Hawaii has abundant sunshine, geothermal resources and strong winds to make sustainable energy. It also has expensive imported gas and a state mandate for electric cars. With the tourism industry on board and the universities doing their part, battery vehicles are hitting the roads.
A few plug-in taxis are plying the world's roads, but almost all are in pilot programs and special tests. Don't our planet's polluted cities deserve zero emission fleets? The world's still waiting for a full-blown commitment to electric taxis, which would be ideal for battery swapping and other innovations.
The U.S., European and Chinese markets have their challenges. But a perfect storm is aligning over the tiny island nation of Iceland, which has geothermal electricity almost too cheap to meter. The big news this week is a major tax break for EVs.
Audi's electric e-tron division has unveiled battery-powered city cars and the high-performance R8, the first that will actually be produced. I finally got behind the wheel of an e-tron on a rainy Manhattan afternoon. This A3 won't be produced, but a plug-in hybrid version will be out in 2014.
Cracker Barrel, home of sock monkeys, antique butter churns and chicken and dumplings, is bringing its Texas stores up to date with electric vehicle charging stations. And why not, since the original store had gas pumps, and patrons getting charged will have some time to kill. Where else are they going to go but into the restaurant? Texas doesn't have many EVs yet, but the market is growing.
Mazda and Fiat are partnering to spin off a second Alfa-branded car off the all-new, back-to-basics 2013 MX-5 platform. The Miata is the best-selling two-seat sports car in history, largely because it's both fun and dead reliable. By marrying the two brands, we have the prospect of a problem-free roadster with an Italian soul and great, distinctive styling. Where do I sign up? On second thought, maybe I'll buy a good used Miata first.
Actually, we know that flying is much safer than driving, though our minds refuse to process that information. When a plane crashes, we know about it. But what does it mean that last year's highway crashes were way down? With so many distracted drivers, it's not because we're obeying the rules of the road. Think safer cars and fewer miles traveled.