by Amy Mattinat
I read in Road & Travel magazine that the average American still prefers driving SUVs, Vans, Trucks and Luxury Sedans with relatively strong engine performance to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. OK, I admit I am one of them.
I feel safer driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle in the winter. I enjoy having a truck around to cart cumbersome, heavy loads. And when I am on a long road trip, I would rather drive a Camry than an Echo. Why is this? Do we think that driving gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing automobiles will not affect existence as we know it in our life time? Do we believe that peak oil is a myth and that driving an automobile has no connection to the war in the Middle East? Are we so selfish we don’t care that the status quo will affect future generations?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe we need to give up size, comfort and performance in our automobiles. I truly believe that with American ingenuity we can create an alternatively-powered automobile that is affordable.
There are a number of different options out there: hybrid vehicles, Gasohol, bio-diesel, fuel cells, and electric. Now is the time to fully explore the pros and cons of each emerging alternative transportation technology and support the one you believe makes the most sense for you and for our future.
We also need to put the fear of re-election into our government officials’ hearts and heads. We need to subsidize research so there can be some drastic changes to how our automobiles are propelled down the road.
My favorite alternative vehicle is the electric car. Wouldn’t it be
beautiful if all the automobiles had zero emissions and were powered by
water (hydroelectric), the wind (windmills), and the sun (solar
energy)? Am I a crazy dreamer or could this become our new reality?
There is an interesting documentary film made, called Who Killed the Electric Car? It examines a theory that Big Oil and the U.S. government colluded to undermine electric car technology taking off in the 1990s. Whatever the reason they failed to thrive, with all the technological advances and $4- per-gallon gas looming in our not-so-distant future, electric cars merit a fresh look.
There are a surprising number of small independent automakers out there creating electric cars in all sizes, shapes, comfort levels, engine performance and price ranges, including: Feels Good Cars Inc., Meyers Motors, Phoenix Motorcars, UEV Corp., Wrightspeed Inc., Venturi, e-ride, B.I.G. Man, AC Propulsion, Commuter Cars, Tiger Truck, to name a few. You could purchase a Xebra Zap! For only $10,000. Or you could go for the Beauty Queen of them all; the Tesla Roadster which sell for $100,000 each. This vehicle is powered by an innovative lithium-ion battery that will hopefully offer some insights to the major automakers.
The electric car does not need a huge investment in developing an infrastructure to support it right off. You can charge it up anywhere there is an electric outlet. Just think, if there were thousands and thousands of quiet, emissions free electric cars driving around there would be great incentive to create clean, affordable electricity. What do you think; if we weren’t so dependent of oil, would our friends, siblings and spouses be in Iraq risking their lives in a war that otherwise makes no sense?
I know I work best with a deadline hanging over me. Are we going to have to wait until only the wealthy can afford gasoline before this country gets serious about investing in research and development of alternative automobiles? If we got things rolling before a catastrophe hits, it could be the dawning of new age. It would create new industry, new plants, and new jobs for the American people. We could once again take a leadership role and guide the rest of the world to a cleaner, healthier way of transportation.
To help motivate the future generation to reach for the stars, a nationwide program called the EV Challenge has been created. There is an innovative educational program for middle and high school students that centers on building electric powered cars. Middle school students build model solar-powered cars. High school students spend a year converting a full-sized gasoline powered vehicle into an electric vehicle, then come together for a two-day finale.
This nationwide program has had thousands of students participate. If you or your school would like more information go online and visit www.evchallenge.org
Here’s to your safe, happy and environmentally friendly motoring.