On April 17, twenty-six Central Bucks West seniors from Bill Licopoli’s Advanced Placement Environmental Science class were guests of the Fred Beans Cadillac Buick and Chevrolet dealerships on North Easton Road in Doylestown, where they learned about “clean vehicles,” emissions and tech advances in the automotive industry.
The visit, which was arranged and led by Sharon Haas, environmental specialist with the Bureau of Inspection & Maintenance, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, tapped the expertise of Fred Beans Automotive Group key service and sales personnel at the two dealerships.
The hands-on experience gave the students opportunities to learn about Chevrolet’s two most ecologically advanced of its vehicle line-up. The Volt is an electric vehicle with a small gas-powered back-up engine that extends the vehicle’s range by recharging the battery while on the road. The Cruze Eco boasts the highest miles per gallon rating, at 42mpg highway, of any gasoline engine in the U.S.
Students took a spin in the two vehicles and were introduced to their respective environmental advantages and various features — inside, out and under the hood — by sales consultants Linda Pfaff and Larry Storm.
Rob Schwarz, lead Saab technician with Fred Beans, talked about emissions tests and demonstrated how engines work – and what happens when they don’t work so well. The “check engine light,” or CEL, was the topic of lengthy discussion, since this automotive indicator warns of problems with performance that most often lead to failure of the environmental systems that protect both the vehicle and the air we all breathe.
According to Schwarz, if the CEL is lit, the driver should schedule a session with a technician who will find the cause. If, however, the CEL is flashing, this means the catalytic converter, an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic chemicals in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine into less toxic substances, is misfiring and dumping raw unburned fuel, which can destroy the converter as well as put highly toxic substances into the environment.
Schwarz also advised on other steps that will benefit the environment and help save money in the long-run, such as being prompt with vehicle maintenance, changing the oil regularly and driving more smoothly instead of with fast take-offs and hard braking.
Haas closed the visit with a brief Power Point presentation on environmental and air-quality issues.
“Our personal vehicles impact our environment mainly via emissions and the consumption of nonrenewable energy sources. On this visit to the Fred Beans facilities, we focused on both of these key environmental factors and the reasonable steps we can take to minimize their impact on our quality of life and our future,” Haas said.