Daily Video

February 1, 2011

Will Electric Cars Rule the Road?

At the dawn of the automobile era, electric cars outnumbered their gasoline powered counterparts. But that was short lived. Quickly the gasoline powered model-T stormed the automobile market, and electric cars soon took a backseat as manufacturers focused on the demand for more affordable gas driven engines.

Now, after decades of failed attempts, the electric car is on the rebound and gaining popularity with both manufacturers and consumers. Chevy’s Volt, whose battery lasts 35 miles, has won a number of car of the year awards in the United States. And the all-electric Nissan Leaf, was just named car of the year in Europe as Toyota and Honda are each in the final stages of launching new plug-ins.

Why the rebound? Consumers are looking for cleaner and quieter cars that don’t leave large carbon footprints on the environment. GM and others are betting that the battery, discouraged for a century by cheap oil and carbon complacency, will finally evolve, now that oil’s price and Earth’s temperature are both on the rise. However, cost is still a speed bump in the battery driven electric automobile revolution.

“Remember, with any new technology, the price point is always high,” said Teri Quigley, who runs the Chevy Volt plant north of Detroit.

This video weighs the pros and cons of battery driven cars and their financial pluses for automakers. It’s the second in economics correspondent Paul Solman’s reporting on the future of electric cars.

Quotes

“The — the energy density in a gallon of fuel is something that is almost 10, 15 times more powerful than what you can store — store in a battery.” –Micky Bly, GM engineer

“Remember, with any new technology, the price point is always high, right? What was the size of the first cell phone you ever saw, huh? What was the size of the calculator? How much did it cost you?” –Teri Quigley, who runs the Chevy Volt plant north of Detroit.

“Aerodynamics is it — it’s kind of free fuel economy.” –Nina Tortosa, GM Engineer

Warm Up Questions

1. What is an electric car?

2. Why are there more gas-powered cars than electricity-powered cars?

3. When you hear “cleaner automobiles,” what do you think that means?

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you suppose electric cars are gaining popularity with consumers?

2. From the video, can you name a few differences between electric and gas cars?

3. What are the pros and cons of driving an electric car?

Additional Resources

Read video transcript

GM, Detroit Pinning Hopes for Future on Chevy Volt

Tool$ Tuesday: What’s YOUR Vehicle’s Carbon “Tire-print”?

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