Green Corner: All charged up to drive electric

It happens to everyone. You get in your car, realize the tank is almost empty and an unplanned stop at the gas station is needed. With the price of gas fluctuating, who can afford to dish out the big bucks continually? If you can empathize, an electric or hybrid car may be for you.
There are constant debates among consumers over whether hybrid or electric vehicles are the most efficient. Car companies around the world are working to be the first to release the latest car technology that will change the way people drive, which could impact the most pressing environmental issue we have ever seen — global warming.
Rider is doing its part to promote the hybrid lifestyle. The WeCar car-share program offered at Rider has two hybrid vehicles. The hosts of 107.7 The Bronc’s “Sustainable You” show, juniors and digital media majors Emily Mazzio and Sabrina Safran even got to test drive a plug-in Toyota Prius and learn about its benefits.
Hybrids offer efficient driving technology that save you a lot of money. The Prius, the most successful and top-selling hybrid car, is one popular option. According to Toyota’s website, hybrid cars such as this one combine a fuel-efficient gas engine as well as an electric motor powered by batteries that automatically recharge while driving.
What else makes hybrid vehicles so “green”? According to eartheasy.com, not only do they have smaller and more economical engines, but they also utilize regenerative braking, meaning the electric motor slows the car down and also acts as a generator that powers the batteries. These cars are super aerodynamic, have narrow, stiff tires to reduce drag and are built with lightweight materials. Hybrids also have extended their technology to plug-in cars. These can be plugged into home outlets and charge when they are not in use. However, these are not the only efficient cars available.
Did you know that there’s an electric car made right here in the U.S. that won Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” award for 2013? The Tesla Model S is the first electric car to ever win this prestigious award.
Like hybrids, electric cars are also powered by electric motors and rechargeable batteries. According to the website fueleconomy.gov, electric vehicles convert about 59 percent to 62 percent of the electrical energy from the grid to the wheel, compared to gasoline vehicles converting about 17 percent to 21 percent. Electric cars emit no tailpipe pollutants and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Other car companies such as Mitsubishi, Chevrolet, Fisker Karma and Nissan have all developed competitive electric car models. And with gas prices rising to almost $4 per gallon in New Jersey, going hybrid can help you save an enormous amount of money. The Prius saves the driver at least $900 a year in operating costs and the Chevy Volt can potentially save between $1,300 and $1,500 per year, according to their websites.
To learn more about alternative vehicles and ways to drive sustainably, students can attend the Green Film Revenge of the Electric Car on Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Sweigart 115.

-Jillian Spratt
Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

Printed in the 12-7-12 edition

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