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Gotta have it, Car Edition

August 21, 2010

I saw this [motherboard.tv] today, and I have only one thought: I must have it. For those of you too tired to click on the link, it’s a four-seater human/electric hybrid car. It’s powered by the combination of an electric motor and the driver and passenger’s rowing action. Plus it’s only $15k! Bargain! (Ok, not really.)
And how did they achieve this? Well clearly they made a few compromises, like safety, and a roof. If you watch the video, you can just imagine what would happen when this car gets a bit too close to a Suburban. I would not like to see crash tests of this car, no matter how much carbon fiber they throw at it. I can see it in my head now. This car just looks way too much like those red racing car beds that all the cool kids had back in elementary school. Sure it looks sporty, but when it gets run over by the local soccer mom’s tank, it’s just not going to survive. I didn’t see seat belts, but then I didn’t see seat backs either.
The major challenge to adoption here is the prevalence of SUVs. Really, it’s the same mental block that people have with buying a SmartCar or a bicycle: if a Smart or a bike gets nicked by a Hummer, it will not be pretty. We’ve created an arms race on the road to build bigger and bigger cars in the name of “safety.” At some point we’ll have to stop getting bigger, but that has more to do with the width of lanes and the price of gas (not so high, compared to other countries) than anything else.
On second thought, maybe the human/electric hybrid isn’t for me…

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