Saturday, September 17, 2011
Reinventing the Wheel
During the summer I was in the fast lane of the 401 highway when I came alongside a car I didn't recognize. It turned out to be a Chevy Volt, the General Motors entry into the electric car market. GM has been doing really well with internal combustion engines lately but the Volt is looking forward in the way the Nissan Leaf is looking to an alternative form of energy source to get our vehicles from one place to another. I noticed that at the Earth Care conference I attended in Colorado five of the cars were Prius's, the hybrid by Toyota, an indication that some Christians connect their driving choices to their faith.
In a way these "forward looking" vehicles are actually "retro" at the same time. In 1900 about a third of the cars on the road were electric and there were hybrids as well. In 1910 the New York Times was extolling the future of the electric car and by 1915 ten US companies were making electric vehicles. Today there are experimental vehicles running on compressed air, but even they aren't new. In the 1930's there were seven different compressed air vehicles. Somehow the early promise of what we now consider alternatives to "real" engines was pushed into the background.
We just bought a fairly fuel efficient gas burner to replace our geriatric station wagon. The electric and hybrid choices didn't work for our needs (how do you carry those kayaks?) or were too expensive. I do feel a bit guilty and I will keep an eye to the future possibilities.
Could driving a electric or hybrid car be an expression of faith? Are internal combustion engines a dead end? Would you drive a hybrid or electric if the price was right?