Cities of tomorrow shaped by hybrid technology

Old way of powering cars is running out of steam

Cars can't help but affect architecture, as they constrain so much of what we design and build. We devote a big chunk of our homes to them, and build shopping centers in which a quarter of the space is for people, and the rest is for parked cars. Add up all this area given over to cars, whether moving or standing still, and you'll find that around 40 percent of our cities belong to our four-wheeled friends. Of more pressing concern to humankind, however, is the fact that cars consume vast amounts of petroleum while pumping out vast amounts of pollution. Here, at least, there's a ray of hope: Americans can now buy hybrid vehicles, which use small, efficient gasoline engines to produce electricity onboard. Hybrids are far more efficient than the gas-guzzling, mechanical-drive dinosaurs most of us still drive, not to mention being quieter and more powerful to boot. Still, industry analysts, bureaucrats and other fonts of conventional wisdom would have us believe that, because hybrids stil...