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Environmental Cars Available, New Ones on the Way

The Nissan Leaf is an affordable option for consumers looking for an eco-freindly car. | fendi2168/photobucket.com

The future has denied us jet-packs, hover-boards and flying cars, but it looks as if car-makers might be finally giving the people what they want. How about a car that runs completely on air, sunshine or even sugar?

Zero Pollution Motors is the company with a vision, and is working on creating a car that needs nothing more than compressed air to take drivers where they want to go. French visionaries, Motor Development International (MDI), conceived the idea of “compressed -air vehicles.”

The car’s compressed-air engines would allow drivers to zoom along at a top speed of 35 mph and a maximum distance of 80 miles.

Currently Tata, India’s largest automaker, has bought the rights to MDI’s technology and countries worldwide are taking notice.
Hybrid solar cars have made their way around showrooms as a possible alternative to fossil fuels.

Solar cars use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity, much like a plant uses photosynthesis in creating its own energy. Thanks to PV cells, solar cars don’t need to be plugged-in in order to charge. Like air cars, the completely solar car hasn’t gone mainstream and is still confined to experiments and concept.

Aspiring “green drivers” should maintain their sunny disposition, however, and look at something even sweeter: about 34,000 fuel stations have emerged in Brazil that offer drivers ethanol derived from pure sugarcane. Brazilian “Flex” cars are sold with a device that allows engines to run on this sugarcane ethanol.

This cost effective alternative fuel gives car-makers in the United States a model that Americans could follow with their own home-grown corn ethanol.

Drivers still interested in going green can realistically choose from an array of hybrid and electric cars already being sold.

The Chevy Volt, winner of the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year, and its rival, the Toyota Prius, have already made their mark on the market, utilizing gasoline and electricity. The Volt is priced at $32,780, and the Prius at $23,050.

While these cars are beginning to wean drivers off of fossil fuels, Tesla Motors offers their sporty Tesla Roadster, an all-electric car with a flashy exterior and no tailpipe. Their four-door Model S is currently in the works, equally as electric, though not more affordable.

While luxury Tesla cars are sold at a cool $100,000 starting price, their closest all-electric competitor on the commercial market is the Nissan Leaf at a quarter of the price.

Though the age of flying cars and hover-grids isn’t here just yet, green-conscientious drivers can still satiate themselves with these environmentally dreamy rides.

Amanda Sieradzki can be reached at asieradzki@spartans.ut.edu.

1 Comment on Environmental Cars Available, New Ones on the Way

  1. ramon leigh // April 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm //

    Whoever wrote this should leave EV technology to others. The Model S costs half as much as the Tesla roadster.
    The Nissan Leaf, with 75 miles of driving rage, is hardly
    acceptable or even remotely as capable as the Tesla Model S, which does not cost twice as much. Compressed air vehicles are
    not realistic competitors to battery powered electrics. There is not, and never will be, a solar powered car. You can fill every square inch with solar panels and after 8 hours in the sun, will
    harvest only enough solar power to go a few miles. Corn ethanol
    has been a big bust – requires too much water and resources.

    Like

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