There was a time when car companies didn’t advertise miles-per-gallon and emission wasn’t a word people thought about when buying a car, but with fuel prices near four bucks a gallon, Argonne officials believe the future of the automotive industry is alternative energy. The focus of the Green Car Show in Naperville was the battery-powered car.
“These are all new technologies that are coming to increase the density theoretically to that of gasoline,” said Ted Bohn, the Principal Investigator within the Smart Grid Standards at Argonne National Laboratory. “Basically you can store the electricity in the car in the same volume and mass as gasoline.”
The talk of the test track was the Nissan Leaf, a car powered solely by electricity.
“We are going to be bringing the electric motor to various other vehicles,” said Mary Gilles, Regional Marketing Specialist for Nissan. “Infinity will have two other vehicles and we will have another commercial vehicle out with an electric motor so we will just keep on expanding.”
The Leaf can cruise up to 130 miles before a full charge runs out. 750 people in the Chicagoland area have put a deposit down on the Leaf, which arrives in the area in October. As for the average driver, there are still some skeptics.
“You have to remember the guys growing up in my generation are used to the eight cylinder hogs that go from zero to 60 in five seconds,” said Charlie Brown, a Naperville resident attending the Green Car Show.
For those who like the power from thirsty engines, the Roadster from Tesla Motors proves you don’t need a gas-guzzler to gain high performance.
“It is completely electric, it doesn’t use any gasoline whatsoever. You can plug it into any outlet, so it can literally be charged anywhere so you don’t have to have a special plug for it,” said Seneca Giese, Sales Advisor for Tesla Motors. “It will charge faster on a 220 volt like a dryer plug, and what’s really special about the Roadster is it will do zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds.”
While the Leaf starts at around $35,000, the Roadster from Tesla will run you at least $109,000. Officials believe these electric-powered cars can one day replace our gasoline-powered vehicles.
“We need to get people into them, and I think that the industry is really moving ahead,” said congresswoman Judy Biggert. “We are seeing the charging stations, I think people are really going to want to get on board.”
The installation of around 600 charging stations region-wide has already been approved. Right now the federal government is offering a $7,500 tax credit if you buy electric and the state of Illinois will give you a $4,000 tax credit.
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