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New Car Part Of High-Tech Race To Get Off Gas

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Soaring gas prices take a bigger bite out of our budgets every day, but imagine never having to buy gas again.  Meet a man who cut his ties to gas with a cutting-edge car.

Derek Valcourt has more on the high-tech race to get off gas.

Skyrocketing fuel prices are evidence of the energy crisis drivers see every time they fill up.

“Ridiculous,” said one.

“It kills my budget,” said one driver.

“I think we’ll hit five dollars by the end of summer,” said another.

Americans burn twice as much oil as we produce, stuck importing nearly $12 million barrels each and every day.  The president’s solution?

“A decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third,” said President Barack Obama.

That’s exactly the same thing the last eight presidents promised, but none succeeded.  Now, thanks to breakthroughs in new technology, more people believe it’s possible to put electric cars on the road.

Chris Cook is already oil-free.  He’s driving an all-electric car, the Tesla Roadster.

It’s been months since he went to a gas station.

Manufacturers hope to have as many as a million electric cars on U.S. roads by the year 2015.  Vehicles like the new all-electric Nissan Leaf and the new electric hybrid Chevy Volt are already in hot demand, with thousands on long waiting lists to get them later this year.

Cook is way ahead of the curve.  He’s been all-electric for two years.

“If we open it up here, you’ll see it’s a funny looking three-pronged plug instead of a hole for where you put your fuel,” Cook said.

Add up the charging costs on Cook’s electricity bill and he’s paying the gasoline equivalent of about 70 cents per gallon.  And at just shy of 4,000 miles, he’s already saved 147 gallons of gas, or 7.7 barrels of oil.  At $4 a gallon, that’s close to $600.

“This car has a high smugness factor, so when you’re driving down the highway on just electricity and batteries, you can really feel smug about yourself,” Cook said.

More than two-thirds of the oil we use goes into transportation: trucks, planes and, of course, millions upon millions of gas-guzzling cars.  Energy experts believe those numbers can come down.

“The goal of reducing our foreign dependence is realistic and electric vehicles, I think, will be a big part of that solution,” said Malcolm Woolf, Maryland Energy Administration director.

“I drive by the gas stations and just feel sorry for the people there having to line up at the pump,” Cook said.

As gas prices soar, new surveys show 85 percent of Americans are willing to consider an electric car as the best road to less foreign oil.

Maryland is one of several states leading the push to drive electric, passing several tax incentives and installing the second highest number of electric car charging stations in the country.

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