Green things.

So we bought a minivan to go cross-country. It was mostly so we could haul ourselves, our cats, and our most precious items to California with us. Before that, I owned a nice little Saturn and put some quarter of a million miles on it.

Mini-van’s aren’t as bad as the bigger SUVs at guzzling gas. But I do feel out of place driving a van back and forth to work while the cheap gas is at $3.99.

Lets face it, I went out of my way to drive an economical car while it seemed the whole of the US was leasing Navigators and Hummers. I’ve often said that I think gas should go up to $5 a gallon. Cheap gas has us spoiled and like many things, people will only do something about a subject when it pinches their wallet.

High prices in gas makes a lot of public transit and other gas alternatives financially feasible. And with that kick-start, maybe some economies of scale will help keep it live.

I’ve looked back and forth at the hybrids out there and they are very tempting. (Especially the upcoming hybrid VW Golf!) But there’s something that still bothers me about hybrids: I’m still buying gas. Yes, I’m buying less, but it’s still putting money into the same tax-pockets and into the same companies and causes that I don’t personally like to support.

I drive no more than 6 miles to work a day. Once or twice a week I drive up to Freemont for music, some 13 miles away. Round trips of under 15 miles with longer runs of 25 are actually very small requirements for a car.

I started kicking around looking at electric vehichles. Out here in CA we have the benefit of good sun for solar charging as well as a power grid (PG&E) that is already more than half drawn from renewable sources. Additionally, it is easier to make something large (like a power grid) more efficient than it is to change hundreds of thousands of small items. (like cars) (Economies of scale all for things like power are why we have one big powerhouse and not a generator in every home afterall.) This means that an electric card would be both cheaper and cleaner to run for multiple overlaid reasons.

The trouble with electric cars and scooters and such are that they have seriously poor selection. And there are two major camps, the soon-to-be-released sexy-expensive cars (The Tesla) and the its-technically-more-than-a-gold-card crowd (everyone else).

Sue has always loved the style of the old Beetles. And I love older-style stuff. Imagine my surprise when surfing the DIY instructions on electric and fuel-cell vehicles when I ran across a site that specifically makes Beetle electric-conversion kits! (

Add to that the thought of upgrading the lead-acid batteries to better-performing, lighter Lithium-Ion batteries. (

Do we have a winner? I think it would be cool.

I’m still tempted by thoughts of an ultra-light-weight For-two or maybe a pre-build all-electric Ford Ranger. Even more visually tempting is the hint that “Green Rides” of Campbell offers an electric motor version of the classic Beck Motors speedster.

Who knows? Right now though I need to finish getting out of debt. The thought of putting up some solar cells, tying them into the PG&E grid, building an old rag-top bug into an electric vehicle, and never paying for gas again is very tempting.

It would also rock if someone had a kit for an old jeep too.

3 Responses to “Green things.”

  1. krdbuni says:


    I certainly sympathize with the plight. Gas isn’t any cheaper up here, and though I’m currently carless and dependent on borrowing a vehicle or hopping to work, I’m also looking at replacing the Escape Vessel once I’m out of bankruptcy. However, with the Scion xB having been new-and-improved out of usefulness, I’m torn on what kind of vehicle I want. I dislike the idea of dumping money into the tank, but we get rather less sun here than you do. I’d probably have to have a plug-in if I went all-electric, and that could end up costing more than the gas.


  2. cooner says:

    I really, really, really want to look at a smartcar … it’s cute and it’s in a price range I could possibly feasibly afford in the next couple years.

    I’m very sad, though, at the initial reviews coming in on them … the transmission is apparently very flakey, and the suspension makes you feel every bump, and for as small as the car is in still only gets an average of 33mpg or so … about the same as a Ford Escort or Honda Fit. Sigh.

    Oh well. Maybe they’ll make revisions in the coming year or two to address those problems. *fingers crossed*

  3. smack_jackal says:

    Oddly enough, I was looking up stats on both the Porsche 395 and 550 cars as the result of a very serious James Dean dive on Wikipedia.

    So, I’m keen on the thought of a diesle hybrid. I’d probably trade in my Subaru for one to be completely honest. I’m also keen on the thought of an all electric car but…Not just yet.

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