Going Green: Solar-powered and Electric Vehicles


If your idea of "green" transportation is a pokey little hybrid, good for the environment and cute enough, but not with real zip and pizazz, think again. And look to solar-power and electric to add some new, peppy players to the transportation game.

For instance, for purely fun zipping around town, how'd you like a solar-powered motorbike? While it's not available yet, SunRed is working on a prototype. It won't be directly solar-powered, but will sun recharge the batteries when it's parked by way of fold-out panels. Park it in the sun, fold out the panels, and go about your business. When you come back, fold down the panels and be on your way. SunRed expects the bike to have a range of about 13 miles and hit a speed of about 30 miles, perfect for urban adventures and short commutes.

But if you're in the market for something really cool and something you can order right now and have in your possession by spring 2008, Brammo has your answer: The Enertia electric motorcycle! This sleek, efficient bike has top speeds of 45-50 miles an hour and a recharge time of 3 hours. Brammo claims that it can reduce the average commuter's carbon emissions by 92%.
The Enertia can go 50 miles without recharging. While at first it looks odd with no fuel tank, it's a real attention-grabber with it's simple, lean, uncluttered design.

What does the Enertia feel like when you ride it? According to a recent report on the MSN website, it is extremely thin and light, is almost silent, and is absolutely effortless. It starts smoothly and is a breeze to drive in traffic. Because it needs no oil or fuel, it is also odorless. Fun, eco-friendly, and easy..the Enertia is worth looking forward to. It might not be the vehicle for cross-country trips, but for day trips, it looks like a winner.

So that takes care of the motorbikes and motorcycles, but you still need a car. And you don't want just any car, you've got money to burn and you want a sportscar! There's no way you can have speed and power and beauty and also be concerned about your impact on the earth, right? You just have to go for it and carbon be damned, right?

Not quite. Take a look at the Tesla Roadster. Heartstoppingly gorgeous(it was designed by Lotus,) this completely electric beauty gets 130 MPH and can go from 0-30 in around 4 seconds. While it takes 3 1/2 hours to charge, one charge will take you 250 miles, much further than a tank of gas in a comparable traditional sports car. And the cost for that travel will be about one cents a mile. Of course, it's a sportscar and a work of art, so it's not going to be cheap. Treehugger reports that it will probably cost about $80,000 or more. But, it's a guarantee that your car will be the topic of conversation everywhere you go, and you'll be able to feel righteous about it, too. The Roadster will be available early in 2008.

Of course, if you're not in the market for that kind of showmanship and you just want practical, reliable, non-gas-guzzling transportation, Chevy and Nissan have announced in recent months that they are planning electric cars intended for commuters, at least by 2010.

So, save up your pennies. In the coming years, the "going" part of "going" green is going to get easier and a whole lot more fun.