Emission-Free Cars

Posted on July 26th, 2008 in Culture,Economy,Environment by Robert Miller

This week Nova is rebroadcasting "Car of the Future" with the "car talk guys" Tom and Ray driving and testing present and future cars of unique design and energy saving abilities. But, were you aware of things that have happened in the recent past that bear on this general topic? In the 1990s Toyota produced the RAV4EV , an electric version of their popular smaller footprint SUV. This car was available for only a few years for lease, and for a brief period, it was possible to buy one. It had a 95 amp-hour NIMH rechargeable battery and a fully charged car could get up to 78 miles per hour with a range of 100-120 miles. These cars are so valuable that a 2001 unit went for more than $68,000.00 recently. Some innovative owners created a solar panel means of recharging the battery, so their entire automotive needs created a zero carbon footprint. While they didn’t go over in a big way when gas was so immovable and relatively inexpensive, they would be a hot ticket item today. If you had a solar panel arrangement at work and could leave your car outside, you could enhance the range of the car, but not the speed. Nevertheless, one suspects that a 100 mile range covers the to and fro of work distance for a lot of people.
With the fascination Americans have for automobiles, you would think that the need for new cars with little carbon footprints would stimulate the rebirth of the great American automotive manufacturing era. It could begin in your backyard, like it did for some of the featured folks on the PBS website. With the threat of significant entry of electric, natural gas and hydrogen sources of automotive power, the cost of gasoline might tumble, as it currently has no relationship to the cost of getting it out of the ground and refining it. The game is on!

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