FOR PERSPECTIVE, here's what went into a much ballyhooed pledge by the U.S. government and American motor companies to develop an 80- mile-per-gallon Supercar by 2004: a decade of political squabbling, $1.5 billion in taxpayer money, years of foot dragging by the Big Three automakers, constant engineering. In the end, Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler each built a 72- to 80-miles-per-gallon, diesel-electric hybrid concept car. But the companies opted out of retooling assembly lines for mass production, instead continuing to flood the marketplace with gas-hungry SUVs they knew they could sell for higher profit. (The saga was well chronicled last year in the Chicago Tribune.) The problem wasn't engineering vision or technical know-how; it was lack of political and corporate will.
And now two guys in Spokane have created a better electric car than the big 3 could have perhaps ever made. Read and weep: 0-60 in 4 seconds! (Electric cars are slow, eh?) Three hours to recharge completely from a 220 volt household dryer socket. All conventional off-the-shelf technology, including doors from a Geo Tracker, and axles from Cadillac. Range of 80 miles, more than enough for groceries and enough for most people's daily commute. Full racing spec roll cage. And 1100 pounds of batteries under the floorboards makes tipping over very, very, very difficult.