Cars Of The Future Have To Be Different

Daniel Sperling estimates there are nearly a billion fuel using devices for moving people on our planet and that this number will double by 2030. Our existing vehicles for personal transportation include bicycles, motorcycles, cars and trucks.

Bicycles are the most efficient, but most American adults have unreasonable fears about safety in traffic (the League of American Bicyclists has a course to dispel these fears, but adults typically don’t think they need it). Motorcycles are efficient but open to the weather. Cars are the vehicle we take for granted--picture a 4,000 pound machine that typically carries one human. Small trucks are another form of car that manufacturers convinced us to purchase so they could make more money (due to fewer emission controls than on cars). SUVs are just trucks the manufacturers invented to sell to those people too smart to buy a truck. SUVs were sold partially on safety, but consumers neglected the fact that SUVs roll over far more frequently than cars in accidents.

All our history has been created based on cheap oil, but it isn’t cheap anymore. And the price at the pump doesn’t reflect the military cost to keep oil flowing or the increasingly toxic techniques required to separate the remaining oil stock from our earth. India and China have such growing automotive populations that they are already becoming strong competitors for the limited fuel resources.

There is a fresh design to remedy all this. Electric power is an obvious solution. The technology has arrived, and there are more 120 volt receptacles than gas stations. Watching the automakers adopt electric power is like watching paint dry. But manufacturers have to be cautious due to the inept operators. In the 1980s the television show 60 Minutes ran a story about Audis and unintended acceleration. The publicity nearly ruined the brand (when the real problem was an inept operator’s foot on the wrong pedal). Toyota is dealing with similar ineptitude combined with a hostile U.S. government that happens to own one of Toyota’s competitors (the brakes are typically far more powerful than the engine, and you can always turn off the ignition). Imagine what would happen when some shade tree mechanic sticks his hand into 300 volts. New vehicles have to be stupid-proofed for the average consumer.

With the electric vehicle (EV) potential so near, some of us who are mechanically inclined have recycled an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle into an EV. The prime candidate has been a small pickup truck because there is lots of room for the bulky lead acid batteries that, until recently, were the home builder’s choice. Problem is small pickups are no longer small, like say a 1965 Datsun pickup. Trucks weigh too much. So do most cars. I chose a 35 year old sports car and shoehorned eighteen golf cart batteries inside. It has weather protection and three point safety belts but none of the other safety paraphernalia designed to help inept drivers to live through more of their mistakes. I firmly believe the most important safety device in a car is an aware driver paying attention to his driving (and not their radio, cellphone, passengers, or a meal-to-go).

In the late 1990s Corbin Motors designed a fresh solution, the Sparrow. It was a single passenger, fully-enclosed, electric three wheeler. It was light, efficient, and even cute. It had highway capabilities, weather protection, and ran on American made electricity. When Corbin had to close, Myers Motors picked up the design as the NMG (No More Gas). Meyers has refined the vehicle and upgraded it to lithium batteries. These are available NOW. Finally, Meyers has adapted the design to a two-seater, the DUO (Doesn’t Use Oil).

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