Inventing our way out of oil

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.


About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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