Is “Nissan Leaf” really a good name for an electric car? Will we be saying, years hence, “Wow, there goes a 2010 Leaf” or “Man, that’s a sexy looking Leaf you got there!” My daughter and I bandied names around and she came up with “Petal” as an alternative, and soon we were on flights of fancy: 2009 is shaping up as the year of EV introductions, but what are the cars we’d really like to see from global automakers? Here they are, with 12-year-old art student Delia providing the illustrations.
The 2015 Nissan Petal. A virtual zero-emission perpetual motion machine, the Petal changes colors with the seasons and generates electricity from the small but highly efficient solar panel built into its roof. Its 80-kilowatt/hour aluminum battery pack takes up the space normally occupied by the glove compartment, but consumers are rewarded with extra-large door pockets. Inspired by nature’s own aerodynamics, the Petal is shaped like an elm leaf and has .025 coefficient of drag. With seating for six, the Petal ($15,000) is the ultimate family car of tomorrow.
The 2020 Ford Fusion. No ordinary hybrid, the $22,000 Fusion is, well, fusion-powered. Yes, although earlier attempts proved a fiasco, in 2018 scientists finally perfected “cold fusion,” or infinite energy on a table top. The car travels 30,000 miles on a single “tankful” of deuterium fuel, derived from ocean water. In the '50s, confident engineers predicted that tomorrow’s cars would, like the Ford Nucleon, be nuclear powered, but the prospect of carrying around an actual nuclear reactor in the trunk was somewhat sobering. The Fusion, whose styling is meant to evoke scientific inquiry, does indeed turn over the space normally used for luggage to a cold fusion reactor, but there is storage under the hood. A handy red “cutoff” switch is thoughtfully provided should the reactor somehow defy scientific calculations and chose to go critical.
2018 Bio Bug. From Volkswagen, comes the world’s first car running exclusively on biomass, and just about anything will do: Wood chips, sawdust, switchgrass, even copies of remaindered Rush Limbaugh warnings to America (heavily discounted since his 2017 arrest for selling missile secrets to China). The $30,000 Bio Bug carries its own miniature pyrolysis unit that will convert any biomass to gasoline or diesel, depending on which is more politically correct at the moment. Just back this baby up to the compost pile, fill the rear-mounted biomass bin, and you’re off to the races.
2025 Honda Hydro. The car cognoscenti were wowed when the Japanese automaker’s fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity claimed 300 miles of range on a tank of hydrogen in 2007. But that car is now in museums, and the Hydro leaves it in a cloud of space dust. How about 5,000 miles on a tank of tap water? Breakthroughs in fuel-cell design, plus advanced electrolysis processes make the $20,000 Hydro possible. Forget about “fill ‘er up,” because now your gas pump is now the garden hose.
2030 Chevy Breeze. The decapitation accident in early tests of the since-renamed Mighty Wind set the car back a decade, but the revitalized GM, once more America’s top automaker, finally introduced this turbine-powered electric car in a gala ceremony at Kitty Hawk hosted by the American Wind Energy Association. The zero-emission $40,000 Breeze uses no fuel of any kind, but simply catches the passing gusts and turns them into energy — and during downtimes, connects to the grid to spin your meter backwards. As a backup should the wind die down, a thoughtfully provided CD of vintage Dick Cheney speeches can be played to turn the blades, or consumers can tap into available geothermal energy with a telescoping 300-foot earth drill.
Readers are invited to suggest their own future car concepts in the comments section below.
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