Eco-Rep Green Corner: Hybrid cars crossing into the fast lane

Since the worldwide release of the Toyota Prius in 2001, the popularity of hybrid cars has exploded. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV’s) combine an internal combustion engine with one or more electric motors. By drawing power from two different sources, HEVs are able to use much less gas, allowing motorists to save money and help the environment. Until recently, hybrids have been used mainly by the cost-conscious commuter or the budding environmentalist, but now HEV’s are finding their way into the hands of all types of drivers.

Fisker Automotive is a new American car company that is dedicated to getting serious drivers behind the wheel of hybrid vehicles. The 2012 Fisker Karma, according to its website, combines the high performance and look of a sports car with the low impact of an HEV. With a 0-60 mph speed of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of over 120 mph, most consumers would never expect the Karma to be environmentally friendly. Not only does this hybrid sport an electric motor, it has several other features that make it stand out as an environmental supercar.

According to Fisker’s website, all of the wood trim in the car’s cabin is made of 100 percent Fallen, Sunken and Rescued Wood. Some of the sources include rescued trees from California wildfires and 300-year-old oak that has been salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan. The seating is made of soy-based bio-fiber and other recycled materials, and the roof doubles as a solar panel that can add more than 200 miles of range per year. As shown on the Car Connection research website, the Fisker Karma, which comes with a sticker price of nearly $100,000, is setting a new standard for luxury, performance and responsibility.

Although the Karma may be out of the price range of most Rider students, there are still plenty of opportunities on campus to experience HEV technology first hand. Several of the Ford Escape public safety and student escort vehicles are actually hybrids. In addition, Rider’s new WeCar program provides students with a chance to rent one of two hybrid vehicles. The Toyota Prius and new Ford Focus hybrids are currently available and can be spotted parked outside the Bart Luedeke Center and the Westminster Student Center in between rentals.

HEVs, once driven only by environmentalists, are now used as a practical and responsible mode of transportation. Today, whether you are looking for a car to take to the racetrack or to Quaker Bridge Mall, there is a hybrid that can get you there.

-Adam Grossman

Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

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