The following is a rough drafted opinion for a weekly assignment that I’ve been given where I have to write an opinion to respresent the entire Town-Crier staff. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Soon enough, more Americans will be worrying about charge time rather than gas mileage as we look for better alternatives to rising gas prices and the nation turns to electric vehicles. Many Americans seem to have forgotten the $4 gas prices every driver faced last summer. Slumps in the cost per barrel of oil saw us growing complacent this past winter, and now with prices on their way steadily back to where they were before we seem to once more be growing aware of our options.
The United States government aims to make all new vehicles more fuel efficient, calling for manufacturers to produce cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles that achieve 35 miles per gallon (mpg) or better by 2020. However, the European Union is already well ahead of this: manufacturers in the EU chose in 2008 to voluntarily raise their standard average to 44.2 mpg. The U.S. has lagged behind, with resistant automakers that have for years lobbied against a change finally giving in to the demands of an increasingly power-hungry market. But the power that Americans are hungry for has switched from muscle to plug.
It is time for American automakers to redesign the outdated stereotype of what makes a good automobile. We have for generations been ingrained with the mantra of “bigger is better.” Now with the Hummer brand being sold to Chinese company Tengzhong and General Motors filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the matter has become more urgent. Where Americans used to call for bigger engines — a 10-cylinder Dodge here, a 12-cylinder Aston Martin there — they are now calling for more reliance on electricity and less on gas.
For those who are truly concerned about their bank accounts — and the condition of our planet — hybrid and electric vehicles are looking more and more appealing by the day. The 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid boasts an impressive 51 mpg on city roads and 48 mpg on the highway. In fact, a local Toyota technician recently made headlines when he took a lithium ion-powered Prius, which will be available in 2011, from Lake Park to Washington, D.C. in 11 days on 11 gallons of gas.
Toyota also proved that hybrid vehicles could be luxurious by releasing several vehicles on their Lexus line with hybrid engines. The arrival of hybrid luxury vehicles is another step towards convincing often-dubious American consumers of the benefits of a marriage between electricity and gasoline. And with Tesla Motors’ release of their Roadster, a high-performance vehicle that runs entirely on electricity, Americans should be ready to admit that perhaps it would be okay for the Corvette to get a hybrid makeover.
With the technology available, why are we so resistant to the change that is inevitable? It cannot possibly be that style will be sacrificed for efficiency. We can see that in the design of the Chevrolet Volt, which moved quickly from a sporty electric concept vehicle to a more practical four-door sedan, reminiscent of newer Malibus, and is proposed to run on a lithium ion battery.
We have waited too long already to decrease our dependency on oil. Americans are going to have to bite the bullet and accept that electric vehicles are not going away and should be embraced. It is the best way for us to achieve the 2020 deadline without losing our brands or our style.