Thursday, March 5, 2009
Garbage powered cars not too far in the future?
I drive a 1965 reddish-orange Mustang. People ask me when I got it restored and are surprised when I reply, “Never. I’ve owned it since I was 15. I’ve just always kept it up.”
New cars are all the same to me. They all drive like you’re sitting on a couch, then they fall apart. Way too many electronic gizmos to fail. The 1965 Mustang is built to last. Nothing on it that can’t be fixed with basic tools.
Everywhere I go, people honk at me and give me the thumbs up. What other car can do that? Plus it’s very safe. Driving 60 feels like you’re driving 90 in a new car. It keeps it real.
I also have a 1986 Alfa Romeo convertible that was my father’s. It’s like a fickle Italian woman, pouty, finicky and prone to breakdowns. Keeping it running is an act of paternal sentimentality.
Then there’s our 10-year-old Chevy van. With three kids, sometimes you need the extra seats. I refused to trade it in when the offer was lower than the value I placed on the leather seats.
We were about to forsake it when I had the bright idea of replacing the carpet. You can’t believe how new carpet can rejuvenate an old kid-hauling van.
Ginny, figuring that if I ever bought her a car it would be hers forever, talked me into leasing a Volkswagen Passat three years ago. She figured a lease would guarantee a new car every three years. I figured we would get the better deal in a lease, given the way my wife treats vehicles.
Last week, the lease ran out and sure enough Ginny got a new car. This time it was a Volkswagen Jetta TDI - a diesel! I’ve gone green!
I drove down to Brookhaven and got 50 miles a gallon.
Around town, it gets around 35 miles a gallon. That beats the heck out of the 11 miles a gallon from my Mustang. We are making progress!
The 140 horsepower engine has lots of pep, no smell and is quiet as a mouse. You really can’t tell it’s any different than a gas engine.
Diesel is about 10 percent more expensive and only about half the gas stations carry it.
The worst is having to walk inside to pay. Diesel pumps rarely take plastic. This inconvenience is offset by the infrequency of having to fill up.
If you added a battery to a diesel motor, you could get 70 miles a gallon.
If you added a plug-in recharger, you could get well over 100 miles a gallon. So much for the fuel crisis.
All this technology is ready. But at $1.75 who cares? The low price of gas is the only thing preventing the widescale adoption of these super-mileage vehicles.
Meanwhile, Range Fuels is constructing a biofuel plant in Soperton, Ga., that will produce 100 million gallons of fuel per year from wood waste and garbage.
British Petroleum is building a plant that will produce 32 million gallons a year.
With cars averaging 40 miles a gallon, just five big biofuel plants could power every car in Mississippi from garbage, woodchips and lawn clippings. But the price tag is $3 a gallon for gas.
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