News / Economy

At NY Auto Show Electric Cars Coming On Strong

At NY Auto Show Electric Cars Coming On Strongi
X
April 21, 2014 9:03 PM
Plug in your car, then unplug, and drive away. More and more consumers are doing just that. At the 2014 New York Auto Show many automakers unveiled electric or hybrid vehicle to address the growing global appetite for environment-friendly cars. While some technological challenges remain, the market is heating up. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
Bernard Shusman
Plug in your car, then unplug, and drive away.  More and more consumers are doing just that. At the 2014 New York Auto Show many automakers unveiled electric or hybrid vehicle to address the growing global appetite for environment-friendly cars.

While some technological challenges remain, the market is heating up. 

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from Toyota converts hydrogen into electricity, has a smooth ride, strong accelertion, and leaves no carbon monoxide behind.  

“We think that hydrogen is the future of electric vehicles because they’re so much more convenient," said Toyota's Wade Hoyt.  "And the way it works is that the hydrogen wants to combine with the oxygen in the air. It forms H2O, which is water vapor, is the only exhaust, so it’s a true zero emissions vehicle.   And you get electricity out of that combination."

Many manufacturers are now producing hybrids and electric vehicles.  Ford has unveiled an all-electric Ford Focus and Chevy is touting its environment-friendly Volt. While electric cars are easy on the environment, they can also offer strong preformance.  Tesla's has ferocious acceleration, pushing the car from zero to about 100 kilometers per hour in three-point-seven seconds, with a top speed just over 200 kilometers per hour.  Electric motors deliver strong acceleration because they offer more torque than equivalent gasoline engines. That is why luxury brands, like BMW, are experimenting with this new technology.  

But the switchover from gasoline is an evolutionary process, says James Bell of General Motors.

"I think the mistake that many people in the industry and in the media maybe thought was that -- when the Nissan Leaf came out or the Chevrolet Volt -- was that suddenly people would drop their gasoline cars and rush for them.  No, it’s not that way," he said. "This is going to be a slow evolution, but it’s also a Pandora’s box moment.  It’s not going to go back in.  Electrified vehicles are the way to meet those emissions in the future.”

Alternative fuel vehicles account for just one million of the than 60 million cars produced worldwide annually.  But in 2013 the number of hybrid and electric cars doubled. Automakers still don’t make money on electric cars because of the high cost of battery technology. Tesla's battery, for example, costs $50,000, about half of the vehicle’s total selling price.  But manufacturers pay the costs because they believe electric vehicles are an important part of the industry's future.

Matt Miller, auto industry reporter for Bloomberg News, says a mixture of old and new technology is the winning strategy.

“Really the key for the future, I think, is hybrid technology, so rather than having a car like a Tesla, completely electric-powered, you have a car like the BMW I-3 or I-8, which has a small gasoline motor to help charge the battery when it’s needed and electric motors to drive," he said. "That’s got to be the future.  Then you get something like 90 or 100 miles per gallon, [19 to 21 kilometers per liter] which is decent and you still get the torque when you need it.”

The challenge is to produce a car with long, inexpensive battery life that allows the driver to travel a long way between charges.   Automakers expect many millions will then decide to switch from gas to alternative fuel.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7975
JPY
USD
118.23
GBP
USD
0.6371
CAD
USD
1.1324
INR
USD
61.929

Rates may not be current.