Saturday, November 1, 2014

Make Way for the Lincvolt!

Will Neil Young be the next Elon Musk with his Lincvolt?  To read his 2011 biography, Young has a very wide range of interests that keep him going between albums.  One of them is his dream of a big car that requires no fossil fuel, so he and a small group of engineers came up with the Lincvolt, transforming a vintage Lincoln Continental that had many fond memories for Young into a hybrid automobile.

He has taken the classic car on the road, recently visiting Stephen Colbert in New York, where he plugged his innovative car, which is fitted with a pono stereo system that plays much higher quality digital music than the conventional MP3's.  This kind of retro engineering is really cool and fits well into the American imagination.  Oh, and he did a new song with Stephen, which one hopes will come out on Pono early next year.

What Neil is doing is nothing new, but it helps to have a Rock-n-roll icon pushing these CO2-friendly conversions, as it will draw more attention to this new hobby that is sweeping the country.  Many have adapted vintage cars into hybrid and electric automobiles.  Electric conversion kits run about $11,500 for vintage VW automobiles.

Young gets into some of the history behind ethanol-fueled and electric cars in Waging Heavy Peace, noting that Henry Ford was keen on the idea, but that the fledgling oil industry offered an affordable fuel at the time that was hard to beat.  So long corn and hemp fuels, and hello gasoline.  Young opts for biomass as his fuel source, which provides a good alternative to ethanol that relies almost exclusively on corn.

The idea of a hybrid car is that the fuel combustion engine charges the battery pack on the road so you don't have to stop for recharging.  Elon Musk has dealt with this issue by exchanging battery packs at selected stations around the country, which takes as little time as filling up your tank.  I don't think Elon has anything to worry about in the Lincvolt cracking into his market, but it will make for a great show piece on the road.

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