Cars of the Future


American carmakers are looking for new ways of making cars more fuel-efficient and greener. Electric power combined with gasoline may be one way of powering the car of the future. Automobile experts predict that that by 2020 10% of all cars on the roads will be hybrid vehicles powered by gasoline and batteries.

Most hybrid cars of today use an internal combustion engine to drive the car and to produce electric power that is stored in the battery. The battery then runs the car at low speeds.



One of the most popular hybrid models of 2011 is expected to be the Chevy Volt, produced by General Motors.  GM has suffered financial losses and went bankrupt during the economic crisis of 2008. It has now recovered and hopes that hybrid cars like the Chevy Volt will sell well and bring the company profit in the next few years. The Volt will run on electricity for about 60 kilometers. After that, a gasoline engine will power the car. Together, the Volt will be able to run for about 560 kilometers with one charge and a tank of gasoline.

GM has used a different approach than most hybrid carmakers. In the Volt, an electric motor always runs the car. Gasoline is used to produce electricity. Engineers at GM say this method is better because it uses up to 15 % less energy. A new type of battery is also used in the Volt. The Chevy Volt is expected to cost about 40,000 dollars but buyers can get about a fifth of the price back through tax credits.



Tesla is a new carmaker in California.  It has produced a sports car, the Tesla Roadster, for over a hundred thousand dollars. The company claims that over 1,300 Roadsters are in use all over the world. The Roadster is a pollution free car that can reach speeds of up to 200 km an hour.  It can travel almost 400 km before it needs to be recharged.

Fisker Automotive is also a new carmaker, based in California. Its sports car, the Karma, also runs on electricity first, just like the Chevy Volt. In addition, it has solar panels on its roof to extend battery life. The Karma can travel almost 30 km on a liter of gas and a full charge of electricity.

American car producers have also been working on ways to make diesel engines more fuel efficient.  Diesel produces more energy when it burns and sulphuremissions from the engine produce a strong smell.  Because gasoline powered cars remain the most popular type of vehicle in the United States, American car makers make diesel-powered cars mainly for the European market.

Japanese carmaker Nissan is focusing on purely electric cars. It will offer a new car, the LEAF, starting next month. It has no gas engine and runs completely with electricity.  The company says the car will run for about 160 km with one single charge. The research department of Nissan has found out that 95% of all drivers travel fewer than 160 km a day.


Related Topics


  • approach = method
  • bankrupt = without having enough money, so you cannot pay your bills
  • charge = the electricity that is put into an electric machine
  • combine = together with
  • electricity = the power that is carried by wires and cables ; it is used to make machines work
  • emission = gas that is sent out into the atmosphere
  • engineer = here: someone who plans and makes cars
  • expect = will probably
  • extend = to make longer, lengthen
  • fifth = 20 percent
  • focus = concentrate on
  • fuel-efficient = a car that burns less fuel to travel longer distances
  • gasoline = petrol, a liquid that is used to power cars
  • green = without pollution
  • hybrid = something that is made up of two different things
  • in addition = also
  • in use = here: drive, run
  • internal combustion engine = motor that produces power by burning petrol or gasoline
  • loss = to lose a lot of money
  • pollution-free = without any emissions
  • popular = much liked
  • power = run
  • predict = forecast; to say that something will happen in the future
  • produce = make
  • profit = money
  • purely = only, wholly
  • reach = get to
  • recharge = to put electricity into the battery again
  • recover = to get better
  • research department = part of a company that works on developing new cars and engines
  • single = only one
  • solar panel = metal that collects heat and light from the sun and turns it into electricity
  • speed = how fast something is
  • store = save, keep in
  • suffer = experience, go through
  • sulphur = light yellow gas that burns with a very strong unpleasant smell
  • tax credit = you get back money because you have paid too much tax
  • vehicle = machine or engine that takes people from one place to another, like a car, truck bus etc..