News / USA

Not Your Father's Electric Car

You're in the market for a new car. You want something environmentally responsible, but you don't want to give up fun. Now you don't have to. But it comes at a cost.

Not Your Father's Electric Car
Not Your Father's Electric Car
Rebecca Ward

There's only one way to describe the new Tesla Roadster automobile.

Hot. Hot and green. That's because the Tesla is an all-electric car.

"I think people feel really good about driving a vehicle that is also very socially responsible," says Tari Cash, a Tesla Motors spokesperson.  "Something that's fun, something that looks good, but also something that can make them feel like they're really contributing to making the world a better place."

The Tesla Roadster doesn't just look great.  It can go more than 400 kilometers on a charge, and has all the torque of a 500-horsepower Corvette.  The Tesla rockets from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in less than four seconds.  By any measure, that's one fast car. 

"The car is made out of carbon fiber," says Cash.  "That's unique to this vehicle, it makes the vehicle very light, which helps out with the performance.  The hardest thing is not to get a speeding ticket."

The back end of the Tesla Roadster
The back end of the Tesla Roadster

The Tesla takes its name from inventor Nikola Tesla, one of the early pioneers of electrical power.  In addition to being a great looking car, the Roadster - despite its size - has ample storage room for a weekend getaway.

"You have enough storage space to fit actually two golf bags, one on top of the other, so you can absolutely fit weekend bags and travel with this vehicle for the weekend," says Cash. 

The Roadster does have its drawbacks, though, starting with the price: more than 100-thousand dollars.  But starting in 2011, Tesla Motors will offer a roomier, more family friendly car at half the price, the Model S.  "It's a very practical sedan for a family," says spokesperson Tari Cash.  "It's a 7-seater and will seat five adults and two children."

Experts say electric cars are destined to play an important part in the global push to ease carbon emissions.  But in some cases, electric power just does not have the long distance hauling capacity needed by truckers.

"25 percent of the energy we use on the road in the United States is for big trucks and buses," notes Richard Kolodziej, president of the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.  "We really have to get those trucks and buses to use something other than petroleum."

Natural gas vehicles are not new.  Vehicles running on compressed natural gas have been around for decades, just not in large numbers as compared to gasoline-powered cars.  However, Kolodziej says that's changing.

The fueling nozzle at one of the U.S. few gas stations offering compressed natural gas, or CNG.
The fueling nozzle at one of the U.S. few gas stations offering compressed natural gas, or CNG.

"The leading country is Pakistan, they have got 225-thousand natural gas vehicles.  Nigeria has a huge natural gas resource base."

Natural gas is cleaner than petroleum and can be less expensive.  But Honda is the only car manufacturer to offer a natural gas sedan to consumers in America, and in only a few states.  Public natural gas fueling stations are few and far between, so most people would need to refuel such a vehicle at home.

Says Kolodziej, "America has 180-thousand gasoline stations.  To replicate that would an impossibility in the short term.  Our focus is on fleets that are called 'return to home' vehicles.  Vehicles that go out in the morning, do their business, and come back."

Experts say it is difficult to predict which vehicle, natural gas, electric, or some other alternatively fueled vehicle, will come to dominate the roadways of the world.  But engineers such as those at Tesla are working on a next generation of transportation.

You can watch this, and all Rebecca Ward's "Going Green" reports here.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs