: You can't actually buy this ultra-green Accord, or the four-cylinder version that also produces near-zero pollution. That is, unless you live in California, New York or six other northeast states that follow California's tougher pollution rules. Only there can you buy this Accord, or the roughly two dozen other models that meet so-called Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standards, PZEV for short.
"So, just how green is a PZEV machine? Well, if you just cut your lawn with a gas mower, congratulations, you just put out more pollution in one hour than these cars do in 2,000 miles of driving. Grill a single juicy burger, and you've cooked up the same hydrocarbon emissions as a three-hour drive in a Ford Focus PZEV. As the California Air Resources Board has noted, the tailpipe emissions of these cars can be cleaner than the outside air in smoggy cities.
"The PZEV cars don't get any better mileage than conventional versions. Would most self-interested Americans even pay a lousy 100 bucks for cleaner air that doesn't put fuel savings back in their pocket? "With hybrids, the selling point is fuel economy, so there's a dollar amount on that," said William Walton, Honda's product planning chief for U.S. cars. 'We want to give people the cleanest vehicles we can produce, but how much are people willing to pay for clean air?'"
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