Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tesla Car - Sweet Green, or Ticking Time Bomb?

August's issue of Wired has a great article about a new high-performance electric car. Besides looking totally sweet (it was designed by Lotus engineers), it boasts 0-60 in 4 seconds, and runs completely on Lithium-Ion batteries, giving it a fuel efficiency of a couple cents per mile. That's a 10X improvement over my Accord's 13 cents per mile.

Now Engadget is reporting that the first 100 are sold out to the Silicon Valley studs like Larry and Sergei, and Jeff Skoll. I'm sure George Clooney is also one of the lucky few who can shell out the $100,000 deposit to pick one of these bad boys up.

I think this is a terrific innovation, and we clearly need to see much more of this kind of thinking, but I still have one major concern before I rush out to buy one of these myself. Lithium-Ion batteries aren't turning out to be the safest power source ever. I just had to send away for my own battery replacement to avoid losing some fingers while I'm working. From Consumer Reports:

It all started as Thomas Forqueran and a friend, Rod Riddle, were packing up after a two-day fishing trip at Lake Mead National Forest in Nevada, on July 13, 2006.

Forqueran put his Dell Inspiron laptop on the floor of the passenger side of his truck as the two men started packing. Riddle heard a popping noise coming from the cab while loading equipment but was not alarmed until Forqueran smelled smoke.

"Flames were shooting about three feet out the window," the 62-year-old Forqueran said. "I ran to the driver's side door and the flames were rushing at me and the three
boxes of bullets in the glove compartment. It was extremely accelerated. It was like someone was firing napalm"

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