This week at TreeHugger: A dynamic duo of electric car stories had our motors running: some lucky high-schoolers are plugging in, converting a 1995 Saturn SP1 into an electric car; if you dig electric cars but aren't a geeky high-schooler, not to worry. You can have an all-electric Miles XS500 (top speed 80+ mph, range 120+ miles) for a very reasonable $30K or so sometime next year.
A German non-profit called Bauhaus Luftfahrt is working on a wacky-looking "box wing" aircraft, and has other tricks up their collective sleeves to help cut air travel's emissions by 35 percent by 2035. Nissan announced that users of its popular CARWINGS navigation system (only in Japan for now) will now have access to a new service called "Eco-Drive and You" — basically, it's your car telling you how to slow down, speed-racer, and drive green. Lastly, straight from grainy black and white films to the year 2008: a team of University of Michigan engineers are starting to design flapping-wing planes.
We never got to do cool stuff like this in high school; oh, to be young again: students of Napoleon High School in Jackson, Michigan, will convert a 1995 Saturn SP1 into an electric car this spring(nerds). If you don't have pimples and aren't afraid to ask girls out, maybe the Miles XS500 is more your speed. No electric conversion required — it comes running on 100% electric power — and for about 30 grand, you get a very sensible-looking car that performs very sensibly: 80+ mph top speed and a range of about 120 miles, give or take, and we hear you can own one in 2009.
A German non-profit called Bauhaus Luftfahrt is working on the wacky-looking "box wing" aircraft and other goodies to help cut air travel's carbon dioxide emissions 35 percent by 2035. Bauhaus, which includes Germany's MTU Aero Engines, is proposing to get to that goal in three steps: employing geared turbofan technology in conventional jet engines for a 15 percent CO2 reduction; adding counter-rotating fans into these same engines (5 percent); and lastly, equipping the system with a waste-heat recuperating technology for another 15 percent. Ah, the Germans and their efficient engineering....
Nissan just announced that users of its popular CARWINGS navigation system (sorry, gearheads: only in Japan for now) will now have access to a new service called "Eco-Drive and You". They offer a trifecta of features: 1) Eco-drive check, which shows your average fuel consumption, trends in fuel economy, a history and comparison with the last 2 records; 2) Eco-drive ranking, which shows your average fuel economy history and compares it with other CARWINGS members with the same car model, and displays annual fuel expenses and savings; 3) Driving Advice via audio guidance, various tips on more efficient driving. Just don't forget to keep at least one eye on the road.
Lastly, a team of University of Michigan engineers to design flapping-wing planes by seeking inspiration from birds, bats and insects. Their ultimate goal is to build a flapping-wing plane, or micro air vehicle, with a wingspan between 1 and 3 inches that could perform missions in uncertain conditions; unlike its fixed-wing counterparts, it would fly at much slower speeds, enabling it to hover and even "perch" for monitoring purposes. His research is currently being funded by the Air Force; insert your batshit bomb joke here.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.