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Car of the Future

Program Overview


NOVA follows National Public Radio Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi (Click and Clack) as they travel the world to find out what is being done now to keep cars running in the future.

The program:

  • visits the Detroit Auto Show to illustrate that, in order to attract buyers, cars have become even bigger and more powerful.

  • travels to the AltWheels Festival in Boston to look at some of the alternative-energy vehicles currently available.

  • explains how petroleum is turned into gasoline.

  • notes that the current U.S. infrastructure supports the delivery of gasoline, making it difficult for an alternative energy source to take hold.

  • presents efforts in Iceland to convert to hydrogen vehicles.

  • illustrates how hydrogen fuel cells work.

  • explains how Iceland produces hydrogen, which, despite being the most abundant element in the universe, does not exist naturally in pure form.

  • reports on efforts to make ethanol a viable alternative fuel source.

  • looks at research to produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass, the woody structure that supports plants.

  • details work being done at MIT's Sloan Automotive Laboratory to increase the efficiency of combustion engines.

  • considers the impact of regulation on fuel economy.

  • looks at the Hypercar, a vehicle made of lightweight but strong composite carbon fiber.

  • surveys current energy-efficient cars on the market, including standard hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles that are powered by energy derived from sources other than petroleum.

  • considers what needs to happen if alternative vehicles are to become commonplace.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after program is recorded off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Car of the Future
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