Thursday, February 08, 2007

Who Wants a Hydrogen-powered Car? Me, that’s who

In which we dream of a hydrogen future... in a BIG way

And why would I want one? Because size and style matter. My earliest automotive memories are of my Grandmother England’s Olds. Grandmother England (yes, my mother’s family name is England) had this enormous Oldsmobile Ninety-eight. Sixteen feet long if it was an inch, it was a dull yellow-gold, with fender skirts, a gold vinyl landau roof with “running lights,” curb feelers, and gold brocade upholstery on the inside that brought to mind the curtains at Versailles.

I loved tearing down those back-country farm roads in the Sacramento Valley in grandma’s Grand Dame of car. Ninety miles per hour was nothing to her. I’d crawl around on that big, brocade bench seat—seat belts? Ha!—toying with the silver button that opened the spring-loaded ashtray, watching in wonder as the ash from her Benson & Hedges cigarette grew ever longer between her fingers, wondering when it might finally drop off.

Those were the days, but they were short lived. A few years later, in 1973, the oiligarchies of OPEC engineered the so-called “gas crunch” strangling distribution and raising fuel prices sky high. Soon there were gas lines down the street. Detroit went into a tail spin as American consumers turned to cheap, small, fuel efficient economy cars from Japan; ugly little cars that drove like wind-up toys.

Cars have been getting less romantic ever since. Sure, the SUV rage of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s brought size back, but not style. These big box behemoths lumber down the road with about as much finesse as a brick on wheels and as much style as punch-drunk heavyweight.

No. I want a real car. Something with running lamps and fins and a torpedo-bra front bumper. I want something that looks and feels needlessly excessive and sensual and comforting, something that makes you feel like you are Zsa Zsa Gabor’s most cherished young lover.

And that’s why I want hydrogen to come online—for purely selfish reasons.

I understand hydrogen’s got along way to go. As it is now fossil fuel has to be expended to make hydrogen and that the infrastructure is complex and will be expensive to build. But there’s nothing that can’t be done by people smarter than me. What’s required is commitment.

Who knows? Maybe some day my grandson will remember tearing down country roads with in his grandpa’s long, sleek, silent, hydrogen-powered luxury land-yacht. Imagine the sheer pleasure of indulging yourself and screwing the Middle Eastern tyrannies and their terrorist proxies at the same time.

That would be priceless.


Blogger Hydro Kevin said...

You mention "hydrogen-powered luxury land-yacht" and one day these and hydrogen-powered yachts will be available to those who want and can afford them. I've just blogged about hydrogen fuel cell ferryboats, which will start rolling out in the next year or two, so there are a lot of things happening in the industry right now, but not as fast as many people would like.

5:40 PM  

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