Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Green" Vehicles

It’s amazing to see such great demand for environmentally friendly vehicles nowadays, mainly driven by the rising price of gasoline. However, the cars available in the market are not as eco-friendly as we would hope for.

Electric vehicles are not really all that “green”. What will everyone do with those batteries after their life expectancy is reached? Electric vehicles are not convenient either! How many charging stations can we find on our way to and from work? What are we going to do when we want to go on a long trip? An alternative is to go with hybrid cars, but the number of miles per gallon (mpg) is not as great as we would expect. For example, the regular Ford escape does 22 / 28 mpg, while the hybrid version does 34 / 30 mpg – definitely not an impressive difference! Well, one could say that motorcycles are “green”, as they are fuel efficient, although not many people are willing to risk their lives in such an unsafe vehicle.

It seems like there’s technology already out there to build real green vehicles! Check out Aptera, a 3 wheel vehicle that does over 230 miles per gallon: . The company is based in Carlsbad, CA and they are already taking reservations. When I was getting my MBA at UC Irvine, a couple of my classmates and I got together and wrote a business plan to build a vehicle similar to Aptera – fuel efficient, convenient, comfortable and safe. We even borrowed a 3-wheel prototype from a designer in Texas and showed it in a couple of car shows in Southern California in order to gauge consumer’s interest. The results of our surveys and interviews were excellent. Everyone we talked to was on board with the idea and ready to buy such vehicle. Unfortunately, we were not able to raise funds to move forward and start the manufacturing process.

There are a few questions that I still haven’t been able to answer: When will the large car manufacturers start investing in this kind of technology (cars that do over 200 miles per gallon)? Will people start driving smaller and more fuel efficient cars to save the environment or simply to save money in gas? Will they forgo the large SUVs or at least use them on weekends to go out with the family, but drive the small cars to commute to and from work? I sure hope that a true eco-friendly vehicle arrives here soon!

Tatiane Perazzo
Guidance Green

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