News / USA

Americans Rev Up for Cleaner, More Efficient Cars

Obama calls on US automakers to produce more electric-powered alternatives

Lawyer Jeff Parmet, behind the wheel of his Volt, says he hasn't pumped gas since buying the electric car in December.
Lawyer Jeff Parmet, behind the wheel of his Volt, says he hasn't pumped gas since buying the electric car in December.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

Americans are in the market for more energy-efficient and cleaner-running cars. In his State of the Union address to Congress last month President Obama challenged the U.S. automotive industry produce more electric-powered alternatives.

"With more research and incentives we can break our dependence on oil with bio-fuels and become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015," he said.

That message echoed through the cavernous exhibition halls of the 2011 Washington Auto Show, held recently in the nation’s capital, where 700 domestic and imported vehicles were on public display, including new, environmentally friendly, or "green" cars.  

Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan awarded the magazine’s Green Vision Award to Ford for redesigning its best-selling Focus line of gas powered cars into the Ford Focus Battery Electric model. "This is a pretty amazing car.  The technology is first rate," he said.

Another crowd pleaser at the show was the all-electric 2011 Chevy Volt, which General Motors introduced as a concept car in 2007 and is on sale in U.S. showrooms.

Cogan says the sleek, aerodynamic four-seater is a milestone in automotive engineering.  "It offers the essence of what an electric vehicle should be, with the ability to have an on-board internal combustion engine generator that also creates electricity so you can just continue driving."

High performance

That’s been the experience of Jeff Parmet, a lawyer who works from his home in Potomac, Maryland.  He says he hasn’t pumped a drop of gas into his car since he bought it in December.  "Ideally I never want to put gas in it.  That’s the goal."

Jeff Parmet starts his Volt inside on a cold day using an application on his mobile phone.
Jeff Parmet starts his Volt inside on a cold day using an application on his mobile phone.

The Volt goes about 65 kilometers on a single charge. When the onboard gas generator kicks in to recharge the battery, the car can go up to 480 kilometers between plug-ins.

Parmet says the Volt more than meets his needs. "A lot of people thought it would be like driving a glorified golf cart. That's not the case. This is an engineering marvel. It’s a performance car. It really accelerates fast. It handles great. It corners great. My hat is off to Chevy for what they did with this car. I’m just delighted with it."

General Motors hopes to manufacture 10,000 Chevy Volts this year and another 45,000 in 2012.  

On a cold day like this one, Parmet sits at his kitchen table and warms up the Volt by tapping into an application on his mobile phone. A few minutes later in the garage he unplugs the long electric charging cable from the car and stores it in his home power station, a box on the wall about the size and shape of a large bathroom scale.

Volt owner Jeff Parmet disconnects the power cord from his new electric car.
Volt owner Jeff Parmet disconnects the power cord from his new electric car.

Next he gets in and pushes a power button to start the car. The car responds in silence.  An electronic sound effect confirms that the motor has started. The only noise when he drives is from the wind outside.  

Parmet gazes down at his glowing instrument panel. There’s a digital speedometer, a satellite navigation system and buttons to control the radio and the cabin temperature. He also monitors a rear-view camera and a computer screen that calculates battery range, a display with settings for recharging, and a gauge that gives continuous feedback on driver efficiency.

Assessing costs and benefits

Parmet admits that the Volt is expensive. He says while it costs about twice that of a similar-sized car with a gasoline engine, it’s a price he’s willing to pay.

Animation on a screen in the dashboard in Volt tells the driver the status of the battery charge.
Animation on a screen in the dashboard in Volt tells the driver the status of the battery charge.

"I bought this car because I strongly believe that we need to move off an oil petroleum-based transportation economy. And I want to make a statement. So I felt that this was an opportunity to do more than just talk the talk."

Parmet sees a bright future for electric cars. He says tighter air pollution controls and higher fuel economy standards have resulted in more efficient gas-powered cars, but he thinks Americans are ready for alternative cars that can achieve much higher energy efficiencies.  As more and more electric re-charging stations are installed in public places around the country and as prices begin to come down, Parmet is confident he'll be seeing more and more electric cars joining his on America's highways.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid