The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Gas-guzzling vehicles suffocate environment, speaker says

By Angela Ortiz/reporter

Vehicles have a large impact on energy, a South Campus instructor told Energy Technology Fair participants Nov. 13.

Steve Elms, instructor and coordinator of small engine technology, explained the relationship of cars to energy policy.

America’s economy is ever-changing and lately the demand for gas is down. Elms calls the decrease in gas prices a “gift in market conditions.”

Falling demand and falling prices, however, are hurting many businesses, including the U.S. automotive industry.

General Motors reported a network loss of $2.5 billion in its third-quarter financial results. GM could possibly join the ranks of many businesses filing for bankruptcy this year. It has asked Congress for assistance similar to the banking bailout package.

Elms said the crisis partly has occurred because the worldwide economy is based on energy. The British became the first world power because it used steam power first, he said. As a country, the U.S. has already started to craft solutions to the economic and energy problems.

“ Short-term solutions everyone can be a part of are driving slower, getting regular tune-ups on our vehicles and airing up tires as needed,” he said.

America’s automakers are doing their part by manufacturing vehicles with better gas mileage as fewer people are not interested in buying gas guzzlers, Elms said.

Elms said vehicle sales have dropped from 17 million to 13 million this year.

“ Demand of SUVs is down by half,” he said.

Honda and Toyota have made hybrid vehicles, which use gas and energy more efficiently.

“ It is not the ultimate answer,” he said. “Hybrids still use fossil fuel, but they do still help conserve it in the short term.”

In addition to hybrids, electric cars have been introduced, the Chevy Volt being the most popular, Elms said. The Volt is highly energy-efficient but does not have the needed range the average American needs. The Volt can travel about 100 miles on electric power and 200 with backup gas.

Elms said many experts are convinced natural gas and petroleum will eventually run out. Production of alternative sources of energy such as solar, corn, biomass, grass, roots and tree bark are being developed.

“ It is at least a step in the right direction although it is a baby step,” he said.

Hydrogen is often thought of as a power source, Elms said, but it is not because it takes more energy to produce it than what results.

“ It is not impossible to find another source of energy in the next 50 years,” he said. “After all, that is how long it took us to go from horses to cars. Two hundred years ago, the public would have not believed in jets and cars.”

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