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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More