General Motors in Detroit has at last seriously committed itself to developing a car that greatly reduces our dependency on oil to fill our gas tanks. The car is called the Chevrolet Volt, and will have a range of about 40 miles before it needs to call on its gas reserves or be plugged into a wall socket for an overnight boost. 40 miles doesn’t sound like much, but it is about 5 times longer than the Prius and would cover the average daily drive of about 80% of Americans who drive to work. So it has serious potential if they can get it right.
It’s not quite perfected yet, though. Right now its state-of-the-art battery packs would give the Volt a sticker price of close to $40,000. GM thinks it can get the price lowered to reasonable levels by 2010.
In the meantime, Miroslav Miljevic in London is looking for a manufacturer for his solar-assisted bicycle. It operates like a normal cycle but has a canopy lined with solar cells that charge a battery whenever the cycle exposed to sunshine. It can also be charged from a wall socket on rainy days.
It will take a lot more ingenuity than the Volt and a solar cycle to eliminate our destructive dependence on oil. But they are both examples of what we need more of.