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May 18, 2006

Good News, Bad News Future  Peak Oil  Science/Technology

On Point radio had an interesting show yesterday about tiny, high-mileage cars, some electric, some not. If you go to their page, you can see a gallery of photos. Some of them are concept cars, but others are already on the road.

The stackable cars are especially cool. The idea is that people would use them kind of like you use luggage carts at the airport. You use it, then put it back in the queue for someone else. The cars are electric, and recharge while they're waiting in the queue. A car is returned at the end of the queue (these queues would be positioned at strategic places around the city), and by the time it reaches the front it's had a chance to charge up. If you go look at the photo, it'll be clearer what I'm talking about. To deal with the fact that people like their cars to have some individuality, the inventors are thinking of giving the car a means of recognizing you, so it could set up various features the way you like them. The car could have your radio station settings, for example, or your iTunes. They're for city use, obviously, but it shows people are thinking innovatively.

Cause for some optimism, but this post at the Oil Drum puts things in a rather bleaker perspective. It describes the author's ongoing car trip cross country from Boulder to Pittsburgh. Everybody's speeding (which of course kills their fuel efficiency), there's exurban and suburban sprawl and traffic jams surrounding every city, the highways themselves are in rough shape. All in all, no signs yet of meaningful change out there on America's highways. And given the long lead times needed to make changes on the required scale, it's not looking good.

Posted by Jonathan at May 18, 2006 11:40 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

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