GreenSpace: Class takes look at 'a simpler vehicle'

By Dawn Schuett

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

If you go

What:A class about hybrid and electric vehicles is being offered through Rochester Community Education.

When:7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 7

Where:Northrop Education Center, 201 Eighth St. N.W.


For more information or to register, log onto or call 328-4000.

It's been more than a decade since mass-produced hybrid vehicles hit the American market, and there's still much for consumers to learn about the automobiles, according to Michael Schweyen.

A civil engineer in Rochester, Schweyen will teach a class about hybrid and electric vehicles next month through Rochester Community Education.

He'll explain the differences between all-electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles having an internal combustion engine and an electric motor compared to conventional vehicles. Schweyen will also cover the economics of owning and driving a vehicle, and talk about current hybrid models such as the Honda Insight, Ford Fusion and Toyota Prius, which continues to be the best-selling hybrid although there are some reports of sudden acceleration involving the Prius.


The next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles arrives later this year with the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that will be able to go 40 miles on an electric charge, and the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric, zero-emissions vehicle able to travel 100 miles on a full charge. With the debut of the Nissan Leaf in certain markets, a network of charging stations is being established as part of the EV Project in five states: Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Tennessee.

A hybrid version of a new vehicle costs more initially, as much as $6,000 to $8,000 more than the non-hybrid model, but it offers better fuel efficiency, reduced operating costs and fewer emissions, Schweyen said.

Tax credits for the purchase of some hybrids have been an incentive for buyers. Schweyen predicts the price will come down in the next 10 years as automakers improve the technology to make batteries and other parts for hybrid and electric vehicles less expensive to produce.

The efficiency of hybrid and electric vehicles is one of the reasons Schweyen likes them. For every gallon of gas put into a conventional vehicle, 80 percent of it is wasted because of friction or heat. An electric vehicle uses 80 percent of the power it has, he said.

Another advantage to an electric vehicle, Schweyen said, is that they cost less to operate than a conventional vehicle. An owner of an electric vehicle doesn't have expenses for things like gas, oil changes, spark plugs and air filters.

"What I like as a consumer is a simpler vehicle," he said.

Schweyen's class may appeal to someone thinking about buying a hybrid or electric vehicle, but he believes it is important knowledge for everyone to have about the future of transportation.

Dawn Schuett is a Farmington freelance writer.

What To Read Next
Get Local