Hybrid cars help jobs, environment

Samantha Rainwater

Stanford Ovshinsky, president and chief scientist and technologist for ECD Ovonics, stands next to his new hydrogen hybrid vehicle. About 50 people gathered outside Stow City Hall to view and ride in the vehicle yesterday.

Credit: Jason Hall

A small maroon car circles quietly and smoothly around the parking lot, stopping to pick up a new load of passengers. Onlookers crowd around the doors, eagerly awaiting their turn to ride in the latest craze in automobiles.

About 50 people gathered outside Stow City Hall yesterday afternoon to view and ride in ECD Ovonics’ new hydrogen hybrid vehicle. Stanford Ovshinsky, president, chief scientist and technologist for the company, said the hydrogen hybrid vehicle will be the car of the future.

“It doesn’t cause any pollution, and you don’t have to fight wars over it,” Ovshinsky said.

The hydrogen hybrid cars use a low-pressure solid hydrogen storage system. The vehicles use the same environmentally-sound fuel as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but at a much lower cost and without sacrificing performance or driving range.

Ovshinsky and his colleagues came to Stow because they were invited by Mayor Karen Fritschel. Fritschel said she visited Ovshinsky’s manufacturing plants in Michigan and was very impressed with what she saw.

“I am very interested in less dependence on foreign oil,” Fritschel said. “It causes a lot of problems in our world.”

Fritschel said she rode in one of the hydrogen hybrid vehicles while at ECD Ovonics’ manufacturing plant, and the car was quiet, smooth and efficient.

“It’s just like a regular car,” Fritschel said. “People won’t know that they’re riding in anything different, and that’s a good thing.”

Frischel said she hopes local businesses can branch out from ECD Ovonics’ vehicles. She said there are 600 acres of undeveloped land in Stow that would be a prime area for new businesses.

Chuck Wiedie, economic development coordinator for the city of Stow, said the hydrogen hybrid will inevitably become the standard for fuel efficiency.

“We are getting to where it’s costing three or four dollars for a gallon of fuel,” Wiedie said. “We don’t know where it’s going to end. This has to be the new standard – hydrogen is the ultimate fuel.”

Eighty-two-year-old Ovshinsky, who was born and raised in Akron, holds more than 200 world patents, including those for a type of cell phone battery and rewritable compact discs.

Ovshinsky co-founded ECD Ovonics with his wife in 1960. Since then, the company has been working to solve societal problems by offering innovative solutions, Ovshinsky said.

Ovshinsky received Time Magazine‘s Hero for the Planet award for his achievements in 1999. Wiedie said his innovations will make important changes in the way society uses natural resources.

“He’s giving back to the community that taught him so much,” Wiedie said.

Contact fashion reporter Samantha Rainwater at [email protected].