November 8th 2008

Neil Young’s Cars

Neil Young's Cars

What can I say about Neil Young, eh?  I revere him the way some people revere Bob Dylan–no, that’s not true exactly.  The people I know that revere Dylan do so in spite of his revelations that it was all a means to an end, all those incarnations of Dylan were just ephemera.  The real Dylan waited all these years to present himself.

Young is who he is–his heart is on his sleeve.  His music has wandered in and out of various genres as he has grown.  I’m particularly partial to the era of heavy electric sound, but all of it enthralls me.  He doesn’t mumble his lyrics and market his mystique… and his lyrics are political from his heart, not his pocketbook. (And I love his lyrics!)  His Bridge School concerts and other charity work have endeared me.

But this isn’t about his music, this is about his cars.  The San Francisco Chronicle says

Leave it to Neil Young to make green technology cool.  The rock legend has created a company called Linc Volt Technology to promote the conversion of existing gas-guzzling cars into vehicles that run on alternative energy. But we’re not talking about boxy little e-cars here. Young, who likes his cars old and big, is launching his effort by converting a 1959 Lincoln Continental to run on electricity and natural gas.

Young’s cars include a Mercedes and a Hummer already converted to running on vegetable oil, but after talking to a Kansas entrepreneur, he decided to go with a new technology entirely.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell: For short runs, a car can be plugged in, charged and then run strictly on electricity using a rotary engine and its batteries. For longer hauls, there’s also a generator in the car that runs on compressed natural gas. When electricity runs short, the generator kicks in and refuels the batteries. To make matters even more interesting, the car’s generator will actually feed electricity back into your home when it’s parked and plugged in in the garage.

Read the Chronicle story and then check out the Linc Volt website for more details.

More Neil Young:  The Bridge School, Neil’s Garage

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July 13th 2008

Smart Car

Smart Car

Not sure how smart it is to be waiting for a Smart Car–we’ve been waiting for a while and as time passes, our enthusiasm dampens. This is my lovely wife behind the wheel after a test drive. We like the car. We’re not sure about the company.

Even though Sacramento is closer to us (and we travel through there all the time) SmartUSA insists we purchase the car from San Jose. Then, we want red interior and a package that happens to include leather seats–mind you, we don’t want the leather seats, just the other amenities from that package. But, because of the leather seats, we have to have a black interior. The restrictions don’t make sense and no one can change anything to be responsive to us.

So, nice car, awful customer service. We’ll have to see for ourselves when (if) ours ever arrives.

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