Dec 112003
 
Authors: Holly Stollsteimer

Kurt Davies, the research director for Greenpeace in Washington,

said the organization supports the use of these newer vehicles.

“We are all in favor of anything that reduces the amount of oil

we use,” Davies said. “The beauty of the hybrid is it’s a

transitional move from petroleum to hydrogen.”

According to Davies, there are enormous implications for using

less oil, and said some companies are already inventing fuel cell

cars, which replace gasoline engines.

The United States has become more of a “car culture” than other

countries, Davies said. He questions whether or not people are

aware of the effects of driving a Hummer or SUV, in relation to

global warming.

“If the whole world were like us, we’d be out of oil in years,

not decades,” he said.

He said the use of hybrid cars is something citizens should

pursue as “a moral responsibility to do the right thing.”

The 2004 Toyota Prius, released in Denver in November introduces

features not seen in conventional cars.

Ron Lewis, the sales consultant for Pederson Toyota, explained

advances taken in the Prius, as well as all Prius cars on the

market.

The Prius is an electric powered vehicle with a gasoline backup,

but can also run simultaneously, according to Lewis. It does not

run through automatic or manual transmission. Instead, the Prius

has Continuously Variable Drive, which works with the momentum of

the car.

“We always come down to this double-edged sword, with efficiency

and the environmental standpoint,” Lewis said.

The Prius is EPA rated at 52 miles to the gallon in the city and

45 on the highway. It is rare to have better fuel efficiency during

city driving town than on the highway, according to Lewis.

The environmental standpoint is seen in that the Prius is rated

at a Partial Zero Emissions, meaning it is 90 percent cleaner than

other brand new conventional cars.

Previous Prius models were at a Super-ultra-low Emissions Level.

All Prius cars are exempt from the state emissions program.

“The belief that hybrids lack power is the farthest thing from

the truth,” Lewis said. “The Prius has three times the amount of

power as a conventional motor.”

The first generation of the Prius had 340-foot pound torque,

which is the power required for the car to be put into motion. The

2004 Prius has 377-foot pounds torque. The Toyota Corolla, a

conventional gasoline-powered car has 125-foot pounds torque.

The cost of the new Prius is a base price of $19,995, not

including a destination fee of $515 fin order to ship the car to

the United States from Japan.

“To offset that price,” Lewis said, “the government gives tax

incentives for those who buy hybrids.”

Curt Hanson, salesperson at Markley Honda in Fort Collins, said

the Honda hybrids are similar to the Prius in terms of size and

that they both use gasoline and electric-powered engines.

The Hondas differ from the Prius in that the cars are

gasoline-powered with an electrical start-up, and electrical help

with acceleration. Gasoline and electrical power cannot run

simultaneously in Hondas, but one couldn’t work without the other,

Hanson said.

“If (the hybrids) didn’t have the electrical power, the car

wouldn’t function,” he said.

The Hondas have an IMA, or Integrated Motor Assist, which mean

the electrical power and gasoline power are built into the same

motor.

The Hondas have an EPA rating of 50 miles to the gallon.

Aaron Kocurek, a math education sophomore, owns a Honda Accord

and is aware of both Toyota and Honda hybrids.

“My car’s not a hybrid, but I’d switch to one because they’re

less expensive in the long run,” Kocurek said. “You won’t be

spending as much money on gas.”

Kocurek said he would also switch to a hybrid because they are

cleaner, more efficient and prevent using resources such as oil and

gas.

Lewis stated that the infrastructure is not yet ready for a

hydrogen cell car, the next step after hybrids. Gas stations are

also opposed to the idea because oil companies are hesitant to move

in that direction. Lewis said it might take over a decade for

completely electric-powered cars to come into the car-manufacturing

scene.

“The hybrids are a bridge,” Lewis said.

Hanson also feels the cars are “on the cutting edge of the

future.”

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