Imagine pulling up to a gas station, and rather than being offered the usual choice between regular or premium unleaded, the gas pump instead read "Chardonnay" or "Pinot Noir." Not for you, of course, but for your car!
Well, if one new experimental car, called the Lotus Exige 270E Tri-Fuel, ever catches on, this scenario may not be so far-fetched. The specialized Exige is capable of running on an ethanol fuel made from wine that isn't up to drinking grade, or whey, which is also a byproduct of the cheese or chocolate-making process. It was one of several new cars showcased last week at an eco-rally sponsored in part by the Prince of Wales's environmental initiative, Start, according to the Independent.
The car can also run on conventional gasoline (just in case you're out of fuel and still miles away from wine country), as well as methanol, a fuel that can be made by extracting CO2 directly from the atmosphere — potentially the ultimate carbon neutral fuel. The car is also capable of reaching 60 mph in less than four seconds, making it among the fastest road-legal cars in the world.
A few of the other cars featured at the eco-rally, which began in Oxford and finished at The Mall in central London, included the Lightning GT, an electric vehicle that can run 200 miles on a 10-minute charge, and the Biobug (also lovingly called the "Dung Beetle"), which runs on methane generated from human sewage.
"Vehicles that use fuels other than petrol or diesel are no longer concept cars of the future, but production cars of today," said Andy Dingley, a spokesman for Bridgestone U.K., which also sponsored the event. As the global recession continues, more and more people are looking at greener cars, he added.
Although wine and cheese may seem like alternative fuels better suited for those with a prince's salary, the concept cars nevertheless represent a growing diversity of choice available to car buyers of the future.
The Lotus Exige 270E Tri-Fuel is still in the research and development phase, so it isn't available for purchase yet, but you can see the vehicle in action in the following video: