Update February 2010:The Ford F-250 Super Chief Tri-Flex fuel vehicle which can run on Hydrogen!
What does the car of tomorrow look like? Maybe one of these will give you a peek into the future. Although only 4 out of these 5 are available for purchase today, they are still cutting edge, advanced technologies. With the high price of oil these days, these types of cars will definitely become more and more popular in the years to come. Conservation, high MPG, and alternative fuels like electricity and compressed air will become the norm rather than the exception. As electricity becomes cleaner and more renewable, cars like these make more and more sense. Electricity generated by wind farms, solar, hydro, nuclear, and clean coal will make these cars an everyday sight on our busy streets. Imagine... all our transportation needs powered by wind and solar - wouldn't that be cool?...
Before I get into a short description of these new technologies, have you ever heard about Nikola Tesla's electric car experience? They say he hooked up one of his "devices" to the
dashboard of his Nephew's Pierce Arrow and made it run without batteries - powered only by this mysterious device. It must have been a receiver of some sort which was receiving some of Tesla's wireless transmission of electricity. That's my
best guess anyway. Here's the whole story...
"In 1931, under the financing of Pierce-Arrow and George Westinghouse, a 1931 Pierce Arrow was selected to be tested at the factory grounds in Buffalo, N.Y. The standard internal combustion engine was removed and an 80-H.P. 1800 r.p.m electric motor installed to the clutch and transmission. The A.C. motor measured 40 inches long and 30 inches in diameter and the power leads were left standing in the air - no external power source!
At the appointed time, Nikola Tesla arrived from New York City and inspected the Pierce-Arrow automobile. He then went to a local radio store and purchased a handful of tubes (12), wires and assorted resistors. A box measuring 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high was assembled housing the circuit. The box was placed on the front seat and had its wires connected to the air-cooled, brushless motor. Two rods 1/4" in diameter stuck out of the box about 3" in length.
Mr. Tesla got into the driver's seat, pushed the two rods in and stated, "We now have power". He put the car into gear and it moved forward! This vehicle, powered by an A.C. motor, was driven to speeds of 90 m.p.h. and performed better than any internal combustion engine of its day! One week was spent testing the vehicle. Several newspapers in Buffalo reported this test. When asked where the power came from, Tesla replied, "From the ethers all around us". Several people suggested that Tesla was mad and somehow in league with sinister forces of the universe. He became incensed, removed his mysterious box from the vehicle and returned to his laboratory in New York City. His secret died with him!"
The Tesla Roadster - This little hot rod has been available for a couple of years now. It is still quite expensive at $109,000 and you'll have to wait 12 months for delivery, but at least it is on the market. I love the name they gave this beauty. It gives long overdue and appropriate credit to the Father of AC electricity - Nikola Tesla. They say the Roadster gets the equivalent of 256 MPG taking into account that internal combustion engines are about 20% efficient and electric motors are about 80% efficient. The Tesla Roadster is 85-95% efficient by the way. By my calculations, it should get the equivalent of over 400 MPG. Maybe that 256 MPG figure was calculated a year or two ago when the price of gas was cheaper. Anyways... it comes with an at-home charging unit that will recharge it from completely dead in about 3.5 hours. An optional mobile charging unit will allow you to recharge using any standard 110 volt outlet while away from home. And get a load of this... it has a range of 220 miles! This is unheard of in an electric vehicle. These features alone thrust it light years into the future, but when you add in the fact that it will do 0 to 60 MPH in under 4 seconds, it's simply astonishing! That's faster than a Lamborghini! If you haven't fallen out of your chair yet, this one will knock you on the floor... it only costs about 1 cent a mile to drive! I could drive the 500 miles to Atlanta and back for $5 bucks! Now that is sweet! It now costs me about $90 to make that same round trip in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. For more information on this amazing electric vehicle, visit www.teslamotors.com
The Smart Car - I have actually seen a few of these driving around in my small town of Savannah, GA. There are dealers everywhere, although they are in short supply but easier to get than a Tesla Roadster. The Smart Car is made by Mercedes-Benz, a Daimler AG Company. It is a gas vehicle, but it has a small engine and small footprint allowing it to get 33 MPG in the city and 41 on the highway. This is according to the new EPA mileage calculation guidelines for 2008. That makes that 500 mile trip to Atlanta and back a $50 venture. Not too bad considering the price of the Smart Car is only about $11,590. That's about $97,000 dollars cheaper than the Tesla Roadster. You can buy a lot of gas for $97,000! For more information, visit www.smartusa.com
The CityCAT (Compressed Air Technology) - You may have seen one of these on TV recently. It recently debuted at the New York Motor Show. It is for real, but it is not available in the US yet. I think it will be sold in India first and manufacturing plants are being set up in Spain and Mexico too. In India, it will be manufactured by Tata Motors. This air car was invented by Guy Negre of MDI, a French Company. Different models range from $3800 on up to $12,700 for the CityCAT. What's cool about this air car, is it only takes a few minutes to refill the tanks at special filling stations at a cost of only $2. Each refill will give you a range of 125 miles. At today's gas prices, that's the equivalent of about 250 MPG. The tanks can also be filled in about 4 hours using the on-board air compressor. Top speed is about 68 MPH. For more information, visit www.mdi.lu
The Chevy Volt - This electric vehicle is only in the concept car phase right now, but when they get all the kinks worked out, the Volt seems like it will be a nice car similar to the Tesla Roadster. The Chevy Volt will not have the range of the Roadster though. Instead, it will have an electric power range of only 40 miles and then an on-board charging system will kick in to extend your range. The generator will be gas or E85 ethanol powered. For more information, visit http://www.chevrolet.com/electriccar/
Scooters - Or maybe one of these will be in your future? They are selling like hotcakes in Savannah, GA. This is the main form of transportation in a lot of other Countries. This one is a 150cc model and gets around 80 MPG. It sells for about $1500 in ths USA, but I know for a fact that they are only $500 in other Countries. Name brand scooters are a little more expensive - they can be as high as $5000 for a model with a bigger engine.