By Steve Scauzillo, December 14, 2013
Forget those giant red bows on those gas-guzzling Lexus cages. Buy an
electric car this Christmas. Besides, aren’t gasoline-powered cars
The future is here, and it’s a race between cars powered by
natural gas, battery/electric, and hydrogen. Gasoline cars? They are
going the way of the horseless carriage.
And if you don’t believe me, fine. I’m talking about experts and scientists.
I met Bob Lutz, one of the living legends in the automobile industry,
at the recent L.A. Auto Show, he had this to say about the future of
automobiles: “The electrification of vehicles is definitely coming,”
said Lutz, the father of the Chevrolet Volt, an all-electric car that
has a gas-powered motor that re-charges the batteries and extends the
car’s range to that of a gasoline-powered car.
Full disclosure: I leased a 2013 Volt in May. I drive to work and
to Orange County, where I teach a journalism class, on 99 percent
battery power. In the 6,000 miles I’ve put on the car, I’ve only filled
up the 9.5-gallon gas tank twice, and once was in San Diego.
sees battery electric, or electric plug-in hybrids, or the Volt — a more
advanced hybrid that can get 40 miles per battery charge and plugs into
any electrical outlet in a home, office or garage just like your cell
phone charger — as the next generation of alternative-fueled cars. The
hydrogen-powered car is coming, but the infrastructure is not there yet.
Currently, there are nine hydrogen stations in all of California.
Nine. While everyone generally can find a socket to plug in their BEV
or plug-in hybrid. I like to “fill up” at night when electric rates are
less. My electric bill was $87 in October and $93 in November — the bump
due more to the use of electric heaters during the cold snap. I cut up
my gasoline credit cards. Don’t need them anymore.
The Volt? I
leased it for $217 a month. I put down $2,500 but got a rebate from the
state for $1,500. My out-of-pocket cost for the car was $1,000. And my
monthly bill is lower than when I owned a gasoline-powered car. I’m also
saving $150 to $200 a month on fuel.
Most people don’t realize that BEVs and advanced extended-range
battery cars such as the Volt, or the Ford C-Max or Fusion Energi, are
out there. They are not in the future. They are now. I saw an
advertisement in our newspaper to lease a C-Max for $159 a month.
Union of Concerned Scientists and the Consumers Union released a survey
Wednesday that said 42 percent of those who responded and owned cars —
about 45 million households — were ready and able to drive a Volt or a
plug-in hybrid. About half of those households could use an all
battery-electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf.
“Consumers who might be shopping for a new vehicle this holiday
season may be surprised to learn that an electric vehicle could be a
good fit for their household,” said Josh Goldman, analyst with the UCS
Clean Vehicles Program.
The survey found that 70 percent of the
drivers drive less than 60 miles on a weekday, well within the range of
an all battery-electric car. The rest can drive a Volt, which switches
to the gas tank to power the electric drive train when the battery
charge is zero.
Lastly, the scientists calculated if everyone who
could switch to an all-electric or a plug-in extended range car did so,
the nation would save 15 billion gallons of gasoline each year. By the
way, that is more than what was used in the state during 2012.
Here’s the best part: The planet would save 89 million metric
tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That is the equivalent of
removing 14 million of today’s gasoline-powered cars from the road in a
The message is simple: Have a garage, or have a plug, and
most of you can save the planet. And cut up your gasoline credit cards.
Let’s put a big green bow on that.