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

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid