The majority of American adults own vehicles – a lot of people own more than one, and a household with two working parents generally has two. It’s terrible for the environment, a fact that’s been proven time and again, and there are finally some viable options available to people who want to drive but don’t want to run a car with a gas engine, which increases American dependence on foreign oil and produces a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s a catch-22, though – having so many cars makes it important to have more energy efficient cars, at the same time as it prevents people from purchasing an energy efficient car. Some people simply can’t afford to trade out their old car for a new one. Anyway, if every American suddenly traded their oil-burning vehicle for electric vehicles, what would happen to all of those old SUVs and pickups?
They certainly can’t stay locked up behind garage doors, and the process of reforming them into something else would itself require a tremendous amount of energy and resources.
These are the issues that lead ElectraDrive to begin developing an Add-on Electric Drive. The AOED “gives a truck a plug-in electric capability without compromising the factory powertrain”. It can be moved easily from vehicle to vehicle, and the car that it is attached to can drive solely under electric power with its motor turned off entirely.
Its powertrain is unaffected, so the car can continue driving even if the AOED malfunctions. It can be powered at about 1/5 the cost of motor fuel, and ElectraDrive gives it a “projected payback around 5 years”.
This extremely innovative technology is what let ElectraDrive win California’s Clean Tech Open in 2008. The Clean Tech Open “find[s], fund[s]and foster[s]the most promising clean tech startups on the planet” – and ElectraDrive is definitely a promising concept. It significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and allows people to essentially drive an electric car without sacrificing the vehicle they already own. It’s a more cost effective, not to mention environmentally friendly, way to “green” a fleet of vehicles.
ElectraDrive’s first customers are state and local government members whose vehicles are light and medium trucks, and they’re looking for investors so that they can develop similar technology for heavier trucks. While the AOED isn’t widely available yet, it’s a clever piece of technology and with the right financial backing, it could significantly change the way Americans think about their cars.